JillWilliamsonACFWHeadshotAn influencer is someone who dedicates themselves to helping spread the word about your book. You, or your publisher, compensate them by giving them a free copy of the novel.

Influencers can have a wide variety of influence. Maybe they are a librarian. Or a pastor’s wife. Or a school teacher. Or someone with a popular blog. Maybe they are a book reviewer. Or maybe they aren’t any of those things but do a great job at spreading the word about books.

Building a list of influencers is a very important part of marketing. Some of your influencers will do more than others. If you can, try and track what people do and do not do. Save your information in a spreadsheet. You may come to realize that you have a few influencers on the list that aren’t doing anything to help you. In those cases, make note not to use them in the future.

I always send an influencer letter with the books I mail out. This list gives the influencer some ideas of things they can do to help. Check with your publisher to see if they would be willing to include your letter in packages they mail out.

Here is a link to my very first influencer letter: http://jillwilliamson.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/influencer-letter.pdf. (It had some errors, but it did its job.) I gave my letterhead the same image as my website, but you don’t have to do that. Most all the letters I received from publishers have been simple letters printed on white paper.

It can be fun to write these letters. Try to write them in your voice so that they sound like you and not someone else. Jenny B. Jones’ influencer letter is hysterical. Jenny writes funny YA books for teens, so this makes sense for her books.

Keep in mind, it takes years to build a strong influencer list. Some of your influencers won’t do anything. A few may even hate your book and post an unkind review. Do your best to pick readers in your target audience who enjoy your genre. Keep the hardworking influencers for your next book, and delete those who turn out to be no help.

3 thoughts on “What are Influencers? by Jill Williamson

Robin Bermel

March 17, 2011 - 09 : 24 : 18

Good article and true. The letter is great with thorough instructions. The only thing I would change is to personalize it. If someone is taking the time to read and post a review, it deserves a personal note. Thanks for sharing.


Janalyn Voigt

March 18, 2011 - 02 : 48 : 49

Thanks, Jill.
I plan to write a letter for my influencers. I know about tracking your title with Google Alerts, but do you have other suggestions on how to track their reach?


Jill Williamson

April 1, 2011 - 14 : 51 : 53

I don’t really. I tried a contest once, but it didn’t really work. Influencers were supposed to email me when they did something on the list, and I entered them in the contest. It might work two years later, not that I have some reader/fans. I dunno.
I can keep track of reviews, though. I can see the reviews, so I know when one of my influencers posted one. And the Google Alerts does help, but it never seems to pick up on reviews on store sites. Just blogs…


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