The Influencer Series: Targeting People in Your Niche

When reaching out to influencers in the hopes of getting them to promote your product, it’s essential to target the right people – for your brand, and theirs.

Here are 3 important questions to consider as you compile your pitch list:

1. Who is my audience? Identifying your own audience first and foremost will give you the framework to then identify the type of influencer(s) that attracts the people you are trying to reach. For example, we’re currently working with a children’s book called Scout Camp! by Judy Newman (under the pseudonym Pepper Springfield) and have been reaching out to elementary school teacher influencers to post about the book. Because teachers are our main target audience, it makes sense to connect with influencers who have a solid following of other teachers.

2. Does this influencer have a need for my product? One of the biggest “no-no’s” with any kind of influencer or blogger outreach is lack of research. You must make sure the person you’re about to pitch could realistically use what you want promoted in their day-to-day life. This will be the difference between quality leads that yield fruitful relationships, and dead ends yielding a waste of time -and money. Case in point, we would not pitch Scout Camp! to a high school math teacher influencer as they have absolutely no need for an elementary-level book.

3. Is it realistic to expect a response? Believe it or not, there are three different types of influencers (Jeff Bullas):

  • Mega Influencers: Over one million followers
  • Macro-Influencers: 100,000-one million followers
  • Micro-Influencers: Less than 100,000 followers

Typically, mega influencers are of celebrity status. That’s not to say that macro and micro-influencers aren’t celebrities in and of themselves, however, mega influencers are typically harder to reach. That’s why the safest option is to go after the macro and micro influencers (for more on who micro-influencers are exactly, click here). With that said, depending on the product, brand, endorsements, etc., anything’s possible.

Looking for more information on influencer outreach? Check out our guide.

Social Media 101: TikTok and Book Promotion

If you aren’t using it, you’ve heard of it. However, you might not know how to use it -or, you might not even know what it is. Today we will be discussing the underdog tool in your promotional belt. The overnight, 15-second sensation: TikTok.

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a window to the latest pop culture trends among Generation Z. Gen Z (any individual roughly between 13-and-24-years-old) dominates TikTok’s user base; the same generation also happens to be the next large target group of potential consumers.

TikTok was created by the Beijing news-media tech company ByteDance. Often described as a combination of both Snapchat and Instagram, TikTok is a video-only application that posts in 15-second bursts. The app hit over one billion downloads in February of 2019, exceeding its competitors up to that point (HooteSuite). Their net user and download numbers only continue to climb.

Needless to say, a large audience is there for the taking – particularly ripe for YA authors.

How do I use TikTok?

Currently, the application is only available for download on mobile device. You will need to download via smartphone or tablet. While this sounds limiting, don’t fear: TikTok has a host of editing tools in-app that enable you to create unique and original content.

  • Setup: The first prompt you get when logging in to the application is one asking your interests. Would you like to see comedy skits? Do you follow beauty influencers? What about dance performance? Your answers to these questions feed TikTok’s algorithm and influence what content you view under the “For You” page (one of two pages that make up your TikTok “Home” screen). The “Following” page consists of users you are subscribed to after tapping around the app and finding what you like. Each user has a page setup much like Instagram -a photo of themselves, their handle, a follower count, bio, and their content.
  • Creating Content: Similar to Snapchat, creating your own content starts with a simple point-and-shoot clip. As talked about before, you only have fifteen seconds to deliver your message. Spend more time focusing on visuals, use dialogue sparingly. Most users supplement sound clips from popular music or memes rather than talking in their TikToks.

How can I use TikTok for book promotion?

Here is where you’ll need to get creative. TikTok is very similar to Twitter’s late application Vine -there is little to no text involved, and strictly video-based. In other words, TikTok users aren’t looking to read when they engage with the app.

Thankfully, there are plenty of opportunities to promote your book.

  • Challenges: TikTok users generate a great deal of challenge-based content. An example of social media challenge is the ALS ice bucket challenge that took social media by storm in 2015. Users would dump a bucket of ice water over their heads in the name of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, then nominate fellow users in order to raise awareness for those affected.

TikTok is rife with similar challenges, distinguished by hashtags (much like challenges seen across other social media). There is even a “#bookschallenge” with over 109.2K views! Feature your new book in original content to spread the word. You can even create your own hashtag and start a trend by simply adding a # before your desired phrase.

  • Memes: Aside from challenges, memes spread like wildfire. Users essentially take a pop culture item and tweak it with their own personal style. From songs to live-TV bloopers, TikTokers take soundbites from these moments and make a 15-second video performing their own take. Like we mentioned before, it’s all about the visuals with this application. Having a stack of your own books as the background of a TikTok is the perfect subliminal marketing strategy.

TikTok has increased in notoriety to the point of Facebook imitating the application (Wired). It’s time for you to make use of the trend. Now you’re ready to TikTok with the best of them!

Book Awards for Indie Authors

There are limitless strategies devised to drive book publicity and generate sales. Whether it’s maintaining social media, mining micro-influencers, or tracking both with your editorial calendar, these tools serve the same purpose. What about one method that encompasses the results of all three? You might have a winner in books awards.

If you’re an author just starting out, you may think book awards are reserved for those established in the industry –or signed with the “Big 5” publishing houses. That isn’t necessarily the case. While big awards like PEN/America or the Pulitzer Prize tend to shine more favorably on well-known authors, there are other prestigious options that even offer cash prizes and opportunities to consult with experts in the business.

Much like any step in generating buzz around your book and book sales, selecting reputable awards takes scrupulous research. Some book awards, even those that are well known, serve only to line the pockets of those in charge. See what fellow authors are saying about your chosen award. There is no definitive verification process for these awards, which means that the most reliable information will be from others in your station. One list we consulted while building our award database can be found here, custom tailored by the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Researching awards and curating the perfect, realistic list also depends on your budget. Many book awards have an application fee, and additional fees per category in which you submit. Some also require that you pay a fee for the subsequent social media boosting and online advertising that would accompany your win. If your budget is limited, don’t worry; there are book awards that do not require entry/additional fees. Looking for book awards local to your state or town will greatly reduce, and sometimes all-together cut out that entry fee -you also save on travel expenses that way!

While you can find book awards with no entry fee, it is worth investing the money for others. You might even see a return tenfold on your investment. A recent Authors Guild study revealed that book awards and prizes, along with advances, royalties, foreign sales, serial rights, reprint/permission rights, and mass media rights comprise writer income on average.

Putting aside dollars and cents, there are priceless advantages to winning awards. Organizations like The North Street Book Prize and The Indie Author Project Regional Contests offer opportunities to consult with established authors and publishers, placement of a piece detailing your win in reputable publications, and book promotion at local hotspots. These awards will often do email blasts announcing your win and plug across media platforms in conjunction with the other prizes.

What’s our proof that this stuff actually works? Recently, our indie authors Douglas Wood and David Finkle won categories in the 2018 Independent Press Awards. Doug won Humor & Wit for his book Asshole Attorney, and David won Distinguished Favorite in Humor & Wit for his book Humpty Trumpty Hit a Brick Wall.

If they can do it, so can you!

Social Media 101: Snapchat and Author Branding

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn have dominated the world of branding since Facebook’s JP Morgan and Chase ads in the early 2000’s (IAS Insider). We’ve discussed in previous blogs how valuable these markets are, but there’s a new platform in town. Better yet, it’s rather untouched by the saturation of advertisements the other media have today: Snapchat.

Snapchat is unique in that it is a hybrid social media platform and messenger. This medium is almost entirely visual, and only available for mobile device. These unique qualities require a creativity in branding that the other platforms do not. Because of this, while Facebook controls roughly 20.6% of the US ad market, Snapchat comes in at just 0.6% (Influencer Marketing Hub).

The application is intended as a messaging medium where users exchange photos, videos, or short messages. Photos and videos can have captions, but there is character limit. There is also a character limit for private messages. Reminiscent of the point-and-shoot model, to take photos, you focus the front (or back) camera of your device and hit the large circular button at the bottom of your screen. For videos, you hold the button down in 30-second increments. You can alter the amount of time users can view your content, set an expiration date for your private messages, and other nifty features that Accessar dives in-depth with here.

Sound familiar? That is probably because Instagram operates similarly, but in a much more public way. Snapchat is a majority user-to-user application.

Don’t let the unfamiliarity of Snapchat stop you. As of 2019, Snapchat has an astonishing 191 million daily active users, and climbing (Snapchat). There is an array of stickers, GIFs, geofilters (filters that are only available in certain locations), and many other interactive features that allow you to get creative with your Snapchat branding. Their demographic is in the 18-24-year-old range, so if you’ve been looking for a way to reach an overloaded Millennial/Generation Z audience, here’s your chance!

With the medium’s use-to-user atmosphere, you can form a personalized and meaningful relationship with your audience. You can find our shortlist of Snapchat musts to make this happen for your brand below.

Snapchat stories are a vital function of most popular platforms nowadays, and we’ve gone over them in great detail recently. Update your audience on the publication of your new book, introduce merchandise, and start conversations! Users can reply to your stories via private message. You can also link to the products mentioned above with our next Snapchat must.

Snapchat links or “swipe-ups” are an organic way to expose your audience to new and exciting content surrounding your brand. Simply take a photo or video, select the paperclip thumbnail to the right of your screen, and add the appropriate URL. This allows users to view your material with a simple screen swipe.

Influencer collaboration not only gets exposure for your author brand but builds a trustworthy sense of community which your audience values. Reaching out to fellow influencers about mentioning your work in a story goes a long way in broadening your own fanbase.

Armed with your new guide to Snapchat in the world of author branding, make the most of this untapped resource. If you’d like to learn more about traditional means of author branding on social media before the trickier methods, check out our recent blog posts.

The Influencer Series: Micro-Influencers

While it’s true that some consider influencers “celebrities of social media,” it’s important to highlight the subcategory of influencers who are becoming more and more sought after by brands big and small: micro-influencers.

But who are they exactly?

To many, an influencer is defined by the immense number of followers he or she has amid their social media platforms. And while a lot brands are attracted to sponsoring those with high follow counts, others are now investing in influencers who don’t have as many followers, but higher engagement levels. Essentially, it’s the quality of their followership over the quantity. According to Forbes, “brands and marketers are now focusing on the interaction between influencers and their audiences,” which can be measured by the likes and comments different posts receive on a daily basis. More so than standard influencers, micro-influencers often have high engagement levels that brands had a tendency to overlook in the past. (Forbes)

What identifies a micro-influencer?

There isn’t necessarily a magic number of followers that separates an influencer from a micro-influencer. Brands are focused on engagements of specific audiences and how those niche audiences can potentially lead to higher sales. In the end, their goal is to promote products in ways that appear more genuine than a #ad.

The moral of the story: little guys shouldn’t be discounted. Whether you’re promoting a book, service, or anything for that matter, don’t underestimate the power of loyal followers.

For more information on influencer outreach, check out our guide.