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Picture this scenario: You reach out to a highly sought-after influencer, offering them a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review.

You let them know how great the book is. You even include an image of your awesome cover.

And then nothing happens.

You never hear back from them, and they never post about your book.

It doesn’t seem right, does it? You offered to give them your book for free. How hard can it be to give away a book?

As it turns out, it can be pretty hard. Imagine that scenario again from the influencer’s point of view.

They open their email over their morning coffee to see 50 new offers of free products, services, courses, and books—just in the last 24 hours—all from people hoping to get their attention.

They don’t have time to read your book. They don’t even have time to read your email.

Instead, they skim through those offers, looking for the one with the magic formula:

  1. It provides their audience with genuine value
  2. It’s from a professional who understands how influencers work
  3. It hands them everything they need right upfront

Want to learn how to stand out among hundreds of other emails and capture that influencer’s attention?

This post will explain step-by-step:

  • what influencer outreach is
  • how influencer marketing works
  • how you can leverage it as an author
  • how to form a successful influencer outreach strategy in 6 easy steps

What Is Influencer Outreach?

Influencer outreach is the process of reaching out to people who have significant influence in a given area or who have a large audience that aligns with the target audience for your book.

They might be bloggers, social media influencers, podcast hosts, heads of associations, Facebook group moderators, or anyone else who has enough of a following to help you build brand awareness as an author.

The right influencers are unique to your specific book and depend entirely on your marketing goals and your target audience.

How to Make the Most of Influencer Marketing

Before I get into how to contact influencers for an outreach campaign, it’s important to understand what you’re really trying to achieve. Too many authors put countless hours into an influencer marketing campaign only to get a single share on LinkedIn or a brief mention on some other social media platform.

That kind of one-off recognition is great, but it won’t move the needle.

Ideally, you want to build an ongoing relationship with those influencers. Why? To create:

  1. a bigger splash
  2. a connection between that influencer and your book in the mind of their audience

In other words, you want your book to be “that book that so-and-so keeps recommending” or “that book by the author who’s on so-and-so’s podcast all the time.”

A good influencer marketing strategy builds those relationships.

Leverage Your Current Network First

When it comes to finding influencers, start with your own virtual backyard.

There are 2 categories of potential influencers for your book:

  1. the centers of influence in your CURRENT network
  2. your TARGET centers of influence

When new authors think about building influencer relationships, they often forget about their own social networks and leveraging the relationships they already have.

Does anyone in your existing network have a relevant audience for your book or your brand messaging? If so, be sure to approach them with your ideas about working together.

6 Steps to Creating an Effective Influencer Outreach Strategy

1. Be a human being

Whether you’re reaching out to an Instagram influencer with a huge follower count or a micro-influencer with a high engagement rate, your outreach email should prove that you know something about them.

Even though it’s time-consuming, you’re better off contacting your relevant influencers after you’ve followed them for a while on their social channels. Make an effort to share posts they ask people to share. Comment on posts you like. Do any small favors you can for them.

Over time, they’ll start to recognize you as someone who has supported them in their own digital marketing efforts. This will make them far more likely to want to help you.

When you’re ready to reach out, don’t be pushy. Here’s a great cadence for making your offer while keeping the door open for future possibilities:

  1. Send them an email.
  2. If you don’t get a response, follow up 2 days later.
  3. If you still don’t hear anything, send another in 1 week.
  4. Send a final email 1 week later.

That fourth email should be your last one. Keep it short and sweet: “I haven’t heard back from you, so I’m assuming you aren’t interested. I won’t reach out again, but if something changes, please let me know.”

Don’t pitch them the same idea again. But if you have a different idea in a few months (especially if it’s relevant to something new they’re doing), feel free to reach out.

2. Make a clear ask

As for the email itself, be very specific in your request. Know what you’re asking them to do, and make sure it lines up with the kinds of things they do regularly.

3. Provide value

Influencers are always on the lookout for great content that will provide genuine value to their audience. That’s how they build and maintain their following. So think about your ask from their point of view:

  • Why should they do what you’re asking?
  • What’s in it for them?
  • What’s in it for their audience?

Communicate that value quickly and clearly.

Is their podcast aimed at email marketers?

  • I recently got a 72% open rate on a cold email. I’d like to tell your audience how I did it.

Is their blog about running a successful Esty business?

  • I’m the author of Crafting Cash: How to Make 6 Figures in 6 Months on Etsy. I’d like to share 7 key lessons from that book with your audience.
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Whatever they write or talk about, show them how your book fits their mission.

4. Build your brand into THEIR story

Ideally, you want that influencer to do more than just post your book cover. You want them to feature you and your book in a blog post or interview. You want them to dig into your content.

The best way to make that happen is to build your brand into the influencer’s larger story. For example:

  • I love what you’re doing. My own research backs up everything you’ve been saying, and I wrote all about that research in my latest book. I’d love to share those results on your podcast.
  • I loved your recent article on raising your kids to be entrepreneurs. I wrote a book recently on funding small businesses. I’d love to follow up on your post with a guest post on raising capital for kids’ enterprises.

Take the influencer’s own message and support it or build on it. They’ll want to feature you on their platform, often more than once, and the connection will feel natural and authentic to their audience.

5. Make it personal

Always talk about what they’re doing first. Then, show them how your work fits with it. That makes your ask feel personal; more like a friend than a stranger asking for help.

The more specific you can be about their own content, mission, and message, the better. The most successful influencer marketing efforts often come from following the influencer for several weeks or even months before making the ask.

Are they doing a series right now on a certain topic? Do they have a newsletter? Is there a certain post they update monthly?

To get personal, recurring attention, start by doing the same for them. Familiarize yourself with their brand. If you know what they have going on, it’s a lot easier to know how to speak to them and what to ask—which makes your outreach more effective.

6. Make it easy

Finally, make your ask easy to say yes to. Give them:

  • the book
  • the article, already written
  • interview talking points
  • suggested marketing copy
  • graphics or photos
  • examples of social media posts (including hashtags)

If you can put everything in one email, great. If that’s not reasonable, provide a link to your media kit and drop everything there. Whatever you do, don’t create more work for them. Make everything as easy as copy-paste.

By offering ready-made content, you’re saving them a tremendous amount of time and making it impossible for them to say no. That’s a win for everyone:

  • The influencer wins—with ready-made, fantastic content that helps their own SEO, content marketing, website traffic, and so on
  • The audience wins—getting huge value
  • You win—with free marketing for your book and an implied endorsement from a top influencer in the field