Who are your key influencers?

key influencers

Who are the people who can help you sell more books?

I got thinking about this after interviewing an expert for a magazine article last week. My source mentioned that his company had recently acquired another firm that specialized in connecting brands with “influencers” — influential bloggers.

The companies or brands advertise on the blogs or pay the bloggers to write “sponsored” posts about the brand and its products or services.

There’s transparency, of course — the bloggers state that they’be been paid to try and/or write about the brands.  Ethics obligate the bloggers to be honest, but so do their relationships with their readers. They know that their fans count on them to provide information they can trust.

The author connection

What does this have to do with authors?

It shows you how important key influencers are to good marketing. Good marketing, of course, is the different between a good book that sells and a good book that doesn’t.

Plus, if the big consumer brands are connecting with their audience’s influencers in ways that help them sell more products, shouldn’t you be doing it, too?

Influencers play a role with readers

An influencer is someone who is both active online and respected and followed by your target audience. “Key” refers to the influential people at the very top of your list. They’re the influencers who have the most clout and audience respect.

To find your key influencers, you have to be clear on your target audience. You have to know who is most likely to buy your book. (For more on that, read “The formula for more book sales.“)

When you know your target audience, you can figure out who they listen to and respect.

Fiction vs. nonfiction

influencers 3Novelists working through this identification process will want to start with the most popular authors in their genre. A historical romance author, for example, might include Julia Quinn and Eloisa James on her list of key influencers.

A novelist’s list might also include genre bloggers, prolific genre readers, and any well-known genre publishing house editors.

Similarly, nonfiction author influencers are most likely to be the industry or topic experts and leaders. A cookbook author’s target audience might be influenced by a popular Food Network show host while the audience for a book on “how to succeed in business” might follow high-profile CEOs or serial entrepreneurs.

How to find your audience’s influencers

The question for many authors is “How do I figure out who influences my readers?”

You might know the answer already without realizing it. The answer often comes from another question: “Who influences you?”

  • If you write fiction, you’re probably influenced by certain novelists. Start there.
  • If you write nonfiction, who are the topic experts you’re following already?

Expand your search from there.

Tools to help you find influencers

Whether you have a small list of influencers already or not, a handful of tools can help you expand your search.

LinkedIn and Facebook groups

Both social networks offer groups for a wide range of topics. Group founders, leaders, or administrators are often experts on the topic being discussed. In addition, many group members are also influential experts.


Klout is a website rates an individual’s social influence by monitoring their social media content and the follower engagement it generates. The higher the score, the more influence the person has.

It’s an excellent way to gauge influence, but the experts and influencers need to have created a Klout account to be ranked.

If you have a name and want to check the person’s ranking, type the name into the search box. To find topic experts, type the topic into the search box. You’ll get a drop-down list that includes the topic if it’s in the database, or similar topics if it isn’t.

Trade association leaders

Trade and industry association officers and committee chairs — such as the board of directors of the Romance Writers of America — are often widely respected in their fields.

Conference speakers

Novelists can study the speaker line-up for writer and genre conferences, while nonfiction authors can do the same for industry or topic-related events.


While Followerwonk is a paid service, it offers a free Twitter analysis tool you’ll find valuable.

At the “search bios” page, type in your search term and select “do it.” (TIP: If you use a phrase, put quotation marks around the phrase — “science fiction,” for example.)

What do you do with your influencer list?

Once you’ve created your list, you want to become known to the influencers — you want to get on their radar. It’s a slow, subtle, process.

  • Follow them on social media.
  • Share their content.
  • Comment on their content.

When commenting, be sure to say something that adds to the conversation. There’s nothing wrong with “Nice post,” or “Good point,” but both are generic comments that won’t help you stand out — and that’s your goal. When you stand out, you get noticed.

When your key influencers know and understand who you are, you can, at the right time and in the right way, ask for their support.  More on that in an upcoming most.

Start thinking about your influencers today — now. Who is one of them? Tell us who it is and why in a comment below. 

Tip of the Month

influencers 2I always share a “Tip of the Month,” a free resource or tool for authors, on the last Wednesday of the month.

This month it’s my new “Guest Blogging Cheat Sheet” offering nine best practices for authors writing guest posts for other bloggers.

This free, downloadable PDF will help you stand out by avoiding the mistakes made by most. I can think of at least one in the cheat sheet that will make you say, “I can’t believe I haven’t been doing that!”

Download the Build Book Buzz “Guest Blogging Cheat Sheet” immediately and put the tips to good use.

Get more helpful free book marketing information in the “Build Book Buzz” e-mail newsletter.

Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.

7 Responses to Who are your key influencers?
  1. Vicki Weisfeld
    February 22, 2017 | 10:07 am

    In addition to individual authors, in my fiction genre, there are prominent editors of anthologies who have a lot of credibility. Sorta meta. Their opinions carry a lot of weight.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      February 22, 2017 | 10:48 am

      Thanks, Vicki. Great example.


  2. Gary Guinn
    February 22, 2017 | 12:06 pm

    Hi, Sandra.

    The Big Thrill, an online international magazine for thriller writers, is a great place for mystery/thriller writers to identify potential influencers in the genre.

    Thanks for another great post.

    Gary Guinn

    • Sandra Beckwith
      February 22, 2017 | 12:14 pm

      Great tip, Gary! Thanks!


  3. Barb
    February 22, 2017 | 6:20 pm

    This was very interesting.

    • Sandra Beckwith
      February 22, 2017 | 8:49 pm

      I hope it gave you something to think about, Barb. Thanks for the feedback!


  4. Jim O'Brien
    February 23, 2017 | 7:03 pm

    Sandy, another excellent piece of advice, Thanks again. Question: I’m starting an email list and I’d like to make each email more personal, like you do. How is that done? Appreciate an answer, Jim O’Brien

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