Book Influencer Secrets event: The top takeaways you need to know

We had a fantastic time at our recent event, Book Influencer Secrets: Maximising your social campaign reach, sponsored by the BookMachine Creative Agency. A big thank you to everyone who watched live and the online influencers and marketing specialists who joined us to share their insights.

It was such an illuminating event that glimpsed into the best practices for marketing teams in publishing when reaching out to influencers, examples of campaigns where engaging reviewers and influencers would be advantageous, and the extra benefits of tapping into the various niches of influencers working in the book space right now.

If you missed it and would like to catch up with the discussion, you can dive into our key learnings from each of the speakers below. Enjoy!

Kevin – YouTube (Irish Reader)

  • Kevin started his channel in 2014 and has been running it for seven years. He’s gained over 40k subscribers. From 2017, he started working with publishers when his channel started gaining traction. 
  • He started channel to discuss love of books – so many people in everyday life don’t read the same books or like the same books as him and he wanted a place where he could be free to discuss books! 
  • YouTube is always growing and developing. He has had to learn to adapt to remain relevant and to be consistent on the channel to keep growing his following and stay on top of the latest trends. 
  • Many different way to work with publishers: 
    • Reaches out directly to publishers if there is a book he is interested in reading. He’ll then do a reading vlog where he will talk about the book, his thoughts. A great way for publishers to get advertising as his close knit community really trusts him on what books he likes and what he recommends. There is a real sense of trust on the YouTube community. 
    • He works with publishers on their YouTube Channels – he’s worked with PanMacmillan to discuss his favourite YA books. Great way to grown his audience and establishing a connection with authors. 

Bethan – TikTok (@doriansbooks)

  • Bethan started @doriansbooks in July 2020 and wanted a new hobby during lockdown. She now has over 100k followers on the app.
  • There was no specific tactic she used to gain her followers. She keeps up with the trends on BookTok, makes videos she knows her followers would love. But there is also an element of luck with TikTok! 
  • She’s very collaborative working with publishers – they reach out to her and she would send over some ideas about what videos she think would work for her channel. She then has about a month to read the book and create content for it. She’ll then send the video back to the publisher for them to review and then post up onto her channel.
  • Publishers are very respectful about her time constraints as a full time uni student but she does try to be consistent about posting her content, and to only take on books she knows she has time to read and create content for. 

David – Instagram (@nonfiction__reads)

  • David loves how Instagram shows that books as physical objects can be beautiful but also as a community to share books and inspirations. 
  • He started his channel four years ago and has connected with readers across the world. 
  • His channel focuses on more niche angles – NF/Science/Politics/Memoir/History
  • Having a mid-sized account like his means that he has followers who are really interested in the same books as him and he can engage with them enthusiastically. 
  • Rarely approaches publishers proactively and is quite specific about what he will and won’t read and review. He will only take on books he knows he will like – he’ll only ever write a positive review. To keep the content flowing he’ll sometimes post books that he has red a while ago to make sure that there is constant content on his Instagram page and so his followers and publishers can see what sort of books he likes to read. 
  • Instagram is great for getting books in front of niche or targeted audiences. 

Jules – Twitter (@julesbuddle)

  • Jules started her Twitter account in the hope of being able to live out her dream as a bookshop owner!
  • Her one piece of advice – Don’t ask for a book if you’re not going to read it! You’re taking a book away from someone who might want to. And be positive and keep going. With Twitter, you have to engage with your following, start a conversation with them and just keep at it.
  • She talks about her job as a paramedic which she feels injects some personality into her social media account.
  • Lead times – Jules tries to read a book about a month in advance which gives her time to tweet and review the book. She’ll then Tweet around publication date. 
  • She will only take on a book she knows she is going to like and will never Tweet about a book she hasn’t enjoyed. 

Liv Marsden – Campaign: The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

  • It was a landmark global publication which was seven years in the waiting. There was a huge appetite and huge amount of excitement. 
  • They already had so much support on the ground but it was making sure they used book bloggers, booksellers, etc who were all so excited about the book and make them feel like they were part of this landmark publication. 
  • Main challenges – it was a seven-year wait and there was such a lot of anticipation for the book – would it live up to expectations? 
  • Teaser billboard in Leicester Square for only five mins! They worked with Waterstones Piccadilly who took a photo and put it on their Twitter account and pandemonium ensued! The publisher didn’t comment for 24 hours and just let the influencers take over and create an air of excitement. 
  • Main opportunities:
    • There was a real gap in the market for this type of book
    • The author was electric! 
  • You get the best out of your marketing campaigns when you are very aligned with your publicity team, be aware of any ‘key PR hits’ which you can then utilise more. 
  • Has a database of 250 influencers to contact, categorised into book preferences.
  • Liv has seen the benefits of putting their authors more on their social media to create authentic and original content.
  • More important to have your books in the hands of BookTokers rather than having a brand account – on this platform viewers associate more with individual creators. 
  • Top book campaigns: HarperCollins (HQ) ‘skinCare’, Faber – Ishiguro, ‘My Dark Vanessa’.

Hannah Paget – Campaign: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

  • Bought the manuscript at Frankfurt in 2018, published 2019. It was a very difficult book to describe, it was about American women and wasn’t sure how it was going to be received in the UK.
  • They started to think about strategy very early on – had a small team: Hannah, Emma from publicity, Alexis and Jessica from Editorial.  
  • They wanted to talk to readers directly about the book, so Hannah reached out to a huge amount of influencers. She didn’t really target specific readers for this book – she wanted to reach out to as many readers as possible and felt this was a really special book which warranted sending out a huge amount of books (she pressed reprint on the book proofs 4 times!). They got a great response from the book proofs and worked this back into the marketing campaign. 
  • They didn’t prescribe what the book was about and let readers just talk about the book. 
  • They did get a lot of celebrities talking about the book but what made the difference with this campaign was that lots of non-celebrities were also talking about the book. They hit the holy grail where lots of readers were recommending the book and talking about it without the publishers having to get involved a lot of the time. 
  • BookTok is very authentic and reader driven which should be supported by publishers and recognising their role is incredibly important. 
  • For their campaign they made a space and event for the author to promote the book but also to respond to issues of none of the women being PoC, the authors response reintroduced the narrative back to be about the narrative of the book.
  • Building those relationships with influencers can help you shape the marketing messaging and to understand how the book is resonating with readers.
  • Top book campaigns: ‘Luster’, ‘Somebody that I used to know’.

About BookMachine Creative Agency

BookMachine Creative Agency, launched in 2017, is an events and marketing agency based in the UK. We help publishing organisations globally to develop and reach new audiences using stand-out digital marketing strategies and techniques. Our skilled team has decades of experience working in publishing, and each of us have honed the digital marketing skills needed to reach publishers, editors, book influencers and translators around the world. Our clients include: Bloomsbury, Canongate, DK, HarperCollins, Head of Zeus, Icon Books, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Singing Dragon, Cambridge University Press, Hodder Education, John Murray Learning, Oxford University Press and many more.