Bookish Influencer Marketing: A Strategy for Publishers

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We are officially in the age of influence!

It’s cited that 61% of consumers trust influencer recommendations, while only 38% trust branded social media content. [Source] 

Influencer marketing has grown from being an accessory to digital marketing campaigns to being a vital organ for raising brand awareness and creating social relationships with target audiences, in the publishing industry and beyond. 

In this article, we explore the different types of influencer, and how you might identify which influencers to work with on your next book marketing campaign.

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Getting it right: What is an influencer?

As the term becomes more common, its definition grows more elusive. Influencer marketing hub describes them as someone with “the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of [their] authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience”. Influencers are early adopters, trend forecasters, and can be your book’s biggest cheerleaders. 

It’s worth cultivating a healthy mutual relationship with influencers as they can often be cultural gatekeepers. They convert economic capital to social capital in a much more efficient way than a business on its own, meaning that when you invest money in an influencer marketing campaign, you get what the kids call “street cred”. That small degree of separation makes all the difference. 

In this way, it’s better to think of influencers less like a specific marketing tool only valuable for boosting sales. Influencers to brands are more like that friend who can invite you to a party and introduce you to everyone there, saying “have you met my friend? This is why they’re great”, creating long-term relationships in a target audience that convert to high-quality leads over time.

While influencers don’t have control over their content going viral, they can massively increase your visibility.

So how do you know which influencer to choose for your next book marketing campaign?

Nail your niche

The boom of the influencer coupled with the advent of the algorithm means that there are influencers in almost every social group you can think of. Influencers exist across every social media platform, most notably on TikTok and Instagram where you can find booming communities in farming, teaching, knitting, and most notably, reading. 

Online book communities have grown significantly, segmenting into groups of readers who avidly discuss one genre in particular.

It is best to go as granular as you can with the types of influencers you want to be involved in your campaign. It isn’t enough, for example, to go to TikTok and search “BookTok” to find influencers to recruit for your campaign. 

Some questions you might ask yourself before cultivating an influencer contact list are:

  • Genre of books they typically review/read
  • Location 
  • Age range
  • Tone 
  • Audience size (we’ll get onto this later)

The answers to these questions are great to have before falling down the rabbit hole of influencer research (which can look an awful lot like skiving but it’s useful market research, trust us). 

Using the search bar of your platform of choice can feel limiting when you’ve searched for “cosy crime influencers” and yielded few results. However, you can find influencers by seeing which accounts are suggested in tandem with those you have already chosen, by tracking who engages with those influencers and who else they interact with, and by looking at top performers in relevant hashtags. 

Being as creative as possible with your searches and putting your amateur detective skills to use will yield great results!

Diversify your audience size

When cultivating your list, it might seem like common sense to choose influencers with larger followings to increase exposure, but a larger platform does not necessarily mean a larger impact or ROI.

The influencer marketing lingo has evolved over the years to include some key terms that you should add to your vocabulary: mega, macro, micro and nano influencers.

Mega influencers - 1 million plus followers. Macro influencers - 100 thousand to 1 million followers. Micro influencers 10 thousand to 100 thousand followers. Nano influencers - 1 thousand to 10 thousand followers.

Types of Influencers:

Mega influencers – 1 million plus followers. Macro influencers – 100 thousand to 1 million followers. Micro influencers 10 thousand to 100 thousand followers. Nano influencers – 1 thousand to 10 thousand followers.

If it helps, you can think of your influencer marketing campaign as an ecosystem that needs balance to thrive. 

Mega-influencers 

Mega influencers have 1 million + followers. They have large platforms and may be represented by a management company or agent. Many of them have influence as a result of careers in acting, music, or from having more varied content styles on social media. Some of them have externally managed book clubs in their name that generate interest and sales where books can be pitched. 

Working with these influencers may require more of a publicity-style approach, and while effective may need to be handled differently.

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Reese Witherspoon

Celebrity status
Instagram 28.8 million followers
Book club 25.5 million followers

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Jack Edwards

YouTube 1.19 million subscribers
TikTok 487.6K
Instagram 357K followers

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Oprah Winfrey

Celebrity status
Instagram 21.9 million
Book club 703K followers

Macro-influencers

Macro-influencers have between 100,000 and 1 million followers. This category is home to most of the top-performing specific book content creators across TikTok, Instagram and even YouTube, yet these creators still tend to be broad in the audiences they ensnare and the books that they read. They may be represented by management or self-represent, may be full-time creators, and are more likely to participate in paid social media campaigns. 

They also may have large followings across multiple platforms but have one that is particularly engaged.

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Hikari

@foldedpagesdistillery
Instagram 113K followers

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Marcela

@marcereads
Instagram 140K 
TikTok 16K

Ayman

@aymansbooks
Instagram 144K followers
TikTok 922.9K followers

Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 100,000 followers. This category is where creators begin to fall into a certain niche when it comes to the genre they lean towards and recommend to their audiences. They may want to participate in gifted campaigns for books they are aware of or for authors they like, as well as being open to receiving things they haven’t heard of. 

They tend to be experienced in participating in paid campaigns while managing their platforms independently, allowing a connection to be made between publisher and creator – shortening the gap to their audience.

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Hana & Hali

@booksonthebedside
TikTok 30.9K followers

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Emily 

@readingbyemily
Instagram 42.6K

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Léa

@loverofpages

Instagram 51K followers
TikTok 34.9K followers
YouTube 5K subscribers

Nano-influencers

Nano-influencers have between 1,000 and 10,000 followers. These creators tend to be new to the scene or have more niche and defined audiences. While they are human beings with varied tastes, they tend to lean into one particular genre and have certain authors that they celebrate. 

Despite their small following, they can often have really high engagement rates and a high level of trust among those who do follow them. They can help your campaign reach the people who are going to appreciate your book and reach into the crevices of the community you are targeting. They are often most responsive to gifted campaigns and are also great to involve in paid campaigns too for high-quality content creation and ROI.

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@amber.academia

TikTok 6.5K followers

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@rachloureads

Instagram 8.5K

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@asiasbooks

TikTok 7K followers

Get with the program!

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With the term “litfluencer” being coined in the New York Times and influencer marketing being a key part of huge viral marketing campaigns, such as the campaigns for Babel by R.F. Kuang, Booklovers by Emily Henry, and Beautiful World Where Are You by Sally Rooney, it’s clear that bookish influencers are here to stay.

A little research and a small budget can go a really long way in getting your book to be the next social media sensation by forming an alliance with the tastemakers.

Let us help

If you don’t know where to start or don’t have time, BookMachine Creative Agency can run an influencer campaign for you! 

Check out our case study on a campaign we ran for Thames & Hudson, connecting Gen-Z influencers with David Hockney’s Spring Cannot Be Cancelled.

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