An influencer is an individual with a large audience or following—generally on social media—though this could be said of anyone with celebrity before TikTok and Instagram made influencing a career.

Of all the places to spend precious marketing dollars, a mention by the right influencer in your reader audience can make the difference between a few sales to thousands.

If an author prefers to remain private or doesn’t spend time on social media, hiring an influencer allows you to leverage their followers and introduce your book to readers.

Influencers can be hired with specific campaigns in mind, or you can let the influencer plan the campaign for you. Most influencers know what their audiences respond to on social media and prefer to have some creative freedom with campaigns.

The trick to turning influencer mentions into sales is finding influencers aligned with your reader audience. Once you find influencers, some will have links to advertising and promotion packages. In other cases, you may have to negotiate fees and provide content, still images, or video.

People who are influencers have a lot of followers—in the thousands or millions. These followers can be spread over social media platforms, including TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube.

Influencers tend to specialize. You’ll find those who promote romance books, fantasy, and young adult fiction. Influencers who are parents may promote books, but also other products parents buy, like car seats and baby products.

So, how do you find influencers for your book marketing?

Begin by downloading Instagram and TikTok on your phone. Using the search function, try to find hashtags that relate to your book’s genre and theme. A hashtag is a pound (#) symbol followed by a word related to a topic that helps to organize content. For example, if you write historical romance novels, use #booktok, #historicalromance, and #romance to start. On TikTok, tap the “see more” text after searching to read all the influencers’ hashtags for their posts. Use similar hashtags in your own posts if you want to attract the same audience.

Influencers will list many hashtags (called hashtag stuffing) when they post. Here are some examples of popular book marketing hashtags:

#BookTok

#books

#booktropes

#bookrecs

#bookrecommendations

#reading

#booknerds

#[insert an author’s name or book title]

As you search by hashtag, several profiles will display as you find posts that use the hashtags. People with the most followers are generally the influencers. Read and listen to what the influencer posts. Some talk about their top five books or share cover reveals. Others sing funny songs. Click the circle with the plus symbol on TikTok to follow your favorite influencers and popular individuals or organizations. Next, check out the influencer’s profile and see if there’s a contact link. A committed marketer will build a spreadsheet with their favorite BookTok influencers. Research if the influencer offers any promotion packages. Keep track of the date you inquire about marketing promotions and the response.

Some BookTok influencers will link to reviews they’ve posted on Goodreads. This is another way to learn about influencers in the book sector. With this information, you’ll learn if they read in your genre. This is an alternate way to find reviewers for your book as you also seek influencer campaign opportunities.

If the influencer uses their real name online, you may be able to find them through another platform and send a text or email asking if they do promos. Alternatively, you can comment in the post with a way to reach you and hope they see the comment.

Another way to find influencers is to see who your network of friends follows and likes. If you see a pattern in popularity, it means the individual or group may have influence. You can use this strategy on all the social media platforms you use and see if there are any influencers you feel might be a good fit for your book. This may also be a way to learn more about what and who your ideal reader likes.

When you’re ready, contact influencers with a short pitch personalized to them. Include phrasing that demonstrates you’ve read their posts. Make a work offer and provide a link to your book. Send your pitch by DM and email if you can find one. Some influencers work for free or nominal amounts of money. Others charge in the thousands. A free trial of the services mentioned in this chapter may help as you research influencers and learn how much they charge.

Before paying for an influencer campaign, write a contract. List any deliverables you expect with a timeline for the execution of the campaign. You can ask for an invoice from the influencer sent through PayPal that details the scope of work and can serve as a contract.

Unfortunately, most influencer advertising has been wrapped into robust enterprise-size platforms that require you to take a live demo to test. Pricing may be prohibitive for individuals and small publishers. But you can always make someone an offer and see if they’ll accept.

One of my former clients, Neal Schaffer, writes extensively on influencer marketing. I’ll include more information about him and his book next. Through his book and extensive resources, you’ll find helpful tips on how to tell if influencers have fake followers and more.

Curious to learn how much the top TikTokers make? Here’s a list of the top earners: https://www.hopperhq.com/tiktok-rich-list

You can use the sites and apps mentioned next to learn more about influencer marketing and sourcing influencers. Influencers with experience have specific marketing packages for sale. Keep in mind that professional influencers may not welcome clients who are overly controlling. They know their audience best, so consider this when writing the scope of service and contracts.

Neal Schaffer – Neal’s area of expertise is digital marketing. He also wrote the definitive book on influencer marketing called The Age of Influence: The Power of Influencers to Elevate Your Brand. There’s a ton of great content on his website. While much of the focus is on business growth, podcasts about growing loyal followings apply to books and products. Visit the website: https://www.nealschaffer.com

Influence.coYou can log in for free on the Influence.co portal and learn what influencers charge within different categories and based on their number of followers. The fewer followers an influencer has, the less expensive the promotional rates. Follow influencers through the Influence.co platform or track them down on Instagram. One Instagrammer I found charges $75 to do a branded book image with a review. Even NetGalley uses some of the influencers found on this site. Check @bookishboujeeandbossbabe to see example posts. Use the word “books” to find influencers yourself through this website. Alternatively, search in categories that match the subject matter of your book. A Pro upgrade on Influence.co is $600 monthly. This fee allows you to work directly with the influencer through the platform, track their work, and crunch metrics against other influence campaigns in one dashboard.

Heepsy.comWhile Influence.co has an Instagram focus, Heepsy brings together influencers on all the major platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Twitch, and YouTube. The most important criterion when paying for influencer posts is the engagement rate. Even if an influencer has thousands of followers, you’ll want to look at the stat for their engagement rate, number of weekly posts, and content. Heepsy also provides a rating for each influencer based on the authenticity of their audience, the ratio of comments to likes (comments indicate higher engagement), and the general audience engagement figures. Based on this data, the platform offers a cost estimate to evaluate when considering a contract with the influencer. Survey the influencer pool by using the free trial. However, you won’t be provided with contact information. A “very high” engagement stat is 10%. To see an example, visit the Instagram for @readaholicdeb to view posts. Deb’s campaign fee ranges from $140 to $260 through the platform. Paid memberships on Heepsy start at $47 per month, when billed annually. There is also a free version that lets users get proposals from creators. It’s a great way to plan your promotion budget.

Klear.comKlear is another very robust enterprise-level product that facilitates influencer and creator relationships. Luckily, they have free tools for authors who want to search the database but are okay with getting limited results. Users can search for influencers in different regions of the world. Influencers are listed by name. Some listings display contact information. Klear is packed with celebrity influencers who have millions of followers. Klear states that the database contains Brand Influencers and niche and micro-influencers. However, a quick search of the term “book reviews” for Twitter/X influencers yielded zero results. Try this budget hack: Search the terms #bookaddict, #booklove, #booknerd, and #bookboost on Instagram, then comment or DM influencers that turn up via the search to gauge interest in helping you promote. As of this posting, Klear has become part of Meltwater. Visit https://www.meltwater.com for more information.

Influencity.comInfluencity permits authors to recruit influencers based on their campaign needs. Like other enterprise-level sites, you can collaborate on campaigns with complete oversight from start to finish. Performance may be analyzed so advertisers can make data-driven decisions. A basic plan starts at $168 monthly, and a free 7-day trial is available. Companies have received the message about not taking credit cards for free trials—which creates more trouble than it’s worth when trial buyers want to cancel. A credit card is not required for the free trial on Influencity.com, so give it a whirl.

SocialLadder (Socialladderapp.com) – This service focuses on helping businesses find brand ambassadors—those individuals who contract with a company to represent their products through social media platforms and other ways. Brand ambassadors can be online or students on college campuses, street teams handing out samples, and referral marketing. SocialLadder lets you choose influencers and manage payments and programs directly through an app. This product is for an enterprise-level budget, but it’s worth reading some of the content on the site and taking a demo.

Grin.co and Upfluence.comService providers Grin and Upfluence are two of the largest platforms that offer all-in-one marketing for brands that want to drive sales through influencer marketing. Potential clients need to contact the companies directly for pricing. These sites are also made for large direct-to-consumer brands. The robust integrations allow users to find influencers, engage and write contracts, generate promotional and affiliate codes, and establish tailored integrations to e-commerce tools like Shopify and WooCommerce.

Favikon.comFavikon uses artificial intelligence to monitor social media interactions and report on the most popular creator accounts. Through this, subscribers to the service can choose influencers who may be a good fit for their brand. It’s currently in beta, but this site can be gold for advertising because, as the site suggests, data doesn’t lie. Transparent pricing (meaning you don’t have to speak to a representative) starts at $99 monthly. The number of monthly searches may be throttled depending on the membership level purchased.

Want to learn more about book publishing and promotion? Order my latest book, How to Self-Publish Like A Pro on Amazon.com. It’s filled with all the how-to articles you’ll want to publish without getting scammed.