Getting high-profile people to write a blurb or endorse your book is always a great goal – or even getting someone to share your stuff is fantastic.
Going after them, however, can be tricky because in the age of social media and access to everyone, it’s easy to get carried away when targeting an influencer.
I’ve spoken to some authors who will just create a “hit list” of folks they aspire to get endorsements from or influencers they want to reach and start plugging away. Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn’t. More often than not, the latter is true.
Though it’s not always easy to get endorsements, it’s definitely possible. Also, the higher you go up the celebrity food chain, the more involved the process becomes.
Let’s say right up front that the more you network, the faster you’ll get influencers to notice you. If people know you, or have at least met you, they may be more inclined to help you out.
I understand the passion behind your project and that you want to get it out to the world, and certainly an influencer could help to cut that time in half but if you pitch the wrong person in the wrong way, you’ll just waste your own valuable marketing time.
First: Do Your Homework
Alignment: When I get targeted for a blurb, I’m always amazed at how often the book I’ve been asked to blurb has nothing to do with my area of expertise or what I’m known for.
And while I get that someone like Guy Kawasaki has millions of followers, and gee, wouldn’t it be great if he shared your stuff, wouldn’t it make more sense if Guy was actually interested in what you were selling?
So that’s step one: make sure that whoever is on your list has a direct interest. Not indirect, not through some random thing they were involved in ten years ago, but a direct connection. The more direct the connection, the easier this will be.
Conflict: Remember that when you’re doing your research, see if there’s a conflict with your book. Do they have a book or product coming out that they are currently promoting?
Sometimes these things can present a conflict and other times, they present an opportunity. This might be a good chance to offer to share it with your crowd.
Though it may not be as big as the influencer’s (and likely it isn’t) it’s still nice to offer the gesture and most people won’t turn down a free mention of their book or whatever it is that they are marketing.
Relationships: Marketing is all about relationships, we know this, and as I mentioned above: people who know you are more inclined to help you. Build those relationships, and as you do, consider this:
Add Value: Gaining the attention of an influencer for anything – whether it’s a blurb or a social media share – has to be a two-way street. Share their stuff, help them out, offer value.
Don’t just show up with your hand out because I can almost guarantee you, you won’t get a positive response.
Do Your Research: If you have your sights set on someone, study them, know what they’ve written, what they like and don’t like. I’m so flattered when people take the time to get to know my work and even a few times where people have mentioned my dog.
Get to know who they are, even referencing something they recently shared on social media, a trip they took, whatever. Let them know you are paying attention and that you care.
This makes a huge difference! Ask anyone who has ever been pitched a product, blurb or a social media share.
Practice Good Email: As much as we all know how many emails big names and influencers get, I’m still surprised at how often I see pitches that are unfocused and rambling. While I don’t get near the amount of email that a celeb or influencer does, I am still amazed at how many unprofessional pitches I’ll get.
Consider this: regardless of how you are pitching, your subject line is crucial and most of us have a preview on our phone, too, so aside from a crafty subject line, consider a subtitle that will be the first sentence they see before even opening the email.
That’s how a lot of us scan email these days before we decide to open it, file it, or just dump it.
And if you’re lucky enough to get an influencer to open up your email, make sure that the body of it is tightly a tightly focused pitch that is ideally no longer than one paragraph.
The big “why”: This may seem like an awfully obvious thing to do, but you need to be sure and be clear on the “why” – meaning why they should do this for you. I would recommend that you include this in your pitch.
Be clear on their WIIFM (what’s in it for me) factor before you put your pitch together. I’m not suggesting you pay them, but offer them some insight on how their blurb or their social media share could help this book reach more readers because it helps them accomplish XYZ.
Don’t mention that it’ll help you sell more, though that is also true. This is about reaching more readers.
Step Two: How to Pitch Your Target
Now that you’ve done the above, it’s time to really go after what you want. Let’s say that you want some high-profile person to blurb your book. Where do you begin?
In-Person Events: If they’re speaking somewhere or attending an event and you think you can get even thirty seconds with them, it’s worth the trip or drive or whatever.
Trust me, I’ve gotten more blurbs from in-person stuff than anything else.
Prior to the Event: If you know you’re going to be at an event with someone you are trying to get to know, follow the event hashtag in the weeks leading up to it.
Participate, offer your own insight, tweet to that person’s Twitter account and tell them how much you’re looking forward to their talk. They may not remember you when event time comes, but they just might and it could be worth the effort.
Reaching someone without an Event: Even if you can’t gain access to them in person or maybe the event is too pricey to attend you can still add value by sharing their stuff on social media, wishing them luck at the event.
I had a friend once who couldn’t afford to go to the event, but instead asked to meet the person after their talk in the lobby.
Prior to this she’d been doing a lot of legwork around this by becoming visible in their Twitter stream and sharing their content, responding to some social media updates, even commenting on their blog.
By the time the event came around, her invitation to meet didn’t come totally out of left field.
Step Three: Making the Pitch
The Pitch: If you’re going to a talk someone is giving and you want to pitch them there make sure you are ready. Have two copies of your book with a letter (the ASK) and your contact info (a business card) attached to the book.
Don’t just insert it, make sure it’s glued or taped on. Trust me, if it’s loose it’ll get lost. When you hand it to them have your pitch ready. Two to three sentences – that’s all you get.
Don’t ramble, don’t hem and haw your way through this. This is your moment to shine, have the pitch ready.
Follow up: Before you leave them with the book make sure you have a way to follow up. Sometimes they’ll say “I’ll get in touch.” Well, it’s better if you can follow up, so be politely persistent about it.
I’m a firm believer that even the most high-profile influencers are reachable if you take the right actions to do so.
Like-minded influencers will often be excited and more than willing to help you out but the relationship doesn’t have to end there.
I find that these situations often morph into very mutually beneficial long-term relationships which means that you shouldn’t drop this effort once you get your blurb or mention.
Stay on their radar screen, because reaching influencers is not something that has to have an end date or be a one-time thing.
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.