Can Micro-Influencers Sell Books? - Andrew Crofts

“How do you market a book successfully?” is quite possibly the hardest question to answer in publishing. I would say that it is actually harder than “how do you write a book?”.

In most cases the problem is a lack of decent marketing budgets within publishers. If they have high-profile, brand-name authors, who are already bringing in a steady cash flow, there are several avenues that they can go down in order to create awareness and bring in the sales. For the majority of books, however, there is only really the time and money for a bit of light pr and then it is up to the authors to make themselves famous and their books attractive.

Suppose, for a moment, however, that you have ghost-written a novel for an author and that author decides that they are willing to put a great deal of money and effort into the marketing? Where should you advise them to direct their funds in order to be most effective?

That is the situation that I found myself in this month. The book in question is best categorised as an “ideas-based thriller”, a sort of “Dan Brown meets Paulo Coelho” situation, a page-turner that asks how to save mankind from self-destructing within the next few generations.

All books ultimately need good word-of-mouth, so the question seems to be how to direct the funds most effectively in order to get people talking about the questions raised in the book and recommending other people to read it.

We decided, after much discussion with the publisher and a variety of publishing pr companies, that there is a limited amount that can be done with traditional pr when it comes to fiction from a first time author – particularly one who is not native to this country. We also understand that even a budget as large as this one would be eaten up very fast with traditional above-the-line advertising. Posters on railways stations may be good for recognisable publishing stars who already have dedicated fan bases, but once the posters come down and the money is spent what happens then?

We decided that we would investigate the world of digital advertising via micro-influencers. I mean, if they are powerful enough to propel Trump into the White House and make Nigel Farage a credible public figure they should be able to get the ideas from this book out into the world with ease. Right?

So now we are at the stage of talking to digital advertising agencies and trying to get our heads around this new, mysterious and potentially sinister world of “influencers” and jolly fascinating it is too.

I will keep you posted on our adventures as they develop.        


Griselda Heppel said…
This is fascinating. As you say, marketing is key, but what's the most effective way to do it? Even with a large budget (which is excellent news for your client) your problems aren't over because it could so easily be squandered. Please do keep us up to date with how you get on in the world of digital influencers. Though if your client's book soars up the lists, we'll know it's working!
Enid Richemont said…
Both sinister and fascinating. Will await reports from you.
Umberto Tosi said…
Fascinating post. Consider yourself an agent about to infiltrate the dark side of promo. I could have used your intel when I ghosted a couple of high-profile books years ago and naively trusted promotion to our big-name publishers. I believe micro-influencers are only one leg on the stool of cyberpromotion, BTW, another is data analytics funded dark money political donors. If you want tips on how Trump was put in the White House, best call Vladimir Putin. Thanks for a thought-provoking post! Good luck!

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