Being an Influencer Isn't Just About Getting a Free Book

What exactly is an Influencer? We hear that word tossed around in writing circles, especially from authors who put out requests for Influencers around the time of a book release. If you’re like me, you may have wondered what an Influencer does and if you'd ever qualify to be one.

What is an Influencer?

In the last post about ARCs, I gave a brief definition of an Influencer. Here it is again: Someone who starts some buzz and spreads the word about the new book.

I like the way author Kim Vogel Sawyer recently described the difference between Influencers and Reviewers. She said this: “An INFLUENCER is meant to ENCOURAGE OTHERS TO READ the book. . . A REVIEWER shares his/her OPINION of a book.”

An Influencer is someone who wants to help in the promotion of a book. They’re a fan of the author and desire to assist them in getting the word out to others. We all know how powerful word-of-mouth can be in marketing a book. So, Influencers are strategic in getting the “talk” going and can help the beginning marketing efforts.

A reviewer, on the other hand, can also help in the promotion—if they like the book, write a stellar review, and recommend the book to others. But a reviewer also has the option of sharing what they didn’t like. Generally, if an influencer doesn’t like a book after reading it, they should opt not to say anything at all rather than hurt the author’s marketing efforts.

Usually, Influencers receive a free book from the author or publishing house for the express purpose of promoting the author and book. In my case, Bethany House has asked me to put together a spreadsheet of 50 influencers with names and addresses. In a month or two, I’ll send them my list. Then they’ll mail copies of The Preacher’s Bride to all those who expressed interest in helping promote the book.

How does an Influencer encourage others to read the book?

I’m learning there are numerous ways to carry out the role of Influencer. For a detailed look at the various things an Influencer can do to help promote a book, check out author Deb Raney’s article: How Can You Help Promote a New Book? It has many excellent, practical ideas.

Here’s a small summary of what Influencers can do:

• Write a review for an online site: a bookstore (like Amazon), a reader hang-out (like Goodreads).
• Write a review for a print newspaper, magazine, or newsletter.
• Talk to your local bookstores or public libraries. If they don’t carry the book, give them your copy to review and encourage them to order it.
• Offer to host an interview or review on your blog; use your influencer copy as a book giveaway.
• Post tweets or facebook comments about the book.
• Donate a copy of the book to your church or school library.
• Offer to distribute bookmarks, postcards, or other promotional items.
• Start discussions about the book in groups/organizations you’re apart of (either online or in real life).

The possibilities are limitless. You could even "drop leaflets while parachuting from an airplane" (as Deb Raney jokes in her article). The key is finding ways to spread the news and get others excited about the book.

The role of Influencer is important. No one should offer to be one without first giving weight to the author, if the book is a genre they like, and whether they have the time to read and promote the book. Sure, Influencers get a free book, but there is a cost involved in making a concerted effort to do the promotional work we signed up for.

I’m filling up my 50 slots fairly quickly. But if you’re interested in being an Influencer for The Preacher’s Bride please let me know in the comments. Leave your email address, along with how you’d be willing to promote the book. At the end of the week, I’ll pick from those expressing the most interest.

If you’re not interested in being an official Influencer, you won’t offend me in the least! As I said, the Influencer job is not one to take lightly and we shouldn’t do it if we honestly can’t make the time or effort to promote the book.

**Additional Note: Some have pointed out in their comments that we can be Influencers for one another informally, without signing up for the free Influencer book. Roxane mentioned: "That's what friends are for." And I agree--we support and help one another anyway! Thanks to everyone who's cheered me on in one form or another! I appreciate your friendships!

Have you ever been an Influencer before? What kinds of things did you do or have you seen done to help promote another author’s book? Do you think Influencers can really make a dent in the marketing effort? Tell me your thoughts! I’m curious!


  1. I'm reading a book right now that I plan to be an influencer of. It's a fabulous memoir that makes you think about your Christian walk. I had no idea I was an influencer when I received the book to review, but I'm excited to quote the book on Twitter, Facebook and I'm considering doing a small group study of it to share it with others.

    I am so excited to influence others to read your book, Jody, it won't matter if your publisher sends it to me or if I purchase it straight off Amazon. I know it's going to be an amazing love story, written beautifully, written to inspire and teaches about a period of time I'm not as familiar with. I'm anxiously anticipating its release.

  2. Jody, I'd love to be an influencer for you if you'd like. Your book is one I would pick up to read since I love this genre. I've helped influence a few of Mary E DeMuth's books (even though my daughter was really on the influencer list) by talking to lots of friends about it, recommending it on facebook and through my blog. Word of mouth is a great tool! I also wrote a review on amazon about Mary's book, Thin Places. (btw, you HAVE to read that book if you haven't already!!) I would do the same for your book. And even if you don't pick me, I can't wait to read your book when it comes out!! tndrupp AT embarqmail DOT com

  3. I'm an influencer for a couple of authors and I would LOVE to be one for YOU! You know I am a big fan of yours from what little I've read of your writing style, and I know I could rave about The Preacher's Bride on my blog and tweets. :)

    sherrinda (at) gmail (dot) com

  4. I'd love to be an influencer. I'm a member of Paperbackswap, which means I'm sending books constantly (because I love getting books constantly) and I love tucking in a bookmark or two that tells about another book of a similar genre.
    I'd also post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

  5. Oh, pick me, pick me, pick me!

    Sorry... hold on, let me grow up for a minute.

    There, I'm 29 again instead of 9...

    I do think influencers are important. I've found out about a ton of books that I ended up buying because I've seen the picture plastered over blogs and twitter.

    Um... as to how I would influence your book, I'm thinking about badgering every person I know and telling them how AWESOME it is and how mad I will be at them if they don't buy it... but then again, that might create some negative buzz, so maybe not...

    Seriously though, I'll fight Sherrinda for the opportunity to post about it on thewritersalley, and regardless if she wins or not (I do a mean arm wrestle though) I'll post about it on my own blog, do all the fun reviews, and WILL talk it up to all those fun readers I know:-)

  6. I've been an influencer and HAD fabulous influencers, who even went so far as to set up signing engagements for me!

    It's a joy to serve the Lord--and fellow writers--by influencing writing you believe in.


  7. NO! Pick ME! *Jaime childishly shoves Krista out of the way*

    LOL - Great definition of influencer Jody. I also find the "cost" very small when you're truly excited about the book. It's so fun to get fellow readers to experience a new author. I just introduced my cousin to Colleen Coble and she's practically hyperventalating! (My cousin - not Colleen) ;)

    Anyway, I think Krista's still down, so that means I'm on the list right? ;)

    jamida(at) charter (dot) net

    PS - ok fine. Krista should probably get one before me since I resort to brute force to get my way.

  8. Hi Jody... though I promoted several of my publisher's books, by writing reviews for few Leading English Newspapers in India(I write for several papers), I didn't realize until I read this post that I was doing the job of an Influencer. I thought that I was just helping someone out by giving the book some visibility in the papers.

    Would love to help you out, but being in India how much it will help I really don't know.

  9. Ha! Turns out I've been in Influencer for a friend's book without even knowing it! AND I bought my copy, go figure that.

    Great summary, Jody, I'll keep this all in mind when my time comes.

    - Liz

  10. Is it a simple job for you to pick 50 people who could help promote your book? I ask because I'm not sure that I actually know 50 people, and this becomes yet another part of marketing that seems daunting to me. You've really put yourself out there and made a blogging name for yourself, though, and that's key, I suspect.

  11. Great post about influencers!

    For me, if I love a book, I become an influencer regardless if the author asked me to or not! :) Like with Mary DeMuth's Think Places (technically, she did send me a book as an official influencer), but even if she wouldn't have, I would have raved about this book anyway.

    Other things you can do:

    -consider buying another copy for a friend who would like it (never possible for the author to sell TOO many copies) and when I really like the book, I almost feel guilty about getting a free copy and not helping that author with the sales.

    -or, keep the copy you received for free (if you really liked it) and buy an additional copy as a give away prize

    Word of mouth, like you said, is SO important. I still find myself making comments on people's blogs about Thin Places because man, it was THAT good.

    My only struggle in the past is that I have read a book before that I was supposed to influence and I didn't like it. So, like you said, I opted to say nothing at all.

  12. Well, I don't need a free copy of your book to influence. If your book is half as well-written as the blog, I am sure it is wonderful.

    I actually used you by name in a my upcoming book and I hope that it drives traffic to your site.

    I think this blog is about official influencers, but everyone on social media has the power to influence. This is why relationships are so critical on social media.

    But, if you need an official influencer, I would be happy to volunteer, although you could count on Twitter and FB support regardless.
    I would be happy to do a review on my blog, but, again, I would do that anyway.

    Thanks for another lovely blog, Jody.

  13. Good things to know. I've been an influencer and didn't know it, but not the way I'd hoped. I always give books to the library (if I don't like the book - doy!). If I like it, I keep it. I'm going to give some more thought to that next time.
    Thanks for sharing. :)

  14. This is really interesting, Jody. I'm currently working on my author's questionnaire and am asked to include my Influencers there.

    Did you have to fill out something similar early on?

    I'm curious how things work publisher to publisher.

  15. Arabella asked: Is it a simple job for you to pick 50 people who could help promote your book?

    My Answer: You hit on something important with your question. It is important to develop those social media relationships early. They are helpful in so many ways later. If we've already built genuine relationships/friendships with others, then our friends will want to help us when the time comes. If we wait until our book is coming out to start social media connections, then we risk earning the reputation of befriending others for the sake of marketing, perhaps making them feel used.

    Okay, with that said, since I've been building a web presence over the past year, I honestly am not having trouble with finding people willing to serve as offical Influencers. I will probably end up having to narrow down my list to the most strategic and most interested. I'm truly blessed with all my friendships! :-)

  16. Caroline Starr Rose asked: I'm currently working on my author's questionnaire and am asked to include my Influencers there. Did you have to fill out something similar early on?

    My Answer: Caroline, it's very interesting to see the differences between publishers!! I filled out an author questionnaire early too. But my influencer list is completely separate. I'm required to send in a spreadsheet with 50 names and addresses--this is something completely separate from ARC readers or any other type of reviewer programs that my publisher does. I personally think that Bethany House is incredibly generous in their promotional giveaways. But I think their strategy is working well, because their books get lots of buzz!

  17. This is a great post! I'm currently gathering up all my "influencers" for the release of my novella, but I never thought of there being a term for someone who refrains from saying anything to hurt the marketing of a book.

    Good luck with your release! I plan on buying a copy and doing a review on my blog. :)

  18. Jody, I'm not sure if I would fall under the category of reviewer or Influener or both. But I look forward to spreading the word about your new book in any case.

    Thoughts in Progress

  19. This is a highly informative post. I wasn't aware that an Influencer promotes strictly for the sake of the book, while a reviewer can be completely honest about their opinion. I certainly love to spread the word about good books, but I don't know that I qualify as anything official :) Thanks for the helpful post!


  20. Jody, I'm a little ashamed to admit that I had not heard the word "influencer" until today. Guess I've been hiding under a rock, or am simply behind on my marketing lingo. I have been an influencer for author friends already, including you. But it feels a little strained to me to think of this in terms of an actual concerted effort, though I understand why it is needed in today's publishing world. I guess I'm more spontaneous with it, promoting authors I consider friends and with whom I have a relationship, doing this from my heart because I feel they have worked hard, are talented, and deserve the spotlight. That said, when I started doing guest interviews, someone I don't know approached me to do one, and that felt odd. I didn't have a relationship with her and though she may have had a great book, I was hesitant. All this to say I think "influencers" need to have boundaries too, choosing to help a select group of authors they follow closely, but not agreeing to promote anyone who comes along with a request (does that make sense?). I guess I already consider myself part of your camp of influencers, and I'll continue to do so, whether or not I'm officially "in" or not. :) I'd do that, and I know you'd do it return for me. That's what friends are for, right, IRL and otherwise? Good luck fine-tuning the list!

  21. Thank you for this very good explanation, Jody.

  22. I just realized that I am an influencer. I have never felt comfortable in the reviewer role but if I love a story I share it with my friends via my blog, Facebook and Twitter. I love sharing the joy when I find a new book or blog and never feel comfortable criticizing something. The old adage if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all is too firmly ingrained in my mind. Thanks for a great post.

  23. I apologize for my ignorance. This is the first I'm hearing of an Influencer. I think it's a great idea. I like it better than a Reviewer because we don't always need someone else's opinion. When I enjoy a novel, I tell everyone how much and why. They can decide for themselves if they are going to read it.

  24. This leaflets from an airplane thing sounds like a good plan...where do I sign up to help with this duty? :-)

  25. I've been an Influencer for a couple of other books, and I love it! What could be more fun than helping to promote books you enjoy and authors you love? My mother-in-law is already hoping to use your book in our church book club next year. So cool! I just know your book will be well-loved, Jody. :-)

  26. I sure have. I did this little skit on my blog where I took the author's book - out for a walk around my neighborhood. I took pictures of the book wearing sunglasses, in my hands, with the dog, etc... I was amazed at how big it went over. Everyone loved it. I'll surely do it again.

  27. I've been an informal influencer for my whole reading life. If I love a book, everyone in my life knows and knows why. I'm intrigued that there's a formal title and job description, and that an author needs to seek out people to be influencers.

    I think anytime people talk about a book in a positive way helps that book. There's some statistic out there about the number of times we need to hear a title or an author's name before we consider buying or reading a book. It seems like influencers would be a great help with that.

  28. I would be honored to be your influencer! I did this for a few authors and spread the word among friends and family. I wrote up book reviews online and through my homeschooling academy where I write for the paper (big surprise). For you I would hit the L.A. bookstores and request copies. I feel pumped and am looking forward to the huge success the Lord is ready to bless you with!

  29. Hi Jody -

    I've been an influencer for a few books. However, most of the time, I prefer doing my own thing.

    I'm careful about taking on new projects. If I commit to take certain actions as an influencer, I do it to the best of my ability.

    Susan :)

  30. I'm so happy to finally have a name for myself: "Influencer." I only post reviews of books I love on my blog, so I've never felt truly comfortable calling myself a "reviewer."

    I'd love to be an influencer for your book. I enjoy your blog very much and appreciate all you do to share your process with other writers.

    Let me know if I can help.

  31. Thanks for this post which clarifies the distinction between reviewer and influencer. I agree that I usually just like to do my own thing in reviewing books, but sometimes will become an influencer for a book that I believe in.

  32. Hi,

    I would like to be considered as an influencer. I LOVE to read and write. Your book looks like one I would enjoy.

    I would:

    Facebook, Twitter, write a review on my personal blog, as well as my writers group blog. I can also recommend it to my book club, as well as my church bookstore and local library.

    Thank you for your consideration,

    Christine Jackson

  33. I'm like Liz---I'm an influencer for a friend and I didn't know it until now! I'm posting an interview with her and a book giveaway on 7/12. She was kind enough to send me a copy, but I bought the two books I am giving away because I believe in supporting writers. I also bought the books from my local hometown bookstore because I believe in supporting small businesses.

    I love to talk and blog about books. I have a special place in my heart for Christian fiction. Though I read, talk and blog about other genres, Christian fiction is my favorite! I'm a history nut, too, so I love me a good historical.


  34. Jody I am very happy to support you. I will review it on my blog and tweet about it. I will also mention it on facebook.


    All the best with this release. It is exciting to see your adventure progress :)

  35. I follow several authors on twitter and happy to be Influencers for them!

    I will gladly do the same for you!

  36. Woops, forgot the email address:

    pattyblount3 at gmail dot com

  37. Jody,

    I've never been an Influencer on a formal basis, but I am a strong proponent of spreading the word about good books and great authors. I'd love to be a part of your promotion and could help out in almost all of the ways you suggested (except, I don't have a plane...nor am I on facebook).

    Even if I don't make the cut :), I look forward to tweeting all about your release and would love to interview on my blog as well.

    October can't come soon enough!

  38. Oh my gosh, Jody. I'm so excited for you!

    I'm okay to be an unofficial influencer on this one :D
    It's hard to say no and not write my name down for it. :(

    We're just so busy and I don't want to disappoint your exepctations in this.

    Hope you find the best!

    However, I'm looking forward to reading it personally when it comes out :D

  39. I've been an influencer for Jennifer Hudson Taylor for her recent release. It's a genre that I don't generally read, but when a book has a great story and holds my interest,the genre doesn't really matter! I posted about her book on my blog, added it to my sidebar with an amazon link, and gave my copy to our church library....and I just told anyone who reads all of your comments about it! hehehe
    How's that for influening?!

  40. I'm going to be one of your influencers whether you want me or not! The book's on pre-order and don't even try to stop me from shouting about it! (I may have mentioned it a few hundred times to my sister-in-law, who adores inspirational historical romance.)

    So, don't give me a copy. Like I said--pre-order! But I would love to interview you on my blog before the big release if you wouldn't mind? And I would gladly pass out any bookmarks around the area. Two of my libraries stock a lot of inspy's, and I could talk to them about stocking your books. Let me know if there's anything I can do to help sell The Preacher's Bride. Love to!!

  41. I think that authors don't always distinguish between these two terms, but you hit it right on the head.

    As an Influencer, we're obligated to do a bit more than just a review. So we need to think carefully before signing on as to the commitment.

  42. I'd love to be an influencer for your new book. I love historical fiction, it's the genre I write in as well.

  43. Well-written post. I have been an influencer for several authors, but I also have been an "unassigned" influencer for others. If I love a book, I really want to share it. Especially with Christian literature if I feel the author has a message that really needs to get out there.

    I've also had the experience of signing up as an influencer for a book I was really looking forward to and not enjoying the book, which is a disappointment. I think we should think about the fact that people are involved...authors have feelings and I always try to take that into consideration in every review I write. As an unpublished writer I know every rejecting review can sting a bit and I believe it is my job to encourage authors. This is why I weigh my words very carefully in my reviews.

    Congratulations on your novel, Jody. It sounds fantastic!

  44. if you don't already have your allotted 50, i'd love to help get the word out about your book! what an exciting time for you....and to think....i actually KNOW you before you went to print....which makes helping you out all the more pleasurable. :) i'm sure, being married to a therapist, there are plenty of things i can hone in on for a therapeutic review!

    the character therapist

  45. I'd love to help you be an influencer too. I'm the one on the "discussion of reviewer vs influencer" that asked the original question to the loop! :) I'm also a pastors wife myself so I think I'd like your book.

  46. I'm guessing you have enough by now, but I'm more than willing to help out if you still need it. I will likely do it when the book is officially released anyway (A little Aussie help can't go astray) :)

  47. Jody,

    I'd be honored to be an Influencer for your first book. I helped Tom Davis by writing several reviews for his novel "Scared" (at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and CBD, as well as on my blog) last year. He was so impressed by what I wrote that he posted my review on his website.

    I truly believe that Influencers can set off major sparks for a well written book, and that word of mouth will help it spread like wildfire. Really, when all is said and done, what people SAY about your book can relegate it to the back shelf or propel it to the NY Times best-seller list.

  48. I review books mostly on The Book Book blog (because I like small book blogs) and on LibraryThing (so that the book gets more exposure in a community of avid readers).

    Does that make me an "influencer?" I don't know. I do believe that good writing is best promoted by the readers themselves, not by those who have a financial stake in the process (which, sorry, includes the author).

    I don't get paid for writing reviews, nor do I need free books. For me, the joy comes from calling other book lovers' attention to a good book, or warning them off an over-publicized piece of junk. It's all about the love of books, in the end.

    All that to say I'd be delighted to review your book! And have it on my TBR list anyway, because I love to encourage new authors.

  49. Wonderful post. Thank you! I write for Revell, and have been an influencer for several authors--I post on CBD, Amazon, recommend their book to local book clubs, and also post on my blog, Goodreads and Shelfari. I'd love to help with your book if you still have room on your spreadsheet.
    The question of what an influencer does can't be stressed enough. I had an ACFW member agree to "influence" my current novel, and she posted a horrible 1 star review both on Amazon and CBD. I was devastated, since her post was one of the first ones up when the book released.
    I pray that doesn't happen to you. :-)

  50. Forgot to leave my email:

    annshorey [at] msn [dot] com

  51. I've influenced for other books, on facebook, Barnes&Noble, Amazon,, Goodreads, ChristianBook, with local booksellers, libraries and word of mouth. I've mailed postcards, bookmarks and other provided materials, and like others believe if for some reason I cannot honestly promote the material, I agree to say nothing. The most important influence I can do though, is to pray for the author and the readers - that God's message through the story reaches prepared hearts. Delores Liesner at lovedliftedandled(at)

  52. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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