Although the labels vary, writers have three levels of supporters: Friends, fans, and influencers.
Friends like us and follow us, be it online or in the real world; they may read our books.
Fans adore us and our writing; they will read everything we produce.
Influencers may be a friend or fan, but whether or not they read our books, the important factor is that they influence others to embrace our work.
Writers need all three groups, but influencers are critical in getting the word out. As a writer, I have friends and fans but I’m not sure if I have any influencers. I’m not even sure how to find or cultivate them. Fortunately, someone just modeled this for me.
Two weeks ago in my post Stay Within Your Genre, I confessed to being a fan of Robin Mellom, courtesy of her book Ditched. She then shocked and honored me by leaving a comment! I’ve never had an author do that. This simple act moved me from fan status into influencer status, not a big influencer mind you but an influencer nonetheless.
In a brief 170 words, here’s what I learned about cultivating influencers:
Be polite: She began her comment low key and unassuming, almost as though asking for permission to join the discussion. In a world of loud and brash self-promotion of “BUY MY BOOK,” her humility was refreshing.
Be appreciative: She thanked me for my words. She didn’t need to, but it was nice to hear. I now know that she is a great writer and a nice person, too.
Add to the discussion: I’ve seen too many people comment badly. Regardless of the topic or thread, their message is twisted into “Buy my book.” Not Robin, she made relevant comments to my premise of staying within one genre. Her experience shows that you can write to multiple audiences. That’s so encouraging to hear.
Have appropriate self-promotion: She did in fact mention her next YA book, Busted. Sharing this information fit nicely into the discussion and answered my implied question. From this I learned that when self-promotion will advance the discussion and supports the post, then do it, but if it doesn’t, then the best action is no action.
Be positive: Throughout it all, she was positive and upbeat. Though she could have been nit-picky over some minor inferences, she was not. Her comment was as fun to read as her book.
That, my friends, is one way to turn a fan into an influencer. Now I know.
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Peter Lyle DeHaan, PhD, is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.