Have a Positive Influence

By Deborah Raney

Just before a new book is ready to hit the bookstores, most publishers send out what they call "influencers copies"--hot-off-the-press books intended to start a buzz among readers all over the country. What fun it is to send one hundred reading friends a free copy of my new novel! But often the question that follows the thank-you is, "What am I required to do as an influencer?"

Well, technically, nothing. There is no obligation whatsoever in being an influencer. If a particular book isn't your cup of tea, please pass it along to someone you think might enjoy it. But if you do like the book, there are numerous ways to help spread the word.

Not everyone will feel comfortable or have the means to drop leaflets while parachuting from an airplane, but on the list below, you'll find at least one thing that will be a perfect fit with the ways God has gifted you. And I guarantee your efforts, large or small, will bless the author.

•Write a review for the book on online bookstores such as:

•Write a review at one of the many online book review sites, including:

•At http://www.christianbook.com you can recommend books via an e-mail link that will take your friends right to the page of the book you're promoting.

•Recommend the book as a featured title for an area book discussion group. This is especially appropriate if the book has discussion questions in the back.

•Start a discussion about the book on your blog or on e-mail loops you're a part of.

•If you have a website or write a newsletter, consider featuring novels you've read and enjoyed.

•Add the book to your list of favorites on myspace, facebook, or other online communities.

•After reading and reviewing the book, give it away as a prize in a drawing on your website or blog.

•If you have a unique perspective--for instance, personal experience with the book's topic, a man offering a male perspective for a women's fiction book, etc.--offer your insights in venues that might not ordinarily hear about the book.

•Donate your influencer copy to your public library or church library when you're finished reading it. Better yet, share your copy in other ways and buy a second copy for the library.

•Print out a review you've written, or other reviews of the book and give them to your public or church librarians for consideration.

•Offer to distribute bookmarks and/or postcards for the author or publisher. Public libraries, church libraries, bookstores and gift shops are usually happy to have giveaways on their counters.

•Ask your church if you could tuck postcards or bookmarks in the morning service bulletin some Sunday.

•Place bookmarks or postcards about the book at each place setting as favors for a luncheon or banquet.

•Hang out in your local bookstore and "hand sell" the book by talking it up to customers shopping in the fiction department.

•Talk to the clerks in any bookstores and libraries you visit and ask if they carry the book. If not give them a short book report and recommend they order a few copies.

•When visiting bookstores, do a little creative rearranging to turn the book face out on the shelves. Use good judgment and don't hide one book to promote another. Also keep in mind that in some stores front-table space is paid for by the publisher, so don't "steal."

•Offer to write a book review for your church newsletter, neighborhood newspaper or any other printed source that might reach readers.

•At your next women's retreat, volunteer to organize a book table, where you will feature the book.

•Offer to organize a blog tour for the author, setting up a week when numerous blogs will feature the book and interviews with the author.

•When you're finished with the book, tuck it into a gift basket for someone who is ill or in the hospital; or take it to your next dinner party as a hostess gift.

•Leave the book in a waiting room where someone with a few extra minutes might start reading it.

•Prison ministries are always looking for wholesome books to distribute. Check out groups like Prison Book Project: http://www.nbbd.com/npr/PrisonBooks/index.html.

•Word-of-mouth is still probably the number one way books hit bestseller lists, so simply start conversations about the book. Tell your friends and family what you've been reading and why you enjoyed it so much.

Using any one (or more) of the ideas above, you can have a profound influence on the life of a book--and its author.

DEBORAH RANEY is at work on her fifteenth novel. Her books have won the RITA Award, the HOLT Medallion, the National Readers' Choice Award and the Silver Angel from Excellence in Media. Deborah's first novel, A VOW TO CHERISH, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. Deb also serves on the advisory board of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband have four children and live in Kansas. Visit her website at: http://www.deborahraney.com/.

© 2007 Deborah Raney. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission.