You might have heard me talk about how much I love preorder gifting campaigns and any gifting campaign in general. Usually, these would be to reward those who preorder or buy your book but today I want to talk about influencer marketing and, more specifically, how to send PR/influencer press boxes.
Some articles you might find helpful, prior to reading this post, are;
How to Run a Preorder Gift Campaign: https://www.melissahawkes.com/post/how-to-run-a-preorder-gift-campaign
Why You Should Be Using Influencer Marketing: https://www.melissahawkes.com/post/why-you-should-be-using-influencer-marketing
What is a PR/influencer press box?
A PR/influencer press box is a box that you send to journalists or influencers who, in return, will promote your box/book on their social media or brand publications, such as a blog. This is great for building awareness for your book as you need people to KNOW about it and see it. Let's dive into how you can create these boxes.
Build a list of influencers and journalists you want to send boxes to
To start, build a list of all the journalists and influencers you want to send boxes to. You can find relevant people by searching Google for blogs and using social media apps to find influencers. A great hashtag to search for book influencers on Instagram is #bookstagram.
What's most important, is to make sure you're targeting influencers who specialise in your category or have a high number of followers/engagement from those who match your target audience. For example, if your book is a young adult, fantasy book, try to target influencers and journalists who regularly post about this type of category of book. Similarly, if your book is a guide to writing, target blogs and websites that teach others how to write, or who have a large number of followers that are writers. My advice is to always focus on the engagement an influencer has, rather than the number of followers as, ultimately, you want their posts to be seen and interacted with by a higher number of people. Due to ever-changing algorithms, just because a person has a large number of followers, it doesn't mean that their posts are being seen by that number.
One thing that you must consider here, is the shipping costs. I'll get to this later, but you'll need to ship your boxes to the influencer you choose so, for example, if you're trying to send a box from the USA to Australia, this could work out to be very costly. You also have to factor in the weight of your box, which if heavier can make the price increase. If you have a lower budget for this, try to choose influencers who live in your country or neighbouring countries that aren't too far away.
Once you've built your list of influencers, prepare a message and reach out to them
Once you've built your list of influencers, it's time to reach out to them. Prepare a message to send to them that clearly states what you want to achieve from this. For example, let them know that you want to send them a press box, with the book included, in exchange for an honest review, social media coverage, blog posts, etc. Take a look at the below message I used when reaching out to #bookstagram influencers that I wanted to work with.
Say something along the lines of,
I love your page!
I'm a [category/genre] author and I'm publish(ing/ed) my debut/latest novel in [month]. I'd love to send you a free press box (book included) in exchange for [what?]?
Please do let me know if this is something you're interested in. I'm hoping to send the boxes in [month] with coverage to be posted by/during [month].
I hope to hear from you soon!"
You could even add more about the book, such as a synopsis if you'd like, or book stats if it's already come out, but try to keep your message as short, sweet and snappy as possible.
If they reply saying that they'd like to be involved, you then need to gather their addresses. Make sure you store these on a list somewhere and then delete them after you've sent the boxes to comply with GDPR regulations.
Decide which version of the book you want to send
I suggest using the most premium version of your book, usually a hardcover, but you can totally send paperback too. Print books always work best as it is a press box and the idea is that you send them a physical copy of your book to promote online. A great idea is to also customise the books to make them extra special. You can do this by personally signing them, giving the books sprayed edges, or something else you might think of.
Decide which promotional items you want to send
I suggest not just sending the book itself, though you totally can if you're on a lower budget, but also including other items to go with your book and provide something extra special. Have you seen when other traditionally published authors do this and you're sat wishing you were big enough to receive those custom-made, LOTR slippers? Me too.
I sent out my press items when I was running my preorder gifting campaign, meaning that the influencers would promote the items their followers might want (hello LOTR slippers) and actually be able to have if they preordered my book, which prompts them to go ahead and preorder.
Here are a few items you could include;
A thank you note
A letter from the author
Merchandise such as t-shirts, mugs, notebooks
Make sure you're thinking about the cost when coming up with your list of items to include. Whilst doing this, search for suppliers for these items and tally up the costs so that you're prepared for later and know exactly where to order the items from.
Order your items, including shipping items and package everything together once arrived.
Next, you need to order your items. Don't forget, that you also need to order shipping items such as boxes that you'll send your items out in, confetti, packaging peanuts, tissue paper or anything else you might want to include to make the box extra special and more visually pleasing. I believe I used premium black shredded paper for mine, and it worked out so well!
As well as shipping items, make sure you check how much it costs to courier these boxes, as you most likely won't be able to fit them into the local postbox.
When you're boxes are ready to go (don't put labels on them yet) set clear expectations and rules
Once ready, send another message to the influencer you're using and make sure to let them know exactly what you want them to do from this exchange. When I messaged the influencers I used, I told them what I expected from them in terms of content (a grid post, stories, etc), when they needed to post these by, any information they needed to include (for me, it was information about my preorder campaign), when my release date was, to make sure they tagged me, any hashtags I wanted them to include (#cloakedshadows #welcometonevera).
It's worth noting, that for anything like this, Instagram requires that the influencer involved tag you as a paid partnership, which they can do in the advanced settings when creating their posts. Although, technically you haven't paid them anything, due to new ad laws, gifting anything counts as a paid promotion.
Once you've sent this, ask them to confirm that they understand the above and, once confirmed, go ahead and put a label on your box, ready for a courier to pick up.
Here are some of the photos taken from the influencers I used!