Are you a micro influencer? I am. I’ll never have huge numbers, but people do seem to trust me and I have decent engagement. That’s my definition, anyway.
But if you feel discouraged that you can’t get a book deal without a huge platform, here’s hope. Literary agent Sally Ekus says publishers could be looking for you and your book idea.
In a recent phone conversation, Sally said she’s noticed three phases of cookbook publishing since she started working as an agent in 2009. First, book publishers signed food bloggers like crazy, then they figured out that not everyone was a good choice, and now they’re thinking: hey, maybe it’s not just about the numbers. Maybe micro influencers are a good bet.
That’s good news for most of us, who do not have social media followers in the hundreds of thousands. We are micro influencers, but we are proud. We have expertise and passion, and we work hard. And many of us would like to write a cookbook.
Here’s Sally’s take on the recent phases of cookbook publishing and rise of the micro influencer as author:
Phase 1: The blog-to-book rush
“This period was defined by website traffic, then unique views, then engagement and access and conversation. People who had large platforms were getting six figure offers. Some of those books did not perform well. There wasn’t the right kind of training and support to teach bloggers how to market books. Many had average or below average sales.
Some books performed well, and those bloggers are still around. Food blogging became their business and career. Books were part of their brand.”
Phase 2: Publishers get blogged down, classic authors get dissed
“In this phase, publishers retracted from food bloggers. They realized they needed to do smaller deals or pay big advances to bloggers who could prove community engagement through
- newsletters with high open rates
- lots of blog comments and
- good social media engagement.
A successful free ebook could show that readers were hungry for a book.
Classic food writers had a hard time getting book deals. Their expertise was no longer enough. I represented both bloggers and classic food writers, and it was really frustrating. It was a challenge to match what publishers wanted with their expertise.”
Phase 3: The rise of micro influencers
“Who has an engaged audience and who has expertise? Maybe these food writers and bloggers have a tiny platform, but their readers trust them. Authenticity is driving reader behavior. These people have true fans who are engaged.
Micro influencers with real expertise are in demand. Micro could mean 1000s of followers or a newsletter with 4500 people. From a brand perspective, brands and PR agencies are asking for impressions, engagement and ROIs (Return on Investment). If potential authors can show an ROI from a brand promotion based on a report, it would be unique to present book proposals based on that.
Publishers are moving back to qualified authors. People who had expertise but who were discouraged can have a fresh idea, a new point of differentiation, and have kept current on social media.”
And now for Sally’s best news:
“How many blog followers you have is not my first question anymore. Platform matters, but it’s not the only thing. Now is the time for recipes that work and interesting stories. There’s still a work ethic. That’s still the trick: you have to work really hard.”
So who’s afraid of hard work? Not me, probably not you. For most of us, it seems like the least of our challenges.
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