There are a lot of ways to track down the websites and social networkers that matter to your readers and add them to your network. Here are some of the most useful.

man with megaphoneWe’ll look at some of the best ways to locate key influencers

We’ll cover:

  • Search engines and specialised search tools
  • Social networks
  • Reading communities
  • Other sources of digital connections
  • A few useful resources

Photo Credit: daoro

Search engines

The good news is that most of the people and connections you’ll want to make have a public presence on the web, so search engines are usually the best starting point for locating them. But don’t just think Google, there’s a lot you can do to narrow your search and to quickly identify your best prospects.

Tip: Explore these tools by visiting the links we’ve listed. Keep this page open in your browser and open each link in a new browser window or tab. To do this:

  • Windows: Right click on the link and select Open in a new tab (or window)
  • Mac: Control-click on the link  (ie press the control key while clicking on the link) and select Open in a new tab (or window)
  • Tablet or smartphone: Press and hold on the link and select Open in a new window
Click here to learn more about search and search techniques for locating key book influencers.

The Big Three

Search Engines

Google is your best friend here, but it’s not your only friend. There are other general search engines, especially Bing and Yahoo (which now uses Bing to power its search). It’s worth running your more productive searches on these smaller search engines: you’ll find good sites that weren’t highly ranked on Google.

Google and other search engines give you tools to refine your searches. Two features that are especially useful are:

  • Advanced Search gives you many more ways to narrow your search including additional terms, logical operators (‘and, ‘or’, etc), region and language. Scroll to the Advanced Search link at the bottom of the Google search results page. For Bing, there’s no Advanced Search form but you can add advanced search operators like AND, NOT and OR to queries.
  • Search a specific site that you want results to come from. Do this by appending to the end of the search query (substituting your target site for ‘’)
Tip. If you’re unfamiliar with a market, a service called Alexa ( is a great way to see which sites are important and to get a snapshot of their audience. It shows a website’s traffic rank globally and by country, common search terms people use to reach the site, a profile of its audience (age, education, gender and several other factors), and its traffic trends. Alexa works best on larger sites but can still provide useful data on smaller sites, especially those in the top 100,000 sites worldwide. It’s a paid service but you can get use it free on a 7 day trial.

Social Networks

One of the biggest ways that digital and traditional book marketing diverge is in the role played by social networks. They’ve provided a place for experts and enthusiasts of all types and interests to congregate, and have opened up a whole new group of influential connections for publishers. Social media is often referred to as word of mouth on steroids. Here’s where you can find many of those fans with the megaphones.


Twitter is the second most popular social network after Facebook. It’s a simple tool for finding and following people who are influential in your field. It’s very open and democratic. You can follow (connect to) and tweet with friends, bloggers, journalists, experts, even prime ministers and presidents. Following someone doesn’t require that you ask their permission, you just click the Follow button.

Like Facebook Pages, a lot of Twitter’s posts are publicly available on the web but to get the most from it, you need to join up. It’s free and takes just a couple of minutes ( Twitter is unusual because it limits posts to 140 characters. You have to be succinct but it’s surprisingly useful. One of Twitter’s best uses is sharing links to interesting items on the web, making it a very efficient way to keep up with your field and to inform other people about what you’re doing. For this reason, it’s a great place to find the real enthusiasts and experts in any niche.

You can use Twitter’s search box and its Recommendations lists to find people and topics in your field of interest. For more fine-grained searching, use Twitter Search ( It has an Advanced Search form that gives you more control over results. More on Twitter later when we cover your marketing toolkit.


We’re going to look at Facebook in more detail later when we cover your online marketing toolkit. It is so big that it warrants special attention. For now, we’ll look at Facebook Pages as sources for our key influencers because a lot of special interest groups, public people (writers, for instance) and businesses use Facebook Pages.

Like blogs and media sites, Pages can be magnets for like-minded people and they offer plenty of scope for you to contribute content.  Facebook Pages are different from the rest of Facebook because they’re out on the open web and even if you don’t belong to Facebook, you can find them by searching.

Tip: Use at the end of a Google search query to return just Facebook Pages, eg books

To use Pages most effectively, you’ll need to join Facebook – to get your own Profile in Facebook’s jargon. Once you’ve done that, you can ‘Like’ a Page which keeps you in touch with what’s happening and lets you contribute to it. You can search for Pages from within Facebook, too, once you’re a member – and create your own Page, as we’ll see later.


If your ebook is aimed at business or the professions, you should join the LinkedIn social network. LinkedIn ( is all business but like Facebook, it’s a way of networking with like-minded people.

One of LinkedIn’s most powerful and useful features is its Groups. These cover a huge range of industries, job functions, academic disciplines and technologies. Some groups are open membership, for others you’ll need to apply. The best are very active with plenty of opportunities to contribute and are a great way to find people who might be useful additions to your network.

LinkedIn is free to join, and simple to get started with. While some of its groups are on the open web, you’ll need to be a member to find most of them and join them.

If you want to get a taste of what groups are like, try a few from this list of LinkedIn Groups Directory (some are public but for others, you’ll need to sign up for a free LinkedIn account).

LinkedIn also has a Pages feature that, like Facebook Pages, can be used to set up a corporate or product section or blog. They also include a number of useful advertising and marketing tools.

Other social networks

  • Instagram ( is another social network owned by Facebook and, in fact, is tightly integrated with it, for instance you can boost a post or advertise across both networks from within Facebook.
  • Pinterest ( is different from the other networks because of its strong graphic focus — users ‘pin’ images of things they want to share, and create and follow pinboards of other users. Here’s an example from ebookseller Kobo which shows how Pinterest can be used to promote ebooks ( Notice how you can follow the whole KoboBooks Pinterest feed or just the individual ‘Boards’ that interest you. Pinterest’s users are mostly female and, along with its strong visual focus, can suit some book niches.

There are several other social networks but at this stage, those listed above are the most widely used for book marketing.

Reading communities: Book social networks

Most people think of Twitter and Facebook when they think of social media. But readers love to talk about books which has led to development of some specialised social networks dedicated to discussion about books. The largest online reading communities are:

  • Goodreads ( The biggest online reading community has about 100 million members making it the size of a mid-sized country. It provides several worthwhile promotional opportunities, both free and paid. Amazon owns Goodreads. It is one of the two biggest sources of consumer book reviews (after Amazon).
  • Wattpad ( This is a little different in that it’s a community of both readers and writers who create and share stories. Many authors use Wattpad to build an early following for their work, and to get feedback on their writing.
  • Librarything ( The pioneer with more than 2 million members.

You should join at least one and observe how they work. They’re a treasure trove of reader reviews and chatter. You can also see who are the most influential reviewers and group managers. You can add some of them to your network and aim to get your own ebooks reviewed on the sites.

Look, too, for country-specific groups and selections that will help you locate key people close to home.

The influence of these social networks extends beyond their membership. Goodreads reviews appear on Amazon.

Other sources of connections

We’ve covered the major places where you’ll find and make valuable connections. Here are a few more. We’ve also provided a few examples to show you the sorts of resources that are out there, both general and in specific niches.

Blog links

A lot of bloggers list their favorite sites. When you find a relevant blogger, check this hand-picked list of links on their home page, sometimes referred to as a blogroll.


It’s surprising how many great sites you can find by checking the comments to relevant stories or blog posts. If you find a good commenter and their name appears as a hyperlink, click it to find details of their site.

Traditional media

The online arms of many traditional media remain key influencers in online book discovery. The sites that do it best embrace social media, including blogging, social networks, and community forums which also open them to engagement with book marketers.

Two things to watch, though: Most of them don’t yet accept ebooks for review, and often book reviews or author interviews in print still don’t find their way on to their websites. This considerably diminishes the value you’ll get from your hard-won publicity efforts.

Your own networks of friends and fans

Don’t forget these. They’ll be important, as we’ll see, to help you kickstart your promotion. Most of the social networks offer to import your email address book and match it to their users. This can be a quick way to get early followers from your own contact list.

Useful resources

  • Goodreads Book Awards catalogue ( This is a handy resource if you’re looking for book awards to enter or just out of curiosity — great marketing if you win or are shortlisted.

How to connect to and use your digital connections

We’ve looked at sources of digital influencers you’ll need to build your own digital marketing platform. In the following sections, we’ll look at how you make the connections — the tools you’ll need to build these connections — and examine how you can make use of them to promote your books.


Some very good tips from an expertHow to Save Money and Do Online Book Publicity Yourself


Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.


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