Build Your Influencer List

It's not always who you know, but who your friends may know that could be the key to a breakthrough moment for your message or book launch. While you are still in the writing process is the time to sit down and make a list of potential influencers who could contribute by way of an endorsement, review or promotion. Let's consider the importance of this step.
Our family was traveling recently and so I needed to find a good, clean, family-friendly hotel. As you are well aware, there are usually plenty of hotels to choose from, but recently I have found that quality, even within a certain brand, is inconsistent at best. So while it used to be that you could feel confident simply booking via a specific hotel name, at least for me it now requires more research. That research usually comes via a google search for pictures, a list of amenities and the all-important list of customer reviews.
Yes, there are times we put our confidence in the review, endorsement or experience of complete strangers. Why? Because what others feel, say and experience matters whether it is a recommendation about a brand, movie, vacation spot or book...
Building a list of people who can assist you with the promotion and release of your new book comes in the way of three primary categories:

  1. "Celebrity" endorsements 
  2. "Credibility" endorsements
  3. Reviews

Obtaining quality reviews and endorsements will take longer than you think, but they are definitely worth the time investment in both labor and delay in launching your product. They are vital to the success of your launch.
So who do you know? Or more importantly, who do your friends know that they are willing to help introduce you to? I encourage you to sit down early in your writing process to begin this process to create a list in each of the categories above. Then work on locating an email address and/or physical address to have ready for your endorsement/review request packet.
Once you have three good, quality (and edited) chapters of your book completed, you can begin working to obtain endorsements from people you know. (People that don't know you will more than likely want to see the entire book.)
The next step is to write your "ask". It should be short, to the point and compelling. Let them know what you are asking them to do, the deadline to receive it (ideally give them 3-6 weeks) and a short summary of your message. If you already have some good endorsements, choose one or two of those to include.
"Celebrity" or name endorsers are more often harder to come by, but are certainly most effective. They can make the difference between your ability to obtain a publishing contract, a bigger advance, or simply an increase in sales.
So you don't know any "name" endorsers? Then what about "credibility" endorsers. These are individuals in which the emphasis is on their title or position rather than their name. That may be a university professor, a pastor, another author, etc.
A good review is just as important. These don't have to be long reviews, but they do have to make a good statement. The goal is to have a minimum of 25 reviews on Amazon or Goodreads as soon as your book is released. Fifty is better. One hundred takes you to another level. This is done through pre-release copies. You provide the reviewer with a free book in exchange for their commitment to write and post a review.
So get your paper and pen and start your list. Do your research. Some endorsers will make your list based on your topic paired with their expertise. Shoot high. The worst that can happen is they say, "no". But hopefully with a well-crafted request targeted well, you can achieve 50% of your list.