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message 1: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments I was wondering if anyone had any marketing tips to share. What worked? What didn't work? Over the last year I've tried a few things, and I have been bombarded with ads from services promising to promote The Bug Boys.

The social media promotional stuff has mostly been a waste of money. On the other hand, giveaways on Goodreads has gotten me a lot of reviews and ratings. Getting reviews on popular book blogger sites has also been useful.

message 2: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Great question, Stewart! I agree with you that running ads on social media isn't all that great.

For me, marketing is an entirely different skill set from writing/creating books. I've been building my website and just recently started a vlog documenting all my self-publishing (mis)adventures - That's a long term project in and of itself, but hopefully it'll lead somewhere.

I've joined several FB groups as well. The problem with FB, as you probably know, is that it's CROWDED with tons of other authors hoping to get noticed. Instead of adding to the noise by adding a bunch of links to my own book, website, etc, what I've been doing is going through treads and picking a few books to read/review. Since I specialize in children's books, this is fortunately not a very time consuming process.

If I like the book, I leave a positive review on Amazon & Goodreads, then get in touch with the author via PM. I don't ask for a review in return - I just wish them good luck.

Almost every time I get a response from a grateful writer, as well as an offer by them to leave an honest review of my own work. Although reaching out to people one at a time is a slow-going process, I've made contact with a lot of good folks. It's gotten me more reviews, but perhaps most importantly, it's given me access to a pretty broad knowledge base. Now to start keeping in touch with them - If I come across any good tips I'll be sure to share!

I also agree with you that giveaways are effective. I've also found that having my book available free for members of Kindle Unlimited has helped.

message 3: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments I hear you. The slow approach - finding forums like the one you created and working with other writers one on one works well. But as you say, there's a million other authors trying to do the same thing. I sometimes think all we have to do is wait it out longer than the next guy. Be patient.

I tried that site you mentioned in one of your videos. I paid a free ($60) to speed up the review process and got a 5 star review in a few days (seemed genuine enough). I also noticed a spike in the number of people who marked my book 'to read' here on Goodreads. They posted the review on too. A link to my book will be available on their site for 30 days, and they let you set up an eBook giveaway once a month.

I also set up a profile on (Publisher's Weekly, but for self-published writers) - They'll eventually review my book, and other members can download and review my work for free. So far, I've not noticed much action from this site, but it's early days yet.

I did get an email from a 13-year-old boy-scout today, a fan! So I've recruited him to beta read the second book in return for a signed copy.

I think the hardest thing about reaching a younger target audience is - they're not hooked into the communication channels we are. Twitter, Facebook etc. To that end I'm booked to attend a children's book festival on October 1st. I'm also donating copies of my book to free libraries both here in the US and in the UK.

message 4: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Sounds great, Stewart! Glad the Reader's Favorite site worked out - and thanks for letting us know about

Thanks for your thoughts, and keep 'em coming! Hopefully I'll have more news to share in the near future.

message 5: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Stewart wrote: "I hear you. The slow approach - finding forums like the one you created and working with other writers one on one works well. But as you say, there's a million other authors trying to do the same t..."

Hey Stewart, I tried Reader's Favorite and got a good, thoughtful review as well. Although the reviewing bit seems legitimate, a lot of other authors suggest that we steer clear of their contest section :)

message 6: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments Joe wrote: "Stewart wrote: "I hear you. The slow approach - finding forums like the one you created and working with other writers one on one works well. But as you say, there's a million other authors trying ..."

Good to know. I entered The Bug Boys into a couple of competitions, but I mostly think these were 'vanity contests' - The London Book festival and The National Indie Excellence Awards. I also entered the Writer's Digest eBook competition. That seemed more legitimate as they offered actual prize money and some great promotional benefits to the writer. The Bug Boys got an honorable mention there, and I won $50 worth of books.

I would also suggest everyone AVOID - they claim to promote your book, and even their cheapest promotion price ($70) supposedly guarantees 20 sales (they say 20 to 70 sales) - utter BS! I sold 1 book... I also tried - a quick $10 promotion. They sent out 1 tweet promoting my book. Worthless.

message 7: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Wow, thanks for the good info, Stewart! Cool that you got an honorable mention and $50 worth of books with the legitimate contest, though.

I'll take note of the bad sites you named - This is helpful!

message 8: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments Just an FYI - I'm teaming up with Reading Adventures Book Tours to provide free digital copies of my book, The Bug Boys.

Link: http://www.readingadventuresbooktours...

- in exchange (hopefully) for honest (fingers crossed, RAVE!) reviews. :-)

If anyone in this group or someone you know is interested, please forward the URL.

If this yields positive results - the services offered by this site might be something you can use too.


message 9: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Thanks for the link, Stewart! And hopefully you continue getting 5 star reviews. I'll have a look a the site

message 10: by B.C. (new)

B.C. Mullins | 7 comments Thanks for the link, Stewart. I may give that a shot myself. Anxious to see what kind of results you get!

message 11: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments I tried another promotional service that actually seemed to create some sales. It's called - - for $15 - they sent information about my book to 20K+ science fiction subscribers, and then included information about my book on their Facebook and Twitter pages (which I promoted on my Facebook and twitter accounts). The email went out August 26th - and a few hours later, I noticed my Amazon sales rank jumped up to the 40K range. Meaning, I probably sold around 7/8 books.

I certainly didn't make a profit - but I at least sold some ebooks...

message 12: by Stewart (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments Just a quick update. I ran another promo, and again it seemed to work. My Amazon rank jumped up into the 30K range for a couple of days. This time I had them target young adult readers instead of purely science fiction fans.

I also tried a boosted Tweet with Twitter. This was a complete waste of money.

Currently, I'm writing letters to middle schools, first in my area here in Southern California, and then beyond. I'm offering them a free copy of the paperback. So far, about 50% have responded and accepted copies. I hope this leads to some happy readers, who then purchase the second book in the series. Fingers crossed!

message 13: by Joe (new)

Joe Yang (joe-yang) | 30 comments Mod
Thanks for the information about, Stewart!

Good luck with the letter-writing, too. Great to see you working hard to get the word out!

message 14: by Stewart (last edited Mar 23, 2018 10:44AM) (new)

Stewart Hoffman (thebugboys) | 26 comments Another quick marketing update.

Late last year, I found a service that claimed it would make my first ebook available to libraries across America. After an evaluation of course. At the minimum, I was told it would be available to libraries in California where I live.

I was told the evaluation would be done by January 2018 - but I haven't heard back about it. I have, however, discovered that my book is available to download at the Los Angeles Public Library and the San Jose Public Library. You might consider this service if you have a series of books and don't mind handing out the first installment for free.

My libraries so far ->

In other news, I'm currently trying a promotional service from Digital Book Girl. $30 gets you 3 months of the occasional tweet and Facebook post, and a mention in their monthly email (which I have yet to see). So far, I can't say this has been worth it. They will, however, retweet a mention of your book for free -

One last thing. Since Goodreads (a.k.a. Amazon) have started to charge to run giveaways, I have started using It's not as well visited or as well known as Goodreads, But I'm able to run giveaways for my books (paperback and eBooks) free of charge. So far I have handed out 12 eBooks and 3 paperbacks and, so far, received 2 favorable reviews (1 of those reviews ended up on Goodreads too).

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