Mystery Monday: Connie Johnson Hambley on Book Marketing From the Other Side

This week on Mystery Mondays, we have author Connie Johnson Hambley here to talk about marketing your book – but from a different perspective. She’s here with super helpful advice on a topic that as authors we many not think about…

Marketing Your Book? Watch Your Back

by Connie Johnson Hambley

We’ve all heard the advice about creating the best cover for your book. Read the majority of posts regarding book covers, and you quickly realize all the buzz in on the front cover.

My advice? Watch your back.

Getting the best quality design and format for your front cover is essential, but most authors neglect the importance of a compelling back cover. Don’t let a frontal focus limit you from creating the best back cover you can.

I can hear you thinking, “Um, eBooks don’t have back covers. Why bother?”

Simple. Even if your book will not be released in paperback or hard cover, having a back cover image in a jpeg, png, gif or other format adds another level to your marketing efforts. Social media loves pictures that convey information quickly. Back cover images that combine words and pictures give your potential readers more reasons to buy your book.

The back cover is an open canvas for content. The best covers may contain the following elements:

  1. The compelling question your book answers or hook.

“What if your very existence threatened an empire?”

Gosh! I never thought of that before! My first book, The Charity, answered that question for my trilogy’s main character, Jessica Wyeth. The question itself leads the prospective book buyer deeper into your world. A good hook does the same thing. For mystery The Charity - Cover_new.inddlovers, there’s nothing like hinting someone is recently dead or going to die that peaks interest.

  1. Blurbs and excerpted reviews.

Readers want to know their money is going to something good. They want to see a stamp of approval for the book from authors they may be familiar with or organizations they trust.

  1. Book Summary

A good summary contains a snapshot of the main characters, setting, goal, obstacles, and conflict. Leaving the reader at a cliff-hanger is a great way for them to understand the context for the compelling question. The summary provides insight into the world you created in your story in no more than two hundred words.

  1. Images

This is the fun stuff. Settings? Main characters? Cool technology? Murder weapons? Sure!

THE WAKE - BACK COVERThis is where the back cover can be more powerful that the front. Select three or more images that highlight something your reader is going to care about. I write mainstream thrillers with a world-class equestrian as the main character. Readers who enjoy the world horses inhabit (think thoroughbred racing, rodeo, stadium jumping, cattle roping. . . you get the idea), are quick to have more interest in my books when they see a horse on the back cover.

For the third book in my trilogy, The Wake, the top image of a horse and a wheelchair provides a strong hint that something goes very wrong. That image combined with a positive blurb from the CEO of the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship (horse-based physical and emotional therapies) begins to inform readers of a storyline they didn’t see coming. The bottom picture of Cumann n mBan, a female member of the IRA, ties the books to the Irelands and is a powerful image for today’s readers.

  1. Series Continuity

Informing readers a book is a part of a series is an essential part of marketing. I’ve used my back covers to show continuity as well as content. Taken as a whole, a reader can see the trajectory of the storyline.

  1. ISBN and Barcode

If you go to the trouble of making a back cover, be sure to allow for barcode placement in the lower right-hand corner. A quick search will provide you with the information you need for dimensions and proper placement. 

The Charity: Witness to a gang-style slaying, a young woman is hunted to stop her from exposing the money and the people behind a Boston-based terrorist cell.

The Troubles: Deceived by her family, a rebellious woman seeks to unearth how Northern Ireland’s Troubles are buried in her mother’s secret past.


The Wake: A shattered heiress’ family secret is exploited by her spurned lover to blackmail her into engaging in international terrorism.


THE WAKE answers the question, “Is a terrorist born or made?”

World-class equestrian, Jessica Wyeth, is thrust into the middle of a game of geopolitical warfare. Reeling from revelations of her connection to the violent struggles to expunge Britain from Northern Ireland, she’s blocked by unseen forces from returning to the United States.

The facts of Jessica’s birth become her deepest secret. Her late mother was considered by Northern Ireland to be a terrorist and her father is a key negotiator between violent Irish Republican Army (IRA) factions in Belfast and the British Government.

Jessica vows to keep her father’s identity hidden at all costs.

Only one man knows Jessica’s truth. Michael Connaught, heir to an international crime family who profits from political uprisings, struggles with his own legacy. He is torn between protecting the woman he loves or using her secrets as a catalyst for inciting global unrest.

When a terrorist bomb rips through the crowd at the Atlanta-based Summer Olympic Games, Jessica is forced to fight for her life in ways she never dreamed.

The Wake is available for pre-order on Amazon.



Hambley Business HeadshotCONNIE JOHNSON HAMBLEY embraces the changes in the publishing world by being both traditionally and independently published. Growing up on a dairy farm in New York meant she had plenty of space to ride one of her six horses, and all would have been idyllic if a pesky arsonist hadn’t burned her family’s barn down. Bucolic bubble burst, she began to steadfastly plot her revenge against all bad guys, real and imagined. After receiving her law degree, she moved to Boston and wrote for Bloomberg BusinessWeek, Nature and other wonky outlets as she honed her skills of reaching readers at a deep emotional level. Her high-concept thrillers feature remarkable women entangled in modern-day crimes and walk the reader on the razor’s edge between good and evil. Connie delights in creating worlds where the good guys win–eventually. Her short story, Giving Voice, won acceptance in the award-winning New England’s Best Crime Stories: Windward, published by Level Best Books. The Troubles, is a 2016 Best Fiction winner at the EQUUS Film Festival in New York City.

Connie keeps horses in her life by volunteering as a horse handler at a therapeutic riding center. Look for updates and information on and follow her on Twitter at @conniehambley.




Mystery Mondays: Call For Author Guest Blogs

Promoting Reading – Promoting Authors

Mystery Mondays began in July 2015. Authors from many genres who write with a hint of mystery have told you about their books, answered your questions about writing and shared their thoughts with you.

Every Monday, you’ve be introduced to another author and maybe discovered someone you’re not familiar with.

Are you an author interested in guest blogging?

I am now accepting guest blog requests for the next few months of 2017 starting on March 27th so if you’re interested contact me here.

If you’d like to participate, here’s what you need to qualify:

  • you are a published author – traditional or Indie or any other way that I don’t know about,
  • or you are about to publish fairly soon
  • and you want to promote other authors and spread success,
  • you write novels with a hint of mystery,
  • you are willing to engage in the comments section when readers comment on your post.

All I ask from you is that you follow my blog, comment on author’s posts and help share via Twitter and Facebook.  If you’re interested send me a message via my contact page.

The Guidelines:

You’ll have to send me your bio, back text of your novel, author photo and book cover. I’d like you to write something about yourself, your novel, your research, a writing tip or a publishing tip.

Please keep in mind I am a family friendly blog. I do reserve the right to edit anything I think might be inappropriate for my audience, which I will discuss with you first. I think anything under 700 words is great, but it’s your book so up to you.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you and sharing your novel with the Internet world.

Can Dogs Sell Books to Non-Bookstores?

Farley thinks he can!

Yesterday Farley helped me deliver books to the General Store. Tourist season is here, and it’s a great time for the shelves to be stocked.

DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE now have a front seat, right beside the till. Theres’s little poster highlighting I’m a local author, so people visiting the resort can buy something local while on their vacation. Every little advantage helps when you’re trying to sell your paperbacks.

Farley and Books

If you want to learn how to sell you’re paperbacks to non-bookstores check out THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES.

And don’t worry about Farley working. He’s paid in dog treats by the manager at the store.

Thanks for reading.

If you want to sell your books to non-bookstores, keep reading.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say… Who is ‘they’? I don’t know. But what I can tell you, or shall I show you, how selling books to non-bookstores works.

In THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES, I outline the strategy. So the proof the strategy works…For June, DESCENT, BLAZE and AVALANCHE were the top three selling trade paperbacks at Imajin Books.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 4.14.18 PM

You can sell your paperback to non-bookstores too. Until July 7th, the guide is on sale.

Imajin Books Summer Sizzle Sale is well underway. There is still time to choose one of  many books and buy it at the sale price.


Thanks for reading…

Sell Your Books To Non-Bookstores?

Dollar Store D$AFollowing my own advice, I’ve restocked two stores in the small town near me with DESCENT and BLAZE.

This happened in two ways.

As per the advice I give in the guide, I went by one of the stores and noticed they were down to 2 copies of Descent and none of Blaze. I called and asked if I could bring more. The store bought 6 or each and agreed to buy 10 of AVALANCHE as soon as I receive the print editions.

The other store send me a message asking for more books. I didn’t even have to go there to check on the stock.

We are heading into summer, hence tourist season and that’s when the books tend to sell well in our town. The timing couldn’t have been better.BLAZE and DESCENT LAmbert

My books are now selling in Lambert’s Pharmacy, The Dollar and General Store, and Sobeys. They get face out display in an area where customers can easily see them.

SobeysThe interesting one to me is the Dollar and General Store. The novels sell for $22.99 Canadian, so I didn’t think this would be a great place to stock the books. The store wanted to support local authors, so we tried it. This is the fourth time I’ve had to restock there, which makes me very happy.

If you want to learn how to sell your books to non-books stores, check out THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES.

Thanks for reading…

Instant Book Previews Via Amazon. Very Cool!

One has to wonder…Is it possible to stay on top of book marketing? Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with the amount there is to learn.

This week, I discovered, well discovered is not quite right…My publisher, Imajin Books, informed me there is a feature on Amazon where people can read a sample of my book without having to do much.

This is what you can do…

Add Instant Previews of your books to your website, blog, or app
When readers first discover your book, many of them will want to start reading it right away. By adding Instant Previews to your website, you enable your visitors to start reading a sample instantly without ever having to leave your site. No sign up, sign in, or app download required. Before Instant Previews, getting from your site to the first page of a book could take seven clicks. Now, it’s always just a single click away.
I think that blurb came right from Amazon.
So I’m trilled. Then I find out I’m late to the game. My author friends all know how to do this already. Hence I’m sharing it here in case there are others out there who don’t know about this.
If you want to test this feature out, here are the links:
If you want to see what a sample looks like, and perhaps discover what I write, then click below:
DESCENT sample
BLAZE sample
This feature is not available for AVALANCHE yet, as it releases officially tomorrow. But it will be then.
As a gift from my publisher, AVALANCHE is on sale for a limited time at $0.99 USD.

Should You Do a Thunderclap Campaign?

The story continues. On May 28th, 2016 at 10 AM my campaign went out to 1,793,812 people.  Thank you to everyone who supported the campaign. Your effort made a big difference in my life, and I’d like to share the data from yesterday.

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.49.56 AM

Moments before the message was sent, my stats on were:

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.54.17 AM

Later in the day, here’s what happened:

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 6.54.57 AM

That’s enough of an increase to make me happy 🙂

So should you do a campaign?

My campaign for was a non-fiction book, so keep that in mind. I’m not sure if it would be successful for a fiction book. I don’t plan to do one for AVALANCHE  when it’s released, June 25th.

Preparing for the campaign takes a fair amount of time. You must contact people personally when you first start the campaign. You need 100 people to support you for the campaign to go live. After I reached 100 people, I spent 3 weeks contacting others in my network asking for support. At the end, I reached out personally to all supporters and thanked them.

Time consuming – yes. Fun – also yes.

Would I do it again? Yes. But only for a non-fiction title.

Thunderclap is a crowdspeaking platform that helps people be heard by saying something together. It allows a single message to be mass-shared, flash mob-style, so it rises above the noise of your social networks. By boosting the signal at the same time, Thunderclap helps a single person create action and change like never before.

And a little secret…Imajin Books has decided to keep THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO SELLING BOOKS TO NON-BOOKSTORES on sale for a little while longer. You can still get a copy for $0.99 USD at

If you have thoughts on doing a Thunderclap campaign, please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading.