Feb 26, 2010

First Book Signing

by Joan Sowards

I had my first Haunts Haven book signing last week and it was so fun. Since my story is an LDS yarn, the by-line being an LDS Ghost Story, my novel is sold only in LDS bookstores, and since Haunts Haven is published by an independent publisher, my signings are in independent LDS bookstores.

The marketing person for Walnut Spring Press and Leatherwood Press, Amy Orton, arranged for me to sign at Beehive Books and More in Edgewood, Washington. Because of my schedule, it had to be on Thursday at noon. Strange time, I know.

She advised beforehand that bookstores are leery of book signings unless the author could guarantee a good turnout, so the president of my fan club (hubby) and I sent email invites to everyone we knew in the Seattle area, and posted an invite on ANWA Bulletin and FaceBook. As it turned out, “O” came from our efforts and I had to rely on the usual walk-in, Thursday noon traffic.

Beehive Books is an adorable shop that not only carries books and LDS supplies, but also missionary and scout clothing, and all kinds of extras. The owner and staff gave me a warm welcome and set me up in a cozy area with a loveseat and fireplace. After a few minutes relaxing on the couch, I decided it was best not to sit and hope people came to me. When each customer walked through the door, I took a book and a Ding Dong and approached them.

“May I introduce you to my novel?” I’d ask. The trapped customer always nodded yes. “Haunts Haven, an LDS ghost story is about a girl who inherits an inn that has been boarded up for 50 years, and when she moves in, she discovers she has also inherited a real ghost. The story tells how she deals with him. She is also addicted to Ding Dongs.” That’s when I’d hand over the Ding Dong bearing a cleaver ghost sticker. Inevitably, the person’s eyes lit up.

Out of the 15 women I spoke with in those short two hours, 8 bought Haunts Haven. (There were half as many men who came in, but when I tried to tell any about the book, their eyes glossed over.) I learned you can’t predict if a person will buy your book only by their appearance. Some I thought would not want to read Haunts Haven, were the most enthusiastic.

Thinking Ding Dongs could sell books, I visited the local LDS bookstore in my hometown, fully armed. With permission, I began giving my spiel to customers about Haunts Heaven. They listened politely, took the Ding Dong and said they’d keep my book in mind, but nobody carriedHaunts Haven enthusiastically up to the cashier. So what’s the diff? Do we have LDS bookstores so close that good products are always available and there is no expediency to purchase? Was it that I wasn’t an official guest of the store, so there wasn’t a luminary spirit?

Book signings and figuring out how to sell books is still kind of spoooky.


  1. Good for you Joan! I admire your courage! I don't know what the difference is...but I do know they are missing out on a great read! I know I am looking forward to it.

  2. That is an understatement. They had a 8 authors book signing in February and most of them were empty. Go figure.
    Another author did a class about writing, at the public library and One lady and I show up.
    It is spooooky.
    Anna del C.
    Author of "The Silent Warrior Trilogy"

  3. Spooky, but a reality check nonetheless. But Joan, I sense you are gaining momentum and that is NOT spooky. I'll read your novel - can hardly wait.

  4. I am planning on going to Seattle with Pam and Louise later this spring. Thanks for Sharing.

  5. I'm sick that I didn't know. I definitely would have been there. Bummer.

  6. As someone who is often approached by authors (I think I have that I'm-a-nice-person look), I know I hate it because then I do feel obligated to buy the book...but then in the end it always works out because I can then give it away as a gift.

  7. Good for you Joan. I think your second signing was at the ANWA Conference, and I bought your book. Finished it and really enjoyed it. Good for you for having the courage to talk to approach shoppers. Our job as authors changes when the book is out and now we become marketers. Not necessarily a comfortable position.

  8. Joan, I was very glad you sent me a post card. I went out the next day and bought the book. I finished it today. I loved your book. As you said on your card the book is a lot of fun.. and it just leaves you feeling good. It made me really miss Arizona. We lived in Tucson almost 10 years. I love that you went up to people at our book signing. That took a lot of courage. Let me know when your next book comes out! Sandy


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