Michael Haskins

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Book Signing - Part II, Florida & New York

I’ve written a little about my early book signings in Key West and South Florida and you can see photos from all my signings on my website, http://www.michaelhaskins.net/, if you are interested. If you came to any of the signings, you may find your photo there.

Marshall Smith, owner of Key West Island Books, hosted my first signing days after the release date of “Chasin’ the Wind.” I sold 80 books and he told me the only person to sell more at a book signing was Carl Hiaasen. It was a wonderful event and great for my nervous ego that thought only a few friends would show up.

(Photo: Georgia & John Parks with Michael at KW Island Books)

Charlie Bauer, general manager of the Hog’s Breath Saloon held a signing in the upstairs writers’ room at the saloon and I sold 50 books. Again, my local support surprised me! Local writer and friend Tom Corcoran showed up and that was a pleasant surprised. Tom was a lot of help with my book and his support helped me push ahead to finish. I thank Tom (http://www.tomcorcoran.net/) and Boston writer Jerry Healy (http://www.jeremiahhealy.com/) in the intro to my book for their help and support.
(Photo: Michael and author Tom Corcoran, Hog's Breath Saloon)

Joanne Sinchuk, from Murder on the Beach, Delray Beach, Florida, was a gracious host and her newsletter review helped sell about 10 copies of my book to people who couldn’t attend the signing. Joanne hosts the bookstore at the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America’s SleuthFest – a writing conference – each year and her store is a must stop at for writers signing in South Florida.

The store is surrounded by some very good restaurants and I had dinner with journalist Emily Roach and Internet guru Ernie Deck, who I worked with in Key West before Emily kept getting better job offers and left. Ernie, of course, can work the Internet business from anywhere. It was nice to see them.

The Coconut Grove Bookstore is new and I was one of the first authors to sign there. Its newsletter mailing, obviously, is small but it advertised the signing, the turnout was low, but interesting because I was able to talk in depth about writing and my book to the few people who attended, something you cannot do at a more crowded signing.

Joe LiVolsi a friend of my son-in-law Paul Carpino (and now my friend as well) helped arrange a signing at the Broward County Library. Being that I get lost as soon as I hit the turnpike in Florida City, I am not sure where the signing was, but it was at a senior center in the Ft. Lauderdale area and well attended. I sold more than 10 books and had an interesting Q&A with the audience.

(Photo: Michael and Joe LiVolsi at Anthony's Runway Restaurant)

I mention the number of books sold, because I have been told that 10 books is the average number sold at signings. Yeah, I know, you don’t meet expenses with just 10 sales. Again, I’ve been told that people will go home and think about you and your book and maybe, if impressed, they come back and buy one. Others will remember you and come back when you are signing your second book.

So, I guess, you could say touring is more about creating name recognition than it is about sales; that maybe why small publishers do not help authors with touring. All of my signings have been at my own expense.

I have one last signing in Florida on Sept. 12-13, at the Florida Heritage Book Festival in St. Augustine. I will be talking about journalism as well as mystery writing. If you are in the area, come in and say hi.

I wanted to have a book-signing event at The Mysterious Bookstore in NYC, but the store manager, Ian, explained that they only host book release events and, since I wouldn’t be in the area until June, it wouldn’t be a release event - my book came out in March. However, he did offer to order copies of my books and invited me to come in and sign them. If you don’t know, this store is the ‘Godfather’ of mystery bookstores and I knew that in July many of the ITW authors in town for Thriller Fest would be stopping there to sign.

Otto Penzler, the proprietor of The Mysterious Bookshop, which celebrated its 30th anniversary on April 13, 2008, was the publisher of The Armchair Detective, the Edgar winning quarterly journal devoted to the study of mystery and suspense fiction, for seventeen years. Penzler was the founder of The Mysterious Press, which he sold to Warner Books and is now an imprint at Grand Central Publishing. He currently has imprints at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the United States and Quercus in the U.K.

Having signed copies of my book in Penzler’s store was an achievement to be proud of – thank you Ian, Sally, & Dan! – and I am, and if you are in the NYC area, please stop in and buy a copy! It’s a great place to browse and find great new and classic mysteries.

My son-in-law Paul Carpino drove me into Manhattan. The bookstore is located in Tribeca and, not being a visitor to NYC, I am not sure what that means, except that it has something to do with actor Robert DeNiro and his film festival. I know the construction in the area made the air dirty, the streets dirty and it was 100° outside.

After meeting Sally and Dan (see photo in previous blog) Paul and I found an Irish pub one block over and had a late lunch and a few cool beers. Paul assured me that traffic along the river was light, but for someone from Key West, it was too slow and congested. However, since Paul was doing an average of 80 mph on the Jersey turnpike, the 20 mph along the Hudson allowed me to regain my composure.

Last year, I was in Los Angeles to set up my ’08 book signing and was not aware that the ITW’s Thriller Fest would be that same week. Also, I missed Hemingway Days in Key West and the Key West Haskins-Herce Family reunion! But I got to LA, signed in some great stores, and made my 10+ sales of books. And I got to meet and sign with author Michelle Gagnon. Michelle’s new book, Bone Yard, is terrific, go out and by it, if you like to be scared! http://www.michellegagnon.com/.

You can Google the bookstores I’ve mentioned to find out more about them and receive their newsletter, where you’ll find signed first editions of books, old and new. If you are not familiar with these stores, check them out.
(Photo: above, Joe Bolter, Michael and Author Michelle Gagnon at the Mystery Bookstore, Los Angeles; bottom, RaiEtte and Julio Avael with Michael at KW Island Books signing; center, Michael signing books at the Flintridge Bookstore and Coffeehouse in the LA area. Notice the sign, it refers to 'author - adventurer Michael Haskins.' Who thought that up?)

Next blog, LA Book Signings. Please come back.

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