Michael Haskins

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Southern California Book Signings - Part III

(Before blogging about past signings, I want to let you know of two recently scheduled signings in Florida. On Sept 12 & 13, I will in St. Augustine at the Florida Heritage Book Festival – www.fhbookfest.com – and on Oct. 4, I will be at the Waldenbooks in Vero Beach, Fl., from 1-4 p.m. If you are in the neighborhood, please stop in and say hi.)

My signings in Southern California were in mid July and, I believe, were successful and fun. But, it was also work. I went to the Los Angeles area in July 2007, to personally talk with the bookstore owners, and drop off my press package, which consisted of a photo, bio, website info, and copies of blurbs by established mystery writers that would appear on the book’s jacket. I also promised copies of the books ARCs – advanced reading copies, which are used by reviewers. I sent ARC copies, as soon as they arrived.

I first joined the Mystery Writers of America when I lived in Los Angeles and found out in June 2008, that July was the SoCal chapter’s off time. How soon we forget! A friend from those days, one I hadn’t been in touch with for way too long, writer Diane Pugh (now married and is Diane Emley – http://www.dianneemley.com/) replied to my email to the club’s newsletter. She explained there were no meetings in July, but put word out on the club’s Yahoo.com page that I would be in town for signings.

While firestorms ravaged Northern California, sunny Southern California is still over crowded, smoggy, and hot. I stayed with my sister in Malibu where the temperature never rose above the mid 70s (winter temps for me), but a short ride over the mountains to the San Fernando Valley and Los Angeles remedied that. Temps were in the 90s. I can say this about LA, you can see what you’re breathing! When I left, 12-years ago, the state said it hand a handle on smog and it was diminishing. No way, José!

My first signing was at “Mysteries to Die For,” in Thousand Oaks – http://www.mystriestodiefor.com/ – a ‘must stop’ bookstore for mystery writers and Heidi and her staff are friendly and supportive – something a first-time writer appreciates!

My book, “Chasin’ the Wind,” and notice I would be signing were in the window right next to a notice about Robert Crais’ signing. Bob’s large fan base might see it and be curious enough to come in and check my book out!
(photo: Mysteries to Die For/ Kevin Hart & Patti Bolter)

I brought Key West Hog’s Breath Saloon foam cup holders for all the stores – http://www.hogsbreathsaloon.com/. You put your beer bottle in them and they help keep it cool. I left six with Heidi for her and the staff.

The afternoon signing went well and my cousin from Boston, Kevin Hart, was in Santa Monica for a concert and showed up. That was a great surprise. I talked, briefly, about where the idea for the book came from and then signed.

Somewhere in the past I read, or was told, that an average sale at book signings was 10 copies. I sold my 10 copies plus, and some were presale orders. I am sure the store’s email newsletter helped, since it gave the book a good mention. That was Saturday, July 12.

Sunday, July 13, I met some friends at “My Way,” a bar in Montrose. Norm Cote has been a friend forever and he participated in a jam session there one or two Sunday nights each month. Another friend, Rob Murdock, had copies of “Chasin’ the Wind” he wanted me to sign for his daughters. You remember the old commercial, “I’d walk a mile for a Camel?” Well, imagine how far I’d go to sign three copies of my book!
(Photo: Norm Cote, Rob Murdock & Michael at My Way Bar)

Rob showed up, I signed the books, listened to Norm play, and got to hang out with the bar’s owner, Steve. I was fortunate to spend time with everyone, because a few weeks after returning to Key West, I called Norm and found out that Steve had a massive heart attack and died.

Kris Williams, the event coordinator at Barnes & Noble, in Encino, was one of the only major book chain people to get back to my request for a signing. She was kind enough to explain the store’s policy for signings was set to include the major best sellers and local authors only, but she and some of her associates had read my ARC and enjoyed it, so she invited me to sign stock. It’s not a book signing, but it is getting copies of my book into the mystery section of Barnes & Noble, so, of course, I said “Yes.”
(Photo: Kris Williams, event coordinator at B&N in Encino)

When I walked into the store on Tuesday, from the back parking lot, I remembered that I had attended many signings of MWA members there. Making it even more exciting to have my book displayed where fellow writers would see it and how surprised I was to find “Chasin’ the Wind” displayed in the store’s ‘New Arrivals’ section.

Kris got six Hog’s Breath holders, too.

Thursday, July 17, I signed at the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse in La Canada-Flintridge, between Pasadena and Glendale – http://www.flintridgebooks.com/ . The store had just opened in 2007, when I stopped by and offered to sign. Sandy Willardson, the event coordinator was supportive in 2007, and said the store employees enjoyed the ARC and looked forward to my signing.
Two other signings in the area, Book ‘em in South Pasadena and Mystery & Imagination in Glendale fell through, so I was very appreciative to Sandy for her support. Sandy put three of the Hog’s Breath cup holds in a raffle and staff got the other three.

She even had a sign in the window about my signing and called me “author and adventurer.” Go figure, I guess my sailing to Havana a few times made me an adventurer!
(Photo: Window display at Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse)

Sandy introduced me and then introduced my sister Patty, who told awful lies about my misspent youth. Maybe they weren’t lies, exactly, but it wasn’t the way I remember things.
It was a fun evening and some friends from my past showed up and I sold more than my quota of books.

My next signing was on Saturday, July 19, at the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood – http://www.mystery-bookstore.com/ . When I lived in LA, the store was on Beverly Boulevard and one of my favorite haunts, especially at signings.

Since moving to Key West, the store has moved and been sold. Bobby McCue, the manager wasn’t there last year when James Lincoln Warren – http://www.criminalbrief.com/ – brought me to the store. JLW is a short story writer and has a popular blog that also features other short story writers. Via emails, Bobby and I communicated and finally with a good old phone call established the signing date. Later, closer to the signing date Bobby called and asked if I’d share the signing with San Francisco writer Michelle Gagnon – http://www.michellegagnon.com/ – and her two books, “The Tunnels” and “The Bone Yard” are terrific thrillers, so, of course I
said yes.
(Photo: Joe Bolter, Michael & Michelle Gagnon)

Michelle and I planned to meet for something to eat before our afternoon signings. I was walking around Westwood with my niece, Alexis Bolter and nephew, Joe Bolter when my cell ran. It was Michelle trying to locate me. She was at a Starbucks and I was on the sidewalk less than a yard away. We met and not only is she a talented writer but she is also beautiful!

Bobby, Sarah Chen and Linda Brown greeted us at the store and had area by the door filled with items promoting our books. I eventually got to sign the “arrest records book” the store has had for years. I read the signatures and comments by some of the famous mystery writers I had been reading for years. It was a wonderful feeling to add my name and comments to the book. I gave them the last six Hog's Breath drink holders.
(Photo: Sarah Chen, Bobby McCue, Michael & Linda Brown)
Because of presales, I actually got sell my quota of books at the store and then Bobby had me sign stock!

I flew back to Key West the next morning and was still flying high from the experience of signing my book in some of the best bookstores in the country when the jet landed in Miami. As I exited the smaller prop plane in Key West, I still couldn’t believe I’d just come back from LA and book signings. It was like a dream come true, no, it WAS a dream come true and I want to thank everyone at all the bookstores – Florida, NYC and SoCal – that helped make a novice feel and look like a pro.

To see photos of all those that heped make my book signings successful, go to http://www.michaelhaskins.net/ and click on photos.
(Photo: Michael signing arrest register at Mystery Bookstore)


Michelle Gagnon said...

Aw, thanks Michael. You're not so bad yourself...

ambrotek6x8 said...

Dear Mickey,
We went to school together, shared apt in Boston together,
you married Lisa, son Shawn, knew
mickey cohen, and gained much experience. I have been looking for you for sometime
...need the contact.


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