A group of authors has booked this weekend at a Murrells Inlet mall to sign copies of their works and meet and greet the public.
At the “Grand Strand Local Authors Event,” meet about two-dozen Grand Strand and Lowcountry writers from 1-4:30 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Inlet Square, at U.S. 17 Bypass and U.S. 17 Business, in the meeting room, between J.C. Penney and Stein Mart. Admission is free.
Peter Warren of Murrells Inlet ( www.readpete.com), whose third novel, “The Horry County Murders: Death Visits Myrtle Beach and Georgetown,” was published in February by Outskirts Press, following two Civil War-era books, said he and two author colleagues — Nancy Engle and Ann Jeffries — coordinated this mall event to not only let writers mingle, but to “promote and market our books” on a bigger scale.
By arranging this weekend in November, ahead of Thanksgiving, they want to keep this get-together more visible so it doesn’t “get lost in the holiday season,” Warren said, and they want to continue this annually “the next few years to see how things work out.”
Giving presentations at, and with thanks to, local libraries and book clubs, Warren said he also belongs to two area author groups, from where “I have learned a lot from my fellow authors” about how each experience the whole process to write and publish a book.
Writing “Horry County Murders,” Warren said, took about a year, with inspiration in the Connecticut State Police Department, where he spent 30 years, including various commander roles.
“I lived that job, as far as going into murder and narcotics investigations,” he said. “A lot of it just came off the top of my head.”
Warren also retired with his sense of humor intact, especially with the dedication and time that go into writing, self-publishing and selling books.
“In my real life, I got paid to solve murders,” he said, “and as an author, I’m getting paid a little less.”
An enthusiast for Civil War history, Warren also has enjoyed visiting re-enactments, from Charleston to Gettysburg, Pa., and setting up a booth to market both of his books set in that War Between the States: “Confederate Gold and Silver” and “The Journey North,” the latter co-written with Roy McKinney and Edward Odom.
“The three books have allowed me to meet so many nice people,” Warren said of writing his own tickets for more travel, “and I have been blessed to meet people who share the same passion as I do.”
Interacting with other authors
Sherman Carmichael’s third and latest book, “Eerie South Carolina: True Chilling Stories from the Palmetto Past,” was published last year by The History Press in Charleston. A Johnsonville resident, Carmichael said these meet-and-greet book signings with other authors, including this Inlet Square weekend, “gives each of us a chance to interact with talented authors of different writing genres.”
This networking multiplies with potential as well.
“Many of the authors keep an e-mail list and let others know when and where these events are taking place,” Carmichael said. “Every author who’s involved in the event sends out e-mails and posts the information on social media sites, which in turn reaches a wider audience. With many authors together, it brings in a lot more people, giving them a wider choice of books.”
Mingling with the public also produces possible future connections.
“Since my first book was published in 2011,” Carmichael said, “I have realized the public enjoys a short visit with the author, whether they buy your book or not. You’re meeting new people and introducing them to your books. If they do not purchase a book during the book signing, they graciously accept a business card, which might buy a lead to a sale at a later time. Every time I sell a book or hear a compliment on my books inspires me to consider writing another one.”
Joel Allen, longtime reporter for WPDE-TV, wrote a life-event-inspired novel called “Ripoff and Run,” an Amazon Createspace electronic book also released in paperback in fall 2012. He said the authors’ gathering this weekend marks a new step for him in another way to spread the word, with an extra inroad through networking.
“The great part of an event like this,” Allen said, “is it gives us the work to meet readers face to face, allowing us to describe our work to readers with more than just a paragraph or quick synopsis.”
Asked how this kind of authors’ get-together also might help readers and the public feel more accessible, and proud of, their neighbors who keep their flair for penning books, and their special creativity, going forward, Allen appreciates the extra hookup.
“I think most local readers would be pleasantly surprised to discover how many talented writers live here on the Grand Strand,” Allen said. “Some of my readers have told me I’m the only person they’ve ever met who’s written a novel. I believe there are more of us out there; most locals just don’t know it. This kind of mini-convention gives readers the chance to discover the kind of writing talent that surrounds them every day. It’s a great opportunity for local authors and readers.”