Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Make Your Halloween Event a Howling Success: Tips from Annie Wilder

Halloween is a great time to host a store event. Whether you want to plan a spooky reading by a local author or coordinate a ghost hunting workshop, there’s a lot of fun ways to make the most of the season.

Author Annie Wilder has participated in scads of store events for her books House of Spirits and Whispers and Spirits Out of Time. Here, she talks about a few key ways to make events engaging and dynamic, so that customers will be encouraged to ask questions and interact with the author.

Annie Wilder
Three Simple Tips for a Hosting a Howlingly Successful Halloween Event at Your Store
By Annie Wilder

Having lived in a haunted house for seventeen years, I’ve encountered animated ghosts, furtive shadow beings, stationary images from the past, disembodied voices, seemingly sentient lights, a dark man and a woman made of light. Although most of the spirits I’ve met were nonthreatening or even companionable, I have had some very frightening experiences.

Other scary experiences that I’ve had: sitting at a table in a much loved local bookstore around Halloween, surrounded by copies of my two true ghost story books, waiting in vain for customers to stop by to chat. I understand now why ghosts bang on the walls for attention!

I think it’s pretty intimidating for most people to approach someone they don’t know and start a conversation. I’ve had the best success at bookstores when I offer a structured presentation of some sort. Here are some ideas based on my experiences.

1. Try a hands-on approach.
Ask the author to share their expertise in a simple and fun way. He or she could tell ghost stories, do a Q & A session, teach customers how to communicate with spirits, energetically clear a house, or perform seasonal magic. Authors of psychic development books can do readings for the audience. Astrologers and tarot readers can give free mini-readings to customers, ghost hunters can offer tips on conducting an investigation. Even a short presentation breaks the ice and gets people talking—and hopefully, buying.

2. Plan a disembodied author chat.
If an in-store appearance isn't an option, consider planning an author visit by Skype or speakerphone. Audience members can submit their questions in writing before the event, email their questions to the store or author ahead of time, and also ask questions or share their own experiences during the event. (A store employee or volunteer would need to act as host or coordinator.)

3. Workshops and contests
Offer a free in-store lesson in one of the skills or activities covered in ghostly or magical books. Llewellyn offers many books well suited to the task with their practical approach and step-by-step instructions. Stores could give customers a simple introductory lesson in anything from tea leaf reading to spirit communication to simple candle magic. Have a list of three to five possible topics and ask customers to vote for their favorite. Conversely, stores could hold a drawing or contest, offering a prize for the best true ghost story, vampire protection tip, seasonal craft, etc., that customers have found in a Halloween themed book they’ve purchased within the past month.

Recommended Scary Reads
Here are some of my favorite spooky Llewellyn books. Any of these titles and authors would be good candidates for the suggestions above.

Ghost Hunting
for Beginners

Ghost Hunting for Beginners
This colorful and down-to-earth handbook from paranormal investigator Rich Newman offers an informative and entertaining mix of high tech and low or no tech investigative approaches, true ghost stories from the field, and seasoned advice.

The Ghost Hunter's
Survival Guide

The Ghost Hunter’s Survival Guide
Written by Michelle Belanger, frequent guest psychic on A & E’s hit show Paranormal State, this guide is packed with helpful tips, real-life stories, and step-by-step instructions for staying safe while conducting paranormal investigations.

True Ghosts 3
True Ghosts 3
I’m partial to true ghost story collections and the True Ghosts series featuring stories from FATE Magazine is probably my favorite. I’ve read them all, and True Ghosts 3 is the best of the bunch. It features true first-hand accounts of encounters with the denizens of the spirit realm dating back to the early 1900s.

10th Anniversary Edition
Monsters10th Anniversary Edition
Occult scholar John Michael Greer combines impeccable academic research with truly entertaining, lively writing. Even bigger and better than the original book, this edition covers everything: aliens, Mothman, old hags, zombies, and more.

True Police Stories
of the Strange
and Unexplained
True Police Stories of the Strange and Unexplained
Compiled by retired detective sergeant Ingrid P. Dean, these firsthand accounts from law enforcement officials tell of dramatic, chilling, and sometimes inspiring encounters with aliens, ghosts, angels, and strange forces during the course of duty.


House of Spirits and Whispers
by Annie Wilder

Annie Wilder is the author of House of Spirits and Whispers and Spirits Out of Time.

Raised in a family with Irish-German roots and strong intuitive abilities, the unseen world of angels, spirits, and lost souls has always been a familiar part of Annie Wilder’s everyday life. A writer and mother of grown children, she regularly hosts haunted tea parties in her spirit-filled Victorian house nestled in a sleepy Mississippi River town in Minnesota.

Annie has been featured in several television programs, including the Biography Channel’s “My Ghost Story.” Her home has also been investigated by teams of ghost hunters and visited by a number of prominent psychics, including Linda Drake and Echo Bodine. Visit Annie’s website.

Annie's three favorite bookstores:

Best of Times, Red Wing, MN
Sunny store and friendly, knowledgeable staff, and a picturesque river town location.

Magus Books and Herbs, Minneapolis, MN
The real deal for magic books and supplies.

Black Cat Books, Manitou Springs, CO
Enjoy a glass a wine while browsing for books in a groovy historic building — genius!

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