'Defeated' author becomes overnight best seller after video of empty book signing goes viral

After a video capturing his unsuccessful book signing went viral, an emerging author in the young adult genre quickly climbed to the top of the Amazon Best Sellers list.
In a recently shared TikTok video, Shawn Warner, aged 58, was observed attempting to sell his new YA murder mystery novel titled "Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor."

Jarrad 'Red' Swearenjin, a content creator, encountered the disheartened author while at a Kroger store in Fort Worth, Texas, and decided to engage in conversation with him.

When inquired about the book, Warner described it as a tale centered around "a teenage girl who joins forces with a ghost possessing multiple personalities to unravel the enigma surrounding her parents' murder."

The content creator shared a heartwarming video of the encounter with his TikTok following of 29,100, accompanied by a caption that read: "While I was shopping, I came across this gentleman attempting to promote his latest book. I'm not much of a reader these days, but there was an inexplicable urge to grab a couple of copies."
Without being acquainted with Warner, the creator of the video made the decision to purchase a signed copy of the book from him.

During the purchase, the creator mentioned his involvement on TikTok and expressed the intention to "gift it" to another user on the platform, hoping to generate some appreciation for the writer.

Red elaborated, saying, "I could relate to all those instances when I put in so much effort but received no recognition."

Since the video was shared on the platform earlier this week, it has garnered a staggering 18 million views and received over 22,300 comments in its one-minute 30-second duration.

Reflecting on the video's content, one TikTok user commented, "I need to stay away from BookTok. My bank account will suffer. But I bought it anyway."

Another individual shared, "As a new author myself, I can only dream of receiving such support! Thank you for your kind gesture. I'm going to acquire his book now."
A different individual remarked, "I'm an English teacher at a high school in Arlington! I would be thrilled to add this book to my collection (and perhaps reach out to the author for a book club!)"
Responding to the success of "Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor," Warner expressed in a video, "When Red approached me and started talking, I was just thrilled to engage with anyone at that moment because my sales were slow."

He further stated in the caption, "The outcome has exceeded my wildest expectations. I am immensely grateful."

Originally released in paperback by the independent publisher Black Rose Writing in November 2022, the novel is now being planned for audiobook and hardcover editions, as confirmed by the author himself.

In another video, Warner mentioned that additional venues are being considered for future book signings, now that he has achieved the status of an Amazon best-selling author.

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