The Gift of Gift Shops

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By Elizabeth Musser

Yesterday I met a few friends for lunch at The Swan Coach House in Atlanta. While we were eating, two ladies came over to meet me, having heard that I was the author of the novel The Swan House, which is based on the history of Atlanta in the early 1960s and more specifically on The Swan House, a beautiful Italian Renaissance villa which is now a part of the Atlanta History Center.

For the past fifteen years, book clubs have flocked to take a tour of The Swan House and eat at the nearby Coach House. Now a ladies’ tearoom, The Coach House originally housed The Swan House’s horses and now hosts bridal luncheons, friends’ get-togethers, book clubs and many others who enjoy the tea room’s feminine flavor and luncheon specialities.

Whenever I am back in my hometown of Atlanta and stop by the Coach House, I feel like a tiny celebrity among the women who have heard that I’m the author of this novel. Better yet, the ladies’ tea room has an adjoining Gift Shop which carries my novel, The Swan House, as well as the sequel, The Dwelling Place and another of my novels, The Sweetest Thing, all based in Atlanta. Daily, this gift shop sells copies of my novels. Yesterday, after lunch, I popped into the gift shop, sat at a little desk in the office and signed 60+ copies of The Swan House, 30 copies of The Sweetest Thing, and 36 copies of The Dwelling Place.

As you can well imagine, stopping by the Swan Coach House is a great boost for me as an author. I’ve gotten to know the staff at the Gift Shop, done several signings there and joined numerous book clubs for lunch, discussion and a tour of the real Swan House. Additionally, the staff at the Gift Shop and the tea room and the History Center are thankful for the business my novels bring them.

If you are writing historical fiction, or really any fiction that takes place in a real place, it’s a great boon to find out if gift shops, bookstores or other specialty stores will carry your book. I am pretty sure that this gift store alone has kept The Swan House selling well for over fifteen years.

Despite the crazy changes in publishing and the ease with which readers can download books on numerous devices, many readers still want to hold a paperback book in their hands. That means that there is something so very valuable about face-to-face contact with real people who love your books and will talk them up in a bookstore, a gift shop, or a local library. When you can, get to know local shop owners and librarians who will hand sell (or ‘hand-lend) your novel. They are supporting our work, and we are supporting theirs.

I love win-win situations. Don’t you?

Musser Swan House)Elizabeth Musser writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet–tool shed–outside Lyon, France. For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at and on Facebook, Twitter, and her new blog. (That’s Elizabeth on the front steps of The Swan House.)

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