An Army veteran became a bestselling author thanks to a viral TikTok video
Sometimes, social media can be a really good thing. Small pastry shops, creative crafters and inspired authors don't always get the attention that their work deserves. When Shawn Warner published his young adult murder mystery novel, Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor, in November 2022, the book did not meet with much success. However, after the TikTok creator posted a video of Warner's book signing on his page, sales went through the roof.
Warner's passion for literature began as a child with the work of author and illustrator Clarence William Anderson. Inspired, he first tried to write his own stories at the age of four. Warner was further influenced by Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea as well as DC and Marvel comic books. "Thanks to their superb use of language, my spelling, writing, and vocabulary became my only true academic strengths," Warner says of the comics on his website.
High school was difficult for Warner, apart from art, and he nearly flunked out. However, he found purpose and motivation in the Army. Enlisting as an infantryman out of high school, Warner served in the 82nd Airborne Division as a paratrooper. "That is where I really began to come into my stride," he said. "I served four years and experienced first-hand an incredible wealth of adventures."
As a result of his service, Warner got into skydiving, SCUBA, bungee jumping, martial arts, and guitar. Despite his academic performance in high school, the Army encouraged him to return to academia. "College wasn’t out of the question any longer and after my discharge I earned a psychology degree, a master’s degree in social work, and worked in pediatric mental health for roughly ten years," he said. Warner went back to school again and earned a degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering, a field he worked in for seven years.
As a husband and father of two, Warner accomplished everything he wanted to in life except becoming an author. With the support of his wife, he chased his childhood dream and published his book. "It’s about a teenage girl who teams up with a ghost with multiple personalities to solve the mystery of her parents murder," Warner said of the book on the now viral TikTok video. A TikToker who goes by the name Red, seeing Warner at his lonely book signing in Walmart, asked if he could buy a signed book for himself and a second to give away on his platform. "Ok, I won’t say no," Warner replied with a chuckle.
In just two days, the TikTok video has received over 15.6 million views. Meanwhile, Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor, published through Black Rose Writing, has become Amazon's #1 Bestseller and the top-ranked book in the world. "I'm in shock," Warner said in a TikTok response to Red's video, "I don't even know what to say about it at the moment. I'm trying to wrap my head around it." Following his viral popularity, Warner is scheduling additional book signings in the Dallas area to meet the popular demand for his book.