But the friend did want something from me. “Please sign it,” she said.
Gulp! What should I say? Where do I say it? How do I inscribe my name?
The problem is compounded when participating in a book signing event and people you don’t know have made a purchase.
When faced with this new problem I did what I normally do.
Then I googled—and found great tips. Didn’t solve all the problems but I learned the trepidation I was experiencing was shared by many inexperienced authors.
Problem 1: What instrument do I use? Well, there’s a no-brainer. Obviously, a pen. But not one of the 12 in a package you might pick up at a dollar store. It’s best if the pen actually works. Fortunately, this was a hurdle easily overcome as I already had an excellent one given to me by my nephew. I have dedicated it to book signing duties.
Problem 2: Where do I sign? I checked my collection of books that possessed author signatures. They all were on the title page—until one wasn’t. However, that one included a lengthy thank you for my contribution to the book, so it made sense to incorporate it on the blank page that usually occurs at some point before the title page. My internet sites agree on the title page so that was my decision.
Problem 3: How do I begin? Most like their name as a salutation, so it’s a good idea to get it right. If you don’t, you have to provide them with another book and pretty much say goodbye to the one incorrectly annotated. So I ask the name she’d like in the dedication and she responds, “Katherine.” Easy enough. But wait, did she really say “Catherine” or “Katharine” or “Kathryn?” Clearly more input is required and I always ask for a spelling, even on such simple names as “Steve.”
Problem 4: What do I write? Sometimes it’s easy. There are some books I do give away. My wife and children rate one each and usually the word “love” makes it to the page. Others receiving my largess are those with whom I consulted on the book or who helped edit it. A variant of the phrase “thanks” appears. But what should I do for all others? My sites include suggestions such as “In gratitude” and “Much appreciation.” Now it isn’t that I’m not appreciative of someone willing to buy my work, but these sound a bit desperate to me. Thus, with little online guidance, I resort to what I feel are warmer messages. Things like “Hope you enjoy” or “It’s great running with you.” So far folks seem content.
Problem 5: The signature. Do I sign it “Bob” when it goes to a friend, or do I say “Robert Brigham,” even to a friend? My sites say always use the full name, but I wind up asking what the purchaser wants, reminding him that when I’m famous the full signature might be worth more. So far no one has worried about that possibility. One site implores me to make the signature readable. Preston and Child must have missed that command.
Problem 6: Make special preparations for handling long lines of potential signees. Please please let me have to worry about that!
Unfortunately, I haven’t signed a lot of books over the years, but each one is a thrill and I truly am honored when someone wants me to.