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PowellsBooks.Blog

Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.

 

Signing Books

Here in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to have to start signing some books, something I've never done before (except for a few review copies). Though I was vaguely aware that I would probably be doing this when my book came out, it really didn't concern me until Brenda, the lady at the only bookstore in my town, asked if I would do a "signing" at Book World. Now I can understand people wanting to have their copies signed because I've been sort of a hit-and-miss collector of signed books myself for the past few years. And now, because I want to do the job "right," I'm going to show my ignorance and ask for advice (yes, I can be a friggin' nut case at times). But I figure if the people who read the blog on Powell's website don't know if there's a "proper" way to sign a book, then probably nobody does.

So what do most people want when they ask a writer to sign his/her book? Do they want them inscribed with something goofy or profound or scandalous? Do they want the typed name marked out under the title page and the name signed underneath it, or just signed right over the type? Do they want the signature dated? Do they like little drawings (God, I hope not, not little drawings, Jesus!)? As I said, I've collected some signed books in the past, and being a hog, I've always asked for some sort of inscription, some way to set the book apart. For example, in a copy of Daniel Woodrell's The Ones You Do, I had him inscribe it with "Seven cigarettes a day!" because that's the number of smokes the main character limited himself to (and being in the middle of another failed attempt to quit the habit myself, this made a lot of sense to me at the time). And in my copy of Woodrell's Under the Bright Lights, I asked him to say something about writing in general, and I ended up with some of the best advice I've ever gotten: "Writing is a tough racket. But tough rackets are the only ones worth a grown person's time." Once, I asked Denis Johnson to tell me about his work habits (a dumb, dumb question, I know, but one I still have to refrain from asking when I'm around a writer). He graciously wrote on the inside of my copy of Jesus' Son: "I have no work habits — I don't know who writes this stuff." That was a few years ago, before I began writing myself, and though I was a bit confused at the time, I now know exactly what he meant. Oh, and I probably better add that I wrote both of these writers first, asking for the favor, and then sent the books by mail with the proper return postage and SASE mailers.

But for the most part, I've always focused on the first books by new writers, mainly because I thought (and this was partly due to the influence of Robert Wilson's Modern Book Collecting) that those would someday turn out to be the most valuable. And, though I'm not much of a collector anymore, I still go after the signatures of new writers when I have the opportunity, people like Kelly MaGee, a fiction writer you're sure to hear a lot more about in the coming years, who wrote a lovely inscription inside my copy of Body Language at a reading. Something that amazed me about her was that all the while she was inscribing the book, she was answering my bothersome questions (heck, I can't even sign my name on a check at the supermarket if the clerk is talking to me).

So I guess what I'm asking, at the risk of sounding repetitive, is this: if you were going out and signing books at a store next week, what approach would you take? Is there a proper way to sign a book that satisfies everyone? Is there something you should never do, something that pisses people off? Maybe use the wrong type of pen? Misspell the person's name? Denounce Bush on the title page? Any help with this matter is greatly appreciated, so, if you have a moment to spare, just post your advice (even off the wall shit) below or check out my website for my email address.

I'd like to add one more thing. Sitting here tonight, staring out my window into the dark and cold and working on this blog, I thought of two books that I wish I had signed copies of, but never will, not in this life anyway. One is The Stories of Breece D'j Pancake, and the other is The Light the Dead See by the poet Frank Stanford. Both of these men died young, and that's sad. But it also helps you to understand why some people like to have their books signed.

÷ ÷ ÷

Donald Ray Pollock grew up in Knockemstiff, Ohio. His stories have appeared in the Berkeley Fiction Review, the Journal, Third Coast, Chiron Review, Sou'wester, Boulevard, and Folio, and he has contributed essays on politics to the op-ed page of the New York Times.


Books mentioned in this post

  1. Knockemstiff
    Used Hardcover $11.95


  2. Jesus' Son: Stories
    Used Trade Paper $7.00
  3. Modern Book Collecting Used Trade Paper $2.50
  4. Body Language New Trade Paper $12.75
  5. The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake
    Used Trade Paper $8.00
  6. The Light the Dead See: Selected... New Trade Paper $22.50


Donald Ray Pollock is the author of Knockemstiff

36 Responses to "Signing Books"

  1.  
    jm March 5th, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Very entertaining blog post. I'm actually a book publicist who dreads attending readings and signings because I don't like being read at. Yeah, I know... Anyway, my favorite inscriptions come from authors I've worked with. At the top of the list are the apologies "Sorry I was such a pain in the ass" etc. Some authors cross out their own printed name on the title page and sign beneath it, but I take that as a personal affront to my friends in the production department. That's my own quirk. Some people request a date next to the signature, which is kind of nice.

  2.  
    Kim Laird March 5th, 2008 at 2:15 pm

    If you have a lot of people there at the signing, it helps to have them write down what they would like you to say and also the name of the person. Then you don't have to ask how to spell names, etc.

    Also helps to have someone open the book to the page of your choice (and some readers will have a preference so flexibility helps in this regard).

    Get a really good signing pen & don't let anyone borrow it. Two authors I know have recommended some really good & comfortable pens http://www.wikihow.com/Prevent-Hand-Pain-from-Excessive-Writing and I have used the Dr. Grip (not for signings, I'm not an author!) and it works well.

    Make up a couple of brief & pithy sayings to write in the books, so that you don't have to spend too much time thinking up stuff. Sue Grafton wrote in my copy of K is for Killer, K is for Kimberly, which I really liked. (just an example)

  3.  
    salemite March 5th, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    I was really impressed when Neil Gaiman came by Powell's about 10 years ago. It was an absolute mob scene--he signed books until midnight! He was gracious and kind to absolutely everyone. What a dreamboat.

    For my copy of "Neverwhere," He signed, C- Mind the Gap!" and then for "Death and the High Cost of Living," he wrote, "C, don't die."

    Good luck!

  4.  
    Peggie Stone March 12th, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Hi. Congrats. I work at Borders in Annapolis MD and when we have signings we post two employees with the author. Those employees have quite a few duties. One keeps the people in line up to date on how close they are to the table, to open the book to the signing page etc. The other one danced attendance on the author. Moves people along if they linger and gets water. Hope this helps. Also, the author usually just signs their name if the crowd is too large, but can get more inventive if it is a managable amount of buyers. Good Luck

  5.  
    mike munk March 12th, 2008 at 2:02 am

    I learned while flogging my Portland Red Guide at more than 20 signings last year that the only way is to ask. Some want a "straight" signature, some want their names, most wanted the date of the original luanch but not later and a few--espcially if they know you--expect a personal shoutout. There's no standard other than having someone to open the book to the title page whiole you're asking your customer.

  6.  
    Michelle March 12th, 2008 at 2:25 am

    The idea of having people write their names on a card and hand them to you is a great one---no misspellings that way! As a consumer, I guess I would prefer the author's signature on the title page, and if they didn't have time to write my name or a little saying, the date would be plenty for me. I have two signed books, both were gifts at my college graduation from my brother---he had two of my professors sign their latest books to me, both with short "good luck" messages that included "we will miss you"---both signed on the title page below the title, both used a black pen, not a Sharpie, and both put the date below their signature. I hope this helps! Good luck with your first signing!

  7.  
    Sarah Faraone March 12th, 2008 at 6:09 am

    Hi Donald,
    I'm a hit-and-miss collector myself, but I've done a lot of research. I would never willingly give up my signed firsts, but for purposes of resale, readers should understand that just your signature is most valued. Personal inscriptions from the author are less valued (but MUST be had if one actually knows the author). My opinion is that you shouldn't cross anything out - there's plenty of blank space on which to write. Congratulations to you! What fun you'll have. I hope to be in your place someday.

  8.  
    celinegreen March 12th, 2008 at 6:10 am

    Hurray, many happy signings to you! I used to work at an indie bookstore, and signings made for fun nights. I have two bits of advice. 1) Don't ever, ever have anyone else sign for you. This may seem obvious, but I once witnessed a certain well-known author saying to a family member, "Will you sign the rest of these? My hand is tired." 2) Also obvious, but bears saying, since you'd be surprised how many authors aren't: be nice to the bookstore staff. Yes, maybe you had a bad flight, you don't want to be there, the turnout is low. But it doesn't really matter how many come to your signing. What matters is how many of your books the staff pushes on people after you've left. Are the bookstore people going to promote your work if you're an ash? Not so much.

  9.  
    Phil Grimm March 12th, 2008 at 6:11 am

    Get a big-thick fountain pen with a medium-broad tip, and bring your own bottle of ink... You can use the act of refilling the pen to force a little break in the action. Don't let ANYONE use that pen.

    A couple of inside jokes or cryptic references to specific events portrayed in the book, ones that you can alternate between, will help... Ask the people to have their name written out...
    Misspelled words are a bummer...

  10.  
    mejaka March 12th, 2008 at 6:48 am

    My favorite signed books are those where the signature carries a bit of the author in it. Patricia Polacco's little single-line drawings of dancing peasant girls; authors who sign their name and a short variation on something from the book (such as mentioned by salemite and Kimberly, above). I once asked for a personal shout-out (for my mother, actually,) and was kind of embarrassed to do that. To me, the signature is about the author, not the recipient, unless they are actually acquainted, in which case signing personally makes more sense.

    At a signing, I think the cards are a great idea--put them at a slight distance from you with a supply of pens and a little explanatory sign, and the line will take care of the rest. Some people will have their pretend intimacy, and others will have their quirks. But I reiterate--I love it when the signature bears some personality of the *author* or some reflection of the book he wrote.

    And never, never cross out the name on the title page. Sign over it or under it but leave it there. Crossings-out do not look good in a new book!

  11.  
    Kirk March 12th, 2008 at 6:56 am

    I prefer to have the author write his/her name under their name on the title page. Nothing else. My biggest complaint with autographs is that they aren't always legible. I appreciate when an author takes the time to write his/her name clearly.

  12.  
    Jeane March 12th, 2008 at 7:57 am

    Unless you are a children's book illustrator or write/draw kid's books, you are off the "hook" for drawings.

    Talk about a signing line that takes alot of time! Yikes!

  13.  
    Shirley March 12th, 2008 at 8:23 am

    I agree with the previous remarks, with the mani idea being that you should listen to your readers. (And check that your pen doesn't bleed through the page, please.)
    My favorite autograph is from Bil Keane, who signed one of the cartoons I clipped from the Sunday paper as well as his book. It wasn't the message written, it was his PLEASURE in signing for ME!
    If I ever get my first book written, I hope to be as gracious as he was.

  14.  
    Guy March 12th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    There are two kinds of people when it comes to getting books signed: collectors and investors. The former are those who like their books personalized, and if there is time and you can chat, having something they are talking about may give you something to riff off of, which should please them no end (having been in the book business for 28 years, my two favorite signings come from David Sedaris, who wrote in my galley "Too cheap to buy the book", and David Foster Wallace, who made a warning comment about consuming flaming alcoholic drinks). The latter usually just want a signature, and maybe a date. They are easier, but inside they are hoping for your big success and early death. I hope you have to deal with more of the former, and that the latter come in for some disappointment.

  15.  
    Julie March 12th, 2008 at 8:26 am

    I think that all that is required is a (preferably legible) handwritten name on the title page, unless you know or have some relationship with the person for whom you are signing -- or if it is Michael Powell, or some other famous person. Writer to famous person or famous person to writer are the best. But most of us are just admirers who want something personal from the author about our favorite books. I personally dislike the fake inscription to my name. I am also unhappy with signed names that are something like a dash and a scribble. Good luck. We'll be looking for you.

  16.  
    Bill Allison March 12th, 2008 at 8:33 am

    The El Paso printer and book designer Carl Hertzog always told authors that he spent a lot of time designing the title page and not to mess it up with an illegible scrawl, or words to that effect. That is what the half title page is for. My personal favorite among inscriptions are those that say something interesting about the author, the book or the recipient. For example, I have a book Kinky Friedman inscribed (to my delight) "See you in hell" with the Star of David. Isn't that more interesting than "Best wishes"? Or a copy of J Frank Dobie's book the Mustangs, inscribed: "To Mary Sue Driver. It is hard to drive a Mustang." Or a copy of Coronado's Children inscribed as follows:
    “Inscribed for my friend John Mayfield
    who has collected more odds and ends about writers than any man I know and who will, I hope, collect -- for the purposes he likes to use it -- a lot
    of the stuff Coronado’s Children hunt for
    J. Frank Dobie
    on Waller Creek
    April 5, 1931"

    Here is another great example in his bibliography Guide to Life and Literature of the Southwest:
    “Henry Clifford – It is not necessary to read / all these books. Remember: / Beware of the man of one book! / J. Frank Dobie / At Bob Woods party / L.A. / Dec. 2, 1954.”

    Well, you get the idea. Not easy for the author to do, but much appreciated later.

  17.  
    Ashley March 12th, 2008 at 8:43 am

    I'll tell you what I don't like.

    I went to a reading by Ann Lamont. Although I like her works, I was mainly attending to get a book signed for my mother who is a HUGE fan. I was thinking she would write something like "To Isabella" (my mothers name) in order to indicate that the book was signed especially for her. However, Ann Lamont said she only signed her name and nothing else, not even the name of the person. I understand that signing gets tedious and I don't expect the author to write a long note for each person. But I do think you should be a little flexible with the things you're willing to write.

  18.  
    Caroline March 12th, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Michael Ondaatje taught me that stroking out the author name on the title page and signing below it means that the book came from 'this author's hand'. For authors, (if you are jet-lagged & not as cool and witty as Neil Gaiman), a simple 'Thank You' and the date and name of the city is a very nice souvenir of a signing for the reader/fan who is tongue-tied when asked what they would like inscribed.

  19.  
    Kristin March 12th, 2008 at 9:03 am

    I collect signed horror and fantasy novels and at the best signing's I've been too, the author writes a brief note, either by reqest of the reader, such as if the gift were a present it might say "Happy Birthday Sue." Or if there is no request, the tend to have standard messages per book. Laurell K. Hamilton always has something particular to say per book. Or the third thing I've found is that if something interesting happens then you throw out the standard message and write your own. Hamilton overheard my cousin talking in line about how he came to help me get books signed in exchange for dinner (she signs 2 books per person) and she wrote a message about my cousin thanking me for the food. Or my brother once told an author that I enjoy writing and the author wrote "good luck on your own writing." Unique things like that really show me that the author did listen to what is said by the fans and cared. After the message, most of them will date and then sign, I really like them dating the books too because it makes the date special and you can alway know when it happened. Good luck!

  20.  
    Bobbi March 12th, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Signing the book with just your name seems to me to be enough. You've already proven yourself to be quite clever, you wrote the damn book! Sign your name, drink your coffee and enjoy the time spent with strangers who, for the moment, think your wonderful. Enjoy,
    Bobbi

  21.  
    MonicaPDX March 12th, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Good post; you had me snickering!

    As one who's gone to fan conventions and been to a couple of Powell's signings, I think the Post-It method is great. One of the assistants should stand by with them and a pen, about 4-5 people back in the line, and ask people to print out their name and what, if anything, they'd like you to write as well as your sig. Then your fans stick 'em on the page they want signed, if you're not keeping to the title page.

    If your line is huge, might also have assistants ask nicely if people could keep their messages short. You don't want to need ice for your hand afterwards.

    Your sig will deteriorate after some point; it's inevitable. Don't worry about it. Little drawings? Just don't get known for them. ;) And people always appreciate eye contact and a smile, even if you can't come up with witty comments to whatever crazy thing they may say. Remember, most of them are just as nervous as you are. Which is why they may say something crazy. The brain tends to go offline when you meet someone you admire, and the weirdest things come out. Yes, I know this from experience. ;)

    Good luck!

  22.  
    jenna March 12th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    What I look for is sincerity (I know: Who am I to demand something so intimate?) but let me give you a for-instance: Years ago I sent Patrick McDonnell ("Mutts" cartoonist) a fan letter. He replied with a handwritten note and drawing of Mooch a la Krazy Kat (a reference in my letter), so I know he was actually responding to my note. I put it up in my work cubicle cuz I thought it was mind-bogglingly cool. A couple people really thought I had faked it because "who reads fan mail".
    Anyway, if you are thinking "Donald Ray loves that you paid retail for his book" then that's what you should sign. If you're overwhelmed by the apparently endless snake of humanity in front of you, "DRP" is sufficient. Good gravy, man! it's your signing! Sign what's real, is my suggestion.

  23.  
    Joseph Wachter March 12th, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Don't cross out the printed name on the title page. Putting the date might be useful for signings during the first year after publication, otherwise it would be better not to date it. The author's signature on the title page with no comments is what collectors prefer, unless you are signing it for someone famous. Don't sign the book with the signature you use for checks, etc. so that no one tries to use it for a forgery. Never use a felt tip pen for signing. A fountain pen signature would be nice, but may not be practical if you are doing a lot of signatures. Unless you are an artist, don't make any sketches. Good luck!

  24.  
    Peter E Scott March 12th, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    Learn Hemingway's sig

  25.  
    Steve Tamplen March 12th, 2008 at 12:43 pm

    Lots of excellent advice above! I can only add that fans appreciate anything you are willing to do for them, just keep the guy at the end of the line (where I usually am) in mind...and whether you will be able to carry your briefcase to the plane if you sign for 4 hours!

  26.  
    Kate Douglas March 12th, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    Donald, I do a lot of "drive by" signings where I stop in at bookstores and sign stock. Then I just sign my name and stick a bookmark with all my current books listed on the back inside the book. For a regular book signing, I usually ask the person who's handing me the book what they would like. I have a few pet phrases I'll use to "personalize" their books: "Enjoy your walk on the wild side" or "Welcome to the world of Chanku," but the most important thing to do is ask them how they spell their name! Do you know how many variations there are on the name "Cathy?" Sheesh!

    Kate Douglas
    Wolf Tales

  27.  
    Kat Chapman March 12th, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Hi,

    Just want to let you know that I have most definitely asked for little pictures!

    In fact, Sherman Alexie, Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, Marjane Sartrapi, and Lemony Snickett have all complied! In some cases, it just prolonged the moment I had to spend with them. In other cases it made sense, as with Ms. Sartrapis' work.

    Don't be afraid if someone asks you to draw your favorite animal, it could be me.

    Kat Chapman

  28.  
    Mariah March 12th, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Well I must admit that my favorite signing experience (as the recipient mind you) WAS little pictures! I was getting a copy of Kindness goes unpunished by Craig Johnson signed for my husband, and Craig asked me to tell him a bit about Roger and I told him he was a school teacher and he drew a picture of Roger teaching a class. It was lots of fun. But Craig is just that king of outgoing guy, so I think it's best to stick to what suits you personally, ask the customer who the book is for, if they want it personalized, etc. Sign, and smile. :)

  29.  
    Kathleen Stewart March 12th, 2008 at 10:02 pm

    I go to a lot of book signings and always feel sorry for the author. I prefer just the author's name and the date, anywhere there's some blank space.........but it would be nice if the author asked whether to put a name on it for those that like that.

    No pictures, no funny stuff--- just a smile and "thank you for coming to listen to me and for buying my book. I hope you like it." Usually I have a quick question or comment that fills up a few seconds or more.

    I'm always conscious of the line behind me and the fact that I'm the "thousandth" person the author has spoken to. I like to make it brief.

  30.  
    frances March 12th, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    I collect books, and signed book are among my most treasured. My favourite signed book was produced by Robertson Davies - he of 'Fifth Business' and a Canadian. Davies was, as it turned out near the end of his life on that last visit to Vancouver. He had a wide nib fountain pen with a cut point, beautiful purple ink, and a steady hand as he crossed out his printed name and signed his name below. The pen and the italic hand in which he wrote were appropriate to his Edwardian beard and beautiful old-fashioned suit. That signature, and the moment in which he created it are treasure to me.

  31.  
    Collier Brown March 13th, 2008 at 9:57 am

    Greetings. My advice differs from the above in many cases but it comes from working (for Powell's) with antiquarian and collectible books and the traditions of that environment. If you have aspirations for the ages for your book, never, never write on the title page. The tp should be the most carefully and thoughtfully designed page of the book- it is the "Soul" of the physical object, as it were, and should not be altered or added to by anyone. You may use any other page(s) you like but please, not the tp (I invite you to confirm this with whatever rare book dealers you like). Best wishes for happy signings. Collier

  32.  
    Richard Sassaman (Bar Harbor Police Beat) March 14th, 2008 at 3:40 pm

    Interesting topic/question for a blog post. When my book [http://lelilo.wordpress.com/bhpb/] came out, I was completely surprised how much fun signing it turned out to be. To reiterate the two most important points, you have to get the names right (and you can never assume how any name is spelled — Tom? Thom? Tomm?), and you should always use the same kind of ‘signing’ pen you’re comfortable with (which doesn’t bleed through the pages).

    Since (like most of us), your name isn’t Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter or Posh Spice, you’re probably not going to have thousands of people waiting in line anyway. It doesn’t seem like it would take that much longer to actually ask the person approaching you how their name, or whoever’s name they’d like, is spelled, rather than ignore them to read it off the piece of paper or Post-It they hand you. You’re in the spotlight, and as long as the people in line aren’t getting too restless, and the store’s not going to close, and you’re enjoying it, take your time with your admirers. Unless one of these people is somebody like Annie Wilkes, and becomes your ‘#1 fan’ (now there’s a pleasant thought), you’re probably not ever going to see him or her again. How you sign the book is really the least important part of the interaction; they’re more likely to remember how you dealt with them personally.

    You might even learn something by taking a little time. If they’re giving your book to someone else, ask them why (and maybe inscribe it accordingly). Find out what brought them out to see you in the first place. Did they especially like a particular story of yours? (Also useful for your inscription.) Tell them to tell your friends about you. Ask them if they know Oprah. As you get more practiced, vary things like this (one per person) with your fans. It can only take an extra moment, but be invaluable.

    You have an instant tag line if you want to sign your book the same way every time: “Knock ‘em stiff! Donald Ray Pollock.” But variety is nicer. And sign the thing wherever you want to. The title page is sacred? Get serious — you spent months, years, on that book, it’s your creation. To the designer, it was just another job.

    I tend to think adding the date is more important only if it’s around the initial publication, but it really doesn’t take much longer to scrawl 4-12-08 (or whenever) after your signature if someone wants. I can’t imagine anyone asking someone not an artist for a drawing, but if you do one, you’re gonna have to do them all. Also remember, as Kate Douglas says above, that you can always go sign books in a store for no one in particular. I tend to sign above my printed name in that case, and below (where there’s more room) for a specific person.

    Mostly, just relax. People aren’t waiting in that line unless they already like you. Happy Signings indeed, and congratulations on the book.

    p.s. I agree with Jim, the first guy who replied above — the best reading is done in the privacy of one’s home. At a ‘reading’ I’d much rather hear about you, your writing habits, what you're working on now, what you've read recently that you like, about anything, basically, instead of having you stand there reading at me. (Obviously a lot of people will disagree, but I can’t stand Books On Tape for the same reason.) Tell your fans to buy the book, and take it home and read it themselves, then move on to be so fascinating that they'll want to do just that.

  33.  
    Shannon O’Donnell March 18th, 2008 at 8:56 pm

    At a poetry reading and signing last Friday night, the woman in front of me asked the author to inscribe her book with "We'll always have Pismo Beach!" It was something she'd been doing for over 15 years. I wish there'd been time to find out why.

    When it was my turn, I'd said something to a friend about feeling like I'd been on a trip around the world listening to poetry that night. The author incorporated that into her signature, and included the book store's name and the date. (Lorraine Healy---she's terrific)

    I have to sign a lot of forms at the prison where I work. At first I was very careful to make my handwriting legible, but after the 157th form, I went for my initials, SMO. One befuddled man asked how it was that he got 8 more months to do... I had to decipher the initials for him. Luckily, book signings don't usually bring up such heavy consequences!

  34.  
    PG March 19th, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Unless you do really great voices (like Clyde Edgerton), I agree that one should keep the reading fairly short and instead take questions or just talk.

    From part of my collection of signed books (the ones from college are in Texas). These are all nonfiction, but I think the personalized messages are appropriate to the authors:

    Dan Savage - "from one fistf***er to another" (he did not use asterisks)

    The late, great Molly Ivins, whom I never got to meet myself - "Raise more hell! P.S. Great boyfriend!"

    Less personalized:

    Henry Louis Gates Jr. - "All the best!"
    Derrick Bell - "My best wishes"

    The only signing that disappointed me was when I had John Yoo sign a book for a Republican friend. There was no line of people waiting, and I'd told Yoo that the friend was an admirer of his (I know, weird friends), but he just signed "Best wishes." Something like "Waterboard away!" would have been nice -- if half the people you meet think you're evil, and the other half think the first half are naive idiots, shouldn't you have a little fun with that?

    I agree with everyone who says to have people write down what they want on a card (have them specify whether they want a name, and if so which, or a date, and if they want any kind of message). It removes the ambiguity. If you interact with your audience, e.g. by taking questions after the reading, and someone with whom you talked asks for your signature, it's nice to put a message that references something from that. (The Dan Savage message was in 2003, when I wanted to quiz him on Iraq and he wanted to talk about sex.)

  35.  
    Donna Lee Anderson March 23rd, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I have only published one book (IMJUSTCURIOUS) about internet dating for the more mature woman and hoping to publish #2 and #3. In my limited book signing I found that people (readers after a signed book) don't usually want to talk to me the signer. They are so busy being cute and talking to their "friend" about their experiences in dating,, etc. that they hardly have time to give me their name. Maybe when I get more famous that will change. d

  36.  
    Carol White March 26th, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    I love doing book signings after our presentation - and we have signed thousands! It is the author's opportunity to really connect with the audience and interact one-on-one, however briefly. Some nights we have signed only a handful, but then there are those magic nights when the line seems to never end - ahhhh....

    For friends and small groups, we ask if there is a special inscription. For larger signings we have a standard phrase unless someone requests something specific:

    Live Your Dreams
    Phil & Carol

    (yes, we both sign our names - and on the title page)

    Since the book is "Live Your Road Trip Dream", we think this is a quick to sign, but appropriate, notation.

    Live Your Dreams!
    Carol

    www.roadtripdream.com

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