Monday, October 5, 2009


It’s a healthy thing to have a few eccentricities—especially for an author. It helps to keep up the illusion that there is something strange and mysterious about this breed of people who would spend weeks writing with no guarantee that anyone will read what they write. A couple of mine deal with signing books.

When I sign a book, I don’t put some special message there, such as, “To my dear friend, George.” If you ask me to sign a book, all you’re going to get is my name scrawled across the story title page. But it’s not without reason. One reason is that it helps the resale value. You might think that having a book signed by the author influence people to keep the book in their library, but go down to Half Priced Books, look at the autographed books and see how often someone else’s name appears on the same page as the author’s signature. If people are going to sell their autographed books anyway, we might as well sign it in a way that gives them a higher value. The other thing is that I have this fear of misspelling someone’s name, so I keep it simple. I think I can handle my own name.

I also don’t do autographed book plates. These are stickers bearing the author’s signature that can be applied to the book. Some authors will send them out to people who request them on their websites. I’ve seen some of those in Half Priced Books too. I think a autographed book ought to be special. If my signature is on a book, I want it to mean that someone came to me and requested that I sign it. If it doesn’t, I might as well have my signature printed on the title page of every book they print.