Shortly after you start publishing books, you learn that writers have another duty. When you appear at events, people want you to sign your books. More than that, they often want personalized dedications, often to a child or other loved one.
Now, they paid for the book, so you really, really don’t want to mess it up. And doubly so, when they ask you to personalize it.
Here’s my tips related to signing books…
- Always have books to sign. Always.
When somebody stands in front of you asking to buy a signed copy of your book, pull a copy out of your pack, suitcase, or carrying bag and sell it to them. At worst, take their money and tell them you’ll be right back, you’ve got some copies in a box in your car. It’s not just money, it’s an opportunity to turn somebody into a true fan, the kind of fan that will buy all of your books if you’re lucky. Note: This works best for indie writers. Trad-published writers don’t have copies to sell (but all of my other tips still apply to them, too).
- Always have multiple pens around, and good ones at that.
Look, they bought your book. They’ve asked you to write in it. The least you can do is make sure that you not only have a pen, but a good pen so you can scrawl smoothly and legibly. Show them you’re prepared, easy-going and professional.
- Practice your cursive writing…in advance.
If you’re like me when I published my first book, except for your signature, you haven’t practiced cursive writing in years. Years, I say. Basically, you’re going to need to do some practice. My first few dedications were wretched…and really slow to write. Practice. It’ll pay off for you.
- If they ask you for a personalized dedication for a child, always ask if the child understands cursive writing.
Not all schools are teaching cursive writing anymore. It’s in the process of becoming a dying art. So you can’t know for sure whether the person’s child will understand a dedication written in cursive. And I honestly think that a dedication that can’t be read by the intended recipient…er…loses a bit of its potential impact. Print it if you have to, but make sure it’s understandable to whoever is going to receive the book.
- For each of your books, have a set of standard phrases you use for personalization.
Take it from me, phrases are a pain in the butt to try create on the fly. Have a set of stock phrases for each of your books. Be prepared to accessorize on them as needed, but you’ll have a much easier time if you have something to start with. As an example, my story, An Unlikely Hero, is about a man who has lost all hope, and a magic book (with a bad attitude) that changes his life. Here’s an example dedication:
There IS magic…never stop looking for it!
When somebody cares enough about your work to want you to sign it, take them seriously. Give ’em something worth caring about. It’s a great way to connect with your fans.