Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How Do You Sign Your Books?

This seems to be a question that plagues many authors. How do you sign copies of your books? No doubt someone like Bryce Courtenay or Michael Connelly simply signs with a signature - when two or three hundred people are in the line, you don't have time to chat and do personal notes. Although I have seen Shaun Tan sign (he's a great illustrator) and he draws people little pictures. I've been at signings where the publicist runs along the queue and gives everyone little Post-it notes for you to write your name on so the author doesn't have to check your spelling.

But when you aren't signing for hundreds, the question does arise. A lot of the time, with my kid's books, I sign To... and then write Happy reading. Because I do hope reading my book will make them happy - for a while, at least. Sometimes I put something different, just for a change. But I always sign (unless asked just for my name) with a Best wishes. When it comes to signing for friends, what then? Do they want your signature - your writer's one? (Full name.) Or do they just want your first name that they call you by, because they're your mate? It gets tricky. You have to ask, and often they aren't sure!

My family sometimes scold me for not signing the books I give them, but it feels weird. Don't ask why, it just does! When it comes to friends who want more than a signature, I try to write something personal or funny, but it doesn't always work. On an early children's book of mine, I wrote something about gumboots. I'd talked to my friend about where the story idea came from, but a while later, she didn't remember what I'd said and asked me, "What does this thing about gumboots mean? Why did you write that?"

Today I was tidying up one of my bookshelves, the one that has my collection of signed books on it. It was funny to read some of the things authors had written. Markus Zusak, on his first ever YA novel, had written something about "dirty boys inside" - which refers to the story. At the time, I hadn't read the book and wondered why on earth he had written that! Martha Brooks, on "Bone Dance", has written "Dance to the beat of your own wolf song!" Melvin Burgess has written "Hi Sherryl - well met!"

Have you got any books that have been signed with something different or special?


Snail said...

China Mieville wrote 'Hell is a city' on my copy of Perdido Street Station. It's a Blake quote, I understand. It was appropriate for the book, but also, now that I'm living in the sticks, it has a rather deeper resonance!

Nathan Luff said...

It feels wrong to be writing in books in the first place - sacrilegious or something! And the thought of making a mistake is a constant worry for me.

I do enjoy something unique though - Sonya Hartnett signed my copy of Forest with 'Purr and all that'.

Sherryl said...

It used to be that having an author sign a book made it worth more, but I think these days with writers' festivals that signed books are a lot more common!