The Truth About Signing Books

I have been signing books for a month now and want to go on record to say that signing books is not as easy as it looks.  Several times I messed up and had to start over with a clean book.  Sometimes I get carried away and gush.  (New nightmare:  reading old inscriptions in resale copies at Half-Priced Books).  But my all-time worst fear is that a friend will present a book for signing and I won’t recall their name.  Even if we rode to the event in the same car, book signing dynamics cause names to disappear faster than a teenager with a driver’s license.  This is why sticky notes and pens and lines were invented.      

Discussion Question:  Should a person who can spend an hour revising a brief email be inscribing books?  If words came quickly and easily, I’d be a speaker.  Instead I’m the Tiger Mother of Manuscript Revisions.  Me to manuscript:  I don’t care if it takes all day!  Every word in this sentence will demonstrate a brilliant reason for its continued presence or see a blue haze and hear the right click of my mouse!  I will cut, paste, and revise until I get it right.          

And ideally, every book I sign would get a custom-nuanced dedication, drawing on past shared experience (if applicable), hope for present or future enterprises, a hearty affirmation of Jane Austen, a declaration of the appropriate degree of affection and gratitude, all topped with just the right personal motif.  After all, this is my tender newborn I’m putting in readers’ hands.  Husband would prefer that I harness my powerful overthinking skills in favor of something productive, like say, my novel-in-progress.    

He may be right.  Not everybody wants a War and Peace Inscription and it is hard to go deep with people I don’t even know.  Some people anticipate and say, just your name, please.        

My son saw this picture of me signing books at the Texas Library Association Conference and snickered.  Why would anyone want his mother’s autograph?  Pigs fly.

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10 Comments

Filed under Cindy Jones, My Jane Austen Summer, The business of writing..., Writing Nightmares

10 responses to “The Truth About Signing Books

  1. Lovely post, as usual, Cindy. Eagerly waiting for my signed copy to add to my Austen-related shelf. And, btw, … Sons! I’ve only got two but … my sympathy 😀

  2. Hi Maria! Thanks for the sympathy!!
    BTW: Lily is helping me with the questions for Talking with Jane Austen and we’re almost finished. Always takes longer when you work with someone else! (especially fictional characters)…

  3. Thanks for the insights, Cindy. For some of us, a real live book signing is something we only dream of. Who knew there could be nightmarish elements involved? That would be me, staring at the person in line, whom I’ve known all my life, and not being able to remember his/her name!

  4. I will now feel even more appreciation for any book, or CD I get autographed. I can totally feel for your nightmarish situation with names! I love your description of manuscript revision. LOL!

  5. Thank you, Phylly! I run a tight manuscript! (Everything else is falling to pieces…)

  6. Lori Ingram

    I cherish my signed book and will show it to everyone at my book club meeting next week!

  7. Just come up with some stock expression that you can then customize as you like. Takes away half of the angst at least!

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