Signing a book

About a month before The Opposite of Me came out, I booked a signing at the big Barnes & Noble in my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland. The lovely folks at the bookstore followed up with a long email to my publicist, asking all sorts of questions. Did I prefer to sign with a pen or a sharpie? Which page of my book would I be signing? Would I like to have a bookstore representative write down the the names of the folks waiting in line so I wouldn’t misspell someone’s name?

I’d long dreamed of autographing my book, but I’d never thought about the mechanics of the process. Since then, I’ve collected stories of what other authors do. One signs on the last page of his books, just to be different. Most scrawl their signatures on the crowded page that lists the book’s title and the name of the author and the publisher’s information. For me, it felt right to sign on the page that just lists my title – because I like to have the extra space to include a little note along with my signature.

If I know the person receiving my novel, I’ll write something personal – an expression of gratitude for their friendship and support, or maybe a few words that will conjure a happy memory. If I’m signing stock, or inscribing a book as a gift, I’ll usually write “Happy reading!” along with a few x’s and o’s and my name. It turns out I do prefer sharpies, but I’m just as happy signing with any other kind of pen.

And you know what? Each and every time I sign a book, I’m just as excited as I was the first time.

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Sarah Pekkanen

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9 thoughts on “Signing a book

  1. One of my former teachers pointed out the tradition of crossing out the name on the title page when the writer signs her name. I do it now, and every time I do, I think of my teacher. It’s nice.

  2. I recently saw David Sedaris speak and waited in line to get him to sign my book. His new one coming out is a book of animal fables (he’d read one, it was hysterical and creepy in the Sedaris vein) and thus he asked me which animal I wanted him to draw in the book. I selected a spider (though I am afraid of spiders) in honor of his essay I’d just been talking about with my dad called April in Paris, in which Sedaris more or less adopts a spider and names her April.

    He had multi-colored Sharpies and drew not only a fairly credible doodle-spider, but with the red one made it clear he’d drawn a black widow.

    Now THAT was a unique experience!

  3. Looking forward to figuring out my answers to all these questions! As someone with a name that can be very challenging to spell the first time you hear it, I’m definitely concerned about misspelling others’ names, so I’d probably like the bookstore employee writing them down for me… I’ve seen this happen with Post-Its at larger signings, but I imagine lots of bookstores don’t have enough staff to dedicate someone to it at that moment, especially for a smaller signing.

    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  4. I haven’t signed a copy of my book for someone yet. I wonder who will be my first … !

  5. Personally, I don’t understand wanting to have books signed. What do people do with them after they’ve been signed? It’s kind of creepy in a way.
    This is not to say that if I ever publish a book that people would like to have signed, that I will not sign them with a flourish (with a sharpie) and a big smile, but I just might not turn my back on those people. Just sayin.

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