Autographs, by Emily Winslow

I haven’t been counting the autographs. But I can tell you: out of 34 promotional activities scheduled for my month of release, I only have five left. Yes, I have so far done 29 promotional verbs of one kind or another: signed, read, talked, dropped-in, interviewed. I’ve been to bookstores and book club meetings and local TV stations. I have signed a fair number of books. This is what I’ve learned:

1) Don’t sign that first page right inside the cover.

At first that’s exactly where I signed. I wanted anyone picking up the book to SEE that it was signed without having to hunt for it. But, I have learned, a signed front page could have been “tipped in.” That means the author could have signed blank pages that were then bound into the book, instead of holding the finished book in hand while signing.

2) Do sign the page with both the title and author name.

Unless your title/author page has a really pretty picture on it, like mine does. Then, sign the facing page.

3) Everyone will ask if you have a special pen. I wracked my brain trying to imagine what a special “autograph pen” might be like. From those who cared, Sharpies seemed to be preferred, and they do sign nice, if a little thickly.

I haven’t yet been asked to sign anything bizarre, or spell a name in a confounding way. I think my best stories came from signing with Deb Sarah at the Union Station Barnes and Noble in DC.

I’d already done a few events, but this was the first one where I wasn’t doing a presentation to an audience. Instead, we were meant to snag passersby with smiles and chocolate and enticing plot descriptions. We got a few sweet, aspiring writers, who had lots of questions and, they explained, brand new DC jobs and no cash yet with which to buy books. We got one shy, almost obedient woman who was so instantly compliant to our suggestion that she buy our books that we accused the store manager of planting her there to raise our confidence.

My personal fave was the guy who agreed that he liked books, then agreed that he liked mysteries and crime, then agreed that he liked books set in England. I asked if he’d like me to sign one for him.

“Oh no!” he said. “I was just agreeing with everything you said!”

7 Replies to “Autographs, by Emily Winslow”

  1. That man must feel compelled to agree with beautiful, talented women! Bless his heart.

    My favorite recent signing experience was at an event where a certain someone — standing before two authors recently published by large, traditional publishing houses — proceeded to trash all currently published books as gutless commercial garbage and that only books by already-famous people become successes…

    The other author and I tried to convince him for a while with tales of sleeper hits (like THE HELP and WATER FOR ELEPHANTS) and eventually I just shrugged and wandered away… (happily it was not at my signing table so I was free to escape!)

    Funny thing is, he was smiling and genial the whole time. I suspect it didn’t occur to him that his comments would reflect on our work!

  2. Sharpie makes a great new pen. It’s really thin. I’m using them for all my signings because they don’t bleed through. Hope you’re having fun!

  3. Emily, that was such a funny and random night! And remember the girl who came up to me, all friendly, and chatted for a while before looking at my book and snapping, “This sounds like two books I just read!” and storming away? And the guy who came back for chocolate… and came back again… and again…. but didn’t buy a freaking book? But the manager was amazing and it was just so much fun to hang out and have that experience with you!Plus we did sell some books and got endcaps out of it!

  4. I’m with you all the way on the Sharpies. My new obsession, though, is Sharpie pens. Have you seen them? They have the authority of a Sharpie but are less chunky. xo

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