signing (books)

you know, applying your signature to a page in your book

How can I sign stock of my book at bookstores?

Drop by a bookstore when they’re not busy, check to make sure they have your book on the shelf, find a manager, and say something like, “I’m an author with Prettycool Publisher and I noticed you carry my book–can I sign your stock?” (I would recommend naming your publisher because the minute you say “I’m an author” the manager will wonder whether you are a self-published author looking to sell your book in his/her store, and that will just lead to confusion–just my two cents.) I’ve only ever had great responses to this nerve-wracking proposition. And usually, the employee I’m talking to will then want to introduce me to other employees. Everyone feels very happy and you’ve just made friends with a bookstore. I recommend tweeting after you leave the store (“I just signed copies at the wonderful Bestybest Bookstore!”); it’s a nice way to give the bookstore a shout-out.

How exactly should I sign a book?

It seems odd that I have things to say about this, but I do. Here you go:

  • Where: Sign on the one title page that lies flat when you open the book. I once signed on a different page and the bookstore manager told me that I was doing it wrong, and she seemed pretty grieved by it. I’m sorry to everyone who has a copy of Where Futures End that I signed on the wrong page. I’m not sure why I’m sorry, but I am.
  • How: Some people say your author signature should be different from your legal signature to avoid identity theft or something like that, but I bet your internet passwords are an easier target than your signature, just saying. In any case, you should pick an author signature that is quick and easy to sign. You won’t believe how hard it is to sign a book when the buyer is talking to you at the same time.
  • With What: A pen with ink that dries quickly and won’t smear when you close the page. Most authors I know use Sharpies. Do you care that Sharpies are not archival quality? Then use something else. Some authors do very extensive pen-testing, but that’s way too much pen-anxiety for me–ymmv.

Why should I sign books?

Signing stock at a store is a great way to start a relationship with that bookstore. It also means your book will get a shiny sticker (Signed Copy!), which might help it sell faster or get displayed more prominently. Some stores will keep your book on their shelf a little longer if it’s signed, but some stores have no qualms about sending unsold, signed copies back to your publisher. Obviously if a reader asks you to sign their copy of your book you’re going to say yes (right?), and that’s a great way to make a connection with a reader who will probably go on to buy your future books. And if you find yourself at an event where you don’t have books to sell or sign, sign some swag and hand that out! I used to be shy about signing swag because I hate to get all Gilderoy Lockhart on people, but readers kept telling me they really wanted me to sign the swag I gave them. So do that.

Dang, signing books makes me feel like a rockstar. How can I do more of this?

Set up some visits. Arrange to do a signing at a conference or convention. Drop in on bookstores while you’re traveling. Win “Witch Weekly’s Most Charming Smile.”