A few weeks ago I was asked by a friend to autograph her book. Now, it’s not that I’m not creative but sometimes I just need something to jump start the creative process. So I did my usual Google search. I searched every which way for Sunday, and all I could find were suggestions about which pen to use (plenty of hits on that one), how to speed up your through-put by not shaking hands and how to sell more copies by handing the book to people. A failure at searching I decided to create my own autograph templates. So for the autograph suggestion searcher, here are some of the ones I came up with.
At a signing you might just want to actually just sign your name. The full name that is identical to the name used on the book cover i.e., “James Little”, is preferable to collectors (if your book eventually becomes collectable) so that would be on top of your list. However if your name on the cover is Ignataz William Verboten Harmon Montebello Wigglesproof you might want to shorten just to save time: “Iggy Wiggles.”
Next best to that would be a personal address: “To Mary, best wishes, Iggy Wiggles” or just, “To Mary, best wishes, Iggy.” Best Wishes could be replaced by:
or just “Regards”
“Gratefully” (for someone who has helped you during your writing)
If the person is a friend, find something that you have in common and use it to personalize the autograph. If, for example you have had discussions about basing your characters on mutual friends you could write:“…and no, none of these characters is based on you.”Or“…sometimes art imitates life”Your personalization for a close friend might refer to an incident that you have incorporated in a book: “That time on the beach with you was my inspiration for this book.” Or “Miss Mixer inspired me to write this book just as she has inspired your beautiful poetry.”
If your book is non-fiction you might find referring to the inspiration comes easiest: “Your wonderful apple pie was my inspiration for this book” (a book on apple varieties of the Northern Hemisphere) or “Your devotion to wine lead me to write this book.”
Personalizing for a stranger might be a bit more daunting but the first step is to find out something about the person and relate it to your book. For instance, if a woman has a child in tow and your book is about a woman and her daughter you could say:
”May you have as deep a relationship with your children as Hope has with her daughter.” Or“May you never experience the heartbreak with your children that Mary did.”
If the person says they are a creative artist (doesn’t have to be a writer) you could use: “May our muses continue to inspire us.”
Non-fiction is easier to personalize for a stranger. They are buying a book in this case for a reason. “Bon Appetite” is always appropriate for a food or wine book. A short conversation with the purchaser can also yield things like: “may you find new ways to use the herbs from your garden” or “this should simplify your bookkeeping .”
As you continue to sign you will find yourself less and less reliant on stock phrases and more and more able to improvise your autograph. But it’s always good to go to your first signing with a few starters.
Of course, there’s always the blatantly commercial:“Thanks for coughing up the money for this book”
Share your own personalization templates in the comments section of this blog entry.