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Writer's Cramp

One thing we writers have to do once we're published is sign autographs and (possibly... hopefully) participate in book signings. I put together a list of tips I've come across, as well as a few things I've learned from personal experience. I hope you'll find this helpful. :)

Basic tips for autographing books...

  • Books are typically signed on the title page.
  • Make sure you have a good (acid-free, if possible) permanent pen. And carry a spare.
  • Have a few simple phrases (Best regards, Warm wishes...) that you can alternate between and add without thinking.
  • That said, consider personalizing the message in some way. Ex: Enjoyed meeting you at the [name of event].
  • And make sure to ask whom to sign the book toit might be a gift!
  • Either way, be sure to ask the person for the spelling of the name. Common-sounding names often have unique spellings.
  • Make sure your name is legible and, if it's your real name, that your author signature is different than the way you sign your checks. Identity theft and all that...
  • Be prepared even when you're not at a signing. You could get asked at any time and any place.

Clever tips and special situations...

  • Date all your autographs during the first month post release. This makes them far more valuable. (Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until after I'd mailed signed books to my extended family members.)
  • Signing in a different color than black makes the autograph easier to spot for collectors.
  • If you're autographing a coffee table book, consider signing the front cover, since it will likely be on display.
  • If you're signing an anthology, sign on the first page of your story.
  • For signing dark or slick/coated items (e.g. things like bookmarks), choose a Sharpie-type marker in a visible, complementary color.
  • For the inevitable unprepared fan, carry bookplates (a.k.a. book labels) with you. This way, when someone says, "I wish I'd know you were going to be here. I have your book but I don't have it with me.", you can autograph a sticker and give it to them to place in their book.

Here's one of my autographed bookmarks.

I signed them with a gold Sharpie. The hues in the photo aren't totally true to life, but you get the gistlight on dark, and gold to complement the browns and yellows of the images and font.

Nervous about attending your first formal signing? Author and friend Loni Townsend wrote a very informative post about her experience.

Now, about long-distance relationships...

What about e-book owners and fans who can't meet you in person?
There's an app for that. 

No, really. :P 
It's called 'Authorgraph.'

Using Authorgrph is simple, and fans don't have to sign up with the site. 
All they need to provide is a name and an email address. And all that's required of you is signing up and providing the ASIN for the Kindle version of your book (You must have a Kindle version to add a book).

(Notice I can view the Authorgraph without being signed in.)

For the author, it's easy. In fact, the first time you add a book, the owner sends you an Authorgraph request so you can practice. As you can see from my comment, I was glad he did that.

You can choose 'Typewriter' or 'Handwritten' font for the message to the fan. I think the typewriter style looks good.

For the signature portion, you can either sign with a mouse or graphic pen, or you can choose Authorgraph's default font, which is the handwritten style. Since my signature with a mouse looked even worse than my regular penmanship, and their handwritten font looked much like my own, I chose that. 

If you don't like something, you can edit or reset the form until you do. When you have it like you want it, click send. You'll get the requests in your inbox, and your fans will get your Authorgraph in theirs once you've sign it.

Of course, there's always a chance you'll encounter a stalker.

*giggle*  But the way the system is set up makes the whole thing pretty safe.

Loni also wrote a post about signing Authorgraphs using your phone. This would definitely come in handy if you were without your laptop at a signing.

If you want to practice requesting an Authorgraph and see what the experience will be like for your readers, you can use mine. It doesn't matter if you own a copy of Come Back or not. Feel free to try it out.

Sorry this post turned out to be so long.
Hopefully it was worth your time. 


  1. Ok, no more apologies for long posts when they're chock full of insanely useful information!! Yeah, it's a long post, but it NEEDS to be. You had a ton of tips and resources and thoughts to convey, and at no point was I bored or tired or tuning out. So, thank you!!!!

  2. Very cool and great advice. I've signed on with authorgraph, but have found it a little frustrating. The signature techie husband was telling me how lame their page programming is and how easy it would be to make the signature thing easy. Still working on it. *sigh* Again, thanks for all the great tips!

  3. Make your signature legible? Then it wouldn't look like my signature anymore...
    Good advice, Melissa.

  4. Great tips! And now I have an excuse to go pen shopping! On the off chance I get an agent, sell a book, and have something to sign. Any excuse to buy pens....

    I had no idea you could sign ebooks. That's pretty awesome.

  5. I didn't know they made gold Sharpies! Cool (and great tip). And I love the idea of ebook signings!

  6. Never would have thought about that identity theft angle. Or ebook signings. Thanks for the information.

  7. Great tips. It was scary but thrilling to sign my first books.


  8. Cool tips. I hope I can use them someday!

  9. It was nerve-wracking, to be sure! I did my first big events last week...two in a three-day period. Eek. It was the first time I signed bookmarks, too. I used a black sharpie, but a gold one might work better. I need to try that. Thanks for the great tips!

  10. Good tips - I hadn't even thought about most of those, especially about the anti-forgery one. O_o As for messages, I think the first few hundred signings I do will just say "Thank you".

  11. Hey, Melissa,

    Sounds like you're moving onward and upward... CONGRATS... Great tips here...

  12. Thanks Melissa for such an informative post. I only have an ebook at the moment, so I've never signed a paper copy, but I hope to do so! So this was great advice!

  13. Great tips! I love how the gold sharpie looks on your bookmark!

  14. Thanks for this Melissa, great advice and easy to follow pics. I need to mark this post for later use because who knows, maybe one day I'll be able to sign stuff with gold sharpies too! :)

  15. Great post. A was recently at a signing where a gal had an old autograph books that she used for author signatures for her ebooks. I thought that was brilliant.

  16. Well someday I hope to put all these great tips to you! Good for you!

  17. These are excellent tips! I never thought about several of those things, and now I'm going to have to reconsider my authorgraph to make it different from my normal signature. Thanks so much! :)

  18. Great information about AuthorGraph--thanks for sharing! :)

  19. Thanks for the tips! I really like the contrast of the gold Sharpie on your bookmark.

    I use Authorgraph, too. When I first signed on, I thought I could get a nice copy of my signature. In the end, I had to go with the generic (but legible) handwritten style.

  20. Great tips, Melissa. I love the gold Sharpie you used for your book marks. It makes them stand out while keeping your name really attractive.
    I remember how nervous I was for my first book signing.. only because it was the first author even I had ever done. But I've learned how much fun they really are and can be really great experiences to engage with not only your readers, but other writers.

  21. Melissa, these were some great tips! You shared things that I hadn't even thought about (like dating autographs during the first month post release). Definitely going to bookmark this post.

  22. Wow! Thanks for the call outs on my posts! *blush* I'm glad you found them helpful.

    This is a lot of great information. I hadn't thought about dating autographs, or using a different color ink (mostly I'm just searching for a pen that works).

    Where's one of those custom tweet links when you need them? :)

  23. You're so smart!!! Do you offer an apprentice writer program? LOL.

    My first book signing, I spelled the name wrong...and it was my niece. Seriously? Nerves take over...ask how to spell the name!!!


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