Monday, 15 May 2017

The Perils of Signing Books



Here I am, signing a stack of books during the launch of The Girl from Simon's Bay in South Africa. This particular bookshop was Exclusive Books, in Constantia, Cape Town, and these copies were destined for a store-front display. I hope that they have all been sold!


Book signings are fun, especially when I get to meet readers who are buying a book for themselves or a friend or relative. But there's a hidden peril! I have rather untidy handwriting (as a result, I tell myself, of doing all my work on a keyboard and therefore neglecting my handwriting). In most cases only a signature is required and that's not a problem. In fact, a wild-looking signature is almost a necessity. No-one, after all, wants a tame author signature, do they? So I can allow myself a flourish, without worrying that it may be incomprehensible.

However... if I am asked for more i.e. I need to inscribe a particular message, then I start to get nervous. Having to write, for example, "To Susie on her birthday" or "To a special friend", requires legibility. But I find that my wrist seizes up and my fingers refuse to create neat text. What if the poor recipient can't decipher his or her special message?

So far, I haven't had any complaints but I think it's been close. The alternative would be to print the inscription carefully and slowly rather than attempt a calmer version of my cursive signature. But doing so might raise the possibility among sharper recipients that the books have actually been signed by different people:
The expansive author and a far more ordered assistant...
Would they feel shortchanged in some way?

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