Monday, August 25, 2014

Signings and dedications.

John had a very interesting post last week about doing a signing, particularly when he wrote about his answer to the question 'Was it worth while?'  I think every author would agree with his assessment that it was, however many books wee sold, because of the two people who had driven such considerable distances to meet him and get his signature.  It's one of the best things about writing a book - finding readers who care about it that much.

But that sort of book signing is almost always an ordeal, not only because of the terror of sitting for two hours alone at a table in a bookshop and having everyone walking past trying to avoid your eye. Worse than that is when they stop to speak, pick up a book, look at it, then put it back down again and walk away. Worse still is when they pick it up then realize they don't actually want to buy it but are embarrassed to reject it and hang around making nervous small talk and looking anguished, hoping that someone else will stop so that they can put it down and slip away without you noticing.

Worst of all, I find, is signing a book for someone I know who looks expectant, waiting for me to add some personal, amusing and meaningful one-liner to the usual 'best wishes'.  Nothing is more certain to make my mind go completely blank.

Even the official dedications in my book aren't very imaginative - to husband, children, relatives, with all my love/lots of love/much love/love, as appropriate - but I do appreciate and admire the witty dedications of others.  Some of my favorites follow.

PG Wodehoue:  'To my daughter, Leonora, without whose never-failing sympathy and encouragement this book would have been written in half the time'

Jane Hope, writing humorous books about her experiences as a young teacher:  'To 4B, without whose lack of cooperation this book could never have been written'  and   'To King Herod, the most misunderstood man in history.'

Joe Abercrombie: 'For [my daughter] Grace - one day you will read this and be slightly worried.'  (This really struck a chord with me; a visiting granddaughter looked at a copy of Bad Blood, my most recent book, and said disparagingly, 'It doesn't have any pictures, does it?'  I do wonder what she'll think when she's old enough to read it!)

Gillian Flynn: 'What can I say about a man who knows how I think and still sleeps next to me with the light off?'    (Now that I sometimes wonder myself!)

I'd love to hear any you've written, or enjoyed.



Charlotte Hinger said...

Aline--terrific. Count me among those whose mind goes blank during an autographing. Especially frightening are those who want me to say something wonderful--just for them. And I can't even remember their names.

Aline Templeton said...

Charlotte, you are talking to someone who, having forgotten the name, cunningly asked, 'How do you spell it?' She said,' 'Just the usual way,' looking baffled and I then had to confess. Margaret, it was.

Eileen Goudge said...

Book signings...oh my. The bane of my existence (which I why I no longer do them). I've experienced all of the above, Aline, and then some. I learned to ALWAYS ask how someone's name was spelled, after I once wrote a dedication to a woman who'd introduced herself as Sue. Turned out it was spelled "Sioux." Who knew? Just recently I did an event at the local public library here in Grantsburg, WI, where I'm staying and sold not one book--it wasn't that kind of event--and had the best time ever. The people who came were there just because they wanted to meet me and I was glad to have them.

Aline Templeton said...

I love library visits too, Eileen. They're often the most heart-warming events I do.