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Park your creativity at the door.

Boy, does this article by Robert Klose ever strike a chord. It’s the age-old dilemma faced by every author who has ever signed a book for someone. The requirements for decorating that title page with your finest work are as constricting as doing a tap dance in a phone booth. You have to be

  • brief
  • original
  • witty
  • charming
  • personal
  • and fast.

Is there any possible way to do that when you’re sitting (and sometimes you have to stand) at a bookstore, with a line of people waiting, people who intimidate the heck out of you because they’re paying their hard-earned money to buy your book? Add to that my own habit of wanting to chat up every person who stops by, and suddenly my mouth and my pen are working independently (and often, not terribly well).
I love signing books and I do it with a sense of humility and accomplishment, if it’s possible to feel both ways at once. But I am the world’s worst at coming up with something of value to say in the inscription. Seriously, after Best Wishes, Happy Reading, Relax & Enjoy, Warmest Wishes and the ilk…what else is there to say?
Anne Rice signed my copy of Queen of the Damned with a simple, “To Susan — Blessings.” The ebullient Catherine Coulter always puts something fun about the reader: “To Susan of the Big Hair.” My favorite is from the late Crosby Bonsall, who added a little cartoon to her wonderful And I Mean It, Stanley!
For me, the problem is to sum up my gratitude for the person buying the book and my hopes that the story will be enjoyed in just a few words. I’ll keep trying.
One big help for me is my home town bookstore. The Eagle Harbor Book Company makes it possible for me to have a long-distance signing. Readers can order a signed book, personalized any way they like, through the bookstore. Just please, don’t expect a masterpiece….

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