These days, some people prefer their books in print; some prefer them electronically. That’s why I’ve gone to great lengths to make the new edition of Roll the Bones available across as many platforms as possible. Well, if you define “making a few formatting tweaks to submit it to four different eplatforms” as great lengths, at least. Although I’ve got to say the iBook process was a bit more than that…
Anyway, one of the questions I’ve gotten about ebooks is how a reader can get one signed. I was thinking that the best way would be to meet in person and write a brief note, but it turns out someone’s devised a more sophisticated way that works at a distance. Authorgraph purports “make ebooks a little more personal,” so this morning I decided to give it a shot.
It was easy to sign up, and I’ve already sent three Authorgraphs this morning.
Here’s how it works, as best as I can figure out. A reader sends me a request. I then personalize a “signed” note, which goes into a collection of notes they can keep on their ereader. As of now, it doesn’t go directly on the ebook itself, though I guess if I met someone in person I could write a note on the file.
Thus far I’m pretty pleased. It’s always gratifying to learn that people not only had enough faith in you to buy your book, but that they want it signed, and it’s great to be able to extend that to digital versions.
And this hits at something that’s actually a source of a good bit of anxiety and self-consciousness for me: signing books.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s something I genuinely like doing. But two things about it make me nervous:
1. In trying to come up with something pithy to write in the book, I’ll just sound inane.
2. My handwriting does not look like it belongs to someone capable of reading a book with multisyllabic words, much less writing one.
The first one I solved by simply being honest, usually saying something like “thanks for reading,” which has the benefit of being absolutely genuine. The second, though, doesn’t really have an easy fix. I’ve just never had handwriting that was remotely legible, no matter how hard I try. It was a real problem back in grade school; more than one teacher just gave up. It ties right in with my not being particularly well-coordinated in anything that requires fine motor skills. Some people are terrified of speaking in public; I’m more worried by writing in public.
So book signings can be difficult for me, mostly because I am afraid that once people see how abysmal my handwriting is, they’ll assume that I’m a lot less intelligent and/or insightful than they thought I was (which I realize is quite likely true, but there’s no sense in proving it beyond a doubt). On the other hand, there’s little that’s more rewarding to a writer than interacting with readers (well, I’d say getting a nice royalty check is up there, and so is signing a contract with a publisher that believe in you, but it’s definitely in the top three), but on the other, it’s not as easy as I’d like it to be.
Which is why something like Authorgraph has the potential to be a real life-saver: it lets the author create something personalized for the reader, electronically, which means no hand-writing needed.
Although you still have to sign, and my attempts at “drawing” a signature in the Authorgraph interface were horrible. I don’t mean “the pharmacy tech couldn’t read the doctor’s script and accidentally poisoned someone” bad, I mean, “you’d politely smile if you saw it hanging outside a nursery school classroom” awful. So I went with their “adopted” signature, which is just my name in a handwriting font. Trust me, it’s for the best.
The other funny thing is the font that I get to write a message in. You’ve got the choice between handwriting and a typewriter. The handwriting looks a little too fussy, a little too old-ladyish to be something I can comfortably use, but the typewriter font is oddly appropriate: it looks, like I said on Twitter this morning “like an extortion note.” It really does look like the font the Mob Museum uses to me, for some reason.
To me that gives Authorgraph some charm, some personality, which is just what it needs. Even the little widget is kind of homey: