For most people, the angst of thinking up a pithy signature line was over with the last period bell.
For them, there is no more worrying about all the ways a book owner could be dissatisfied: It wasn’t personal enough. It wasn’t long enough. It wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t smart enough. I still remember the poor freshman schmuck who signed, “have a neat sumer”. Yes, s-u-m-e-r to be ridiculed for all eternity.
You, however, may be fortunate enough to relive that autograph frenzy with your own print book. What? You say you used to hide in the bathroom until it was over? Well, if you’re really lucky as an author, you’ll be put under a spotlight in the middle of the cafeteria–I mean, store–so that everyone can gawk at what a loser you are because no one wants your book, let alone your signature.
There will, however, be at least one person who feels enough pity to approach your table. It might be your mother but you should still be prepared and make it count. So here are some tips:
– Bend the front cover back while you write and bear down hard enough to tear the page. That way, it won’t be worth much when it shows up on the used book sites. That’s not sour grapes; it’s just good business.
– String a bunch of big words together with some prepositions and add a period. If people can’t understand it, they’ll think you’re smart.
– Scribble illegible nonsense and draw a smiley face after it, and they’ll assume you are funny, too. If you want to actually be funny, write an entire knock-knock joke. This will have the bonus effect of making a person stand at the table longer so you’ll look like less of a loser.
– If you don’t know how to spell someone’s name, for heaven’s sake, don’t ask. “To whom it may concern” has been perfectly acceptable for generations.
– Draw a picture, because ours is a visual world. The illustration doesn’t have to be related to the book. Just swirl a few strokes and label it a French poodle then let the book owners try to figure out the relevance. That way, they’ll have both an autograph and a mystery. It’s all about customer service.
– Dot every “i” with a heart to make the inscription personal. You could go the extra mile and write what Jennifer Weiner did: ” Thanks for getting good in bed.” Of course, the name of her book is “Good in Bed”, so coming from you, it might have a different effect. Just remember that every restraining order is another signature opportunity.
– Strangers who want your autograph are hoping it will be worth something someday, so give them what they want: Sign your full first and last name with middle initial and make it legible. Because let’s be honest, the only way your signature is likely to be worth something is if it’s forged on a check.
– If all else fails, just write, “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, because that is what you say when you have nothing else to say.