Ever been to a book-signing or book festival where you’ve had to sign and personalize books over and over? Ever run out of ways to do that? Yeah, it’s tough, huh? (Don’t we all wish?)
Truly, though, how much thought do you give your dedications? Some readers may request specific things, but most are just happy to have their name and yours, maybe a sentence or two. Or some might say, “Be creative.” You know, that thing we can turn on at the drop of a hat?
I do try to be creative, but it’s not something I leave to the last minute as I’m sitting with the pen poised. I really have put some advance thought into it. What I try to do is make the sentiment of the signing match the story of the book. I’ll give you some examples.
My action/adventure Queen’s Gold is quite a wild ride, dashing from the US to Mexico in search of ancient Aztec gold. For this one I usually say, “Hope you enjoy the ride!”
My fantasy The Blue Crystal is akin to The Lord of the Rings, a sword and sorcery fantasy of magic and wizards both good and evil. My spiritual novel Goddess Rising is an epic saga of a future time when civilization has been destroyed and the few remaining people have reverted to a magical Goddess worship as they await a female savior who is prophesied to lead them back to greatness. For both of these books, I sign, “May all your journeys be magical.”
My only non-fiction (to date), the biography of my aunt who was an Army nurse and prisoner-of-war, is a true-life story of great hardship and struggle. Writing something light and fluffy just doesn’t feel right, so I might say, “Here’s to strong women everywhere,” or “Keep those family stories alive.”
On the rare occasion when I am signing multiple books and have all my genres on display, I usually fall back to the generic, “Best wishes,” for expediency. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve noticed that my brain doesn’t always operate at full capacity at a book signing. I may be so distracted by the goings on that I get careless, and when I’m writing in indelible ink, I really want to be sure I’m saying the right thing. In this case, I’d rather stick to the non-specific and be safe rather than write “Enjoy the ride!” at the front of my aunt’s story.
Some other generic but still heartfelt personalizations that I’ve used are:
“Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.”
“Hope you enjoy it.”
“Thanks for your support.” Okay, not the most creative, but still sincere.
An interesting twist to this that has come to my attention is that some authors are selling personalized books online and giving buyers the option of dictating their own message. For a time, I listed a few of my signed books on Amazon in the “collectible” category, but never got much response to that. I don’t sell books direct on my website—never seemed to have the time to set up a shopping cart there. Another author I know who doesn’t have shopping on his website is selling his autographed books on ebay. It’s just a matter of sending folks that way from his website or Facebook, etc. Once people buy the book, they then fill out the “message to seller” dialog box to say what they want the dedication to be.
I’d love to hear how others approach this issue, so please, chime in!