Recently I stumbled across a new (to me) feature, enabling me to send a personalized digital autograph to my readers on request. It’s called Authorgraph, and if it sounds familiar, two years ago Kathy Rowe wrote an article on Kindlegraph, its predecessor. (If you go to www.kindlegraph.com, you’re redirected to Authorgraph.) But while Kindlegraph was solely for Kindle-users, Authorgraph now can be used by all eBook reading devices.
The one thing I like about this is that it tends to remove an eBook from the cold, impersonal void of cyber space and put a warmer, friendlier twist on it. I think we all enjoy the very personal give and take of buying a physical book from an author and having that personalization and signature on the title page. It separates that book now from all the other books that are otherwise identical to it. It marks it as ours. It commemorates a meeting of minds and hands, a connection, an exchange.
So how does Authorgraph work? Very similar to the step-by-step process Kathy outlined in the earlier article. You, as an author, create a free account and then register your books by ASIN. The difference now is that, as a reader, you can designate what sort of eBook device you have, whether that’s a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or whatever. Once your books are registered on the site, you will get an e-mail with a URL to share, as well as hypertext for a widget to place on your blog.
As soon as I registered my books, I requested an authorgraph for one of them. As a reader, I was given the opportunity to request a personalization — what, specifically, I’d like the author to say. My name will already appear on the request, so if I wanted the personalization to go to someone else, this is where I would say that.
As an author, I received an e-mail that I had a request and could easily go to the site to fill it. At that point, I was given the option of “signing” either in a typewriter font or a handwriting font. I also had the option to write my own signature, either with my mouse if I’m on my computer, or with my finger if I’m on a tablet or touch screen. I tried it with my mouse and it didn’t come out very spiffy, so I just used the handwriting font instead.
Later that same day, I started my Kindle and saw my authorgraph was already loaded up. It comes in as a pdf document, separate from the book, but when I opened it, there was no doubt which book it was meant for.
Authorgraph says they have over 9,000 authors registered on the site. Their Alexa rankings are 358,000+ for the world, 126,000+ for the US. (Not as good as IU, but not bad.) Here are some of the more pertinent FAQs from the Authorgraph site.
- Is Authorgraph.com affiliated with Amazon?
No, Authorgraph.com is not affiliated with Amazon except that Authorgraph.com earns an affiliate fee for any books purchased from Amazon.com after clicking on one of the Amazon links on Authorgraph.com.
- Do readers need to own or buy my book in order to receive an Authorgraph?
No, but readers who request your Authorgraph are very likely to be current or future readers.
- Do readers need to own a Kindle device to receive an Authorgraph?
No, Authorgraphs are viewable on a wide variety of platforms. Readers can simply enter a regular email address at the time of their request and they will receive an email with links to download a PDF version (viewable in applications like iBooks) or an AZW version (viewable in all Kindle apps on iPad, iPhone, PC, Mac, etc.) of their Authorgraph.
- Is the Authorgraph inserted into the eBook?
No, it is a separate document. This allows a reader to create a “collection” where she can keep all of her Authorgraphs together.
- Do I need to have a Kindle version of my book to sign up for Authorgraph?
Yes. Paperback, hardcover, and audio versions of books aren’t accepted.
- Can Authorgraphs be personalized?
Yes! Every Authorgraph goes only to the specific reader that requested it so an author can write a custom message for each reader. In addition, readers can include a short message to the author in order to provide a bit more context for personalizing the Authorgraph.
- Is there a cost to send or receive an Authorgraph?
Requesting, sending and receiving Authorgraphs are free! However, if a reader uses Amazon’s Personal Document Service to receive the Authorgraph on his/her Kindle then Amazon may charge a small delivery fee.
A week after I started with Authorgraph, I got a weekly summary of my books on Amazon. It lists all my books (I just captured a few here) with their current sales rank, whether they went up or down, and the number of reviews. I don’t recall seeing this mentioned on the site, but I thought that was pretty cool.
All in all, I thought this was pretty slick. It’s just one of those small touches that can make our books (and us) memorable to readers. I thought it was a fun way to interact and giving our readers a digital freebie is always a good thing.