Can you sign my book?

As a new author, I have had to make a lot of tough decisions. After the multitude of decisions that craft the story, involving character development, plot and dialog, it feels like you should be done. The decisions are made, your story crafted, edits accomplished. It’s all done.

But then comes more decision making. What style of illustrations? Will you be getting someone contracted to do the illustrations or doing them yourself? How big will the pages be and how will you pattern your layout? How will the book be segmented? Will you have text overlay or text boxes? When all that is decided and done, there is still more. Decisions about publishing and pricing and printing.

You finally get to the finished product. You are finished and you have a book on the market. People are buying it and excited about it and you are truly in heaven that your baby is finally out there for others to enjoy.

And then…

You are sitting at work and a co-worker comes in smiling ear to ear and holding up your book. It takes you by surprise. Let’s face it you still work for a living and you have to shift gears from your job to your creation. You hold your breath a bit, until they say how they enjoyed it, and are so happy to have it, and they want you to sign it. Wait…sign it?? Oh yes, that is next, The signing… A whole new world of decisions.

The first time I over-thought it. It was going to a child and I wanted them to be able to read it. I used printing for the text. I stayed simple, something about enjoying reading the book. But the signature. Not my check signing or quick initial. How do I sign? I put my full name, but this was in cursive. It was stressful. This person had bought my book and I might have ruined the very first page with poor penmanship or corny dialogue

I thought a bit more about what to do next time. Now I was in a car with my sisters. One sister handed me an envelope with two books. Could I sign one for her daughter’s family and one for her son’s family. Of course, but then, the pen…. Did I have a good pen with me? At work all my pens are gel, non-smear. (I would need to get some in my bag and in my car for these times). I found a pen and signed. She took some guesswork out of it for me by asking me to sign in a specific way, as Great Aunt Judy. I was feeling a little better about these two.

When writing, you get to read and re-read, edit and re-edit. You don’t have to put it out there till you feel it is perfect. Not so with signing books. You have to work on your feet and hope that you don’t make a mistake.

My third time was just that, a mistake. My coworker came in all excited that she had my book and loved it and would I sign. Again, that transition from employee to writer had to happen. I was taken aback because I work as a registrar for a school and can get very absorbed in report creation or scheduling. I got a pen and started to sign. “To a good friend” But, instead of a ‘d’ in ‘good’, I wrote an ‘f’. Hmmm…She was standing there waiting. I was super stressed, and then I got an idea. I changed “good friend” to “goofy friend”. The problem was this was as far from the truth as you could get. This was my good and sweet and very controlled friend. No one anywhere would ever accuse her of being goofy. I handed the book back and she asked me a question about work. I was trying to answer while inwardly thinking about my weird signature. What to do? Finally, my perfectionism got the best of me and I asked for her book back and told her I would go home at lunch, get a new copy and sign it better. I explained what I had written and how it was just not going to work. She laughed and told me that it would always make her think of me knowing the backstory. She took the book.

Do all new authors go through this?  Will I survive these bursts of stress? I am sure it will get better, after all there are a multitude of studies that all say with practice comes skill and maybe perfection. I just have to put in the time and accept that I am not great at it now and maybe come up with a few fail-safe signing options to have on hand.