Sign here please

Chris Hill, Waterstones signingA little thing which changes when you become a published author is that sometimes people ask you to sign things. By things I mean books, and by sometimes I mean not very often.

But it’s still curious when it happens – the idea that your signature adds something to a copy of your book, that it’s a thing people want to see on there. It’s flattering of course, but also a little embarrassing maybe – something which makes you bashful.

The first couple of times you do it the process feels quite weird – I remember feeling that the pen didn’t want to go the right way, as if I’d forgotten how to write. I was being watched doing the writing for one thing and, for another, what I wrote felt like it had some special significance, more than say a shopping list would. But, as with most things, you get used to it with repetition. Especially if you are at a signing event of some kind when you are doing them in quick succession (hopefully!)

The idea that a signature, or autograph, lends something of yourself to an item and gives it more personal value is all over our culture of course. Authors are the least of it – if you are any kind of celebrity you get asked to sign all kinds of stuff all the time. it’s been overtaken in popularity by the camera phone selfie but it’s still up there as a thing.

Recently my day job brought me into contact with an A list celeb and it made me realise how rudimentary my signing technique really is.

PharrellI do PR for the UK children’s health charity WellChild and we took a young lad who has won a WellChild Award to the Isle of Wight Festival to meet Pharrell Williams and go on stage with him. Great excitement all round, including from me.

When the young man met Pharrell, who turned out to be a lovely guy with a gentle, thoughtful manner, he asked him to sign his hat. He signed it:

“The present is a gift, enjoy it. Peace, love and happiness, Pharrell.”

He did peace, love and happiness as a peace sign, a heart and a smiley face. He did his name as 4rel.

I thought, wow, that leaves me completely outgunned in the signing stakes. When I’m asked to sign a book I put:

“Best wishes, Chris.”

Well, not any more – next time anyone asks me to sign one of my books they are going to get the full Pharrell. Bar the name of course, which will still just be Chris.

What do you make of book signing? Do you sign yourself or like authors to sign books for you?

puacoverWhy not take a look at my rom com The Pick-Up Artist on Amazon and read the early reviews? ‘Loved this book, a bloke’s view of the dating game, made me laugh out loud.’

To give it a go click here in the UK and click here in the USA.

8 thoughts on “Sign here please”

  1. Hi Chris, I enjoy the refreshing honesty of your blogs and observations and find your words encouraging (as I nervously prepare to publish) and enjoyable to read. You did sign one of your books for me, now I feel I want to bring it to you for the ‘new edition’…..

    1. Thank you Heather, how kind. I do aim for honesty with these things, it strikes me quite a lot of writers’ blogs have an idealised feel to them, I thought mine would have more value if it talked about things the way they really are for someone at my level in the publishing pecking order! I do hope you enjoyed my book 🙂

  2. A month from now I’ll be in the same position (no, not with the celebrity, I mean signing my own books). I have severe RSI, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m not going to be a bestseller. I agree this signing business is very odd, my husband doesn’t understand it at all, but I do like collecting authors’ signatures on the books for my bookshelves, and hoping others will feel likewise when it comes to mine.

    1. Good luck when your time comes Anne! I’m glad people do ask of course, it’s great they are taking an interest at all in my books and long may that continue!

  3. Loved reading this Chris. I feel exactly the same. I’ve also had readers ask to photograph me, which feels even more bizarre! I only write my first name so shall have to rethink that. However I do like to add Old English phrases for flavour, as I write Saxon sagas. It’s a little homework for the reader!

    1. Sounds original! Apparently Tolkien used to write bits of elvish when he signed books – maybe we should give that a try?

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