I have done it.
I have signed my first book.
And let me tell you, it was very weird.
It’s one of the perks of being an author, supposedly: people come up to you with copies of your book, wanting your signature, a message, a dedication…. Wanting a piece of you, in a nice, non-zombie-chomping way.
And yes, it is a great thrill. But at the same time, I think a part of me will always feel confused and a little amused, because why would anyone want lil old me scribbling all over those fresh, crisp pages? Seriously. I have the handwriting of a seven-year-old, in that rounded, overly careful way.
Anyway. Here I was, sitting down at a table, copy of Hungry For You in my hand and ready to be signed, and that’s when I froze. Why? Because I actually didn’t know how to sign a book. I hadn’t planned for this. And — I looked to either side — nope, no spontaneous zombie apocalypse was going to rescue me from this mission.
First things first. I smiled nervously, opened the book, pen hovering. Inside cover? No, that wasn’t the right page. Definitely not on the dedication or the table of contents. Title page, then, under my name in print? Or the flyleaf — the first page of the book, which had the title but not my name? I settled for the latter out of panic.
I lowered my pen, rested the nub against the page, froze again. How to begin? Dear? To? For?
When in doubt, my theory is to run away. It works with the zombies, it worked with the book signing. I plunged straight into writing my message, entirely skipping the issue of whether or not to address it to someone in particular. I didn’t even give myself time to think about where on the page I’d write the dedication, opting for the bottom right corner because it was nearest.
Then another dreaded pause. My instinct told me to sign ‘Anna Harte’, but since my official author name is ‘A.M. Harte’, I wasn’t sure which to go for. Anna is more personal, A.M. is more author-y. Dilemmas upon dilemmas!
And then, to make matters worse, I panicked about whether I was supposed to date the message. And if so, where would I write the date? Above or under the message? And in what format?
See, this is why, whenever someone gifts me with a really lovely notebook, the notebook ends up in dusty drawer, unused. I like scrap paper because I don’t feel guilty about scribbling on it. I don’t want to ruin the nice notebook, and the feeling is only intensified when presented with a copy of my own work, because writing in a book-book is so much more daunting and permanent.
When in doubt, my theory is to run away. So I handed the book back, smiled widely, and ran away.
Be grateful if the first person to ask you to sign their book is a family member, because they won’t mind if you panic for half an hour about doing it wrong.