Book signature for a messy signer?
August 8, 2007 2:43 PM   Subscribe

I have a small book coming out in a few months, and will most likely be asked to sign a number of them for family, friends, complete strangers. However, my signature is a indiscernible squiggle. Should I practice a special signature for the book, or maybe buy a small embosser to use with the signature? Any examples of out of the ordinary author signatures people have are welcome.

My signature sucks. Normally not a big problem since I only use it for boring stuff like credit cards, legal documents, etc. However I know I'll be asked to sign some for people, and I think people I don't know personally will also be asking for signed copies (such as people from my website, or a worse horror, at a book signing).

I was thinking of one of those embossers like a notary public uses, but maybe with a custom logo from the website the book is based around. Another option was maybe have some end note labels printed that I could stick on a blank page and then sign that or next to it.

I probably wouldn't even think about this normally, but I have gotten "autographed" stuff from Kevin Smith's website and been a little underwhelmed when I saw how he signs his name. My cursive skills are non-existent after two decades of printing, I'd be better off picking up my calligraphy pens again than trying a "proper" signature I think.
posted by inthe80s to Writing & Language (20 answers total)
Best answer: I can post a picture later, but I have a signed copy of a Haruki Murakami book. It has a purple bunny stamp (I got a second copy for my boyfriend and he has an eggplant stamp in his) and he just signs his first name in English: "Haruki"
posted by spec80 at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2007

I think you're worrying too much. Just sign them.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2007

If you think your signature would be too boring, just add a stamp of something, like the first response said.

Have it custom made.
posted by unixrat at 3:10 PM on August 8, 2007

I think my signature looks ok.

Steps I followed to develop my signature:
1) write your name in cursive, slowly, so that it looks good.
2) now write it as fast as you can, and still make out the letters.
3) get a stack of scrap paper.(enough so that you can write your name a couple hundred times).
4) now sign your name on each paper as fast as you can. pretend you can't stop until you are done with the stack

repeat 3) and 4) a couple of times.

In short: yes, Practice.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 3:15 PM on August 8, 2007

Make up a new signature, it's not like someone's going to try to cash the book after you sign it. I did the same years ago when cashiers would notice my herky-jerky signing, so I replaced it with some weirdo minimalist thing. Do just your initials with a random flourish on the end, draw a little animal or flower different each time, etc.
posted by user92371 at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2007

Best answer: Congratulations on the book!

I think you should use your standard signature no matter how boring or sloppy you think it is. It's yours.

It would be a nice touch to personalize it a bit with a small stamp, symbol, smiley face, frown, whatever.

Personally signed books, especially for family and friends, will most likely have a small message written (thanks for your support, enjoy, etc.). I assume that that is what will be focused on from the receiver's end, not the shortcomings of your signature.
posted by click at 3:26 PM on August 8, 2007

I agree with click, having recently done my first book signing. I was far more concerned with coming up with something good to write for complete strangers. I guess I figured my signature was, you know, my signature signature. That's the way it looks. They know what it says, it's printed right there. Squiggle away.
posted by ulotrichous at 3:29 PM on August 8, 2007

Come up with something you can sign quickly. I bet Kevin Smith had a more elaborate signature when he started. I know mine has changing since a few rounds of signing real estate documents.

Focus on some witty things you can write. That way, not everyone will have the same message and it will feel more personal.
posted by acoutu at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2007

Second acouto.

If your squiggle is too inconsequential, write a message and then add your squiggle. While a few different messages would be great (and a unique message per recipient the golden ideal), even a few words used each time would make your the autograph more "substantial".
posted by rokusan at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2007

Acoutu, rather. :)
posted by rokusan at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2007

You could come up with an insignia or a quick picture that you draw. Example 1: in addition to signing his book with a signature, David Sedaris drew a symbol and stamped it with a unique stamp. Example 2: A friend of mine created an insignia using the letters of his first and last name (Y and T) and I've always thought it would be a good way to sign books (were he an author). The symbol can be reproduced in ASCII text, too.
posted by parilous at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2007

I've done something like this. There are two things you can do: one, write big. It'll make you do your signature differently, and will be more clear. Two, do it a lot. Maybe 50-100 times in one session; it doesn't seem like a lot, maybe, but it is, and you'll develop a signature that is different from the way you write.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2007

If you want your signature to be pretty, then practice. But it really doesn't matter. Some people who have to use their signatures for more than just signing checks or reports at work have attractive signatures, and plenty don't. And nearly all of them are illegible regardless of attractiveness. And as some have suggested, you can add a stamp or something. Another thing that will go very far is devising a (or several) generic messages that aren't just "Best wishes, (signed you)". Maybe something relating to your book. Something that suits your sense of humor. Whatever. Just so people know you thought at least a bit about what to write in their books. And of course for your relatives, friends, and people you do know, a nice short message for them personally.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 4:07 PM on August 8, 2007

A friend and I spent almost all of my 10th grade math class perfecting our signatures. First I made something attractive (but "masculine"), and signed it like a million times. it was all over entire pages of my notebook. By the end, it had morphed into something still rather attractive, but easy to sign in under two or three seconds.
Realize that that took something like an hour every other day for eight months.

Your signature is your signature. Just scribble it down. Focus on the stuff you're writing (inscriptions, etc.) that's legible.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2007

One of my favorite books in my personal library is a signed copy of a collection of Ralph Steadman drawings. His signature looks as though it was scrawled in blood upon the sidewalk by a drunk and dying man, complete with random splatters and a long smeared trail off the page.

In other words: it's not a penmanship competition, it's an autograph.
posted by jamaro at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2007

Congratulations on the book! What is it called? FWIW, I agree - just sign normally.
posted by selfmedicating at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2007

Best answer: I agree that your regular signature is fine, even if it's illegible. But if you like the idea of a stamp but want it to have more of your own touch, you could carve your own stamp. It's easy. Use this stuff from Speedball or a Staedtler eraser for the stamp, and carve with gouges. I'm not much of an artist, but whatever I carve by hand looks 10 times better than the same image sketched with a pen. The look is artsy, even if it's rough.
posted by daisyace at 5:43 PM on August 8, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for all the excellent suggestions, and for the assurance that no one cares about the signature itself but probably more about the inscription to go along with it. That's what I'll give some thought about for the next few months before it appears. From what I've heard, personalized signatures are worth more to collectors than a generic one, only because it proves the person was present when it was signed.

I guess I just started worrying about it, since I have nothing to do with it now that the final galleys are sent in.

and shouldn't Ralph Steadman's signature look like it's scrawled in blood? everything he draws looks like that (I'm jealous because I don't own the book!). The signature sounds cool I have to admit.

The book is a collection of misheard lyrics and other funny music stuff from my site, I'd give a link to the book, but the publisher hasn't got anything online about it yet.
posted by inthe80s at 6:03 PM on August 8, 2007

I have three signatures at this point: my real one (for checks and legal documents), my swiggle (for digital signatures, at the market and such, cos damned if I want my real signature encoded somewhere) and the one for book signing. This last signature is a little more artful and precise than my real signature, and easier to read. I'd recommend you learn a new, prettier signature for signing if yours is that messy. You will feel better about it, and the recipient will, too.

But the really important thing is to think up a few clever or gracious things to write when asked to sign a book. You won't use them in every instance, but they will be nice fallbacks should you ever go blank.
posted by Scram at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2007

Only slightly related, but "The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" has a whole section in the back on improving handwriting.
posted by papakwanz at 7:16 PM on August 8, 2007

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