What's a good gift for a first-time author?
July 10, 2008 10:13 PM   Subscribe

My friend has her first novel coming out soon, and I want to get her a neat present to celebrate her major-publisher, first-time author status. Any suggestions?

This book is the first of three she has coming out....and I think it's important to celebrate this milestone in a memorable way.

If you're an author, did anyone get you anything incredibly mindblowingly awesome? I've thought about a print of the cover from the artist or maybe asking some of her favorite authors to send her a note? Is that weird? I don't know.

When she found out the books were going to be published, I got her some "This Book Belongs To" insert cards and a lovely journal made from a book, but this is a step up. We're talking major bookstore release, press, the whole shebang. I want to commemorate it in some tiny way.

posted by melodykramer to Grab Bag (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A nice fountain pen with which to do book signing.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:18 PM on July 10, 2008

Seconding the fountain pen. If she does much of her writing by hand, she will appreciate a pen that is awesome to write with.
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:48 PM on July 10, 2008

Yeah, a nice pen, especially if she likes to write in a journal and/or if she writes her drafts by hand. And of course if she does like to write in journals, you can buy her a really nice one, to go along with the nice pen.
posted by dancestoblue at 11:14 PM on July 10, 2008

A pen for an author. Useful, perhaps, but not very imaginative.

To celebrate her first edition, why not buy her a first edition of one of her favorite authors. Maybe one signed by the author. The harder and more obscure to find, the better.
posted by three blind mice at 11:29 PM on July 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

I published my first book this year and I got a great present from a librarian friend: the book's official Library of Congress call number--just the number, typed out in a bold, clean font--matted and framed. It's on my wall as I type this, and I just love looking at it.
posted by fiery.hogue at 3:17 AM on July 11, 2008 [5 favorites]

It'll be pretty difficult to top the feeling she has when she goes into a shop, and it's there, on the shelf - but I think fiery.hogue's onto something. If the book's got a nice cover, could you (surreptiously) get the original high-res image and get a reprographics centre to blow it up into a big full-colour poster or board that you could frame and present her with?
posted by RokkitNite at 4:19 AM on July 11, 2008

Buy a copy for yourself (don't ask or expect her to give you one) and have her autograph it for you. What more could an author want?
posted by Carol Anne at 4:57 AM on July 11, 2008

In general: If you're crafty/handy, it might be fun to make a card for her that's a mock-up of her book cover, but with a title and blurbs that are all about how awesome she is. Just grab a jpg of the cover off Amazon, use Photoshop, and go nuts -- for the front of the card, use the cover but change the title be "My Awesome Friend: The Best Author In The World (A True Story)" or whatever instead of her actual title (but in the same font as the book cover); for the back of the card, try to keep it the same design as the actual back of the book, but instead of the blurbs she has from critics/other authors, write your own blurbs and have them be from you, her friends, her mom, her cat, whoever.

On publication day: it sounds cheesy, but a bottle of champagne is an awesome way to celebrate.

After publication day: Showing up to bookstore events, if she does any. Sometimes the author can be the only one there, so it's nice to have a friend. (And after she's done a bunch of touring, give her this book as a gift: Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame -- it is all about writers' experiences on book tour, and it is awesome.)

But the best gift you could give her is to be there for her during the inevitable post-publication-depression period, after the book's been out and the adrenaline's worn off. Even in the best possible publication scenario, where all of an author's publicity needs are met and her book is selling like hot-cakes, there will be that period of correction where the highs of everything that's happened settle in against regular, normal life. Having a good friend then definitely helps.
posted by mothershock at 5:48 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

fiery.hogue's present is so awesome!

Side note: If you go the fountain pen route, look for an affordable Pelikan -- most are super-expensive, but I have a really basic one and it is nice. I think the idea of framing a cover is also a good one.
posted by theredpen at 6:38 AM on July 11, 2008

Nitpicky pen observation: If your friend is left-handed, you may want to go with a nice rollerball or, at least, fountain pen ink that professes to be fast-drying.
posted by gnomeloaf at 6:42 AM on July 11, 2008

I have a friend whose first book came out a couple years ago. (Now he's up to three.) His parents have had the hardback covers professionally matted and framed, and now they all hang in his office. He loves these, and they make an impressive display.
posted by Work to Live at 7:14 AM on July 11, 2008

When my first book was published I bought myself some of the artwork, which I had framed. Is there any artwork in your friend's book? (I bought mine from the illustrator, not the publisher.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:16 AM on July 11, 2008

Depending on how major the publisher is, you might want to get her something that will help her send out "yay I wrote a book" notifications to friends and family. Things like moo cards or even postcards of the book's cover page or your friend and the book or something else special and sentimental, can be gotten on the cheap. I had a friend who took little images from my book's cover and made little fridge magnets out of them which I gave to people who had helped me work on the book. If her publisher is doign a media blotz, this sort of stuff isn't really at necessary but might still be fun to have. And speaking of fiery.hogue's idea, I also had a firend who worked in a library who got me an actual set of catalog cards for my book (I'm not sure if this involved some sort of deceit or not) which I cherish.
posted by jessamyn at 7:38 AM on July 11, 2008

As someone who is currently writing a novel, I have to say I would be thrilled if I got something like fiery.hogue did. That is so cool!

Pens are nice, buuuut some writers can be quite finicky about what they write with. For example, the only pen I will write with is a black Pilot G2, which is way cheaper than a fountain pen. I've had fountain pens before and I just didn't like them much. The odds are good that your friend would appreciate the pen, don't get me wrong. (I would appreciate the thought, at the very least.) I just think something like fiery.hogue's gift would be that much more thoughtful, and not subject to whatever strange writerly quirks your friend might have.
posted by Nattie at 8:32 AM on July 11, 2008

Depending on your budget I think it would be kinda cool to get a copy of the book leather bound for her, her very own collectors edition.
posted by Iteki at 8:42 AM on July 11, 2008

If she's like most first-time novelists, even with major imprints, she's about to embark on a long author's tour under less than luxurious circumstances.

Something that eases the pain of that kind of travel might really hit the spot.

Depending on your budget, you might consider:

* high-end noise filtering headphones,

* a portable DVD player (less annoying and battery-straining than playing DVDs on your laptop)

* a gift card for downloading movies to her iPod (if she has one)

* a gift card for a nice restaurant in one of the perennial author tour destinations when she'd otherwise be stranded at the coffeeshop of the Courtyard by Marriott

* etc.
posted by MattD at 9:47 AM on July 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thank you all so much! What creative suggestions!

I think I'm going to letterpress her LoC number, and get a print of the book from the artist. And maybe make Moo cards, because that's just cool.

We're just excited because Amazon already lists "Books Other People Have Bought" which means there are pre-orders. Yay!
posted by melodykramer at 4:24 PM on July 11, 2008

don't have any gift ideas to add, but what's the name of the book? and congrats to your friend.
posted by asras at 9:31 PM on July 14, 2008

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