September of ’07, I stood in line at a writer’s conference, waiting to
get a book signed by an author who had become a friend. We’d talked in
depth at a two conferences and had exchanged a number of e-mails.
I handed him a copy of his
novel, we chatted for a few minutes, he signed my book, and I moved on.
When I opened the book to see
what he’d written to me I was surprised. And disappointed.
It said, “Jim, God bless,” and
then his signature.
Yeah, I expected a little more
than what felt like a cliché.
I felt as though we’d developed
enough of a relationship that he would have written something more
personal in nature―something as simple as “Great to know you” or
“Thanks for your friendship and support.”
On the Other Side
Now that I’m on the other side,
I realize that when signing several books at one time it’s tempting to
write something generic and short to prevent the dreaded author
disease, hand-cramp-itis, from attacking. But I think taking the time
to write a personal note is worth the extra effort.
It can make the difference
between readers telling others about you and keeping the lock on their
lips. Word of mouth will always be the most powerful form of promotion,
and you want readers to go away feeling special, feeling unique,
feeling worth it.
Have I ever disappointed a
reader by what I’ve written—or haven’t written―when signing one of my
novels? Probably. But I try not to.
Our notes don’t have to be long,
but they do need to have variety. I never want two people at a signing
to compare books and say, “He wrote the exact same thing to me.” The
only thing I write in almost all books is “Gal. 5:1” and “Much
freedom,” because freedom is the overarching theme in all of my novels.
Some authors choose to sign
their name and that’s it. Does that work? I suppose. No chance of
disappointing readers with what they write, since they don’t write
anything. But I still think readers are disillusioned with this
approach. Many times the
want an autograph because the author
inspired them, or challenged them, drew them closer to Jesus—and
because of that, they feel like they know the author personally. I
believe a signature only takes a little air out of their balloons.
Some of us can come up with
pithy comments off the top of our heads. Others, not so much. So plan
ahead with three or four comments for readers you don’t know. Don’t use
trite comments like “God bless.”
For those you do know, take a
few seconds and make it personal. They’ll love you for it.
As always, if you have a
marketing question, fire it my way and I’ll see if I can come up with a
God bless all of you,
(P.S. Yes, of course that
sign-off was supposed to amuse. Whadda ya think I am!)