Erin, good luck on your signing! I always bring a piece of scratch paper or a pad on which to spell out the young readers’ names before I inscribe them indelibly in their books. There will be names you’ve never seen before and spellings you’d never imagine. And you don’t have to ask, “What name was that?” again, because it’s probably the one at the bottom of your list. I would try different pens first and bring my own, because some of the best ones bleed through the paperback stock. As I was corrected early on, you’re supposed to sign the proper title page, where your name and the title appear together, but there are more uncluttered pages if you have lots to write. Signed-only books are supposed to be worth more than personalized ones, so it’s probably a collector who just wants your autograph and maybe the date.
Some years ago, I did a signing in a gas station in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, set up for me by a Pocket Books sales rep, and that turned out to be non-stop with lots of army folk coming by. One other time, I went mistakenly to a pre-school, where even my youngest chapter books were totally unappreciated. I do a lot of school book-fair signings, and you can sell a ton of books in a place like that. I used to let Scholastic, the local bookstore, or whoever furnish my books for the book fairs, but then I realized that I was making my small royalty while the other authors were pocketing like 50% of cover price. So I began to furnish the books, which you can buy from close-outs or the publisher’s sales department for authors.
Group signings are always a good idea, and you can organize them yourself. Bookstores love it, especially when you do the work and try to turn it into an event. When local authors do a mass signing here in Arizona, I always try to make sure Diana Gabaldon is included, because then I know we’ll have a turnout. Most of the time when I sign CUPIDITY, I do remember to write “Caroline Goode.”
If anyone wants a copy of my Dinotopia book, SABERTOOTH MOUNTAIN, just let me know. I’ve got pallets full of them in my garage.
I also want to say Hi to Micol and everyone else here.