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Hello! And what will your autograph be?

Feb 01,2013
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My name is Alyssa Brugman and I am going to be your resident blogger for the month of February. I have been really looking forward to this because I want to hear from YOU! Readers! Most writers don’t get to have a conversation with readers about what THEY think, so I hope you will speak up and tell me exactly what your opinions are.

Some of my posts will be just for fun. I'm also going to talk to you a little bit about the business of being a writer (like this post below), but I am also going to throw some thorny issues in there – questions that have been bugging me for a while. I’m hoping as readers and writers you can air some different perspectives.

First a tiny bit about me. My first novel "Finding Grace" came out in 2000, and I have just released my twelfth novel "Alex as Well"  the day before yesterday. I write mostly realistic young adult fiction. I have written a junior fiction series of five books, and one little fantasy book.  I have just spent the last five or so years doing  PhD in narratology at Canberra University, and in that time I've been thinking a lot about young adult fiction - what it is and how it works. I think (hope) it's made me a better writer.


First up I have an exercise for you. Try writing down the lyrics to one song while you are singing the lyrics to another song.

Now ask someone to tell you a story while you are writing down a different story. 


How did you go? Were you able to recall the story you were told?

As a writer you have to sign autographs in the front of books. The thing is that you have to write something quick while you are talking about something else, because the person wanting the autograph will usually want to tell you something about their experience reading the book, or a previous book, or will be posing a question that you will be expected to answer in a witty way while you are writing the autograph.

It helps if it can be funny and/or inspiring. It has to be fast because (if you're lucky) other people are waiting for their turn. Some writers write the same thing in all books. Some just sign their name. I usually write something that has to do with that book. For example, in 'For Sale or Swap' I will write something like, "Don't swap your pony!", and in 'Walking Naked' I will write, "School ends, eventually..." or similar.  

I've always wondered whether it would be better to just sign my name with 'Best wishes" and actually talk to the person, or if I should write something a little bit personalised that they can have for later.


What would/do you write in the front of your book?

Would you write something different in each or stick with the same thing?

If you would write the same thing, what situation would warrant a special message?

Have you had a special book signing moment as a writer or a reader that you would like to tell us about?

Feb 07,2013
anonymous's picture

I think that if I were a writer I would be tempted to sign something like "Don't you know how hard I've worked on this novel, and you want me to write some more just for you?"

Lucky I'm only a reader, hey?

Feb 01,2013

Wow, tough questions. o.o A personalised message sounds amazing- if an author wrote different messages to their fans, it would make me think 'wow, they really care and try to make their fans feel special". But I can imagine the difficulty in doing that for... everyone.

I'd say a special message would be to more-than-just-the-average-reader. Someone who stands out- I know some authors correspond with their fans by email (J.K. Rowling and Evanna Lynch). Or a fan who wrote to... Michael Grant (?), and told him all the times he wanted to throw the book across the room. I feel like those people would deserve something more.

Then again, I would love to tell some authors how amazing they are and how much I admire them and all the times their books made me laugh/cry/pump my fist in triumph/want to throw the book across the room, but thanks to my complete lack of social skills, it would just end being... awkward.

Though as ambivalence suggested, and as some authors out there do, I would go with the email method (hopefully it wouldn't take me two years to respond though. :P )

Feb 01,2013
anonymous's picture

Hmm I've never been in the eviable pos of having a line of breathless readers waiting for my signature but mostly when I sign a book I just say hi........nice to meet you hope you enjoy reading ............... with best wishes(or something better if I;m inspired)

Everyone has been pretty happy so far....!

Feb 01,2013

That pre-signing is a good idea! I've also seen authors whose staff walk up the queue writing people's name on a post-it so the author doesn't have to ask for the correct spelling.


Feb 01,2013
anonymous's picture

I'm watching all this carefully these days, taking notes for next year.

I like the standard inscription for each novel approach. I also liked what I saw an author do recently - he had already signed the pile of books for sale with his name. As people bought them, he wrote a v. brief personal message using the same pen.

Feb 01,2013
anonymous's picture

I would like:


Best Wishes


so the person has some time to talk to me / listen to my story.

Feb 01,2013
anonymous's picture

So glad other authors strggle with what to write - I always feel terrible when I'm stuck for words. It's ironic - a writer who can't think of a thing to write IN THEIR OWN BOOK.

So yes, I tend to have standard  lines for each book, so that if I can't thnk of anything better on the spot, then I have a fall back. If there's a really long queue (I  wish!) then I ted to write 'best Wishes' or similar.

I was at the launch of Carole WIlkinson's first Dragonkeeper book, and she had a little book of Chinese quotes/proverbs, which she drew from and the most delightful stamp. I thought that was clever!

Feb 01,2013

Okay, okay, here I go. Ready?

(while listening to Alexander Rybak's 'Roll With the Wind'...)

We were both young when I first saw youI close my eyes and the flasback startsI'm standing thereIn the balcony in summer airSee the lights, see the party, the ball gowns,See you make your way through the crowd and say 'hello'Little did I know...

... That I'm good at this ^_^ Okay, to be fair, I had to stop for a millisecond here and there... and I'm allowed to tune out of one or the other, where you'd have to concentrate on both... :P

BUT GOSH. That's a hard one. I mean, I would like to write personal messages to people. I'd like to write different things too. I'd like to have conversations as well.

But when you imagine that long line of anxious fans.... you don't want to disappoint them by not meeting them altogether. I donno o_o I'd write down my email and tell them to email me, and I will respond in due time - I mean, it might take ages, but say you forgot or lost hope, and two years after you get this random email in your inbox from the author you love, and it was genuinely heartfelt and everything... pleasant surprise, no?

Oh, I forgot to say hello. Hello (:

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