How do you autograph a book?

Kevin Sylvester BookBy Barbara A. Fanson
It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? An autograph increases the value of a book for the recipient. Your book may be a gift for someone and an autograph personalizes the book and increases the uniqueness of the gift.

We have about 20 autographed books—mostly children’s books since we go to the Telling Tales Festival every year in September in Hamilton. I looked through them to see how they autograph a book. Most signed a right-hand page. One third had an illustration, only one had a date, but most had a short message.

Author/illustrator Kevin Sylvester signed his Neil Flambé series of books with an illustration.

Good Book is like a skirtBarbara Reid who uses plasticine to illustrate children’s books, wrote on the title page with a cartoon bubble, as if the dog said it. She printed “Happy Reading Kristen!” and then wrote “With Love, Barbara Reid, August 2011.”

  • Do you just sign your name, or do you add a message or quote?
  • At book signing events, one author asked “Is this for you or a gift for someone?” hoping that the question will remind the recipient that a second book could be purchased for a friend.
  • Do you personalize the autograph to someone or ask first. Some authors ask you for your name. Since we sell children’s books as my daughter gets older, we don’t want them personalized with her name.
  • If you do personalize a book, make sure you know the spelling of the name, or have the person print it on a sheet of paper.
  • What page do you sign? Some sign on a blank page; others sign the inside title page where the book title and author’s name appear.
  • Do you use a special pen or marker? Several illustrators used a marker to autograph their book. Hopefully, the marker dries quickly.
  • Do you add a date? You could add August 2015, rather than the exact date.
  • Don’t forget to practice signing your name so you can do it quickly, especially if you’re using a pen name and not used to signing it.

To hone your autographing skills, attend book signings by other authors and see how they sign books. Check the local library for author readings or attend Telling Tales Festival on Sunday, Sept. 20 at Westfield Heritage Village, just outside Hamilton.