What happens when I sign your book.

If you’re a writer and you’ve ever had the good fortune of experiencing someone who wants you to sign their copy of your book, this likely has happened to you at least once:

They walk up to you at a signing or a convention, or they send you the book in the mail. You have the book in your hands, and you ask them if they’d like you to personalize the book in some manner when you sign it. They say that’s cool, knock yourself out, and so on. Then, you maybe ask them if they want you to write anything in particular. Their response? “Oh, you’re the writer. Just put something clever.”


Now, depending on the book, I might have a cutesy phrase or something to accompany my signature. For Paths of Disharmony, for example, I’ve been using “Choose your path!” For What Judgments Come, I’ve written “Stand and be judged!” And so on. Other times, I might use something relating to whatever conversation we’d be having at the time and which sticks in my brain for one reason or another.

And then, there are the times I draw a complete, utter blank. What to do, what to do? I decided that I needed a backup plan, which I call “The Inscription Deck of Doom!

What is it? Just what it might sound like: a deck of index cards, on each of which I’ve written some goofy saying. Whenever I’m confronted with a variation of the “Oh, just put something clever” line, I lay the deck face-down on the table, spread them out, and have the person pick a card. Whatever comes up is what I write when I sign the book. For example:

  • Rock out with your Spock out! (usually just for Trek books)
  • Don’t sweat the petty things. Don’t pet the sweaty things.
  • tlhingAn HoL, Mother F*cker! Do you speak it?! (thanks to David A. McIntee for inspiring this one)
  • Batteries not included.
  • Pee into the wind!
  • I am your internet girlfriend.
  • What exactly is a magnesia, and how the heck do you milk one?
  • No monkeys were harmed during the writing of this book.
  • I’m the goddamn Batman.
  • Reading this stuff will make you go blind. Wait…I mean…oh, nevermind.
  • Never fry bacon when you’re naked.
  • Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.
  • You mean you actually read this crap?
  • Some assembly required.
  • Avoid the clap. – Signed, Jimmy Dugan
  • SAN DIMAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL RULES! (added this one after watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure the other day)
  • Best Wishes! Doesn’t this one suck? Go ahead. Pick another card.

So, now you know. Ask me to be clever at your peril.

(Suggestions for adding to the deck are welcome, of course.)


32 thoughts on “What happens when I sign your book.

    1. Like everything we do together, that was part of the act. That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

      (Actually, if I remember correctly, I spelled your name “Terri,” (which is how my sister’s name is spelled), and then he corrected it to “Terry” (which is how my uncle’s name is spelled). Heck, you’ve got your name spelled two different ways just in your comment byline! 😀


      1. ‘Tis true – I spell my name with a Y. Terilynn was a name created by a high school friend in order to get the right “Terry” to answer when he called. There were something like 13 Teresas in my class of 144. Terilynn worked like a charm and it’s been my ‘public’ nickname ever since.


  1. You once signed one of mine with the phrase “big black penis”.
    A few weeks later, I took the book to work, and my boss (who plays both sides of the fence) saw the passage. Well, he all but torn the book in half trying to shut it fast enough to look for the “big black penis” on the cover….
    After this, I learned NEVER to bring your signed books to work.


  2. That picture was at Shore Leave, wasn’t it? 🙂

    I still love the signature I got from Greg Cox on “Devil in the Sky”

    “I’m sorry I wrote this book.”

    He was not a fan of the first Trek book he wrote, for various reasons. 😀 It was the first adult book he wrote. It was the first Star Trek book he wrote. It was the first book he wrote with a co-author. It was a Deep Space Nine book, written at a time before the series had even come out, so all he had were a bunch of half-written scripts to go on.

    Let’s see… More to add to the deck…

    “This book is now worth incrementally more.”
    “eggs, bread, soda, milk… Oops! Wrong paper.”
    “This signature 98% guaranteed not to be forged.”


  3. “I didn’t write this, but thanks for letting me deface your book.” ;D (even more confusing if you did!)

    “Oh you wanted the OTHER Dayton Ward…”

    “HA! Try selling this to a used bookstore now, I dare ya!”


  4. Now I want to sign mine “Rock out with your Spock out!” even thought my novel isn’t SciFi or Trek related in any way. Or maybe “Darth Vader is my father.”
    By the way, someone got to my blog by typing, “I love Dayton Ward.” Thought you’d like to know. 🙂


    1. Well, that’s a bit…disquieting.

      A few years ago, for reasons which remain unexplained, someone had for sale on Amazon.com “I (Heart) Dayton Ward” t-shirts and hats. There were other names available for the same basic design…Elvis, Antonio Banderas, etc. but I never did find out who threw my name in with such a selection, or why.

      (My wife wanted the Banderas shirt.)


  5. What about:

    Never pet a burning dog.
    Don’t jump in a pile of leaves with a wet sucker.
    Never take wooden nickles.
    I wouldn’t trust me, either.
    Remember, macaroni expands when you cook it.
    Licking an electric fence is a very bad idea.
    This isn’t actually ink.


  6. OMG, what a hoot! Now I’ve gotta go back and look at all the books you’ve signed for me!
    How ’bout this one, for Shore Leave only: “Do not look directly at the carpeting.”


Lay it on me.

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