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How to Sign Books Like a Big-shot Author

Hacks for HacksLet’s talk about your authorial autograph. You’re gonna sign a lot of books on your way to the bestseller list. But you can’t just sign your name like you do on personal checks and contracts, unless you want to be picking up a lot of your readers’ bar tabs. (If I catch you doing this, I’ll personally steal your identity just to teach you a lesson. I am strict but fair.) All your favorite authors have practiced their book-signing signature for years. You would be surprised by how many authors landed multi-book deals just because their signature looked cool. (It’s like five or six, which is still a lot for this sort of thing.) I’m here to share their signature moves.

Choose Your Weapon

Choosing the correct pen is half the battle, or at the very least, provides a great excuse to go to the office supply store. Sharpies are terrific for this. Make your signature stand out by choosing a color other than black. To really have some fun, sign your name in invisible ink, especially if the person you’re signing it for is giving the book as a gift. Ha ha, what fun!

Pen color isn’t all that important, though. Like a camera, the best pen is the one you have with you. And if you don’t have a pen with you, you’ll have to sign in blood, which is dangerous–more than a few authors have accidentally sold their souls to the devil this way. For that, you’ll want to hold out for at least six figures.

Where were we? Right, pens. Very, very important.

Practice Makes Perfect

Method 1: The Squiggle

The ink should flow from your pen like the wine flowed down your gullet when you wrote your book. I don’t mean that literally–we don’t want the pen to explode, you lush! Just put some oomph into it while you’re signing. If you do it right, your signature should match your polygraph readout when someone asks you how many books you’ve sold.

Method 2: The John Hancock

photo by Marcin Wichary

One of the biggest hassles for writers is to think of something clever to inscribe into fans’ books. You’re only allowed to use each phrase once, so if you write “Thanks for reading!” on someone’s book, you can NEVER write that again (at least, that’s what I tell my self when holding a cherished book that my favorite author signed JUST for me). Take a cue from one of our founding fathers by writing your name large enough to leave no room for anything else.

Method 3: Emojis

Skip letters altogether and make your name look like an SMS conversation about what you want for dinner. You could be a trendsetter. Spelling one’s name as a symbol worked for Prince, kinda.

Look, you don’t have to decide today whether you want to do this. Just promise me you’ll think about it. Actually, don’t; long, serious thought is the enemy of deciding on the emoji signature.


Whatever signature you choose, it needs to be something you can execute while chatting with whomever was nice enough to stroke your ego like this. Here’s a trick: Ask them about themselves to get them talking so you won’t have to. It’s much easier to sign someone’s books when you’re pretending to listen to them.

One Last Tip

You’re only allowed to inscribe your phone number into three cuties’ books per book signing. Any more than that looks desperate.

What’s your best tips for signing autographs? Let us know in the comments!

About Bill Ferris [2]

After college, Bill Ferris [3] left Nebraska for Florida to become a rich and famous rock star. Failing that, he picked up the pen to become a rich and famous novelist. He now lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and looks forward to a life of poverty and ridicule.