Friday, May 31, 2019


Last month I purchased two books that I probably won't read.

Of course, I might read them. The chances are about 30% to 40% that I will.

These were books I bought at author's events. Both of the authors are friends of mine, but they don't really write in genres that I think I can learn from.

I just don't have the time to read everything that I get. I couldn't if I tried -- there are just too many books our there. 

Also, once I became a working author, I had even less time to read. I can see it in my journals. I used to read a book a week. Not a remarkable rate, but it worked for me, especially since I read newspapers and magazines as well. (Most of that's on the internet, now.)

Once I started to get published, I struggled to read half as much. A month in which I finish two books is good, now.

So: here I am, buying books from friends, just to be supportive.

What do I expect in return? A book, of course. And an inscription. Not just an autograph. I don't give a damn about autographs. I want at least one meaningful sentence that indicates that this author knows me.

Let's take the female author first. When she entered the room, she immediately came over to me and gave me a big hug. She asked about my health and commented on how we haven't seen each other for two years. She kept speaking to me until the organizer came over to tell her where to set up.

Later, I went over to buy a copy of her latest book. I hoped for a personalized inscription, so I waited until no one else was waiting to buy a copy. She asked if I wanted my copy signed, and I said "yes -- and make it out to me."

Which she did. She signed it "To Tony," followed by a one-word hashtag, and her autograph!

I didn't complain...but I was not impressed. She greeted me earlier with a hug, and now I don't even get a salutation?

Two weeks later, I bought a book from a male friend. He did not hug me. (I don't think he's a hugger. Neither am I.) But did seem glad to see me. 

I'd been thinking about how to procure a personalized message. I decided that the easiest was was to make it a condition of the sale. (Again, I waited until there were no other buyers in line. It wouldn't be fair to ask an author to risk losing a sale just to spend extra time writing a message. Nor did I want to give others the idea that they could demand a personalized message. That would be a nightmare at a busy signing: fifty buyers all demanding individual messages!)

I told the author: "Hey, I'd like to buy a copy of your book. But I used to have 3,000 books at home, and they were a burden just to dust, let alone store. So I got rid of them. Now, I read almost everything on Kindle. The only paper books I keep are the ones the author has put a message in -- a message to me. So I'll buy a copy if you sign it and write something personal. I don't care if you write that you hate me and think I'm a pretentious snob. Can do?"

He did. Problem solved. (He didn't write that I was a pretentious snob. He was very complimentary.)

One other note: when I do a book signing myself, I also add the date. I figure the buyer can brag, "Hey, see the date? This was just before the author died. He was walking in the park with a Nutter Butter in his pocket, and he got attacked by squirrels. They nibbled him to death! It was on the internet, so it must be true."