where the writers are
Writers' Writing

There are many things a working writer has to do that have nothing to do with writing.

Remembering to come over to Red Room to blog once in a while, for instance. Marketing/promotion are very much a part of the writing profession these days, more so than ever before, and those of us who neglect it very much regret it.

This weekend, my two main tasks are: checking galley proofs of my forthcoming novel from Pocket Books, Star Trek: The Folded World; and signing signature sheets for a forthcoming novel from DarkFuse, Season of the Wolf.

Signing those sheets got me thinking about my autograph, and the autographs of other authors I've known. Robert B. Parker's had a nearly recognizable "R" surrounded by what looked like manic loops. James Ellroy's "J" is clear, but the rest could be anything. Stephen King's is one of the most legible ones I've seen, which, considering how many books he has probably signed in his life, is somewhat surprising. Ray Bradbury's matched his personality--he liked to write large, with the "Ray" clearly legible, the "Bradbury" not so much but not far off.

When I sign, the "Jeffrey" and the "J." are at least identifiable as separate words. So is the "Mariotte," but if it weren't accompanied by the others (and typically on the title page of a book) you'd never know what it was. There's something that might be an "M," followed by kind of a crooked line. Someplace above that is the dot for the "i."

The more times I sign in a row, the less neat it is. Today's chore is not so burdensome, though, compared to my worst signing experience. Once upon a time, I agreed to sign every copy of the first printing of a CSI: Crime Scene Investigation graphic novel, thinking it would be, at worst, a couple thousand copies. It turned out to be 10,000. And I had to sign them in three days.

I still remember the pain, centered right between my shoulder blades, when those were done.

Best advice I got--if you have to sign a lot, write big (like Ray did). The more tightly compressed your signature is, the more strain on your hand/arm/shoulders.

For Season of the Wolf, these are signature sheets that will be bound into the book. There's a line where my signature goes. I'm not, in this case, writing especially large. But it's a limited edition of 100 copies (already sold out), so it's not a ton of signing, either.

Mostly, I'm happy to be signing them. Not every author ever gets a limited edition of one of his or her novels. I'm proud and honored and, really, can't wait to see what the book looks like when it's done.