I’ve always found that moment particularly difficult. Someone is asking for a signature and you’re supposed to make up something personal and witty on the spot. For years I tried to write something nice and worthy of the 20 bucks someone spent on the book, but they mostly just ended up boiling down to “thanks”, so that’s what I sign now for everyone but my besties. I remember watching a very famous poet do this over and over. Just “Thanks,” and his name. Even for people he knew well. It was so freeing. Once I could worry less about the inscription, I had more time to worry about the fact that I should really know this person’s name, but I don’t so I’m going to ask for them to spell their name out slowly to make sure I don’t misprint any letters. Works better with Catherine/Kathryns than with Bobs. But it’s a strategy I developed over 45 years of living with undiagnosed ADHD.
All that said, this guy has really broke the mold and turned the personalized signature into a piece of art itself. He signed 1000 editions of his book with one word written in pen on the title page of each. Put those words together and you get an extra story. Someone is now trying to track down all 1000 words to see how well it worked.
Last month, writer Will Maclean’s debut novel The Apparition Phase was released into the world. To mark its publication, independent London bookstore Goldsboro Books released 1000 signed and exclusive first editions to members of their monthly book club. But rather than just putting his signature on each one, Maclean had another idea.
“On the title page, you’ll see a single word handwritten by me,” reads a note from Maclean distributed with each first edition. “That word, although meaningless on its own, is part of a piece of writing precisely 1000 words long.
“Each of these 1000 Goldsboro exclusive editions has one single word of that original piece written in them, dispersed among the people who own them. That piece of text is recorded nowhere else but, collectively, in those 1000 editions.”