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Want to be a Famous Author? Check Craigslist

31 March 2011

I haven’t read anywhere that one of the benefits of being an indie author who sells ebooks and POD is that there are no book signings.


Book signings happen in book stores and, indie boy and indie girl, you are anathema to book stores.

For non-indie authors, book signings happen.

Some authors like ‘em. Some authors hate ‘em. Alexander Greenwood described them as “lonely after school detention for grownups.”

But you don’t have to go to all the trouble of writing a book to sign books like a famous author does.


To some authors, the book-signing is a curse. What could be more excruciatingly dull, to the sensitive creative mind, than to sit for hours in a festival tent or bookshop, inscribing your name on several hundred copies of your new masterpiece? This isn’t a proper display of your writing talent – a baboon scratching the dirt with a stick could do it just as well.

To other authors, signing books for the public is a sacramental act, a talismanic ritual in which the bond between writer and reader, expressed in a few words of warm mutual stroking, is sealed by the seminal squiggle of ink.

Between these extremes of attitude lies the truth: book signings are a repetitive chore, mitigated by the pleasure, for authors, of meeting their buying public, and the joy, for readers, of meeting the mind that dreamt up an imaginative creation which lives in their heads. But such is the demand for signed copies that authors often have to sign several thousand books in private, to be sold later.

. . . .

Now, though, an American publisher is short-circuiting the process. His company has posted an advertisement on Craigslist, the internet listing site, asking for 14 volunteers who can fake the signatures of two big-name authors of a forthcoming book; each successful applicant will be paid $25 for every 200 books signed. “You will need,” reads the advert, “to be able to copy the look and style of both authors’ signatures.” It must be some book: the ersatz signings are scheduled to last 16 hours: with 14 people signing at a rate of four books per minute, that suggests more than 50,000 copies will be processed.

The identity of the publisher, and the co-authors, remains unknown. Their signature scam is a clear case of fraud, or “passing off,” but is being greeted in publishing circles as an enterprising answer to a problem. And it throws up some long-overdue questions. Such as: Why would you want an author to scribble her name in your book? Does it increase its value? How can best-selling authors sign books for seven hours at a stretch? Why do readers want to meet writers anyway?

Link to the rest at The Independent



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2 Comments to “Want to be a Famous Author? Check Craigslist”

  1. How can it be an enterprising answer, since it’s illegal to forge anyone’s signature, even with his/her approval?

    As for answers to the questions above:
    Simply, why do people want autographs from actors, singers, etc? Same with writers. It’s a psychology thing. Same goes for people want to meet the writers in person, psychology.

    As for the value, many signatures of famous people have been sold for large amounts of money. It might happen with a signed book of a famous writer too. It might raise the value of the book in time.

    I have a question too: Why do people crowd to see the actors etc. at premieres, oscar awards etc? Beats me. :)

  2. I’d never heard of Matthew Reilly before my medieval re-enacting performance group was hired to perform at a Borders Book Signing he had going on at one of the main malls here in Perth.

    We performed, and then hung around for about 2 hours looking cool in our armour and posing with him for photos while he signed (and smiled every time). During which, his “handler” (agent? friend? publicist?) answered my question of “How long is HE here for?” with “He stays ’til the end.”

    That guy is SO thankful for the people that buy his books, that pay his mortgage, that love him so dearly, that he’ll stay until they’re ALL signed.

    When I peeled my armour off and tiredly hauled it out of the mall, the line for his signing went for at least 400 metres. Best guess, that’s at least 500 people. He would be there until the mall closed (this was at lunchtime).

    I got such mad respect for that guy, I went home and bought the first 4 of his books. I’ll be a fan of his forever, I’m pretty sure.

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