Signed books. I love them both as a reader and a writer. I cherish the ones that I own, and one of my greatest thrills as an author is signing copies at events and chatting with readers. Every time an order comes through from my website and I get to sign and ship off a copy, I experience that same rush. But what about e-books? Is there some way to personalize them as well?
So much of what I do as an author in this digital era feels like the exploration of new territory. I often feel that I’m groping through some kind of mist, no idea where I’m heading, just feeling my way along and bumping from one obstacle to another discovery. The Kindle store has changed everything about distribution. It allows readers from all over the world to discover my books. Just a few years ago, I was struggling to have local bookstores carry my titles. Now I’m receiving emails from Germany, South Africa, Australia, and every state in the union. The Barnes and Noble down the mountain still doesn’t carry my books, and I don’t even try anymore. The rest of the world can read them anyway.
Social media is another great tool. The web allows me to interact and respond with readers on a daily basis. Why wait until I come to your town to ask me a question or tell me how much you enjoyed WOOL or the MOLLY FYDE series? You leave a review on Amazon, and I respond. You message me on Goodreads, and I write back. The interplay is continuous and immediate.
There are some drawbacks, however, like signed books. Yesterday I had the honor of speaking at the Annual Friends of the Library event in my hometown. It was surreal to be speaking as an author in the very library I grew up in as a wee child. My love of reading was fostered in that building, and there I was at the podium, talking about my books, reading from THE HURRICANE, chatting with everyone afterward. The rush for books at the signing table was intense. My awesome wife (who with her doctorate was a little overqualified for the task of selling books for an hour) had to come pull me away from the event coordinators to start signing books for the throngs that swamped her after the talk. While I was signing copies, I realized that there needed to be some way of doing this for digital readers. There just isn’t a great solution for signing e-books, not in a personalized manner (I have heard of readers collecting signatures on the backs of their Kindles or on their cases).
So I’m going to try something a little different (again). Quite a few of you have expressed your displeasure with my low e-book prices (and have demonstrated said displeasure by employing my Paypal button). What I thought I’d do for these fans is sign a piece of paper, take a picture of it and the book together, and email it to readers. The picture can be formatted and saved on your e-reader, kept on your computer, or dragged over into your recycle bin. You can open it in paint and draw a mustache over my goofy grin. So many options!
Any thoughts? Is there a better solution? And no, I do not take dance requests. Paypal doesn’t handle transfers of cash in large enough sums.