Always Scribble Scribble Scribble, Eh, Mr. Scalzi?

So, Scalzi, you say, what’s in those boxes? Well, I will tell you. They are signature sheets for The God Engines and Judge Sn Goes Golfing, and each box is filled right up to the top with sheets. The cats are added for scale.

Over the next few days I will sign every single sheet in each of those boxes and then mail them off, so they can be made into (respectively) hardcover novellas and short story chapbooks that you can buy before the holidays are upon us. That’s a lot of signing, but damn it, you are worth it (provided, of course, you have purchased either or both of these things).

Be that as it may, it’s times like these that I remember the days of my youth, when I said to myself, rather arrogantly, I might add, “self, one day you will be an author, and you will have to sign your name a lot. You should start practicing now.” And I did: where other teenagers practiced their guitar, I practiced my signature, turning it into that weird swoopy thing I have now, which is distinctive and yet also oddly easy on the wrists, just right for hour upon hour of signature sheet signing. Yes, they laughed at me then, but I ask you: Who is laughing now? Why, it’s me! Bwa ha ha ha hah ha!

Er. Anyway.

So that’s what I’m doing with my free time, probably though Sunday. Hope you weren’t planning to include me in your weekend plans. Because it’s kind of filled up. No, no. Go on without me. I’ll just sit here. With my boxes. Alone. Except for the cats.

64 Comments on “Always Scribble Scribble Scribble, Eh, Mr. Scalzi?”

  1. Heh. Something tells me the feline contingent, on the other hand, will be complaining nonstop about how you can’t pet them when you’re busy signing your name overandoverandover… ;-)

  2. Four boxes of paper! Each box containing four reams of paper!! Each ream containing five hundred sheets!!!

    Just as well you’ve been practising all that time then.



  3. Be sure to do a cat count before returning the boxes. I doubt Her Radiance would not be pleased to turn up at the publishers, and its just the sort of thing that Zeus would fall for.

  4. John: you touched on one of my silly concerns about becoming a published novelist. Book Signings.
    I have no problem with panels, and presentations. I actually like public speaking.
    I have arthritis in my fingers and I know I could never never do extended signings. My fingers would swell up like plump sausages and not be anywahere near as tasty.
    This fear doesn’t keep me fron writing and submitting, but it hangs around nagging me like a badly cast vote.

  5. At one point, the job I was working required a lot of signatures on paperwork – I evolved a quick-and-easy signature in a rather short period of time.

  6. @6:
    Go ahead and submit – if you become a famous author, here’s something to consider:

    David Weber broke both wrists some time back, and has trouble with signings. He had a stamp made from his signature, but still prefers to manually sign what he can.

    For fairness, he signs two books per person, then they can go back through the line if they have more – when his wrist starts to hurt, he then reverts to stamping.

  7. Do you have a special signing pen? Because I have a special signing pen. I don’t use it as much as you, since I mainly sign pleadings with it, but still…

  8. Kinda gives new meaning to being a “writer”. Right? But you lean left? Now I’m cornfused.
    If morrisp is right then that’s 8,000 sheets first and last name makes 16,000 words. That’s a short story! Sigh.
    My sympathies.

  9. Get yourself a “signing machine”. I had to work with one of those when I worked in state government. We’d print off the same letter that went to hundreds of recipients, took them to the Governor’s office and someone sat there and placed each letter in the machine for the “Gov’s signature.” I bet it was fun sitting there watching each and every signature.

  10. Cats are such everpresent companions. I can’t seem to go anywhere in my house without nearly tripping over one.

    They attempt to trip me on purpose, I’m sure. After all, as long as I’m sprawled on the floor, to their logic, I will be more likely to pet them.

  11. I recommend saving that smaller top one for last. It’ll be such a good feeling opening it.

  12. Stamp? Bah. At that point, just digitize it and have it printed with the rest of the text. I want my Scalzi sig in bright pink ink, and a little doodle of a snowman, dammit! Fluffy, Lop, and Zeus drool optional.

  13. 8500? How long must that take? Say 10 seconds per signature (including getting a sheet from one pile and putting it on the other)… about 24 hours? Three working days? Gee, writers have so much fun.

  14. I await Chang-who-is-not-Chang’s inevitable commentary on Her Radiant Felinity. Still, 8k sheets of paper! With signatures! My hand cramps in sympathy.

  15. O Great Scalzi, what an excellent and overdue picture of Her Most Glorious Shimmering Radiant Perfection and TempCat Zeus.

    The Executive Committee congratulates you on not making an attempt at interpreting Her Expression for a change. (Although you did foolishly claim that She was in the picture “for scale”. This statement is so ridiculous that we will let it pass without further comment.)

    Magnificent She has a look of resignation. And do you know why? We will tell you. These boxes contain works of yours inspired by Her that you have failed to execute to Her Perfect Standard. These works will not win Hugos, either.

    How much more do you plan on disappointing Her?

    The Official Ghlaghghee Fan Club

  16. According to many a restaurant cashier, my signature is the Platonic ideal of “scribble, scribble, scribble.”

  17. Ah, so that’s the reason for the 3 cats, delegating your workload…..clever Scalzi, clever indeed!

  18. I’m looking at buying an antique bible for a friend of mine.

    I’m looking getting that antique bible bound, including a family page, so that my gift might become a gift for the family. so that each holder of the bible be named on the family page I want bound in.

    But I don’t wanna hurt the provenance of this particular bible (1830’s) by tainting it’s binding.

    That said. . .

    I don’t like signatory pages, I would rather run into you at a book store, and have you take your pen to the pages as published, and sign.

    I’m one of those guys, it’s less about what is there, and more about HOW it was put there.

  19. If he uses a machine, or a non notorized stamp, then the signature is worthless.

    I don’t mean in terms of cash, I mean in terms of what makes a signature special.

    I have my signature on a lot of stuff (professional, not literature) And to see my signature on those original papers?

    That’s a point of pride for me. And I sign my name all time.

    What is it if people WANTED, rather than HAD, to read the stuff I wrote?

    If people WANTED to read what I wrote (like I said professional stuff, SOP’s and modifications to various electronic and mechanic publications) I would make them want to feel as proud in seeing it as I did in writing it.

    You don’t have to sign EVERY book, but the ones you do sign with your own hand, and your own pen, should be special.

    Not some mechanical fiction.

  20. Not judging, well, actually yeah, but I understand that there are degree’s of value in signatures, both commercially and personally.

    I have several books that have been signed, only one to me, most others signed personally to friends of mine, and honestly that makes those books more valuable.

    I have a signed cell by jack kirby. It’s not personally ascribed but it’s something special for me. I have a signed copy, dedicated to some friends of mine, of another book and it’s doubly special cuz it was a gift from those friends, as well as a gift from the author.

    Signatures should be something special. That’s all I’m saying.

  21. At the beginning of each attempt at signing, can you take a picture of the first signature (or part of) and the last signature for that day, so we can see how much it changes. Do you think you’ll be consistent or will you start with John Scalzi, then Scalzi, then John, then JS, then just finishing with just dropping the pen on the paper and hope it scribbles something close to an autograph.
    Best of luck tackling that!!

  22. @28

    According to somebody, I think Lawerence Block, a simple signature is more valuble than an inscription with signature.

    I have no idea why. I’m certainly not giving up my Azimov signed books, which were signed by him at a production of NY Light Opera in 79 (my wife and I both remember that paticular production although it was 3 more months before we met). I’ve several Julia Childs as well, but those were purchased with signature included.

  23. Bestselling novelist Jonathan Kellerman apparently has had significant problems with carpal tunnel syndrome over the years that made signing books problematic. So he went and got a special stamp made up and he said it’s been very well received. I’m not sure how much personal signing Kellerman does any more. It does seem like it’s possible to get so big that you don’t need to do the signings. Although I know Janet Evanovich still does big signing events and spends hours signing books–and she turns them into events by hiring bands and caterers, etc., to keep the folks entertained while they wait in line. She’s sort of a Marketing Monster, though.

  24. ntsc @ 32 its a purely monetary thing, I believe–when you’re shelling out a bazillion bucks for a first edition signed copy of Whoever’s first work, do you want it signed, or do you want it signed “To Fred, Best Wishes” when your name is Daphne?

    Unless Fred is famous, or fame adjacent

  25. Mel @ 36:

    I’m not ntsc (nor Daphne nor Fred) and I can’t claim to be a serious book collector, but personally? I’d prefer the one that says “To Fred, Best Wishes”. That means the book wasn’t just signed, it was signed to someone.

    Maybe it was just a fleeting moment in a Waldenbooks in Buttend, Wyoming, but it was an actual connection.

    Heck, I like used books that have little gift notes scrawled in them, pithy comments in the margins, etc, etc. They’re lived in.

    Hmmm. Okay, add a third item to my list of wishes for ebooks:

    1) I should be able to lend and borrow them.
    2) I should be able to buy and sell them used.
    3) I should be able to write in the margins, underline, highlight, etc, in a way that is clearly distinguishable from the original, but sticks.

    I think that’s all technically possible, and the non-digital book market heavily implies that those things would not just be economically viable but economically advantageous to publishers. But try to convince them of that …

    (Rumor suggests that the rumored Barnes & Noble ereader may allow lending. We’ll see.)

  26. Would this be one leg of the writer’s triathlon? Readings and Research too? Winter or Summer Olympics? You’re America’s hope for the Gold.

  27. #31: photos of first and last signatures per session, for comparison: I’d like to see that too.

    This sounds like the kind of mindless chore that is best done sitting in front of the tv with something moderately-but-not-totally absorbing on. I like MST3K’s. (Not that my chores involve book signing.)

  28. Well…. I guess I know what you’re doing instead of entertaining me at work on this boring Friday afternoon.

    Also, pie. No – cake. No, pie. No, I still can’t decide on that one.

  29. Maybe you could do a few with Ghlaghee’s (sp?) inked pawprints along with you signature, like finding Wonka’s Golden ticket for the lucky buyer.

    Or tape bacon to the cat, roll ’em both in ink, and make a print, now how much would you pay?

  30. So what’s happening in the background while you sign those? Is there music playing? (And what’s the play list for hours and hours of signature signing?) Do you put in a movie (or twelve) and watch that while signing? Just curious.

    Also, do you see a significant difference between the first signature you sign and the last one?

  31. ntsc @32: As others have suggested, it’s a monetary thing. If you’re getting a book signed with the purpose of re-selling it soon (as you would, say, if you’re a book dealer), then you probably prefer a simple signature so as to avoid the Fred/Daphne problem.
    Some experts, however, will tell you that a book inscribed with “to Daphne, with best wishes” is easier to authenticate by a handwriting expert. This is particularly important in the case of long-dead authors such as Tolkien or Heinlein, or living authors, if you or your heirs are looking to sell the books 40-50 years from now.

    For myself, I prefer personalized inscriptions (even when, as with a few of Scalzi’s books, they came with a simple signature — Scalzi has graciously personalized my copies of such books as Agent to the Stars, Hate Mail, etc.). Some dealers will tell you that the value of my copies are thus lowered, others will tell you they’ve been enhanced. Take your pick. I don’t much care either way, because I am acquiring these books, with inscription, for myself without any resale purpose in mind.

    I also find that in the case of living authors who are able and inclined to attend conventions and/or bookstore events, it is much cheaper to buy an unsigned copy of a book and then get in line to have it signed and inscribed, than it is to buy a signed copy on eBay. Not only am I certain of the authenticity, it also means more to me that way, because I get to meet and chat with the author in the process.

  32. For a humourous take on the issue of real vs. mechanical vs. stamped signitures, check out the “Yes Minister” episode “Party Games”. It is the episode where Hacker actually becomes Prime Minister.

    Early on in the episode there is a bit where Hacker has to personally sign various Christmas cards and there is a funny discussion on the status bestowed on sending a signed House of Commons vs. a stamped Department of Administrative Affairs card. You can find it in the Collected “Yes Prime Minister” episodes Volume #1 as well.

    Politicians are a group that are signing stuff all the time. My sister was a political apparatichik (she now has graduated to government relations) and told me that basically at meetings her boss would sign various congratulatory letters without even thinking. It was just part of the job.


  33. I can clear up the mystery of how many there are for Scalzi to sign, I think.

    For JUDGE SN, he has about 1600 inside back covers of the chapbook. There are a lot more boxes than usual for signature pages because he was shipped an actual already printed part of the chapbook to sign, and those take up more space.

    For THE GOD ENGINES, it’s about 450 signature pages.



  34. That there’s the Sig Kid. The fastest signature in the West has he. Some say he was born with a pen in his hand and that his very blood was mixed with ink. Once signed a mortgage so fast, them banks had to start using fireproof paper.

  35. Well, darn. I’ll have to cancel those plans for you since you’ll obviously be busy. And here I had lined up two kittens and a pound of bacon. Sigh. :)

  36. #17 sort of beat me to it, but I would like mine signed in purple ink, with strips of bacon drawn as underlines under your name. If you will just forward my email address to Bill Schafer, he can tell you which numbers will be mine. :-) (probably #1600 and #450 now…)

    As for #42, still waffling on pie or cake, I offer this simple solution: Brownies. Like cake, but better!

  37. Wow. I, too, would love to have that problem but any future fans of mine are going to be MIGHTY disappointed with my signature. I worked for a fellow who was a quadrapelegic (with moderate, but still quite limited, use of his arms). His handwriting was better than mine. By a lot.

  38. I’ve never been a huge fan of signed book plates. I’d rather have a book signed in person. The only book I have with a signed book plate is Victor Koman’s Kings of the High Frontier, and I’d have him countersign it or personalize it if I ever ran across him at a con.

    Regarding being unable to sign for one reason or another: Larry Niven used a stamp for ConFransico. He had hurt his back and it “hurt” to actually sign his name. The stamp was custom made for the con and destroyed afterward, so if you have a book with his stamped signature you know where it was “signed.”

    Jerry Pournelle usually puts a little note like “Space Access 2006” or “WesterCon 2005” so you know where it was signed as well as by whom, which I think is kind of cool.

    What’s fun is to hand either of them a copy of The Mote in God’s eye. Even 20 years later they will turn to chapter 50 and hand correct (and initial) the most infamous typo in all of science fiction.

  39. Don’t get me wrong.

    I’m all “SQUEEE!!!” for the impersonal signatures I have, but that’s cuz I went throught he effort of standing in line, or paid enough to buy them.

    The PERSONAL inscriptions, are personally special. That is what I mean.

  40. The debate about personalized versus plain has been going on forever in the bookselling world. Bottom line is that booksellers prefer plain sigs most of the time, because they’re easier to re-sell. Buyers prefer sigs personalized TO THEM, but will settle for plain long before they buy one personalized to someone else. Unless the someone else is closely associated with the author and notable in their own right.

    For higher-end signatures, yes, inscriptions make them much easier for experts to authenticate. And in high-end stuff sig fraud is not exatly unheard of.

  41. My approach to all this is, of course, intensely personal, but … I value, highly, the dozen or or so books given & inscribed to me by friends. My Estate might (or might not) profit from them, but I don’t propose to part from any of these if I can help it. Otherwise, I find the whole “Inscribed Copy” thing quite silly and pointless — the important words are already printed on the pages of the books.

    (Well…. okay, I _have_ sometimes bought a book and had it Inscribed when the writer was just sitting there, alone and trying not to appear despondent, at a Signing, but that falls under _charitas_ [or is it “_Karitas_”?] and is slightly embarrassing to to both of us. *sigh* This does not, of course, apply to (currently-) popular writers such as yourself.)

  42. @ 57

    Maybe, but I’d bet that John can pretty easily do some rote thing — like signing his name — for hours, while his mind is also working with ideas and putting other words together in interesting ways (maybe jotting down the crux of this, from time to time).

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