My Autographing Policy

I swear I already wrote something like this here, but I can’t seem to find it, so I’m doing one of those “write now for future reference” posts, spurred on by the fact that in the space of three days I’ve gotten, like, ten requests for autographed books, etc.

My Autographing Policy

Yes, I give autographs. Find me at a convention or other public appearance. If I have a scheduled signing at the convention appearance I’ll probably ask you to wait until then because that’s generally the most convenient time for me.

If I don’t have a scheduled signing, you can come up and ask. I am generally happy to sign but there may be times when I’m busy doing something (including having a private conversation) in which case I might ask if you can catch me another time.

If you catch me outside a scheduled signing, please only ask to have me sign one or two things (i.e., don’t come up to me with a whole bag). If you have your own pen, that’s generally helpful since outside scheduled signings I usually don’t walk around with one.

I don’t require you to have a book of mine to sign; I’ll sign autograph books, blank pieces of paper, etc. I will sign body parts, so long as it’s a body part you can expose in public without getting arrested. I don’t recommend then having that signature permanently tattooed on your body, but it’s your body, do what you want.

No, I won’t sign your book/bookplates if you mail them to me with a self-addressed, stamped return envelope. The primary reason for this is that I am extraordinarily bad at putting things back into the mail; stuff like that sits on my desk for months and sometimes even longer. I figure it’s easier to say “no” than to annoy you by never returning your book/bookplates. It’s not you, it’s me. Sorry.

(Also, I don’t have bookplates I send out by request. I’m not that organized, nor wish to pay postage.)

If you send me stuff anyway, I will not promise it will ever make it back to you. Seriously, it’s a bad idea to send me stuff.

If your goal is simply to have an autographed work from me, and I am not coming to a convention/doing an appearance near you, may I suggest three things:

One, buy a limited edition of one of my books, which generally come signed by me. These limited editions are usually more expensive than the standard editions, but in addition to having my signature in them, these books are generally of a higher quality production-wise and include new art and/or extra bits. Subterranean Press has published my limited editions to date and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

Two, during the holiday season I’ll announce that I will sign and personalize books purchased from my local independent bookstore, Jay and Mary’s Book Center. When I do that, all you have to do is call in to the store and order the book. You’ll have to pay for shipping but otherwise there’s no additional charge beyond the cost of the book.

I also frequently sign stock at Jay and Mary’s, just because I happen to be there, so beyond any public announcement, it’s worth checking in with them to see if they happen to have any signed stock. Additionally, you can ask to have the book personalized, if you like, BUT any personalization will have to wait until I’m actually in shop, so this is not a great idea for time-sensitive gifts.

Three, I will frequently sign stock for booksellers if I happen to be in their town and/or they are selling at a convention I’m at. I’ve recently been on tour, check with one of the booksellers I stopped at.

Any additional questions? Leave them in the comment thread.

37 Comments on “My Autographing Policy”

  1. Holy Cow. I would lose all of them. I’m glad I’m not you.

    And as a plug for Yellow Springs – its a fun day trip. Always, Always go to the petting farm and feed goats. More fun than dancing naked. Or maybe not. Maybe not a good analogy. But goat feeding is fun.

  2. I’m not entirely sure this is the best place for questions of the “could/would you come to [insert bookstore name here]?” stripe, because the answer is always likely to be “sure, if I’m ever actually in that town and remember the bookstore name.” However, I don’t generally go out of my way to visit bookstores unless I have another reason to be in town.

  3. I don’t require you to have a book of mine to sign; I’ll sign autograph books

    Should I construe this to mean you’ll sign books written by someone else?

  4. If you ever make it as far east as Boston (or if I end up closer to a con that you’re at), I’ll need to bring my Hebrew-translated OMW to get signed…

  5. Have you ever been asked to sign a Nook/Kindle/etc? I find that I have half of your books in e-format and the other half in hardcover/paperback.

  6. I love that you sign books for bookshops etc. Sadly that’s not likely to ever be of use for me until a) you come to the UK, or b) I start making enough money to afford the overseas postage. Oh well.

    I’m eyeing the Zoe’s Tale hardback in your photo. I hadn’t even realised it had a hardback version. US only I suppose? I will definitely have to get hold of one one day!

  7. what if rather than mailing the books with a sase we just by your house with a big box of books to sign? too much?

  8. John@12: “Yeah. The dog will have eaten you by the time you got the box out of the car.”

    Sounds like suitable bribes may be in order. Let’s see: biscuits for the dog, catnip for the cats, hmmm… I’m running out of ideas and I’m barely halfway through the household. I don’t suppose the ladies like tuna?

    I guess I better stick to the con schedule.

  9. Hey, I found the post in your archives:

    Autographed copies.

    The john Scalzi of 2006 said:

    Alternately, you can mail me books to sign at the address you’ll find at the bottom of this entry, but only under the condition that you include both self-addressed packaging and sufficient postage to get the book back to you.

    The John Scalzi of 2006 sounds like he’s a much more accommodating fellow; do you have any contact information for him?

    Snark aside, your current policy is entirely civilized and helps to support your local independent bookstore and others that invite you to visit, all very nice things. And I think there may be some intervening post in which you declared that, having realized you’re not a reliable returner of the books people send you for signing, you have to discontinue the practice (the post Patrick Allen links mentions something of the sort in passing; I don’t know whether there was another post). I just found the (perfectly understandable) change amusing.

  10. I have a question, not about your autograph policy per se, but about your perception of autographing in general. Before you were a published novelist, did you have any books signed by authors?

    I ask this because the only books I have signed are by friends and two signed by George RR Martin that a friend gave me as a gift because she thought I’d like them.

  11. CV Rick:

    I had a Bradbury book signed when I was 12 or so, and a couple of signed books from friends, but otherwise, no. I didn’t go to conventions until after I sold OMW, and other than that I didn’t hang in literary or fan circles.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with people wanting or asking for autographs, however. I have enough of an ego that I still think it’s neat that people want mine.

  12. @Warren, I think he got famouser in the meantime, and the deluge of “Please sign me!!!!” was too much to bear. Alternately, he hates you. ;)

  13. John signed Zoe’s Tale for me at Armadillocon, first he asked me to wait till the autograph session but I told him that “This is Texas and I’ll be going to a Gun Show on Sunday.” Didn’t mean to intimidate him, got a nice note saying that it was the first Zoe’s Tale he’d signed. He did walk away rather quickly, though. Thanks again, John!

  14. John,
    I thought this was a good place to thank you for signing all of my books at Phoenix Comicon this year! They are on the “special” shelf with my signed William Gibson copies. Thanks! Next year I may ask you to sign my NOOK.

    If they are both in the same place and you’re really nice, John might let Wil Wheaton sign your copy of “Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded” too!

  15. You should add a link for this in your administrata. If it is there it is not immediately obvious. Your blog does not have an index so in a month most people won’t see it. Even if you do that, you know very well that a large number of people won’t read it or will ignore it.

    Patrick Rothfuss wrote that people came to his apartment after his book was published. This tells me that authors need to make sure their home addresses are not publicly listed. To be honest, I do not get people’s fascination with autographs. I don’t see the point. Its not about your autograph, it is just the whole thing in general.

  16. “I don’t require you to have a book of mine to sign; I’ll sign autograph books”

    This really temps me to catch you at a convention and give you a book from the Creationist Museaum to sign.

  17. “I am generally happy to sign as long but there may be times when I’m busy doing something”

    I think the “as long” got orphaned by some editing.

  18. Autographing: I thought about this a lot recently. I have gone to two top-level bicycling races in the past year, and at each I got a souvenir tshirt signed by many of the top riders at each event.

    I have been attending SF cons for a couple of decades; I have maybe ten signed books. WTH?

    I realized that the signature is actually a ruse, a way to spend ~45 seconds with someone I admire and to give them an “Attaboy!” along the way. I won’t ever send something to someone so they can sign it at their leisure, because then I wouldn’t the the Time In The Presence Of Greatness; I’d just get a book someone wrote in.

    Plus, I can reward my favorite author better by not bugging him/her at dinner, but instead by going to Amazon and ordering ten copies of their book and sending them to friends. I can’t do that with cyclists; I have to either thank them in person, or on Twitter, or not at all.

    So, if I ask you to sign something, know that it’s my way of getting to spend a brief moment with you, and to underscore the idea of, “Hey, I love your books – keep up the good work!” The autograph is a ruse.

  19. Roxanne@25:

    So you’re saying the autograph is a lie?

    And.. the cake is a lie…

    So autographs = cake?

  20. Me: Hey. I got John Scalzi’s autograph.
    Someone Else: Cool. Let’s see it.
    Me: (drops trou)
    Someone Else: That says JoSc.
    Me: Yeah. Just wait.

  21. Roxanne: For the 2002 San Jose WorldCon, I had three t-shirts made up to autograph, mainly because I knew there were going to be a lot of artists there but also because I couldn’t bring too many books along. I really hadn’t considered the implications— almost all of the male signers made some comment about how weird this was (M. Kaluta actually said “This is the most erotic thing I’ve ever done at a con.”) Hilariously, every single FEMALE signer seemed immensely flattered, and reacted in an “I’m a rock star!” manner.

    I do remember some very specifically. I got Kelly Freas’ autograph, for instance. And Phil Foglio laughed at the comic on my shirt, which was flattering to me.

    I really wish I’d been able to make up one of the shirts I’d been thinking of— this comic in the appropriate location. I have a weird sense of humor that way…

  22. All of my autograph pages say “Boat Loan” at the top…….but I’ve got a special line at the bottom just for you!

  23. Hmmm.

    Since all of your novels that I have are on my Kindle or in my Audible account, I’m not sure how to react.

    What’s your policy on virtual autographs?

  24. I’ve always had great experiences when it comes to you signing stuff. The first time I saw you in Cincinnati I had you sign almost my entire collection of 7 something books. The second time recently I think you stayed behind a few minutes and I caught you at the end of your tour. Both times you took a moment to talk and write something personal.

    Just want to say thank you again for being so amiable about your book signings events. It’s a big reason for me being a fan of yours!

  25. Hi, thanks, John, this clarification is helpful.

    Can you sign this first edition hardcover, and personalize it to my cousin?

    His full name is, “Congratulations E-Bay Winning Bidder!”

    [yes, the exclamation point is part of his name]
    [it’s a southern thing. or maybe Croatian? still not sure about that side of the family.]

    Thanks in advance.

  26. I’ve yet to sign a body part, but will if you want, so long as it’s a body part you can expose in public without getting arrested.

    Just so you know: in New York City (maybe the whole state, I’m not sure), it’s legal for women to go topless in public. (Hence the forming of The Outdoor Co-ed Topless Pulp Fiction Appreciation Society [note: Q&A article with an NSFW image], whose members regularly get together in places like Central Park to take off their tops and read books.)

    Toplessness is also legal in Ontario and British Columbia. Possibly the rest of Canada too, though there haven’t been legal cases to test that.

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