Thursday 27 March 2014


So, I've been signing a lot of books lately. It's part of an author's lot. For the Unfettered Anthology I had a stack of 750 pages to sign ... it takes a while, and if I start listening to music or some other distraction I start to make mistakes.

Anyhow, I've seen a lot of these lately!

And when you're signing time after time you can't help but start to think about the signature itself and the process of forming it. And inevitably, when you start thinking about it your signature starts misbehaving. The act of signing is an explosive reflex action, over-think it and it suddenly falls apart.

Ostensibly my signature is on the 'readable' side of author sigs. It actually looks vaguely like my name. Though on close inspection it does deteriorate!

So, with a stack of pages needing signing I thought, "Why not blog about signatures instead?" So here I am, doing that.

While my signature may tend toward readable, a certain JRR Tolkien, most famous of all fantasy writers, who presumably signed a few books in his time, set out the most readable signatures ever! In fact it's less a signature than it is his name in his handwriting...

Here we see another old school fantasy writer (Robert Jordan) with an entirely legible signature, and his successor, Brandon Sanderson, who appears to be doing his best to cross out the print version of his name and claim a signature at the same time...

George RR Martin also seems to be in the 'scribble over everything' school of signatures:

Peter V Brett shows more restraint but again makes very little attempt at forming any of the actual letters in his name.

Of all these highly lauded authors I think perhaps Pat Rothfuss is closest in style to my own efforts. We both have a shot at it. We both get some actual letters in there then rush the ending, and neither of us are very successful with the letter 'a'.

In the end, though, we all of us have made our mark. We've scribbled on the page and spoiled your book, and somehow made it more valuable, either emotionally, financially, or both. So while I may scowl at the pile of sheets before me with a hard done by look ... in the end I know it's all in a good cause, forming a connection with those most excellent of people who go out and buy the things!


  1. As someone who used to work in as a manager in retail, signing tens of documents per day five days a week, I can certainly understand how your signature might deteriorate. The signature on the back of my National Insurance card (Signed at the age of 16) is pretty much entirely legible, but 3 years working in a computer games shop reduced it to one where you can sort of figure out the first letters if you squint. It never recovered...

  2. I created a signature literally hours before I had to do my first signing. Before that, I'd always just printed my name in a slightly slanting style. If I'd done that whilst signing 250 books at Goldsboro, I'd have been there about three hours. :)

  3. My P and V are clear as day, and the t's are all crossed, at least. That is a solid effort on 5 out of 11 letters.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one that thinks about it and cocks it up in the process. In fact, my uncle got one of my hardbacks and complained (humorously) about the squiggle I called a signature.