Microsoft’s Raymond Chen published a book in late December. Naturally, he has lots of people who ask him to sign the book. My book doesn’t sell as well as his does (as I write this, my Amazon rank is #10,314, and his is #7,720*). He has a great piece of practical advice for the aspiring author signature collector: tell us what to write!
When you stop by to ask me to sign your copy of the book, give me some idea what you want me to write. I’m happy to do it, but you have to give me something to work with.
It’s really good advice. Unless I’ve thought about what to write, it’s generally pretty hard for me to write something clever. The easiest book signing I ever did was when somebody asked me to sign a book “To X, the smartest guy I know.” I had no problem complying with his request, though I did add a twist. I put his request on the title page, but on the next page, I wrote “NOT!” in big letters. I was lucky; he loved it.
[*] Before you write and point it out, yes, Amazon sales rankings can be volatile, and don’t always reflect reality. However, I would be surprised if more people wanted to know the guts of 802.11 than to learn why Windows has been hosed by being backwards compatible.
Yes, I know the problems with Amazon sales rankings, and how silly they are.