Cassandra, as a reader I have supported you from the beginning. I have honestly purchased your novels and thoroughly enjoyed them all. A few months back, I preordered the signed copy of CoHF and I was absolutely thrilled; I couldn’t wait for it to come in the mail. So when it finally does, I tear open the cardboard box and what do I see? Is that a signature? Because honestly, I’m sure I’ve scribbled something nearly identical to that as a child. That. Is. Not. A. Signed. Book. I can’t believe I actually paid EXTRA just for you to carelessly scribble a LINE across the page and stamp it. That is such an insult to your readers. If you’re too busy to properly sign your books, either do less or DON’T DO IT AT ALL. Because that was simply rude, and you know it. I’ve come to the conclusion that I will not support an author that disrespects their readers in such a way. Your readers got you where you are Cassandra, and you should be bloody grateful for each and every single one of them who helped you out. Maybe you should show your gratitude a little better. — allfearbruschetta
I work very hard on my books and hope that if you buy one, you feel it’s worth the price. I am truly grateful for each and every reader, and I do truly want to treat them well. I am glad that you have enjoyed each of the books that I have worked so hard over the past seven years to produce. I hope that have given you hours of entertainment.
As for my signature, I have always written in a scrawl. Writers are actually famous for having fast, messy signatures because when you have to sign your name thousands of times in a row, you develop a fast signature. It’s not ingratitude. It’s survival. “Doing less signatures” is not just unfair on readers, it wouldn’t get you a better signature. That signature is my signature.
Jodi Picoult and Rick Riordan’s signatures look like this.
If a beautiful signature is your priority, then you will be missing out on a lot of writers I think are wonderful. Elizabeth Gilbert, for instance.
Suzanne Collins, it is well known, stamps books instead of signing because her writing hand has been so badly affected: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/28/suzanne-collins_n_695881.html Maybe you feel that Suzanne Collins too is ungrateful and does not deserve her readers: I can’t say I feel the same way. I know exactly what agony Suzanne Collins must have been in, because I have experienced it myself. I have often envied her the stamp, but tried to keep going on signing purely because I thought my fans would prefer signed books. It has not been because I was not in pain.
I do not get a penny of extra money for signing the books: I did it simply because I love my readers, and I wanted to give the readers who would like a signed book but do not have the opportunity to attend my signings a chance to get one.
Can I talk about those signings? I love meeting my fans — but I have had my hand swollen to twice its natural size and mottled purple, I have had the sides of my fingers bleeding, with people applying ice pads to my shoulder and wrist, and still people have asked for me to sign not just books but pieces of paper and people’s shoes, like they look at me and they literally can’t see the blood. I truly appreciate them coming out to see me. I love meeting them. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take an enormous physical toll. You say “DON’T DO IT AT ALL” and believe me, it would be much easier for me not to do it at all… but I always feel, whenever I have to not do something because otherwise my health will collapse, that I am letting people down. I never want to let anybody down.
(It never occurred to me that people would feel I had let them down because I did not have sufficiently excellent penmanship. You have opened my eyes on that front.)
Being successful as a creative artist is an amazing stroke of luck, but it is also something you have to work very hard not only to achieve but to keep. Because the City of Bones movie and doing publicity for it took up an enormous amount of time, I had to write City of Heavenly Fire on set, at night, in airports, in hotel rooms. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t see my family. Try to imagine writing a 773 page book that wraps up a long six book series on an incredibly time-crunched schedule. Imagine that you are absolutely determined it be the best book you can make it — because that’s what you actually owe your readers when you’re a writer, not good handwriting, but good writing. Imagine your schedule is so crunched your copyeditor actually quits halfway through because they don’t have enough time to finish and they are having a nervous breakdown, which you don’t find out until you get the 1,000 page manuscript back, and you have to hire another copyeditor with your own money, because you don’t want your readers getting an un-edited book (even though that happens all the time with books on crunched schedules.) Imagine you don’t sleep for weeks until you give yourself pneumonia and wind up in the hospital and check yourself out against medical advice because if you don’t, the book will be late being published and your fans will be disappointed. All these are things I did while working on City of Heavenly Fire (as well as signings thousands of pages — 20,000 in total) for people like you.
Well, John Green signed 100,000 books, you say! He sure did — over a period of months, not in less than a week, and here are some of his signing videos, in which he refers to his signature as ‘J Scribble’ and also talks about how he, while happy to sign the books, is also overwhelmed by the sheer numbers he is facing—the showers and sleep he has to skip just to get them done, and again, not done with beautiful perfect clarity, but just done—and the occupational therapist he requires. (I did not have an occupational therapist.)
John’s signature, which I have a feeling you would also find unsatisfactory:
There are millions of readers, and only one of me. I am so happy to say that, I am so grateful for my success, but that does not mean that there isn’t tremendous pressure on me—that there aren’t more books than I can possibly sign, more people than I can possibly meet. I do my absolute utmost, because I am so grateful, but I do not know how to make myself into a robot who cannot feel pain, who does not get sick, and whose handwriting is entirely different from my natural handwriting. Writers are people — creators are people, which is something I often see forgotten. People who have messy handwriting sometimes. People who bleed, even if you can’t, or won’t, see the blood.