Do’s and Don’t for Autographing a Book

By Guest Author, Richard E Todd

Long before my first book was published, I read-up on the best practices for autographing books.

My wife thought I was crazy for spending so much time on this topic considering I didn’t have a book that needed signing, but the information learned helped me to feel confident and ready for the day when I would put my John Hancock to the title page. This knowledge also fueled my desire to finish my manuscript so that I could be one of those authors with their wet signature donning the interior pages.

Autographing is an opportunity to increase the perceived value of your title and build a stronger relationship with the reader and possibly earn an additional sale. Autographed books are gifted and treasured much more than a new copy purchased at an upscale book store.

But what if the autographing experience goes badly?
‘What can go wrong’ you say? Lots and I’ve made some mistakes and experienced others, from both sides of the table.

Offer Options
Always ask the buyer how they want the book inscribed. I offer ‘autographed, personalized, or something special’ when I’m selling. Some buyers just want the author’s name so the gift can go to anyone, while others want a level of personalization.

I was recently at an event where the author signing books had met me before and recognized me. He then personalized his comments to me with my name. This was a thoughtful gesture, but I was buying the book as a gift. This falls under potential loss of earnings and tarnished image due to this faux pas.

When I was first starting out I misspelled a person’s name and had to take the book cost as a loss and provide them another copy. When in doubt; ask the buyer how to spell the name. At a signing event, an author kept a pad of post-it notes nearby and everyone that wanted more than a signature had to jot down their instructions and spelling.

I often try to gain some insight into the reader by asking question on their background. This often allows me to write something very personal. This becomes extremely unique and special when the book is given as a gift.

I have memorized several generic quips, and I tailor these to the book title. My primary titles are on the rules of golf and golf etiquette. So my personalization may include ‘and remember to follow the rules’ or ‘be a polished player’.

Consider Typeface
Make sure to give some thought to your pen!
A pen’s a pen, some say, but your choice in instruments can make a difference.
Did you know there are pens specially designed not to fade? Those are ‘archivist’ type. Also consider how wide of a tip and the type of paper you’re writing on.
I once signed a book with a larger sharpie, because of the fat tip the ink ran and the letters smudged together to an almost unreadable form.

Make it Yours!
I’ve seen some authors that just sign their name, that’s it. In my opinion, that’s rather boring and only suitable for the J.K.Rowlings and Stephen Kings of the world.

Consider personalizing your autograph. I put a little flag on the last letter of my name and put dots on the first circle in my last name to make the letters look like a golf ball and putting green flagstick, because I write in the golf genre.
I also change a few letters so my autograph is more readable and different from my legal signature. You can add flares and flourishes, size, pictures, or color. I only use green ink for signing which again more reflects my brand and the golf genre.

Enjoy the Experience
Many authors feel like frauds and charlatans when it comes to calling themselves ‘authors’ and signing books but the fact is that the process of publication is not easy and you’ve put in the time and effort and deserve all the rights that accompany your name on the book cover.

I remember my first signing with a father and son that asked to have their picture taken with me. I didn’t feel worthy but my feeling of inadequacy shouldn’t take away from their joy of meeting and talking to a real published author. And as time goes on you’ll become accustomed to autographing and the public spotlight.

Make the Buyer Feel Special!
This isn’t just about signing your name on a page. Make sure you look the person in the eyes, ask them something about the book or their life, and most of all thank them for the purchase.

Even if you don’t sign a book for years to come, it’s a great feeling to be ready when asked and have a professional signature and enjoy the experience. I never tire of signing books!

If you are looking for that special book, autographed of course, with a golf theme check out my site,, and I promise to sign it exactly as you want.

Have you had a bad experience either receiving or giving autographs? Comment below.

Meet Richard E Todd

Hometown Guest Author Headshot

Richard Todd has spent over three decades on the golf course and it was his love of golf that started his writing career. He was trained on the rules of golf by the USGA/United States Golfing Association and the PGA/Professional Golfers Association.


During the summer he can be found on the course with his father and his son; three generations in one group. When not golfing Richard reads, writes, and talks about golf.

About Becky Robinson

Becky is the founder and CEO of Weaving Influence, the founder of Hometown Reads, and a champion of the #ReadLocal Movement.

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What People Are Saying

  • I love the post-it note tip!

  • I wrote a children’s book. When I sign it, I always ask the child’s name and the spelling, we all know that Jane may not be spelled J-a-n-e! I then write in gell ink only, and I say the same thing on all books, May all of your adventures lead you right back Home! Then I sign it with my name and a paw print of the main character!

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