Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

Writers' Corner

August 12, 2012

Book signings: big money – sometimes

By Gerald Warfield | Special to the Index

You would think that a book signed by a writer would not hold up in value to one signed by a celebrity.

For instance, Ronald Reagan’s “An American Life,” signed by Reagan, is now going for $1,700 from Autographed Books, a company that specializes in author-inscribed publications. But Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” leaves that book in the dust. A signed first edition of King’s second blockbuster (the one after “Carrie”) is listed at Abe Books for a whopping $12,500.

But it’s not a sure thing. John Updike’s “Rabbit Run” – a signed limited edition hard cover but not first edition—is marked for just $20 opening bid on eBay.

People will wait in long lines to get books autographed, mostly out of respect for an author they like. Others do it as an investment. At the awards banquet for the World Fantasy Conference in San Diego, Calif., last year I sat next to a man who came to conferences just to get his books autographed.

If you get a book signed by the author, here’s some advice. Have it personalized, not only for the monetary value, but for your own enjoyment. It will mean more to you if the author inscribes it to you specifically. Anything that indicates a time or place, like a conference or specific event, may increase the value.

The ideal inscription from my upcoming book signing would be: “To Jane Doe from Gerald Warfield, at the Barnes & Noble in the Hulen Shopping center, Aug. 18, 2012.”

Of course, any mention of substance is gold. Usually, the author will ask how you want it signed. If you have a name that is hard to spell or for which there are variant spellings, write it out along with the inscription you’d like on a piece of paper so that you can show it when your turn comes at the signing table. The author will appreciate it.

Closer to home, the Booksatchel has its own collection of autographed books. “Life in the Saddle” by Frank Collinson, a writer of the old west, is listed at $100. “The Brazos Broncbuster’s Scrapbook” signed by author Jack H. Hittson is $75, although there is also a signed proof copy for just $15.

Rumor has it that if you browse the shelves of the Booksatchel you are likely to find any number of signed books, especially of local authors like romance writer Betty Brooks and old west writer Jim Dillard.

Gerald Warfield is an award-winning writer of fantasy and science fiction. See his website at http://www.geraldwarfield.com.

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