Today saw another stepping stone away from the world of paper and pen into the digital, electronic future. At the request of a buyer, I signed my first e-book.
I’m quite used to signing my paperbacks. Whenever anyone bought directly from me, the copies were dispatched duly autographed, and for some time I’ve considered putting a personal thank you into my e-copies, but, of course, when you do that, they become impersonal.
Then, last week, I tripped over Kindlegraph. I’d spotted it on a blog (maybe Nick Daws’ but I can’t be sure) and I signed up as an author. The principle is simple from my POV. The reader requests a signature, I type in a short, goodwill message and then click “sign”.
The signature the system added is not mine. I tried producing a signature with the mouse, and here’s what I got.
It looks more like an aerial view of the route I took to get from the Jolly Carter to my house after a skinful of Tetley Bitter. (For reference, from the Jolly Carter to my house is actually a straight line of 75 yards.)
I seem to recall somewhere when I set up my Kindlegraph account that there is an option to produce your own signature, but I have some concerns about that. Identity theft is no small deal these days, so I’m not about to supply a genuine signature to add to the misery, and if I can copy the thing in, then I’m sure someone, somewhere will be able to extract it.
Right now, this is the fun side of self-publishing on the Kindle, and it’s easy to see a publicity angle or two.
This Saturday, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. David Robinson will be online signing Kindle copies of his latest novella An Heir to Murder. Visit his website for details.
Please don’t go looking for it, because I’m not signing online this Saturday; I’m simply demonstrating the idea.
Book signings are a way of life for some writers. I’ve never done one, but it doesn’t appeal to me anyway. I can’t bear the thought of sitting, bored to tears in a bookshop all day waiting for the crowds who are not going to turn up if it rains.
Online book signings are a different matter. You could (theoretically) end up with thousands, hundreds of thousands, showing up from all over the world, and you’d be tied to your computer for days.
The principle is there, however, and I can see it being quite useful as a promotional tool, so long as the numbers visiting were restricted, perhaps by using a ticket system.
Leaving aside organised book signings, it could be problematic for best-selling authors such as John Locke, who in May this year, famously became the first self-published author to sell 1,000,000 e-books on the Kindle. If Mr Locke had to sign even 10% of his books, he’d never get any writing done.
I haven’t yet sold a million e-books (but I am checking out John Locke’s system). I’ve sold a few hundred, so for now, singing Kindle editions is fun but it’s all tinged with a dash of nostalgic sadness. Is it really goodbye to those Moleskine notebooks my wife buys me for Christmas?