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Toothpaste
09-23-2007, 07:31 PM
When I was in the UK doing my stock signing stuff, the last book store I hit was in Harrods of all places. There the woman told me, as I prepared to sign the stock, that at Harrods the people who wanted signed copies of books always wanted them Sign, Line, and Dated.

Now I knew what signing and dating was (pretty obvious and I had been doing that all along), but what was line?

She explained that the author signs their name, dates the book and then WRITES THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THEIR NOVEL. Like right there. On the page you are signing.

So I did it (and for all 40 books mind you!), but I can't figure out what would make a book more valuable if the author wrote the first line into it.

I thought maybe it had something to do with back when authors wrote things longhand, the reader got to have a bit of what the original MS would have looked like, but that's my best guess.

So anyone heard of this? And anyone know why it is done? What is the historical precedent, or is it just an old wives tale?

Thank you muchly!

Claudia Gray
09-23-2007, 07:42 PM
I've never heard of that! How interesting -- but oh, your poor cramping hand!

Will Lavender
09-23-2007, 07:46 PM
Weird. Never seen that before.

I haven't signed one of my books yet. (I'm waiting for a hardcover.) When I do, I'm going to use Hemingway's trick. (Actually, I just lied right there: I'm not sure if it was Hemingway or who it was; all I know is that it was a famous author.) Hemingway (I'll just keep using Hemingway because it sounds better) marked out his name on the title page and signed right below it. Just two strikes and then a signature, as if Hemingway (it gets more apocryphal as it goes) were sort of personalizing the object, making it less book and more manuscript.

I always thought that looked cool. So that's what I'm going to do. Not that, you know, I've been dreaming of the moment or anything. :)

scarletpeaches
09-23-2007, 07:49 PM
I suppose it makes it less likely that the autograph's faked (yes, Adrienne; now you're famous it's an autograph, not a signature).

It gives the reader more of your handwriting to compare the signature to.

But then again, they could have got some poor schmo to fake your autograph AND write all those first lines.

Or maybe Mohammed Al Fayed is just plain bonkers.

A. Hamilton
09-23-2007, 07:51 PM
It's a nice touch, but I've never heard of it or seen it. One way to embed something about the book into the reader's mind.

Toothpaste
09-23-2007, 07:56 PM
It's weird isn't it? I just wish I knew where the idea originally came from. The woman at Harrods herself seemed skeptical. Who knows!

(and Scarlett - I just can't bring myself to say 'autograph', it just feels so silly! :) )

Will Lavender
09-23-2007, 08:11 PM
I suppose it makes it less likely that the autograph's faked...

You know, this is probably right.

scarletpeaches
09-23-2007, 08:17 PM
Oh! Did I do good? I can haz cookie now plz?:D

Hillary
09-23-2007, 08:47 PM
Good lord. I can't even imagine. In fact, I don't even know how this is possible. When my mother does signings she'll sign for a couple hundred people, and then sometimes sign extra stock for the store - but no WAY she could possibly write the first sentence in there. Her hand would fall off. Besides, there wouldn't be enough time... Oftentimes she doesn't get a chance to sign stock for the store. O_O

p.s. - It's totally an autograph. Rock the fame.

veinglory
09-23-2007, 09:12 PM
Wow, that must have taken some time to do!

Tracy
09-23-2007, 09:22 PM
OMG - you were signing books in Harrods!!! How cool is that! Huge congratulations to you.

(And no, I've never heard of that either and it sounds silly).

maestrowork
09-23-2007, 09:47 PM
Very interesting. I've never heard of that. I always just sign and date. I think it's a great idea, actually.

If I'm signing a book for someone, I'd personalize with a message. Otherwise, it does seem like a good idea when signing stock. I guess that makes it more authentic -- I mean, anyone can just go in a book store and sign any book. :)

BTW, saw your book at Borders the other day. Looks great. The author's picture in the back is so cute. :)

Toothpaste
09-23-2007, 09:58 PM
Well who knows then!

And yes it was cool signing stock in Harrods! Even though it was just a stock signing they still had a little table set up for me and everything!

Maestro - awesome and thank you and did you buy a copy ;) ? (cheeky girl Toothpaste!! One doesn't ask such things!! . . . sorry!)

DeadlyAccurate
09-23-2007, 11:50 PM
Sounds like a good reason to write a very short first sentence.

Feb. 10, 1851
Call me Ishmael.
Hermy Melville





(all his friends called him Hermy*)





*I just made that up.

PeeDee
09-24-2007, 01:38 AM
I've heard of it, actually, but I've never heard of it required by a bookstore. That's the interesting bit. Scarlet's probably right about why.

lkp
09-24-2007, 01:46 AM
Great! My first sentence is: Blind.
I think I can cope with that.

DeadlyAccurate
09-24-2007, 02:33 AM
I just had a thought. Would they have asked for the first line of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford?

(It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.)

Giant Baby
09-24-2007, 04:23 AM
I just had a thought. Would they have asked for the first line of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford?

(It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.)

And if Dicken's wasn't already dead, he would have been by the end of an A Tale of Two Cities signing!

(It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.)

benbradley
09-24-2007, 04:23 AM
It's weird isn't it? I just wish I knew where the idea originally came from. The woman at Harrods herself seemed skeptical. Who knows!

(and Scarlett - I just can't bring myself to say 'autograph', it just feels so silly! :) )
Could you have asked the woman?


I suppose it makes it less likely that the autograph's faked (yes, Adrienne; now you're famous it's an autograph, not a signature).

It gives the reader more of your handwriting to compare the signature to.
I've heard in the book collecting world that an inscribed book is indeed "better" in that respect because the extra handwriting is less easily faked. But you have to be a President, former President or similarly prominent/really famous person for a signed copy to be worth enough to forge a signature - it seems to me that most published author's books won't be that valuable. For example (and would not most of us be happy enough to be as famous and prolific an author as this one?):

I've got a copy of "I is for Innocent" signed something like this:
"To Leah[?]-
Yours in crime
Sue Grafton
(date)"
It was worth $50 ten years ago when I bought (and should have sold!) it (well I did pay only $7 for it at Oxford Too when they were going out of business - maybe that explains WHY they went out of business), and it's less than $50 today. Okay, I just found over 100 signed first editions of Innocent for under $50, including: "First printing. Fine in fine dust jacket. Dust jacket in protective cover. INSCRIBED on the title page: For Cynthia -, yours in crime, Sue Grafton. $15." So much for collecting books as an investment.

To sum up all that, for a bookstore to require that seems a little bit over the top, and I (perhaps being naive) might object. OTOH, I'm not familiar with Harrod's, maybe that's the Neiman-Marcus of UK booksellers, and when they say jump you're supposed to know how high to jump and do it immediately...


Sounds like a good reason to write a very short first sentence.

Feb. 10, 1851
Call me Ishmael.
Hermy Melville





(all his friends called him Hermy*)





*I just made that up.
I'll have to stick a character named Jesus into my novel and have the opening line be a quote the Bible, specifically the verse John 11:35.

PeeDee
09-24-2007, 06:56 AM
I just had a thought. Would they have asked for the first line of Edward George Bulwer-Lytton's Paul Clifford?

(It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.)


And if Dicken's wasn't already dead, he would have been by the end of an A Tale of Two Cities signing!

(It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.)

Irrelevant to the discussion at hand, but man...those are just some of the best opening lines ever. Dickens was always a master of those, though.

Birol
09-24-2007, 07:09 AM
Check. Stick to short opening sentences.

seun
09-24-2007, 12:28 PM
So what happens if your opening sentence is something like:

'I want your love shaft'?

maestrowork
09-24-2007, 01:48 PM
So what happens if your opening sentence is something like:

'I want your love shaft'?

Make sure the buyer is not male.

I would sign my book this way from now on:

"Betrayal makes us do strange things
-- like buy this book! Just buy it!"

JJ Cooper
09-24-2007, 01:58 PM
When you come to Aus, Adrienne, we make you cook a BBQ and serve up lunch before you sign books. Plus you have to sweep up and re-stack the shelves at the end of the day.

No kidding, we almost arrested some supposedly famous author not long ago for scribbling over books - truth is, it was because he refused to cook the BBQ.

JJ

seun
09-24-2007, 02:09 PM
When you come to Aus, Adrienne, we make you cook a BBQ and serve up lunch before you sign books. Plus you have to sweep up and re-stack the shelves at the end of the day.

No kidding, we almost arrested some supposedly famous author not long ago for scribbling over books - truth is, it was because he refused to cook the BBQ.

JJ

That was Stephen King, wasn't it?

JJ Cooper
09-24-2007, 02:25 PM
That was Stephen King, wasn't it?

Yep. Last month.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=286747



World-famous author Stephen King was mistaken for a vandal at an Alice Springs bookshop yesterday.
The horror master stunned oblivious customers when he pulled out a pen and began signing copies of his own book at Dymocks.


The nerve of some.

JJ

seun
09-24-2007, 02:48 PM
I love that story :D

Maryn
09-24-2007, 04:50 PM
Boy, am I smart or what? My WIP's first sentence is two words long.

Maryn, wondering what to wear at Harrod's

seun
09-24-2007, 04:56 PM
Boy, am I smart or what? My WIP's first sentence is two words long.

Maryn, wondering what to wear at Harrod's

A Diana mask?

Christine N.
09-24-2007, 05:27 PM
Ooo, mine are all short. I'll go. Actually one of my '08 releases starts like this...

"Ow."

I think I could sign that for a bit.

scarletpeaches
09-24-2007, 05:28 PM
A Diana mask?

Ooh.

That was...

...

...I love you.

Giant Baby
09-24-2007, 05:33 PM
So what happens if your opening sentence is something like:

'I want your love shaft'?

Um... It is. Where'd you read that?

Kate Thornton
09-24-2007, 06:00 PM
There's just no way.

I sign with a scribble & a rubber stamp as I lost the use of my writing hand some time ago. I am able to manage maybe one or two real signatures at a signing, but I reserve those for the host.

I'm unable to inscribe, unless the buyer wants to write it out themselves before I scribble over it. Lots of folks have done this!

But the first line???? I have never heard of doing that. Odd.

Soccer Mom
09-24-2007, 06:25 PM
Crud. The whole sentence? Mine is long.

:scurries off to edit:


But signing stock in Harrods? Toooooooo cooooool for schooooool! :snoopy:

Snitchcat
09-24-2007, 07:31 PM
OTOH, I'm not familiar with Harrod's, maybe that's the Neiman-Marcus of UK booksellers, and when they say jump you're supposed to know how high to jump and do it immediately...

Harrod's is a top class department store that sits on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, London. It looks and smells posh; your bags are checked as you enter. As far as I remember (been a few years since I've been there), you have to check your shopping bags at the door, but handbags / purses are okay, and probably backpacks (don't recall).

They sell brand names, have their own brand (most visible of which is the shopping bag you can buy for an outrageous sum).

The place is mainly targeted at high earners, but attracts plenty of people -- locals and tourists. It's a good, comfortable place to wander around, but, unless you really want something from Harrod's, I don't recommend shopping in there (if you have the bankroll for it, however, feel free). (^_^)

Official website: http://www.harrods.com/Cultures/en-GB/Home/homepageindex.htm

Toothpaste
09-24-2007, 07:51 PM
You forgot to mention the decadent decoration. The place is truly baroque - the food halls out of this world (yes the food is great and wildly expensive but the decor is insane!)! Totally worth a visit as a tourist. I have bought all of two pieces of chocolate and a very expensive gelato, but it's great to visit, especially when I discovered the diamond ring that cost 500 000 pounds. Just sort of stared at it for a while. Very sparkly.

Christine N.
09-24-2007, 07:56 PM
I think I spent three hours just in the food hall. It really is a beautiful store. Reminds me quite a bit of the Wanamaker store in Philly, although now it's a Macy's. Still a beautiful store - and home to the largest operational pipe organ in the world, thank you very much. It's a wonder to hear, especially at Christmastime.

Harrods used to (I don't know if they do anymore) pride themselves on selling EVERYTHING. Even caskets for you to be buried in. If they didn't have it, they would get it.

There's an old story about how one shopper wanted an African elephant. Harrods got it for him.

narnia
09-24-2007, 08:58 PM
Harrods is very cool, I think I gained five pounds walking through the food halls every time I took a breath. And I swear the shop clerks are trained to spot the I-can't-afford-anything-in-here-but-I'm-pretending-I-can shoppers (like me!).

I went to visit Santa at Harrods on one of my trips to London. Awesome display!!! (I love Christmas and the display was recommended to me.) And, um, yes, by myself with no kiddies in tow, but I figured I'd never see any of those folks again in my lifetime. That year you walked down short hallways of animated displays, and at the end of each was an employee playing Santa's helper. On the second stop the young lady pegged me as a non-Brit the minute I opened my mouth :tongue, and told me that she was also from the States. I, of course, asked, where she was from and she said I'd probably never heard of it, a small town in Upstate NY named Clifton Park. I said, um, I'm from Colonie, another small town in Upstate NY a few miles from Clifton Park. Upon further discussion we discovered we had friends in common.

Which is exactly why I've never gone into any of the 'naughty' shops in Picadilly on any of my trips. (Hey, just to see what they are like, I swear!!! ;))

As for the original question, hmm, never heard of that but maybe I'll try it out on my next autograph quest and see if my hand incurs any pen holes. :D

Celia Cyanide
09-24-2007, 09:08 PM
I have never heard of that! It is a nice idea. Although pretty difficult if you had to do it for a huge room full of people!

PeeDee
09-24-2007, 09:51 PM
I've heard of Harrods, of course, but not in this detail. Man-o-man, I need a book tour that takes me to London. Preferably before dinnertime. :D

MidnightMuse
09-24-2007, 10:01 PM
Not that I'll ever BE in that situation, but I'll be lucky to even so much as sign my name and make it legible. If penmanship were a requirment, I'd have to give up right this very minute. I've reduced signing my name on things to my first initial and last name - which consists of a bunch of straight up and down lines (thanks to the W and all the I's and L's).

If this were standard, my first line in every novel would be changed to: Damn.

PeeDee
09-24-2007, 10:02 PM
The first line of my robot series is There was...

That would aggravate someone. :D

roger
09-24-2007, 11:33 PM
Many congratulations, Toothpaste. How cool, signing books in Harrods. I have heard of this - in fact done it. The books that are signed, lined and dated are worth more, to collectors, than the ones that are just signed and dated. Allegedly. I don't get the whole collecting thing myself.

Did you call in to Goldsboro Books while you were in London?

Toothpaste
09-25-2007, 08:06 PM
I didn't get there, though I did hit Foyles. It was a bit of a whirlwind, and over 3 days. It was so great to go back to London though, man I love that city!

David McAfee
09-25-2007, 11:26 PM
...sounds like a great argument for having a first line that is only 3 or 4 words long. ;)