By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor of Southern Writers Magazine
Baseball great Pete Rose was asked what the kids playing baseball needed to learn that was not being taught. Pete said they need to learn to sign a baseball. It isn’t easy writing on a curved surface and in order to aid them in visualizing being a pro they need to learn to sign a baseball. As a pro they will be asked to do so time and time again.
Over the years I have seen many signatures from those whom we consider famous. Some have little messages with their signature. Some will have a reference to a Bible verse. Some have their slogans, mottos or branding logo added. With some it is obvious there was some thought given as to the message. This kind of preparation could avoid an awkward moment of indecision when signing the item.
As a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader my niece was taught how to autograph her photo. It goes without saying these girls are very popular and there is much demand for their pictures and their signature. The DCC organization takes time to teach the Cheerleaders how to sign pictures, calendars and other items. They use the phrase “Love and Cheers to ____________ !” and sign their name. This allows them to see more people and avoids the mishap of writing something regrettable. This is something writers could use when they have adoring readers lined up out the door of the bookstores, waiting their turn to have you sign your most recent work. Being prepared is a lesson we could all benefit from.
I have many books that have been signed by the author. Their signature seems to give us a connection with them and their work. It also seems to bring the publishers product to life, giving it a human touch, a link to the author’s spirit.
One of the most recent books with signature is also one of the most unusual and spirited. For my birthday I received from my wife a copy of Willie Nelson’s latest work, yes there were others, Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die: Musings from the Road. The author had signed inside the front and back cover. In the back it was simply stated “The End” with his signature, date and a smiley face. The front cover was an elaborate drawing of a stick man with guitar and cowboy hat, obviously the author’s self- portrait. The signature alone was worth the price of the book.
Give some thought as to what you would like your signature to say? Do you want it to convey a message of humor, wisdom or spirituality? Once you have determined what you want to convey do as Pete Rose recommended, practice it. You have given great thought to your writing so give thought to your signature. It could be the determining factor in a lasting relationship with your readers.