No Two Alike!

by wjw on June 26, 2020

I’ve been spending recent days signing my name over and over again, signature sheets for the forthcoming Best of Walter Jon Williams from Subterranean Press.  It’s an edition of 1000, but I have to sign something like 1500 sheets, because mistakes can happen in production and sometimes my signature sucks a lot more than usual.

Though it has to be said that even my best signatures suck.  Penmanship was always my worst subject in grade school, and I learned to type when I was eight or nine, and from that point my handwriting got worse and worse, simply because I never had to write anything by hand.

Now, signing over and over, I’ve given up on legibility and I’m just trying to make the squiggles seem interesting.

They aren’t even consistent.  Each signature is a unique piece of visual art, unlike any other signature I’ve ever signed.  If you invest in this limited-edition hardback, you’ll get something that’s totally unlike any other thing.

And when will the book be available?  I don’t actually know, but probably when there are bookstores again, and book dealers, and conventions.

At least we might hope such a day might come.

Jerry June 27, 2020 at 12:58 am

Respectfully have to disagree, Sir. I have signed copies of “Solip:System” and “The Boolean Gate,” and I don’t recall thinking anything critical about your handwriting. Too dazzled by the content, no doubt. Please let us know (IN ALL CAPS PLEASE, so I don’t miss it) when The Best of Walter Jon Williams is available!

Etaoin Shrdlu June 27, 2020 at 1:40 am

Will it also be available as an electronic edition? Shipping overseas plus Customs duties basically triple the cost, and that’s if it doesn’t go “missing” while in Customs. (At least that generally happens in Taiwan because of incompetence, rather than Thailand’s rampant theft rings.)

Etaoin Shrdlu June 27, 2020 at 1:47 am

BTW, isn’t the release date of December 8th a little late for Fleet Elements? Seems like just-before-Thanksgiving would give it more exposure in the Black Friday driven sales. I mean, I’ll wait the two weeks (siiiiiigh), but Susie Housewife might miss seeing it because she did all of her shopping early.

Also, you missed a great cobranding opportunity — you could have called it Fleet Movements and done a deal with the Fleet Enema people!

wjw June 27, 2020 at 6:34 pm

Etaoin, I’m not responsible for where Harper slots my books. I thought December 8 was a little late, but maybe it’ll get some Xmas traffic.

Whether BoWJW will be available in an electronic edition probably hasn’t been decided yet. Sub Press also did my “Boolean Gate” novella, and an electronic edition of that was eventually released, but it was some time after the hardback.

Etaoin Shrdlu June 27, 2020 at 11:05 pm

I realize they’re the ones who decide; I just hope it doesn’t impact sales negatively. I’d love to see you on the NYT bestseller lists for six months running as the entire planet realizes what a great series they’ve been missing out on. “Whaddaya mean I gotta buy six previous books to know what happened before?! Oh well, it’s worth it!”

Is it too late to change the title? Cobranding, dude, it’s the wave of the future! 😀

Ralf T. Dog June 28, 2020 at 11:54 am

The book will be fantastic. The title is great. When you contract it down to BO WJW, it kind of stinks. I just thought you might want to know.

wjw June 29, 2020 at 1:02 am

Locus has the Best Of in their books forthcoming section, and it’s scheduled for December! Just in time for holiday gifts!

This means that counting Fleet Elements, I have two books out this December.

John F. MacMichael June 29, 2020 at 2:56 pm

Your complaint about the tedium and toil of book signing reminds me of a very similar complaint I once read by James Branch Cabell. Thirty some years ago I worked as researcher and cataloger for a rare book dealer (the late William P. Wreden, may he rest in peace). Mr. Wreden had bought a box of signed and numbered limited editions of Cabell’s works (the seller had inherited them from a grandmother). These books had been produced for the collectors market back in the ’20s after the controversy over Cabell’s novel “Jurgen” (which was, literally, banned in Boston) made him a famous and controversial author. While researching the background on these books, I came across a letter from Cabell to his publisher lamenting that the job of signing all these books was both giving him severe writer’s cramp and was so boring that the only way he could get through it was by rewarding himself with a swig of bourbon after every few signatures. It was owing to the bourbon, he explained, that his signature grew increasingly illegible in the higher numbered books.

I look forward to buying copies of both “Best Of” and “Fleet Elements” when they are out.

wjw June 29, 2020 at 6:14 pm

I’ve seen a complete signed collection of the Storysende edition of Cabell’s work. His signature was in pencil and very tiny, and also he used print rather than longhand.

I almost bought the set, but I didn’t have a spare $400 on me, and the dealer didn’t want to take less.

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