Rich: Your signing snafu is an author’s worst nightmare (well, next to nobody tunring up at a signing). I bet every author has a story about this.
Here’s mine. This wasn’t a signing event, but a mail-in to be signed. The sender had bought one of my books and wanted it signed for a close relative — a brother, I think it was. This brother was in the military, in a dangerous theater. The sender did everything right: brand-new copy of my book, return padded mailer with postage paid, instructions on how to sign. Perfect.
For a member of the military in harm’s way, I was willing to go a little beyond the call of authorial duty. I actually composed a relevant poem of four or five stanzas, covering his name and loved one’s name, expressing appreciation of his service, and added that to the inscription. Then I put the book, thus extravagantly inscribed, in the prepaid mailer, took it to the post office, and saw it off.
A couple of days later, I realised the the book I’d inscribed was not the brand-new one I’d been sent, but the very noticeably used copy I’d kept around the office several weeks for reference. I’d pencil-marked it in places, I’m sure. I think there was even a tear on the dust jacket and a dinge on one corner from being dropped. I must have been thinking too hard about my damn fool verses. Gaaaah!
I had no relic of the mailing, and no clear memory of name or address, so could not make amends. Somewhere out there is a serviceman who received a slightly-used, spine-cracked, pencil-marked copy of Unknown Quantity with my signature and some feeble verses in it. I just hope that when he’s demobbed, he doesn’t turn into one of those crazy right-wing vets Secretary Napolitano’s worried about, and come seeking revenge for the insult.