As a writer, you’ve worked on a glorious assemblage of words that can tower up to 200,000 in the case of one of my critique partners (it’ll probably end up as a trilogy, don’t worry). The longest amount of words I’ve strung together so far is 70,000. Then, once you have every word exactly how you want it, deeply imbued with meaning, and loadbearing-ness, and imagery, you have to summarize it into a one page synopsis, then a paragraph in a query letter, then a two sentence hook, and maybe a 140 character tweet if you participate in twitter contests such as #pitmad.
I thought of something else while I was in the shower–too early for my right brain to be awake and tell my left brain and me how silly we are–what about the authors who summarize their grand literary conglomeration into an autograph?
A couple well-known author autographs in my collection, like Maggie Stiefvater and Rick Riordan, are just their names–and I feel honored to have them on my bookshelves. Many that I have say something along the lines of “good luck with your writing”, which is awesome because it means I had a chance to talk with them in person about the craft of writing.
But some authors take their book itself and connect it to the readers.
I imagine JK Rowling’s is pretty easy. All she would need to write is “Always.”
Here are some of my favorites:
“Here’s to finding our edge but never going over it!” -Lena Roy, author of Edges.
This one is great because, as the title implies, there are so many edges in this book: the literal ones of the canyons in the Moab desert, and the figurative ones the main characters must find-Luke with grieving for his dead mom and alcoholic dad, and Ava with tiptoeing the edge of sobriety as she tries to regain control of her life.
“What’s the one thing you want most?” -Stephanie Lawton, author of Want.
The main theme centers around what the characters, Juli and Isaac, want whether it be a prestigious music career, or something off-limits, juxtaposed with society’s (especially Old Mobile) traditions and familial responsibilities.
“Stay true to yourself” -Joyce Sterling Scarbrough, author of True Blue Forever.
This novel (and now a trilogy!) is about the ever-changing friendship and rivalry between Jeana, Mickey, Billy Joe, and Wade and staying true to each other.
“Never give up on your dreams.” -Robin Bridges, author of The Gathering Storm.
Her protagonist, Katiya, holds fast to her dream of becoming a doctor in 1888 Russian royal society which gets her through all the craziness that being a necromancer brings, namely, zombies and vampires.
What would mine be?
Yes, I know it’s way too early to be thinking about this though I thought it would be a fun exercise and maybe help me with query hooks. One of my manuscripts is a YA mystery about a girl who’s brother is missing. My main character, Bea Pearl, copes with memory loss, questioning reality and wondering if her dreams might actually be memories. So my autograph message for her book might be something along the lines of Mrs. Scarbrough’s and Mrs. Bridges’ with “believe in your dreams”.
Another manuscript I have out on submission is an upper middle grade fairytale retelling of Melusine, the two-tailed water spirit on your Starbucks cup. It’s about a girl, Mellie, who is banished and cursed by her mother. It has an ecological theme so I’d want to incorporate that, maybe something along the lines of “It’s not easy being green (-tailed!)” Haha, that’s horrible but I have time to come up with something better.
I’d love to know what your autograph message is (or will be), how you connect your story to your readers. You’re welcome to leave a link in comments if you have a book out, or share what you’ll write once your writing dreams come true.
Thanks for reading!