Why Do Authors Cross Out Their Printed Name When Signing?

I tend to go to a good number of readings, usually at least once a month. When there, I usually get at least one book signed by the author reading. Once thing I noticed that has always mystified me is how some authors cross out their name on the title page of the book before signing. Does anyone know why they do that?

I’m sure there is some custom behind this, but I don’t know what it is. Not every author who signs a book for me does this, but enough do that it can’t just be a quirk that coincidentally occurs across multiple authors.

I asked one author why he did it. He scratched his head and admitted that he didn’t know. He’d seen other authors do it and so he just did it as well. I figured I’d not embarrass another author by asking and would instead just put this question out there for random people to come across. Sure, I could Google this and probably come up with an answer, but what fun would that be?

I figured I should probably know this. My novel in short story form, Bones Buried in the Dirt, comes out in March 2013. It is conceivable that someday someone (maybe, just maybe, even somebody other than one of my family members) will ask me to sign one of my books. I should figure out whether or not I should cross out my printed name first. But, I didn’t want to start doing that if I didn’t know why. I mean, who knows what the reason behind this is?

So, anybody know?

About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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4 Responses to Why Do Authors Cross Out Their Printed Name When Signing?

  1. Jon Konrath says:

    Satanism. Go to a Kirk Cameron book signing, and he won’t do this.

  2. Katharine Norbury says:

    I am trying to work this out myself. Suspect its linked to the tradition of crossing out and signing names in calling cards left with e.g. flowers or a note so the recipient knows it was left by the “signee” personally and wasn’t dropped round by a third party / florist etc. It’s only a guess though.

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