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Born to Write: A Blog by Amy Hill Hearth

The Mysteries of Book Publishing

Publishing is a business in which everything has to be explained to you, or so it seems. Even if you go to workshops or get an MFA, and have the best training in the world, you're going to make mistakes. Last month, for example, I went to a book signing for a debut novelist and realized she was signing her books in the wrong place - on the inside cover, the way kids do in high school. This was the second time lately that I've seen a new author do this. It was one of those "your slip is showing moments." You hate to be the one to tell the person, but you know that if it were you, you'd want to know. Therefore, I had to say something. When it was my turn to have her sign a book I said, "Wait," in what I hoped was a half-whisper. "Don't sign it there. You should really sign it here." She handed the book to me, puzzled, and I turned it to the title page. "Sign here under your name," I said, hoping the people behind me didn't overhear. She took my advice and thanked me quietly, with a wide-eyed, "Oh my God, I'm so glad you told me," kind of look. I wondered why she hadn't noticed that other authors nearly always sign on the title page, and I was puzzled that the staff at the book store didn't say anything to her. But that's the way it is in book publishing - someone has to tell you everything, and not everyone will.