The Saga of a New Writing Chair

E-book vs. Paperback: I want to read it NOW but—

Autographs and Author Safety




I was at an online forum one night in which an enthusiastic fan boasted that he got [insert popular athlete]’s autograph by taking a photo of his credit card receipt after the athlete made a purchase at the store where he worked.

Then he posted it so we could see (minus the credit card information).

I looked at the neat and precise script and saw red. I immediately commented, telling the fan to take down the photo, explaining that the signature one uses for their private business is NOT the same as the one used for autographs.

Other people in the forum chimed in and the photograph was removed. I’m sure posting it was done in innocence. The impression I got was of a younger, excited fan and I hope he wasn’t too crushed at his reception as well as thanking his lucky stars no one ever found out and fired him.

And now, on the verge of releasing my novel into the wild, I’ve been thinking about this and my signature. This seems as good a place as any to ask:

Do you change your signature when book signing?

How do you decide what makes your author scrawl yours while keeping safe from identity theft?

There’s still a sense of “am I really going to be asked for my autograph?” cringing but still, it’s better to be prepared than not.



Image courtesy of digitalart at


  • Jeff • July 6, 2015 at 2:52 am

    You pick a signature and stick with it. You would generally sign as JM Levinton (or some stylized form of JM) as that is what appears on your books, but if you don’t keep consistent you are going to kill the marketplace for your signature. Watch Antiques Roadshow they often show their deliberations about signatures and what time period the piece was in in the person’s life. Use the signature that is the same as the cover of the book. For friends and family sign how you want let their grand children deal with the fussy book dealers. And if you ever figure out how to sign an ebook…

    • J. M. Levinton • July 6, 2015 at 2:57 am

      Thanks! And yep, there is a way to sign an e-book although I can’t remember how offhand. 🙂

  • Marie MacBryde • July 6, 2015 at 7:36 am

    Very good advice above.

    Yeah, there is room for your public signature identity and your private personal business. Never gave it much thought but it’s true. You obviously “caught the culprit” because this has been on your mind.

    • J. M. Levinton • July 6, 2015 at 10:35 am

      Identity theft is so big now, it’s hard for me *not* to think of it.

  • chris • July 6, 2015 at 11:37 am

    May I have your autograph on my wedding photo?

    Seriously though, I am glad you convinced that young fan to remove the photo.
    Now, as to if you need to develop A fake signature … normally I would say no, however, your mention of identity theft has me thinking.. more later when I think this out!

    • J. M. Levinton • July 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      It was a wake-up call the moment I saw that neat and precise signature on the athlete’s credit card slip. Looking forward to your thoughts!

  • chris • July 6, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Okay… here is what I am thinking….. if an author is using a pseudonym, or even initials as you are, then for legal purposes, use that name when signing autographs. However, when using a real name for legal or even your writing.. it becomes tricky. Because of this identity theft issue.
    I asked a paralegal friend about this….
    he said that legally a person can sign anything in any way he or she wants . Many banks will allow for 2 different signatures, one a secret signature that only the real owner of the account knows, and the other a public signature.
    this is true of other legal documents as well.

    For example, if I want to open a bank account , I can tell the bank I want to use ” I love Donny Osmond” as my leg secret signature, and if my real name is Angelina angel , use that as my public signature on documents, it is all perfectly legal. You just need to have 2 witnesses prresent.

    However, my paralegal says that the laws regarding this sort of thing may vary from state to city so, be sure to check with either a lawyer or paralegal if you decide to use a fake signature for any reason.

    Now, if you excuse me, I gotta chase down my bridesmaids bout some autographs!

    • J. M. Levinton • July 6, 2015 at 8:55 pm

      Interesting! I’m writing under my real name but will find a way to make sure my autograph signature is “mine” but not the one I use on legal documents. I used to wonder why actor autographs mostly resembled a scrawl but now I see the wisdom of it.

  • jan • July 7, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    When I sign books (not that often as I am painfully shy and can’t get up the courage to even approach our local bookstore!) I only write Jan. I guess it doesn’t matter because I use a pseudonym but it just feels friendlier. ; )

    • J. M. Levinton • July 7, 2015 at 8:05 pm

      I like it! I was thinking of just initials. 🙂

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