I’ve Been Used

Author Nichelle Tramble shares this common Author Nightmare:

A couple years ago I read an interview with an author who said his
worst experience after publishing his first novel was finding a signed
copy of the book at a garage sale. The book wasn’t simply signed with a
signature but personalized to someone he thought was a close friend.
His feelings were hurt but he never had the nerve to confront the
friend about the discarded book. After awhile he convinced himself that
the book was donated by his friend’s wife or one of his careless
teenage sons.

I’ve had this experience, only worse.  I went into a used bookstore in L.A. and found a signed copy of one of my books with a heartfelt, personal  inscription to my friend…who had provided one of the cover blurbs! Try rationalizing that. And no, I never confronted the guy.

10 thoughts on “I’ve Been Used”

  1. Oh my God! Yes, I have had people bring me books, “inscribed warmly by the author,” that they picked up at garage sales — sold to them by the very person to whom I “warmly inscribed” the book. This hurts, and perhaps the only consolation is knowing that I’m not the only author who gives gifts from the heart that are perceived by the recipients as nothing more than recycled paper covered with text, augmented by a handwritten note.
    The only exception to the “hurt feelings” scenario is an estate sale — if the recipient dies, and the family sells off his or her book collection. Jack Olsen, Edgar winner, Pulitzer Prize nominee and, more importantly, my dear friend and mentor, had a complete set of my books, personally autographed. He passed away, and his signed copies of my books now show up on eBay from a bookseller in Canada.

  2. How strange. I treasure the books that are signed to me by my author friends, I will never ever give them away.
    Although, I admit I have problems giving any of my books away.

  3. Lynn Viehl (Paperback Writer) wrote on her site that a book she had inscribed to her editor’s sibling, plus a letter she wrote giving encouragement, ended up on eBay. She was especially upset considering the letter had her real name, address and phone number.
    FTR, I keep all my inscribed books, and when I ask, make sure to have them inscribed to me or my wife as well. Wait, I lie, I dumped one book after the writer shrieked at me at a booksigning over a (favorable) article I wrote (in trying to describe her style of writing, I had written “Don’t call [asshole writer] a mystery writer. She’s more than that.”
    At least I got a fruit basket out of it from the highly embarassed publicist.

  4. It becomes even more interesting when you find a first edition hardcover of one of your novels that you have inscribed to a former lover. That happened to me.

  5. Rest assured, the personally inscribed books I have are sitting on my shelves. Ok, so I have a hard time parting with books anyway, but I epsecially couldn’t part with autographed books.

  6. I knew a woman who was walking down a street in L.A. and saw a bunch of papers blowing in the gutter. She picked them up and realized they were from a script she had written.
    And she wasn’t near a building. It seemed as though someone had just chucked it out the window of their car.

  7. I have a story that’s a twist on these.
    I have written one book, a business book up here in Canada.
    It went out of print a few years ago, so last year I went on Amazon to see if it was still on sale. It was, but there was also a used copy for sale from someone in Maryland.
    This was a first for me. Naturally, I clicked to his site because I wanted to see what over-the-top praise he would lavish on my book in order to sell it. And there to my horror were the four words every author dreads: “Mint condition. Never read.”

  8. What Would You Do If Your Gifts Were Tossed Out?

    Lee Goldberg talks about a rather tacky but embarrassing thing for any writers in one of his blog entries titled I’ve Been Used:
    I went into a used bookstore in L.A. and found a signed copy of one of my books with a heartfelt, personal inscrip…


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