So far, I've done this a couple of times, and each time I've confirmed with the requestor the name of the person receiving the book and whether I should write something in particular for said recipient. One response made me chuckle: "Just make up something funny."
Oh, now they'd done it.
The answer is one I've gotten every so often at conventions and book signings, and it gave me a chance to revisit something I like to do when I'm hit with the old, "You're the writer, just make up something" bit. Most of the time, I'm able to think on my feet when this happens. For a few of my novels, I've used a quote from the book, or I've got a catch phrase that somehow ties into it. Or, I write something based on whatever brief conversation may have taken place with the fan while they're standing at the signing table. Still, there have been times when I've been at a complete loss to come up with something witty, so to avoid such situations I've created a handy dandy tool to help me: "The Inscription Deck of Doom!"
Simply put, it's a deck of index cards I've assembled, with each card bearing some goofy thing I've written on it. Whenever I'm confronted with a variation of the "Just write something funny," challenge, I lay the deck face down on the table, spread them out, and have the person draw a card. Whichever one they pick is what gets inscribed when I sign their book.
- Batteries not included.
- Be nice to your kids. They'll choose your nursing home.
- Best Wishes! Doesn’t this one suck? Go ahead. Pick another card.
- Don't sweat the petty things. Don't pet the sweaty things.
- I am your internet girlfriend.
- Never fry bacon when you're naked.
- No monkeys were harmed during the writing of this book.
- Pee into the wind!
- Rock out with your Spock out! (usually just for Star Trek books)
- Some assembly required.
- This does not validate your parking.
- You mean you actually read this crap?
- What exactly is a magnesia, and how the hell do you milk one?