Why Joe doesn't sign ARCs
I said I'd give my explanation for why I prefer not to sign ARCs to a number of you who have asked, so here it is, such as it is.
Although I don't want to spend a lot of time on this, I'm going to try and explain in a limited fashion my feelings concerning ARCs, or bound galleys, and why I've chosen not to sign them as a matter of course. I do make a few exceptions, but don't ask to be an exception. Please. I will explain the exceptions, but it's best not to assume you are an exception.
Bound galleys are printed for a couple of reasons. One is for review purpose. That is not the complete purpose, as they are given away intentionally by the publisher by the handfuls at numerous book functions. Sometimes authors are invited to what I call galley functions where the ARCs are released prior to the book's publication, and at an event like that, I will sign the books. This is promotion for myself and the publisher because you usually speak and generate interest in a number of people actually reading or reviewing or promoting the book. Galley functions are often attended by bookstore owners, librarians, etc., and are often held in conjunction with conventions for these people.
ARCs acquired at functions that the author does not attend, or have no publisher-arranged signing, are legitimate possessions. But in this case, having someone come up to you at a signing without a single book of yours, but four or five ARCs they want you to sign, not to them, but just with a signature so they can immediately produce a collectable, gets old.
I have violated my rule when someone shows up with a stack of my books and one ARC, especially if they want it inscribed to them. The selling of ARCs is not evil. The selling of signed ARCs is not evil. But I prefer to choose when I want to put my signature on them because I am not in the business of creating signed collectables for the hell of it. The author receives no money for these "editions," and the whole purpose once signed is to be sold and put in a plastic bag. I dislike helping out this sort of thing.
I realize that by attending galley functions, signing the occasional ARC for a friend or for someone who has made a point of showing up with five or six of my books still allows this, but I prefer to make my own judgment calls. I've been at signings where some guy shows up with a box full of ARCs, sometimes the same book, and want me to sign the whole box so he can rush to the internet and begin to make a profit, none of which I receive. AND I WROTE THE GODDAMN BOOK.
Some authors see no differences in this, and I'm the first to admit that the line is thin and I have no problem with their personal choices. But I can see the line and prefer to make my choices about when and whose ARC I will sign. I do it for bookstores who sponsor me now and then, because if they make a few bucks profit and they've actually put on a good program, I have no problem with this.
Again. ARC functions supported by a publisher where I sign are acceptable.
Sometimes I sign ARCs for charities. I choose the charity. Don't tell me you're part of a charity and expect me to believe it. I trust people generally, but I've been fooled a few times and it really makes me pissy.
I hope this is clear. If not. I've done the best I can to explain it. I'm glad people love my work and want to collect it, but I want to protect the reader from these kind of high-priced scams. You want something special, a limited is special. We all profit. You get something nice, and I get a little something in my stocking as well. I love to write. I love books. But I also do this for a living.
Joe R. Lansdale