Wanted: People to sign books for famed writers

New York:

You have to pity the authors of bestselling books. Not only do they have to labour over the original works, sometimes aided by a mere ghostwriter or two, but then they have to spend hours of interminable boredom signing autographed copies for special promotions.

One smart publisher seems to have devised a way of easing the pain for the millionaire bestseller writer: they have posted an advert on the listing site, Craigslist, inviting a team of part-time workers to fake the signatures and get paid in cash for the privilege.

The advert says it is looking for 14 people who can do a blitz of false autograph signing on behalf of two unnamed co-authors of a newly released, and equally anonymous, book.

“You will need to be able to copy the look and style of both author’s signatures,” it says.

In return, the successful applicants will be paid $25 for 200 books signed.

The New York-based blog Gawker, which spotted the advert, has been unable to ascertain the identity of the publisher, or the authors involved.

But they are clearly major players, judging by the scale of the operation. The advert says the fake signing, to be held in Los Angeles, will run over two days at eight hours a day. Each signing will take 15 seconds or less, and at that rate the team of 14 could sign up to 53,760 copies.

The resort to signatures-by-sleight-of-hand is the latest in a long history of attempts to minimise the excruciation of the author signing. JT LeRoy, herself a fake, employed a co-conspirator to sit in her place at public events.

The Canadian novelist Margaret Atwood invented the LongPen, a videoconferencing device that allows her to sign books by remote — thus cutting out the time spent travelling on book promotion tours without having to resort to deception.