Hey cHEwY gum gums

I had an awesome Book Week, it was my 8th in a row as an author…and I’m still loving it. No matter how tired I get, or how much traffic comes my way, I never want to take this for granted. I get to visit schools, make kids laugh and promote my books. What’s not to like?

Well, there was one thing that used to bug me about school visits. When kids would come up to me afterwards and ask me to sign their scrap pieces of paper.

Now let’s put this on the scale of 1 to 10 of signing things.

10- Their own personal copies of my books.


8- School copies of my books.

7-  Notebooks, journals, DIY books and own stories.

5- Pencil cases, hats and um…even the back of their ipads.

3- Other people’s books (I usually sign the inside of the cover, very small in the corner haha)

1-Scrap pieces of paper.

Minus 10- Their hands, haha. Sorry, I’m not a stamp.

Yes, that piece of paper could be one large A4 piece of paper that they got from their classroom. Or from the library’s paper recycling bin. At worst it could be a ripped page out of their workbook. No, that’s not true. I’ve been asked to sign tiny bits of paper, obviously ripped into smaller pieces because a kid saw someone get an autograph and they want in.

It used to really annoy me. Most librarians and teachers shield them away from me, but whenever someone slips through and asks for an autograph on a scrap piece of paper, I used to say ‘sorry, I can only sign books.’ I’m all about giving cHEwY gum gums making memories and lasting impressions. So yeah, I’m happy to answer questions and have a chat about games, anime and other random stuff after the talk. I can give you a high five and you can touch my spiky hair. But I wanted to guard my signature to those special ones who actually purchased my book. Or for those budding writers who have a notebook and they want a dedication or some words of encouragement. But when I’m signing a scrap piece of paper, I can’t help but wonder, what will happen to it? Will they stick it in their books? Or will they wave it around for bragging rights and lose it the next day?

But more recently, I’ve changed my stance on signing things that aren’t my books. I judge each situation on how the kid approaches me. If I see someone has come in with a piece of paper and pen before I deliver my talk, they have the intention. They have my respect.

If there is only a handful of kids who come up to me with paper, then I will sign them. I limit my scrap of paper autographs to make them more special.

It also depends on the timing of the signings too. If I’m sitting in the library at lunchtime for a meet and greet, then that’s cool for me to do some signings. Or if I’m at the festival and the person beside me has a queue a hundred times longer than me, then yes I will sign anything, just come up and say hi and keep me company haha. But if I’m packing up at the end of the day, and I have a queue of a class full of kids with scrap pieces of paper, well…you know I just have to do a few and leave it at that.

Now I hope that these kids who have my signature on a scrap piece of paper have still got it somewhere. But honestly, I’d be happier if they actually went to the library or bookstore to pick up my books hehe.

So authors and illustrators, what’s your stance on signing bits of paper? Where do you draw the line?




About the author

I'm an author, stand-up comedian and teacher. My books include Thai-riffic!, Con-nerd, Punchlines and The Other Christy. I'm a massive Nintendo fan and love eating burgers. Follow me on Twitter or Instagram @oliverwinfree

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