"What's in that box you just opened?" asked my daughter.
"Pieces of paper," I said.
"It says American Gods on the box. I thought it was books."
"No. They're just title pages. 5000 of them."
"5000 in that box?"
"750 in that box. 4,250 still to come."
"Why are they sending them to you?"
"Because I have to write my name on them?"
"On all of them?"
"Because America is a very big place, and not everyone can get to a book signing. This way stores who order them will be able to sell a signed, limited edition for the same price as the regular ones, and so people in Texas or Florida or Utah will be able to buy signed books. See down at the bottom where it says 'This is a signed first edition of a limited number of 5000 copies.'? I'll sign above there, like this."
"Does that say 'Neil Gaiman?' It looks more like 'Nel Gurgle.'"
"It's how I sign my name."
"Will they take a long time to sign?"
"I expect so."
"When will you do it?"
"When I'm on the telephone. Or watching TV. Or listening to music. Or travelling."
"Can I sign some for you, to help?"
"I'm afraid not."
"I could write Nel Gurgle as good as you can."
"It has to be me."
"Oh. Okay then. Have fun. I'm going to ride my bike."
First sunny, spring-like day of the year, and I'm writing Neil Gaiman on 750 pieces of paper. And I make a mental note to make sure that I don't sign more than 5000 and a few for spoilage -- it's not at all unknown for people who ask you to sign 500 or 5000 sheets of paper to send you an extra thousand or so to sign, in case of spoilage, and they then destroy the remainder. Which is fair enough, except for my wrist and how fast the spring goes in this part of the world.