The Big Moment

I interrupt the regularly scheduled programming on this channel for a special announcement: a box containing 20 copies of The Earth Moved arrived by UPS at approximately 6 p.m. tonight. We’ve had one copy for a couple weeks now, but there’s something about seeing a box of them that makes this whole enterprise seem more—I don’t know—legitimate. Scott was so excited that he ripped the box open on the porch and gave a copy to the UPS driver. The guy deserves it; he’s been bringing worm-related research material and marked-up manuscripts to the front door for three years now.

You might think that authors get unlimited free copies of their own book, but it’s not true. My contract says that I get 20 and my agent gets 10, and beyond that, if I want copies, I have to buy them. (I do get a discount.) When my last book came out, my friend Annette went out to the bookstore and bought every copy they had. She still buys them when she sees them. Mostly she gives them as gifts. She’s mentioned in From the Ground Up, so when she gives a copy to someone, she always points out the chapter in which she appears.

One time at a party a friend of hers said, “There you go with that book again. What is it about that book that makes you pretend that you’re the Annette mentioned in there?”

The funny thing is, this guy had actually met me. He had every reason to believe that she was in fact mentioned in the book, but somehow he’d got it into his head that she was making it all up. She had to point out the obvious parallels between the book and real life—she lives in Albuquerque, and so does the Annette in the book. Both Annettes are psychologists. And both of them went to Santa Cruz to visit a friend named Amy in the summer of—oh, lordy, when was that? 1997? 1996? Geez, it seems like yesterday.

So eventually we convinced him. The other thing that happens to her when she gives the book to people is that they assume she got it for free, either because she knows me or because she’s in it. So they react the way you’d react if somebody gave you something they’d gotten for free. But she knows that I don’t get royalties for free books. I only get paid when somebody walks into a bookstore and buys a copy. So she buys hers retail.

Needless to say, I put her in The Earth Moved, also. Why wouldn’t I? She’s my best customer. See page 121.

OK, tomorrow I promise I’ll get back to the Earthworm Hospitality Guide.