By guest blogger E.J. Copperman
I don't often deny my daughter, now a sophomore in college, much of anything I can afford to give her. For one thing, she doesn't want all that much, and for another, she's my daughter. So she was surprised when I told her she couldn't have the copy of my new book I had just handed her for inspection.
"But I haven't read this one yet," she protested. "Why won't you let me read it?"
I told her I was perfectly happy for her to read OLD HAUNTS, the third in the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series. In fact, i'd have been disappointed if she didn't want to read it, as I truly value her opinion (especially since she loved the first two books in the series--the girl has good taste). But I remained adamant; she couldn't have that book.
I have a few rules I apply to myself. I always skip the second step when climbing stairs (don't ask me why--I'm pretty sure even I don't understand that one). I always put on my socks before anything else in the morning. (TMI?) I always cross off the "Down" clues on the New York Times crossword puzzle as I decipher the answers, but not the "Across" ones.
And I always--always--keep the first copy of one of my books for myself, and nobody else.
There's something about that first copy, the one the publisher sends an author before the number of copies for "promotional purposes" they send because it's stipulated in the contract we sign. It's a reminder that this was a dream job, something I aspired to for years and years before gathering the nerve to even try it. It brings me back to the first copy of the first book I wrote, the way I felt when I was holding it in my hands for the first time. That's a sensation that doesn't get old. It represents effort and luck and joy and hope and a thousand other things I can't necessarily articulate.
And it's a feeling that doesn't ever go away.
So on a shelf in my office is the first copy I received of each of my books, in any edition and all configurations (large print, etc.). As the shelf becomes more crowded, it becomes a source of pride and memory. It's the kind of thing that strokes an author's ego for the right reason; it's not about money (because the money actually would take up less room on the shelf, even in singles), it's not about "fame," however incongruous a term that is for what we do. It's not about being lucky that an editor liked your writing and took the time to read your book when she could have read someone else's. It's not about beating out another writer for a space on that shelf; competition in this business is a ridiculous concept; we're all in it together.
Seeing those books, those first books, is a reminder that it took hard work to get there, and that other people helped along the way. It's a feeling of real gratitude and pride, and I look at that shelf every once in a while when things are going other than great, to remind myself that maybe I don't have it so bad after all.
So I'm sorry, honey, but you can't have that book. Instead, I'll pre-order one from a bookseller and have it sent to your college P.O. box.
You don't ever turn away an interested reader. I'm not crazy.
E.J. Copperman is the author of the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series, which continues Feb. 7 (Hey, that's tomorrow!) with OLD HAUNTS.
The ghosts haunting Alison Kerby's Jersey Shore guesthouse are sad. Maxie wants to know who murdered her ex-husband, and Paul pines for his still-living almost-fiancee. The only one who isn't missing her ex is Alison-because The Swine just arrived on her doorstep...
Available Tuesday from:
Amazon ~ Kindle ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Nook ~ Books A Million ~ Indigo ~ The Book Depository ~ iTunes ~ Independent (US) Bookstores
You can find out more about E.J. at www.ejcopperman.com