I've written a few books, the last one of which came out just over five years ago - Homemade Hollywood: Fans Behind The Camera, tracing the rise of "fan films"—those homemade Star Wars and superhero movies you find on the internet. It was also about the histories of amateur filmmaking and science fiction fandom, but mostly it was about people who dressed like Spider-Man and then swung off six-story buildings without a net, because "I needed the shot, man." It got good reviews, sold decently when it came out and I've always kept a few around to give to people as needed.
The catch - and this is the case with all publishers - is that authors don't get loads of free books. Nope, the number of freebies is negotiated in your book contract, and for Homemade Hollywood, I only got 30. If I wanted more than that, I had to buy copies from the publisher at 50% cover price, plus shipping. When you added it up, that was the same price as on Amazon—and the kicker was, if I were to buy three copies of my book there, the order would be over $30 so I'd get free shipping. As a result, it cost less for me to get it from Amazon than from my own publisher. It was a bitter irony that I took advantage of numerous times.
In the years since the book came out, the publisher was bought by a UK company and shuttered, its books folded into that company's publishing divisions. These days, I wouldn't know who to contact at the new place to buy books, even if I wanted to. I'm still buying copies of my book on Amazon, but now I've started buying the used copies, because they're usually in great shape and occasionally they run pretty cheap. If I'm forced to buy my own book, I might as well get a bargain; after all, I already know the ending!
Anyway, today, another copy of Homemade Hollywood showed up in the mail. I opened the package, pulled it out, and on the cover was a Post-It with one word on it: "Signed." I opened it up and sure enough, there was my handwriting: "To Patrick, enjoy!" plus my scrawled signature. To cap it off, there was also a photo of me, holding the book, too, taken after I defaced signed it at some event. After I stopped laughing—and that took a while—I realized that with a personalized signature in it, now I can't give the book to anyone, so it's a shame. On the other hand, I decided to look on the bright side: At least I know the autograph's not fake.