I kind of have a quantity theory of there’s still going to be a place for, in the author. I still think there’s always going to be places like Bellevue, but I think it’s going to move around, and it’s kind of more dynamic maybe, like it’s less settled than people would like it to be. And so maybe you have to do a little bit more work than you’d like to. But who — my first novel was published by the NYU School of Medicine.1 It’s sort of — I mean it’s relevant too that when it came time — before Tinkers had even won the Pulitzer, it came time to start thinking about a second book. And Erika Goldman, the publisher and editor at Bellevue, and I started talking about a second book. And my teaching contract at Harvard had run out, and I was broke, and this and that and the other thing.2
And so, I said look, I know you guys operate on a shoestring budget, so you can’t give me a big — my advance for Tinkers was $1000. I said I’d heard you can’t give me a big advance, you give me 4000 or 5000 bucks, and maybe you can give me like a higher royalty rate? And to her unending credit, Erika Goldman, said “I would never give any of my authors more than a $1000 advance, and I’ll never give them more than the standard royalty rates.”
And the reason she did that is because she wanted to keep Bellevue — she wanted to be able to publish as many of those deserving authors as she possibly could with every list, rather than making Bellevue the house of Tinkers. Super smart, like the coolest thing you could — and she said — and in that same conversation she said “And I understand that that means that you won’t publish your second book with us, and you have my blessing.” And so now every time they say we’re going to do a fundraiser, I say I’ll be there. “One of our authors is coming around” and I say I’ll do a reading with them, so they can get a few more people to read it. That’s just gained my undying loyalty.