Thursday, 31 December 2015

1st reprint is here!

I am very much relieved to be able to report that the 1st reprint has arrived. I went over to Peterborough yesterday to pick up a few books and everything's looking good for the mail-out next week. There are still quite a few people whose email addresses aren't working for me, so here is the information about the delivery from the email I've just been sending out to everyone:
  • The fulfilment company is packaging and posting the books out next week (unless anyone has asked for it to be delayed going out). They are starting on 4th January and are aiming to get all orders out by 7th January, so your order will be with you very soon.
  • Each book is going as a 2nd Class small parcel, so a bit of time needs to be allow for it to get through in the post (though usually in my experience it doesn’t take much more time if any than 1st Class).
  • If anyone have ordered more than one book, each one will be coming in a separate package (don’t ask me how the Royal Mail works out that it is vastly more expensive to send one parcel than two parcels when the weight is exactly the same!).
If anyone has any problems with their order, please email me on (So far the major issue seems to have been a few orders going to Blackburn postcodes not turning up, and I’m wondering if that has anything to do with the floods).
And a bit of other news:
  • I’m currently waiting to hear when the 2nd reprint is going to be delivered – and am hoping I don’t run out of the 1st reprint before it arrives. 
  • I’ve been contacted by someone from Waterstones and hope to organise getting a load of the 2nd reprint into their shops, and maybe a book tour to talk about my project. Apparently my book caused quite a scene & was the talk of Christmas.
  • I will be looking to get out on the road to give presentations on my project from February 2016 onwards. If you can get me an audience, whether it be in a school or a village hall or a lecture theatre, please do get in touch. See for more information.
  • Sadly the last day of my exhibition in Ypres is this Sunday, 3rd January. I am looking for a venue to host it in the UK – see for more details of what the exhibition involves, including the floor plan. It is not a small exhibition, and requires proper infrastructure in terms of security/insurance/technical support/etc in order to put it on. If you know of a venue that you think might be suitable and might be interested, I’d be grateful if you could write to them and let them know about what I’ve done. It seems to be rule of life that people pay more attention when other people blow your trumpet than if you blow your own.
Thank you to everyone for their interest & for their patience, and I hope the book lives up to expectations.

All the best for 2016,


Friday, 18 December 2015

Delivery news and more

Most important news up front:

  • I’ve paid a fulfilment company to package and post all the 500 books that arrived on pallets from Belgium yesterday (it was just too much to handle for me and my elves - it was OK to ask for emergency help for the first big load but I wouldn't have any friends if I asked them to continue into the thousands that have got to go out). I've just heard that all 500 are in the post and have just emailed the recipients to let them know they're on the way.
  • The reprint is arriving on 30th December and again I'm paying the fulfilment company to get them in the post as early as possible - they're starting work on that on 4th January.
  • In case people are not checking my blog, I'll be doing another email out to everyone waiting for orders and I'm just working on an exclusive item that you can print out so that your loved ones have something to distract them from the fact that they haven't got their present.
  • With all the efforts to get the parcels in the post this week, I've got very behind in responding to emails - I will do my best to catch up over the next few days.
  • I've had quite a number of requests to sign books and I'm afraid that hasn't proved possible in most cases - other people are getting the books out of the boxes and packing them for posting, and so I'm not anywhere near them with a pen when they're being packed - and that's even more the case when they're going out via the fulfilment company.
  • I've been discovering the hoops I need to go through in order to get the book into major bookshops - and it sounds like it's going to be some weeks before that gets sorted out.
  • This has all been a very steep learning curve, going from a small cottage industry (literally) to a mass-dispatch operation. I've been making mistakes but getting better at doing certain things. And it's been interesting (!) having to deal with both Amazon & Paypal wondering what on Earth's been going on and wanting me to prove that I'm legit and have got everything in hand.
  • One of the biggest barriers to getting this many parcels out quickly has been sorting out the postage for each one. No longer can you just order a vast number of stamps and then just stick them on each parcel as you do them. And without access to a franking machine, you have to either go up to a Post Office counter and get them to print out postage stickers for each parcel (not practical with 600 parcels, particularly at Christmas time), or you have to print out your own labels via the Royal Mail website - and even at full steam I was struggling to do more than 50 an hour. And then when you've printed out the label it's got to go in the post on the next working day, and with this volume you've got to get them to the sorting office before 3 pm. And it's been difficult to farm this out because everything's coming through my email and only I know what's what. So I've done the lot and not much sleeping has occurred this week (how on Earth does Santa manage to do it and still maintain his Ho Ho Ho rosy cheeks?).
Looking back on this last 10 days I've been thinking of what I could have done differently to be better prepared. There are certainly some things that could have been in place, but others would have required the spending of a lot of money on things like packaging which may have ended up unused. I really had no realisation that the response was going to be anything like this. Just because you go on the radio doesn't guarantee that anything's going to happen more than people listening to what you're saying if you're lucky. I had no idea how much Jeremy Vine had bought into my book until we were talking on air, and there was no way I could have predicted that he would make a statement like “Honestly I can't recommend it enough – the whole year we've done different books on this show but this is the one that is just so powerful”. In the end, life throws all sorts of things at you - you can't prepare for it all and you just have to do your best in dealing with everything that comes your way. And that is easier when I've had the support of some very special people and the kind understanding of so many of Jeremy Vine's lovely listeners. Thank you.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Reprint date & other news

I've been given a date for delivery of the reprint. It'll be arriving here in Norfolk on 30th December. I am going to looking to find a fulfilment company to send it out because at the rate things are going the whole 3000 run is going to sell out by then and I want to make sure it gets out promptly for everyone to receive their books at the beginning of the New Year. I couldn't order a bigger run because there wasn't enough of the right quality paper available. So I have already ordered another reprint for the New Year - it's just a question of how big to go. I'd like to get ahead of the game so that I can get Amazon and booksellers to handle all this and enable me to get my life back! As soon as I know the plan, I'll put it in another post.

And now a big Thank You. Over the last couple of days I've sent out emails to thousands of people who have ordered the book in order to let them know what is happening with their order. This task has been made easier by the hundreds of supportive replies - really a wave of warmth and enthusiasm and encouragement that has carried me along. Thank you all so much - I'd love to be able write and thank you all individually (and maybe I will once this tsunami has flattened out) but for now I would just like to let you know how enormously grateful I am.  I am getting regularly overcome with emotion at the kindness and the lovely things that people are writing to me - it is what is getting me through what is an incredibly exhausting time. Something that particularly moved me was a man wrote that he was happy to wait - and that it is the first book that he has bought for himself - at the age of 65! Now that is quite an honour for me as a first time author.

If you have made an order and haven't heard from me with a note of when you can expect your delivery, please email me at - there have been several email addresses that have been incorrectly typed into Paypal which has rather slowed things down with emails not going out or bouncing back.

I'm behind with dealing with enquiries and modifications to orders and refunds for a small number of people who needed the book as a Christmas present. I've got to spend the next couple of days getting out the books that I have now. Things have been hampered by problems with getting supplies of cardboard book envelopes - our supplier sent 1500 which were too small and then the replacements were also too small - we'd sent the right measurements but their database had inaccurate measurements from the manufacturers of the products. Anyway, we're on it now and a load of books are going out on Monday 14th & Tuesday 15th. The pallet of 500 books from the Museum is being delivered on Thursday morning and I'm aiming to get them out for the last posting date before Christmas which is Saturday 19th.

Finally, some more Thanks:

  • Jeremy Vine, of course, for his genuine and wholehearted support for what I'm doing.
  • Manu & Petra at for seemingly doing the impossible and arranging the reprint for 30th December.
  • Mark at for organising getting the pallet of books over from the Museum.
  • Piet & Annick at for their generosity and arrangements at the Museum.
  • Jane & Martin at for their decision-making & problem-solving & inspiration & facilities & contacts to get everything worked out.
Better get back to sorting out some issues that have come in via email...

Friday, 11 December 2015

Overwhelming response

OK, it's early on Day 3 after the Jeremy Vine Show, and here is the current situation. I have had so many book orders that I have had to order a reprint and I'm depending on friends to help me fulfil the orders that I have. It seems amazing when I look back at the first post I made on this blog just over a month ago: - at that time I had just added this blog to my website and I was finding it difficult to get anyone to engage with what I'd done. That is something I have become used to throughout my project: it has mostly been me working away on my own & struggling to get any response from anyone. The book was only on sale through the Museum shop alongside the exhibition in Belgium and from me via Amazon and via my website at It was a good day if I managed to sell 2 books. I had a set-up that could deal with that - a small stock of packaging and me on my computer corresponding with people.

I was hoping for some interest as a result of going on the Jeremy Vine Show, but I was not prepared for the overwhelming response, both in terms of numbers but also in the heartfelt nature of what I have been reading in emails to me. It has been quite a revelation to find that what I have done means so much to all the thousands of people who have been in touch with me. And I am having to work out how to deal with this on an hour-by-hour basis.

So here's what's happening: 
  • I have now received enough packaging to send out all the books I've got, and I'm producing labels ready for a packing session with friends
  • I'm trying to organise getting 500 copies of the book over from the Museum in Belgium up to Norfolk so that I can post them out.
  • I am trying to think a way of handling all the correspondence and let everyone know what is going on - any suggestions welcome!
  • I have ordered the reprint. The first print run took 3 weeks to do and being new to this I expected the reprint to be less because a lot of the origination work had been done. I have just found out from the book designer that the minimum print deadlines for such a big and quality book (to get it as good as it should be) is 14 days (paper in, printing, drying, assembling, cutting, finishing, transport, etc, etc). And there is the added problem that we are heading into Christmas, with printers having other jobs and holidays to be taken. I am hoping to hear today of a delivery date, but it is going to be after Christmas, and possibly at the beginning of the New Year.
I am extremely aware that people are hoping to receive their book orders as soon as possible.If anyone has ordered & can't wait, please let me know & I will sort out a refund. That said, I absolutely promise you that all orders will be fulfilled & I will do my very best to get them out to everyone as soon as possible.

This year I have been working all hours to get the exhibition and book ready. I took unpaid leave from my job to do so and have had no income all year. It is only through the generosity of my parents and the support of family and friends that I've been able to keep going. It has been incredibly moving to see how these family and friends are supporting me now to sort all of this out. And sort it out we will. I am very grateful for the supportive emails I've been getting from people who've ordered the book saying that they are prepared to wait.

The most important thing for me is to communicate what I have learned through doing this project. Every human being is unique and deserves a chance for a peaceful and fulfilled life. We live in troubled times and new approaches are needed to make a future in which the horrible things that happened to the men in the Group Photograph do not happen to all of us. A book isn't going to sort that out but I hope that enough people read it and act on what they read to make their own bit of difference to the World.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Jeremy Vine Show!

Well, it has been an extraordinary day. If you haven’t heard today’s Jeremy Vine Show, you can listen at – I’m on from 01:39:56 – and I am so grateful to Jeremy Vine for giving such a ringing endorsement of my book – to such an extent that by the time I checked my email an hour after leaving the BBC studio in Norwich (more like a broom cupboard with a microphone in it) I had 600 emails, most of which were orders for the book. And it’s kept going, I’ve now had over 1600 emails, most of which are orders for the book and I’ve had to order a reprint and some very kind friends up here are mobilising to help me send out what I’ve got at the moment. And of course, as always I’ve had loads of people saying my exhibition should be at the Imperial War Museum – but as I've been told that’s not going to happen I’m still on the look-out for a venue in the UK.

I just came back from my latest visit to Ypres yesterday, having had a very good meeting with the folk at the Museum in Ypres. They are very happy with the exhibition (in fact on Sunday they showed a visiting party connected with the Museum at Loos, who insisted on having their photo taken with me amongst many exclamations of “Bravo!” and “Formidable!”), but have gone rather a lot over budget – in the end the bill is over 130,000 euros, even before the take-down and the return of the artefacts to the families. So I am not getting a fee – my aim was to get the exhibition to be the best it could be and I preferred the money to go to the exhibition rather than to me, and I will get some recompense from sales of the book and from putting on the exhibition elsewhere. As well as the book, I’m getting whatever can be salvaged from the exhibition (which is most things except the stickers of the photomontages etc that are stuck to the re-usable panels), including the 7 intro films and the new group photo video and of course the big banner of the group photograph at the beginning of the exhibition. They are paying for the van to bring that all back to the UK in January along with the artefacts for return to the families.

It’s now pretty quiet at the Museum – things are winding down for Christmas, but also the terrorist attacks have led to a big decrease in visitors, not least because a lot of coach parties from the UK have cancelled. Hopefully they’ll get a mini-surge of people who’ve heard about it on the Jeremy Vine Show. They deserve it – they took a risk on me when others wouldn’t and it’s been fantastic for all of us when we see the response of those people who have seen it for themselves. I’ve lived with it for so long that it takes seeing it through a new visitor’s eyes for me to remember how extraordinary the whole thing is.

It’s past half-past midnight, and people are still ordering the book! And I need some sleep to deal with the days ahead...