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.

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