When I got in from work an hour and half ago, I checked my emails, as I usually do and was dismayed to find the following message from Richard, the boss at Authors OnLine Ltd.
"Happy New Year - However, sorry to spoil the party but our pushing Gardners to keep ordering stock has come home to roost. It would appear that many of your Waterstones stores never in fact ordered, despite what they told you.
Gardners have done a post Christmas stock take and have 159 copies left in stock and are clearing down. They are therefore cutting back to a stock level which means that they are returning 120 copies. They will continue to order and hold stock from the reduced level. As they have just told me, unfortunately they are not a warehouse. and I'm afraid nor are we.
The options therefore are:
1) We get Gardners to pulp them at no cost to us. But we will of course be deducing all expenses for printing and shipping from any profits before calculating any royalties.
2) They return them direct to you, and you pay us the print cost + say 10% - there is a cost for shipping as well (unless you want to collect them from Eastbourne) and then you can re-supply out of that stock as they need them. You benefit in that you get a better deal when they are sold or you can sell them direct to outlets and individuals yourself making a higher than normal margin.
Sorry but that's the way sale or return works and why we try to avoid it like the plague.
Need a rely in the next 24 hours or option number one will automatically apply.
To say that was not pleased by this was an understatement of the grandest proportions. Having worked out the sums, to buy them back at print cost plus 10 percent is going to cost me £535 and that doesn't include the cost of shipping or petrol either, not to mention my time. I am loathe to allow them to be pulped, since they will have to paid for regardless, and that is not why I chose print on demand. On the other hand as Richard says, I may be able to supply some independents direct, as by buying the books at effectively print cost it will give much more leeway to offer them a greater discount. I know at least 2 shops that will definitely take some, and hopefully others on the list that my friend who runs that spiritual magazine will also oblige.
It is just that now I am back at work, working four days a week, I do not have the time to physically go to Eastbourne and get the things and then send them out to book stores, drawing up supply terms and conditions and send them out via the Post Office. The most annoying thing is that once I do get ringing again, which will hopefully be next week, I will start to get some more sales, and within another couple of weeks I will be forced to pay all over again to send them back to Gardners! How much this is likely to cost is anyone's guess - I don't have an account with a courier firm and I wouldn't have the first idea about opening one either or what the cost is likely to be of sending such things. Gardners would be ordering in bulk after all, at the rate of 30 maybe 50 books maximum, and that would be far too costly to send via the mail.
I don't see though that I have much choice than to buy them back and do it this way as I am really not prepared to let them be pulped. I am not going to pay for something after all that is going to be thrown away, it just does not make sense.
Richard tells me though that I am not the only one of his authors that they are doing this to - Gardners have stock of another of his books that has been gathering dust for a year now, after the author said he was going to do a big marketing campaign and then didn't.
I don't know what I have to do though in order to get this book really off the ground - it just seems that I am continually taking one step forwards and three back. Cygnus Books do not seem interested as they have not got back to me, none of the newspapers I have sent copies to seem interested in reviewing it either - I just wish I knew what was going on.
As it stands I am going to have to shell out all this money for someone else's mistake - I know they ordered more because Richard asked them to, but they ordered far too many, and not that long ago either. It is all because for the past month I have not been able to make calls to any stores a) because of Christmas and b) because of my new job. I just really despair sometimes about this industry is run, it just seems utter madness and so biased against everyone except wholesalers and chain stores. This is not what I published my book for to be treated in this way in such a cavalier fashion as if I just don't exist. After all, if people like me didn't write the books then these wholesalers and the like wouldn't have a business in the first place! Pity there isn't a Writers Guild in this country for self published authors, so we could go on strike and see how they like it here!