Saturday, March 01, 2008

The books have come back

The question mark over what has happened to those missing books seems at last to have been solved, as yesterday I had a very nasty surprise visit from DHL. To say that I am disappointed and thoroughly hacked off is an under statement - not nearly as much I suspect as Richard, since it turns out that the return was not even authorised. He has no idea then how or why this has happened. I wish to God now that I had refused to accept the delivery, but I could not get him on the phone, and so had to make a snap decision, based on the little information that I had. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

As readers of this blog though will know, I had a really good Christmas, when book stores were ordering left right and centre - so they told me! It seems now that a lot of them didn't and so everyone overestimated the demand. This is seems, is the result then of my six months of hard work and slog and quite frankly, it is NOT why I spent 5, in fact 7 years and my parents life savings doing this.

This has been dragging on since the middle of January now, as Gardners originally threatened halfway through that month, to send 120 books back. I was in anger mode though, and having none of it, and so spent the whole weekend on the phone ringing book shops. By the end of January I had managed to get the number in stock down to a level less than they were wanting to send back. Richard then rang his contact at Gardners, who confirmed that they would not now be sending them back, and so he did not sign the paperwork.

What with 2 weeks off work in February and a change in hours which meant that I only had one day in the week, plus an hour or so on Saturday mornings if I could get up in time (no lie ins for me at the weekends then) in which to make calls, I did not manage to get that many orders at all during February. It was also partly I admit, because I was just so tired of the whole thing and the continual uphill struggle that I had already begun to lose heart and just did not want to do it anymore. I suppose in a way then I have only myself to blame - not that that makes me feel any better.

Last week when I went to the Gardners website I noticed the number in stock had dropped from 112 to 41, and so fearing the worst, I telephoned Richard to see what he knew. He assured me that the books must have been sold, as he had definitely NOT, officially at least, authorised any returns, and he had also received personal reassurance from his account manager that they would not be returning them. We both imagined that at long last I had a large order from a chain store.

Imagine my shock and surprise then yesterday to answer the door to a DHL driver bearing 2 boxes of books. To say that we are both angry and totally disillusioned is putting it mildly. It makes me wonder what I did this whole thing for and whether it is seriously worth the effort, when all you seem to get is problems, and all you end up doing is being out of pocket and making money for other people. When a book shop who orders through this wholesaler, as most do, sells one of my books, they earn £6 a copy, the wholesaler, who demands a 57.5 percent discount, and sale and return (at any time within one year of the books being sold to them) earns £2.65, and all I get is £1.39, and they wonder why I had to go back to work and why I can only ring book stores one day a week! They are seriously taking the piss and it makes me so angry.

This time though there is absolutely nothing I can do except grit my teeth and get on with it. The worst thing is that as soon as wholesaler needs more stock, which will probably be quite soon, I will have to pay to send the things back again! Life just isn't fair when those who work the hardest (I estimate that between this and my other job I work at least 70 hours a week) seem to get the littlest reward. How can it be right that those who sell the books earn more than those who write them?

I don't think that anyone who has not been in this position can truly understand the sense of frustration, or the desolation I felt when I saw those boxes, to feel that I had let everyone down - including myself. Certain people took enormous personal risk to help me get this book out there, and because of this have ended up as frustrated and out of pocket as I will be. There is though absolutely nothing I can do, except grit my teeth, roll my sleeves and get on with business as usual. So, does anyone want to buy a book ? !

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