Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Near-Miss Book Launch and Other Great Disasters

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from a local publisher apologizing profusely for having to cancel their book launch because the books would not arrive in time. My heart went out to the author because the same thing nearly happened to me.

My launch was scheduled for April 17th. I'd booked the room nearly three months in advance because this particular centre hosts lots of events. I checked with my printer to make sure the books would arrive in plenty of time. By their calculations, I should have received them three to four weeks before the 17th. Of course, I'm old enough to know that real life happens while you're making other plans, and sure enough, things became a little delayed mainly because I wanted a second proof because of my own errors.

Time passed. The books were to be shipped on Friday, April 11th, but they didn't make it on the delivery truck until Monday the 14th. My printer is in Victoria, and I'm on the mainland, so with a body of water between us and two pallets of books to be delivered, I was a little concerned. By 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, the 15th, I started calling the delivery people. To my horror, they had no record of the shipment at all. After one panicky phone call to my printer, they got on the phone to find out what was going on. It turned out that the driver had forgot to forward the info to his company. Worse, he hadn't made it on the ferry that night because a windstorm had prevented larger ferries from docking. The small ferry taking its place would only take passenger vehicles, so the trucks had to wait.

After hearing this, I started to sweat big time. My printer's CEO took over and demanded that my books reach me by the 16th at the latest. I guess the shipper took him seriously because my books made it to a warehouse in Surrey (on the mainland) by 6 p.m. Tuesday evening. They were delivered to my home on the morning of Wednesday, the 16th, with a little over 24 hours to spare. By the time my launch arrived, what I felt most was relief.

I was telling this story to my writer's group, and at least two other people had had similar horror stories. In fact, one pour soul didn't get his books, couldn't cancel the launch in time, and wound up handing out promotional materials. It seems to me that, sooner or later, most writers will either experience or witness one launch disaster. May it not be yours!

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Excerpts can be found at

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