Unfortunately, copies of Strangehaven: Conspiracies failed to show up in time for my twin ACE Comics shop signings, despite building an extra week into its scheduling, just to make sure that copies did arrive.
The abridged version of the story goes like this: my printer in Canada assured me that delivery by the date would be no problem. I checked that all was on schedule throughout production and received assurances. The week prior to shipping I checked again and yup, all was well. By the Wednesday before the Saturday signings, I was getting a little twitchy (FedEx and other couriers take two days minimum to ship from North America to the UK, so Wednesday would be the last possible day they could be sent if I were to receive them by Friday).
An email from the printer’s rep confirmed it. The boxes had been sent. On Thursday, I received another email from them.
“Did you get your books?”
Very nice of them to ask, of course, but no I didn’t.
“Can I have the tracking numbers please?” I asked.
“Sure” they replied.
Then, a bit later;
“Oh no, sorry, we didn’t actually send them yet. We’ll send them now, you’ll have them by Monday.”
“Monday’s no frigging good! The signing is on Saturday! Can you send them for Saturday delivery? Please? (sob, choke).”
“OK, we’ll check,” they said.
“Oh, no, sorry. FedEx can deliver on Saturday, but UK customs are closed over the weekend, so they would just be sitting in a warehouse at Stansted Airport. Sorry.”
So that was that. One I had passed the denial stage, I excised my rage on several floor-standing items around the house, then went off for a stomp around Leigh-on-Sea during the wee small hours until my rage had descended into depression. Thankfully, I had a day to come to terms with the disappointment before the Saturday signings, which went ahead regardless, but it must rank as one of my lowest days in ten years of self-publishing.
Fortunately, Biff came up with a plan; to sell ‘vouchers’ for the trade paperbacks, which could then be redeemed for a signed and personalised copy of the book when it finally did arrive. Hardly ideal, but a neat solution nonetheless. It was still embarrassing to have to explain the story to all who turned up expecting to purchase a copy, especially after all the publicity in the local press, radio, tourist offices, in-house at the ACE Comics shops and to the Strangehaven faithful via this website and direct emailing.
Still, them’s the breaks. To their credit, the printer has made an effort to compensate me for the shambles, although I declined their offer to fly over and personally flay the personnel responsible in their shipping department.