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January 31, 2009

Author’s Nightmare


12,000 pounds of books; six tons; eight pallets with three layers each containing 14 boxes; each box weighs 37 pounds and has 14 books in it. If you're doing the math you know that one pallet wasn't full.

Bad enough that the hardcover edition of hackoff.com: an historic murder mystery set in the Internet bubble and rubble isn't selling enough to justify keeping inventory at the printer/distributor. When the truck delivered them to our rented storage shed it couldn't back up to the door (you can't see the other row of sheds just off camera to the left). It had a manual trolley for rolling pallets off the elevator gate of the truck but the trolley couldn't roll through the snow even with the driver and me pushing it. So the pallets ended up where you see them just outside the shed.

It took Mary and me a couple of hours to carry all the books in and restack them. Mary chided me for being so wordy but kindly didn't mention my real sin of printing so many copies without any real marketing plan for selling them all.

The lesson is NOT don't self-publish. Readership on the web (free) – although hard to determine precisely – was apparently in the tens of thousands. The Kindle edition now outsells the hard cover edition and someday we'll figure out how to promote a Kindle title.

The real lessons are:

  • Books, like anything else, have to be marketed.
  • If you're self-publishing and you're not famous, use a print on demand publisher and don't get stuck with inventory.

We are giving free copies to libraries and are glad for other suggestions on how to move the inventory out of the shed. Ways to give away some copies to promote possible sales of others would be good if you have any ideas.

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