Thursday, 3 June 2010

Adventures in Publishing: Part two - Random House

Other people publish their books under their own imprint, they set up production companies to write, produce and direct their own films, they form bands and put out hit singles - and they don't complain about how difficult it is. Maybe I just find things more difficult than other people? I mean how many households in Britain have a dog and yet they get by without taking to the internet to write haiku every time the dog does a shit, or report every little bout of dizziness, or post short films featuring the dog as a 'dream detective' on YouTube. I'm the Princess and the Pea of the publishing industry.

Nevertheless, it is quite difficult to become a publisher if you have no idea what you're doing. I'll post some 'how to' information over the next few weeks but let me give you an example: The printers sent me a proof copy of Being Light by courier. It took more than a week to arrive (was it a bicycle courier? Coming from France? My sister-in-law did a London to Paris cycle ride for charity and that only took her 48 hours.)

When I checked the shipping and tracking information I could see that it had been despatched promptly by the printer but had been sent by the courier on a tour of various fascinating English towns, including Milton Keynes and Canterbury, before eventually passing to the depot at Vauxhall. From there, I gathered it had been sent to my house and had been signed for just an hour before by my neighbour at no. 34, under the name of Sandra.

Never mind that I had been in all day, waiting for the parcel. I went round and knocked at the door of no. 34. London is a friendly place but we don't necessarily know the names of all our neighbours, as you will do if you are reading this in the north of England. So I was gratified to learn that my neighbour's name was Liz. Unfortunately my parcel had not been left there.

Perhaps I do have something of Miss Marple in me because it occurred to me that my book might be with my neighbour at no. 34 in the street that runs parallel to this one - delivery drivers sometimes get confused. I went round there, got my neighbour to come to the door wrapped only in a towel (she had been sunbathing in the garden, lovely tan) and established that she didn't have my parcel and was not called Sandra. Next I went to no. 24 in my street. We both get Nespresso coffee delivered and sometimes she takes in my parcels and sometimes I take in hers. Flowers, books, bird seed, wine, coffee capsules, fancy bath taps - behind the respectable anonymity of the Edwardian facade of our London terraced houses, we get to know an awful lot about each other from the deliveries we accept on each other's behalf. Unfortunately, whatever else my neighbour at no. 24 might know about me, she does not know what the proof copy of Being Light looks like as my parcel had not been left with her. No surprise, really, as I know her name and it is not Sandra.

So, there you have it. Yet another of the difficulties of going into independent publishing. My proof copy of Being Light has been left at some random house and I can't find it. Random House - wouldn't that be a great name for a publisher? Unfortunately it has already been taken.

Oh dear. That gate post needs painting.


Debra L Martin said...


That's dreadful. Any chance you can track down the courier through his company to see where he left it?

Good luck and i hope it shows up soon.


Cherie Reich said...

Aww! That's horrible! I hope you track it down.

Mary McDonald said...

Aw, that stinks! I would definitely call the courier service and find out where, exactly, they left my package. Good luck with it!

Helen Smith said...

Thanks, all.

Don't worry, the printers are very good. They have sorted it out.

It's a great way to get to know the neighbours, that's the way I'm looking at it.

Near by said...


Helen Smith said...

Oh no, it's fine. Actually, it's better than fine, it's really good fun.

Imagine how dull life would be if we were all really good at everything - there would be no stories to tell.

Lauren Smith said...

oh, fancy bath taps?

Helen Smith said...

Yes, but not for me - for one of our more glamorous neighbours. You can guess who I mean.

Lauren Smith said...

ah ha

Helen Smith said...

I love her. Also I'm really good friends with her delivery driver. He's really cheerful and friendly and he laughs at all my jokes. When he turns up on my doorstep I feel like I'm on the Paul O'Grady show.

Lauren Smith said...

ah, thats really nice. you'll miss him when she's gone. i've also made friends with our postman here x

2KoP said...

Glad you found the proofs. Look at it this way — you got a good story to tell and you got to meet your neighbor.