Just When I Thought It Was Safe to Get Back in the Water . . .

by | Nov 3, 2006 | The Joys of Publishing

Related Categories: The Joys of Publishing
Posts by: Brian

Seems like the printer fun never stops.  The sun came out in force today and warmed things up, so I went for a hike in the morning, which did wonders for my mood, then came home to find two cardboard cartons lurking by my front door.  Carried them inside, opened them up, and found one hundred and twenty . . . paperback . . . copies of that ground-breaking new piece of narrative fiction, The Great American Desert.

No, I did not order paperbacks.  Before I called the printer, I double-checked the original order.  Not a word about paperbacks.  And so, with a fine head of steam up, and primed to rant and rave, I called my account manager, who was in a meeting.  What a waste of a good head of steam.

When I eventually did get hold of her, she was terribly sorry about the mix-up, which makes at least two of us.  Several phone calls later, after she’d checked with her boss, it appears that they’re not particularly eager to do much to fix their mistake.  They’ve contacted the freight company, and the eighteen hundred and eighty copies that were still on the way are now headed back east.  These will have the covers ripped off and replaced, and will be re-shipped.

About the hundred and twenty now gracing my dining room table, we seem to be in some disagreement.  I have suggested that I keep them at no cost, so that I can, as far as possible, honor my commitment to do a book signing tomorrow, giving customers a paperback for now which they can trade for a hardback when they arrive.  Assuming that customers will be willing to go through that bother.  The printer doesn’t seem real thrilled about that idea, but five o’clock came and went without them giving me a firm answer.  As tomorrow is Saturday, I believe the technical term for what I now am is ‘hosed.’


Some time ago I spent a few years in the world of retail.  Anything can be a learning experience, and one tidbit that I picked up from the gurus of retail is that providing perfect service is not the best way to achieve customer loyalty.  It’s the second-best way.  The best way is to screw up but then recover in a fashion that meets or exceeds customer expectations.  I’ve seen this in action.  People are so used to getting hosed that it’s they’re pleasantly shocked when the hoser turns around and goes the extra mile to make it right.


Seems likely I’ll be shopping around for a new printer for the second go-around.  Such a shame, too, as I thought we’d finally gotten all the kinks worked out.