Tuesday, October 27, 2009

First Sales Activity - But Not Entirely Smooth

Yesterday has to be characterized as a fairly wild day in the life of this publishing venture. Every morning while shaving I check my e-mail on my iPhone. Yesterday, at about 6:30 in the morning, I saw a PayPal payment e-mail. I opened it, and it showed that a gentleman in New York City had paid for a copy of my book! This was fairly unexpected, because I had just declared the book "published" the day before, and had just installed a PayPal Buy Now button on my web site. I had started up my Google AdWords account, though, and it had received some clicks through to my web site, based on my short ad that shows up when someone Googles "D-Lux 4 Book" or Leica D-Lux 4" or any one of several similar keywords. So I assumed someone had seen my little book ad in a Google search, clicked through to my site, and used the Buy Now button. That was pretty cool; the system was working.

One problem was that we (my wife and I) didn't really have a great copy of the book put together. I wanted my first customer to have a very nice-looking copy, with the cover neatly and firmly attached and the pages well trimmed.

So we set to work when I got home yesterday. To make a long story shorter, we had quite a few problems getting the binding machine to glue evenly and without crimping the cover or smudging it. Then, as we tried to adjust the cover design slightly in Adobe InDesign, I noticed, after all this time, that I had the title of the book spaced wrong -- it used the name D-Lux4 with no space -- it's supposed to be D-Lux 4. So I printed a few new covers, and we pulled the covers off of some already-printed books to replace them. By about 11:30 p.m. we were about to have a nice copy ready to ship. Then I checked my e-mail. I had sent my customer an acknowledgment of his order, saying the book would ship the next day (today). At about 11:00 p.m. he had replied, saying, in practically these words, "What book? I didn't order anything. Please respond."

Well, that threw me for a loop. I use PayPal a lot, and I did not see how he could have paid for a book without knowing it, unless someone hacked into his account or someone in his household ordered the book on his account without telling him. So I quickly replied, explaining that I had received his order, and telling him I would be happy to refund his money if he doesn't want the book. It's now about 6:00 p.m. the next day, and I haven't heard from him.

In the meantime, I received another order through PayPal. I e-mailed that buyer confirming the order, and have not heard anything from him. If I don't hear from him, I'll ship his book tomorrow. I don't think there could be any systemic problem causing phantom orders through PayPal.

Anyway, our rush last night to get a nice-looking book put together was good in a way, because it forced us to really examine the book and cover and the binding process, and we fixed a number of things that needed improvement. Right now I'm printing out a new set of pages that we'll bind in a little while, and hopefully ship off to our first customer tomorrow.

Also, this past Sunday I submitted the information on the book to Books in Print through the Bowker company online. Today I checked the Barnes and Noble web site and the book was listed there, showing a publication date in late November, for some reason. I guess I had put November as the publication month, and they just used a date late in the month. Anyway, that was encouraging; now I need to work on getting the book to be actually available through BN, Amazon, and other online sellers.

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