A Covid-adjacent Story
Here’s one for you --- I’ve already mentioned my “bad luck” regarding publishing a new book during the pandemic (Facebook Post, February 1, 2021) --- how it’s difficult to “get the word out” when you can’t appear at Book Expo at the Javits Center, how you can’t do readings at bookstores and libraries, etc. Well, that was only Part One of my publishing nightmare, it seems.
For several months I’ve been (periodically) writing to my publisher, asking where my “Author’s copies” of my book were. Again, I was supposed to receive somewhere between 75 and 100 pre-publication copies of the book to sign and give away at events like Book Expo, etc. But that was all contingent on our former world, when the book’s publication date was September we all could leave our homes and not have to wear masks. As it turned out, publication was delayed until late October 2020 and I assumed my “Author’s copies” were somehow forgotten or delayed in the Covid-Amazon-FedEx-UPS pandemic surge. As it turns out, I finally heard from my publisher this week, on Thursday, February 4th, when the office “team” at Adelaide Books informed me that three boxes of book had been sent and delivered on November 24th (2 boxes) and 28th (1 box). The glitch, it seems, was my fault because on the contract I signed with the publisher I listed my address as “71 Aiken St., Norwalk, CT 06851” without including “Unit A2” (as I had on my first draft of the contract and somehow --- idiotically --- failed to do on the final copy!!). Totally my fault. So here I was, on Thursday, February 4th with a dilemma: where were my 3 boxes of books?
The publisher was kind enough to send me the tracking numbers (as it turns out, they were shipped from Amazon, of course) but because the numbers were so old, they could not be traced. I went to “Contact Us” on the Amazon website and engaged in a “Chat” with a Customer Service representative (who was very nice) only to find out that I couldn’t find out anything further about the packages unless I had and Order Identification number --- which the published has. I e-mailed the publisher, informing them of my attempt to retrieve the packages, hoping they could try from their end, with the Order ID number. They said they would see what they could do.
Those who know me are aware that I am not one who “sits around and waits” very well. I have a tendency to charge ahead, preferring action to deliberation so the idea of waiting to find out if the publisher could track down the books was really not an option for me. From my point of view, the books had been delivered to someone in our condo complex (there are 275 units with about 32 single-family units and about 54 to 72 cluster entryways where 3 to 4 units reside. That means there are approximately 86 to 104 doors that I would place a notice on, explaining the situation and inquiring as to whether anyone had seen these boxes Two Months Ago.
Thursday, midday, I headed out with a one-page missive, which read:
Dear Neighbors: February 4, 2021
In NOVEMBER (the 24th & 28th) three (3) boxes of books were delivered to some Unit at 71 Aiken St. which were intended for me, Wilbur Johnson, in UNIT A2.
These were my “author copies” of a memoir I published. I thought the delivery had been delayed because of the Covid pandemic but my publisher informed me this morning that they were sent and “handed directly to a resident.”
If you received them --- and/or if you returned them --- please let me know. These were my only copies of the book I wrote.
Thanks for your assistance.
Bil Johnson – UNIT A2
Please call/text (401) 261-0280 if you have any information.
Within about an hour I had taped that letter onto between 75 and 80 doors in our complex, at which point I decided to take and break --- and hoped that I might hear something from someone that would help me out and permit me to stop taping letters to more doors. Thursday evening I received a message on my phone from a neighbor in the “B Unit” who had not received the books but did have a helpful suggestion as to whom I might contact in our Management Agency. That person could send out an “email blast” to all the residents, thereby saving me some time and effort. I had, in fact, sent an email and left a phone voice message with the management company and (it’s Saturday morning) have yet to hear back. Nonetheless, it was a lovely gesture from a sympathetic neighbor (who had dealt with mis-delivered packages in the past).
And then Friday I received a text which read:
“Hello Bill (sp.) The books were left at Unit E12. There was no Unit # or telephone # on the packing label. They were returned to the Amazon delivery driver. The box of books was left at the common front door of the vestibule (not “handed directly to a resident”)”
So now we at least know what happened to the books! They were, indeed, delivered and they were, indeed, returned. It is now incumbent upon my publisher to trace through the records to find the Order Identification Number and inform Amazon as to where, exactly (Unit A2) the boxes need to be delivered.
I’m not holding my breath. Better to expect the worst and hope for a miracle in this case. If, somehow, they do eventually end up at my door I can promise you this: the residents at Unit B6 (the phone call) and E12 (the text) will get autographed copies, thanking them for helping me solve The Case of the Missing Memoirs.
Stay safe. Get vaccinated. Thanks for reading.
Right Time, Right Places: One Teacher’s School Reform Journey is available from Amazon:
From Adelaide Books:
And, as an e-book: