Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Bokassa’s Last Apostle is IN PRINT

It should be easy, shouldn’t it? The printer prints the books, puts them in a delivery truck and they turn up at my place the next day. How different it all turns out in reality.

When I completed the order, I added the launch date to the web form, 20 August. You would think it obvious that I had to have the books in my hands by then at the very latest. A close reading of the confirmation email showed an expected delivery date of 20 August. Well, that’s a Monday, and I will be in London then, so needed the books delivered earlier, which would be … the previous Friday. A phone call to the printers placed a note on their file that they needed to have printed them out by the Thursday and handed over to their courier for delivery overnight. But it wasn’t reassuring.

I called them on Monday (13th). The person who was dealing with printing my books was apparently ‘on holiday’ for the week. Also not encouraging. A colleague called back and to my utter astonishment told me they were ‘ready to go’. Did she mean the job was set up and about to be printed or … YES! apparently they were ready to go on the delivery lorry. I was told they were just waiting to hear from me when it would be convenient to deliver them. I mean … when exactly were they proposing to ask me this? They actually had the books all packed up in their office and were just sitting around waiting for me to call them?

I said I wanted the books as soon as possible, and they sent them out that night. I sat around waiting for them to be delivered all morning yesterday until … out of curiosity I looked in the porch and found a little yellow note saying they had attempted to deliver but been unsuccessful. Do ALL carriers just post the little slip through the door without even bothering to knock?

The slip had an ‘InfoNotice’ number on it and a web address. I went online and entered the number. The delivery had taken place at 8.30am. EIGHT THIRTY? These days I don’ know what eight thirty looks like. And they were going to attempt re-delivery the next day, today. OR, I could call at their depot and collect them. Now that isn’t so very far away. Only were they there yet or still on the delivery van? The website didn’t say.

After an exhaustive search of the website I finally found a phone number. I called. The frustrating process of wading through the automated menu began. I entered the option to track a parcel. Yet another automated process. ‘Ensure you have the tracking number to hand’ the automated voice said. The TRACKING NUMBER. NOT the ‘info notice’ number. I hung up and went back to the website. More delving around and I found the tracking number. A long string of letters and numbers. Back to the phone? Oh no, I was now in a different place on the website. So I had to write down the damn tracking number and hunt afresh for their phone number. Finally back with the tracking service I was prompted to say the number. Only to be told it wasn’t a valid tracking number. I tried again. Same result. Finally I was told I would be transferred to a real live person, only to be promptly placed on hold.

When the real live person finally picked up I learned that the books would remain on the van until 6pm, when it got back into the depot. If I wanted, I could call and pick them up any time up to 8pm, or just wait until tomorrow. I could sign the back of the little yellow slip and authorise the driver to leave the books in the conservatory. I made a mental note to have this all set up in advance by giving clear instructions to the printer next time around. I put the slip in a plastic bag along with a large yellow notice and pinned it to the front door, just in case the lorry arrived unfeasibly early this morning.

In the final event it was I who got up unfeasibly early, only to have to wait until 9.10 for a large white van to show up.

Boxes all checked, only two copies with minor damage, all the covers on the right way up. You may laugh, but it can happen and actually did happen to at least one of the review copies. The paper isn’t as nice as in the review copies, but that was always a compromise to make sure they would fit into a large letter package and save on postage. More annoyingly the print was if anything slightly lighter. But the spine is aligned perfectly – no mean feat with a cover illustration on the spine and the vertical alignment of the pages is mostly spot on. The biggest surprise was that the book was actually slightly smaller than the review copy I compared it with. Measurement proved that the stock copy is the right size, the review copy was 1mm too wide and 2mm too high.

Anyhow, I can now dash off to the post office to deliver four advance copies which have astonishingly already been ordered and get the legal deposit copies off to the British Library.

Don’t forget to enter my book giveaway, click on the yellow panel opposite to participate. And, if you live near London, why not come along to the Launch Party? 7pm Monday 20 August on board the Wibbly Wobbly Floating Bar, moored alongside Greenland Dock, off Rope St. London SE16 7SZ. Nearest Tube: Surrey Quays. Just cross the road after leaving the station and head up the hill (marked Redriff Road) towards the distinctive old red bridge. Take the steps down the side of the red bridge to Greenland Dock. Turn to your right at the bottom and walk around the dock, keeping the water to your left. The Wibbly Wobbly is the large white boat moored at the far end. You can also park in the car park of the Surrey Docks Watersports Centre. If you live in London and have followed my blog, I would LOVE to meet you over a drink at the bar and will be reading from my book.

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