A Weird COVID-Cost

Here’s a weird little COVID-cost. You know my cookbook launched in March, which was pretty much the worst possible timing for a pandemic book launch?

We ended up cancelling many, many events scheduled for spring and summer, and in fact, completely lost March / April for promotion due to being overwhelmed with pandemic stuff: switching teaching to remote, helping to set up Oak Park Mutual Aid, learning how to sew masks for first responders, being intensely worried about all my relatives and friends in healthcare, and generally stressing the hell out.

In May, we picked ourselves up again and started working on promoting the book a bit (props to my Serendib Press staff, Stephanie Bailey, Emmanuel Henderson, and Darius Vinesar), but honestly, it’s been a fairly erratic sort of thing. A cooking video we post on YouTube here, a press release we send out there, some photos on Instagram…

In promoting products (or anything), consistency is key. But it’s hard to be consistent about book promotion (or anything) when the world is on fire.

We did sell some copies — in fact, we’ve sold more than 800 copies of our initial 2000 copy hardcover print run, which is pretty satisfying, considering pandemic. Huzzah!

But we’d of course hoped to sell those much faster, and sell all of them (and dreaming big, maybe have reason to order a second printing…?). All of which means that as we approached the end of the year, we got this letter from our hybrid publisher, Mascot:

*****

As part of your publishing agreement, Mascot provided storage and distribution for A Feast of Serendib at no additional cost for the first year. Your current inventory is 1,134. As your anniversary date is approaching, we wanted to offer you four options for any inventory you have remaining. Your options are:

1) Continue storing your inventory at our warehouse. If you choose this option, please remit the storage fee as indicated in the enclosed invoice within ten days.

2) If you no longer wish to keep your books at our warehouse, please reply with an address where you’d like your books shipped. We’ll provide an estimate of shipping costs associated with returning your inventory. Before returning your books, we’ll send you an invoice for the estimated shipping charge. Once payment is collected, we will ship the books. If you choose to remove your books, they will be removed from all distributors, as we will no longer have the book to physically sell and distribute.

3) If you’d rather donate your books or have them destroyed, please let us know and we’ll make those arrangements on your behalf. There is a $35 handling fee for either selection.

4) You may also pick up your books in person at our warehouse in Ashland, VA. Arrangements for pick up can be made by contacting us about a week in advance and a $35 handling fee will be charged.

*****

We’re paying the $395 fee to store the books for another year; I’m reasonably confident we can sell them all in that time, barring disaster, and we want Mascot to keep up with their distribution (which is what lets the book be on Ingram, so booksellers can get it at the standard industry discount, etc.)

The reviews have been glowing, people seem to love it. ALL 24 of the current reviews on Amazon are five-star, which just makes me all verklempt if I let myself think about it. (More reviews would be welcome, there, on GoodReads, etc.) It really is a good book. So I think it’s mostly just a matter of being consistent about promotion, getting the word out.

Stephanie Bailey and I have been working on Vegan Serendib (a print POD edition + revised electronic edition, much more substantial than the previous sampler version), and I’m hopeful that we’ll have that out in time for Christmas sales, which will likely also drive some additional sales of Feast.

But that $395 is going to hurt a little. Sigh. Ah well — as pandemic costs go, it’s really not so bad. Onwards.

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