25. Sod the expense! Oh no, that should be: Sod! The expense!

AS I sped through country lanes at breakneck speeds in an effort to reach my driving awareness course on time I thought to myself: This novel publishing lark is an expensive business.

I had enrolled on the course because of a little surprise that landed on my doorstep a few days after I returned from my book-launching mission (and Test match-watching break) in south Wales.

I thought at first it was a big order from one of the bookshops I had visited, what with the Rhonda Cynon Taf postcode and all. It was when I ripped it open and saw it was from my ‘friends’ at South Wales Police that my heart sank. Apparently I was doing 35mph in a 30mph limit on the outskirts of Miskin.

Memories of that day came back in a rush. It was during my tour of bookshops as I was desperately trying to find the readers oasis that is Books & Pontyclun, having never visited the area before. In a flap, with time dragging on and my fears growing that the journey would be wasted and the shop shut by the time I got there, I may have just leaned a little too heavily on the accelerator.

Not much but, as they tell you in the four hours you will never get back again, the extended time it will take to bring the car to a halt could be the difference between life and death.

OK, message understood. To keep the three points off my licence, though (and to be honest I have a bit of a history when it comes to speed cameras, though nothing in the Lewis Hamilton class) I had to attend the course and cough up £97 for the privilege. Not only that I was in danger of losing the money when, on the way to Waltham Abbey, I managed to take a wrong turn and end up in entirely the wrong part of Essex with 10 minutes to spare. It might be time to invest in a sat-nav.

I’ve put the whole episode down to one of the hidden costs of book publishing, another of which landed in my email inbox last week. It was a message from Jane Seaton, of the British Library, telling me I needed to supply them with one copy and also have to furnish another five copies as a “legal deposit”. These must be supplied to the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian Libraries at Oxford, the University Library of Cambridge and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.

Jeez, can’t they buy their own? At least then my sales might get a nice little spike.

Seriously, though, I guess it helps to protect your own copyright, even though the postage and packaging, not to mention the book printing, sets you back a tidy little sum.

Another thing I’ve paid almost £200 for this week is to have visibility on Net Galley. I believe this will be money well spent but the proof will be in the selling (unless, of course, the book is crap – but I don’t think it is because my mate Matt’s mum liked it and posted a 5-star review on Amazon).

I’ve already had plenty of requests to read and review it, and with the Rugby World Cup upon us in just over 30 days it is now time for a big push.

One other thing. I nearly lost another £200 by making a silly mistake with Ingram Spark. I ordered 30 Print on Demand books to distribute and use at my London book launch – the one I eventually held without any books.

I didn’t notice the small dropdown menu which said I could have them printed by their European division, Lightning Source, so ended up ordering direct from the States. Error No 2 was to ask for economy delivery, which apparently they cannot track, leaving it down to Pony Express, Carrier Pigeon and Royal Mail.

To cut a long story short the books still haven’t arrived and Ingram Spark responded to my anguish with: “Nothing we can do.”

There was, though. After shaming them on social media to my mass Twitter following of just over 1,000 I got a lovely email from Julie Rogers, of Lightning Source, saying that as a gesture of goodwill they would replace my lost consignment. They were printed Thursday and arrived Friday lunchtime.

I can’t thank Julie and her team enough for this. A lesson learned and I won’t be doing that again. Now, got to go… I’ve got to start packaging them up before the Library Police come knocking at my door.

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