A few years ago I wrote up a series of posts which walked through my process for preparing the mass mailing of new Schlock books. You can find the posts by clicking my “shipping” category or just clicking this text. I still run the shipping preparations in essentially the same manner, except that I now have an assistant who comes in and helps me with most of the steps. In fact I often refer to those posts to help me keep track of how everything is supposed to proceed. I’m currently inhabiting both the sorting and inventory preparation stages. This means that most of the sketched editions are sorted, but the orders without sketches are not. The books have not yet arrived, so we can not dive into doing the actual sketching. But there is inventory preparation which does not involve books.
In my years-ago post I didn’t mention this other inventory preparation, probably because books were the only merchandise we had at the time. Since then we’ve added magnets, stickers, prints, miniatures, and Writing Excuses CDs. We don’t have t-shirts this time, but other times we have. This means I have to comb through the ordering data and make sure that we have adequate quantities of all of these items for shipping day. This year we’re good on magnets, but the painted miniatures and stickers will need to be ordered. I have to do that asap so that we can get them back in less than two weeks. Merchandise is not the only inventory we need. Shipping supplies are required. This morning I calculated exactly how many of each type of box we will need to fill all the orders. The shipping day fails if we run out of boxes. Several times we’ve had to make an emergency run for additional strapping tape. Keeping track of all of it should feel overwhelming I suppose. It used to, but this is my 8th book shipping event. I’m no longer completely terrified that I’ll get everything wrong. Instead I’m just a little stressed that I might forget something which will be annoying to fix.