Screwing up and fixing it
This being my first rodeo, and given the possibility that something might come up, I probably shouldn’t have said that — but, this being my first rodeo, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Towards the end of the preorder period, I realized that, due to unforeseen circumstances, no one was going to get their books before GenCon. Although I had said “should” not “would,” and that language didn’t appear on the actual product entry in our online store, I still felt terrible. If I were going to GenCon and expected my book to arrive in time to take it with me — to have it signed by the authors, for example, 7/9 of whom will be at the con — I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get it in time.
The Eureka design team talked over our options, and we all agreed that whatever approach we took we needed to get books to customers who were counting on having them before GenCon in time. Doing the right thing as a company is important to me, and doing right by the folks buying our book is important to the whole Eureka team. On July 21st I sent this email to everyone who preordered the book:
Howdy! Due to unforeseen circumstances, preorders for Eureka: 501 Adventure Plots to Inspire Game Masters will not arrive before GenCon. When I first announced preorders, I said that books shipped to continental U.S. addresses should arrive before GenCon, and I apologize that this is no longer the case.
If you were counting on being able to bring your copy to GenCon (to have it signed by some of the book’s authors, for example) AND your shipping address is in the continental U.S., please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org by 9:00 pm Mountain time on Sunday, July 25. I will make alternate arrangements at Engine Publishing’s expense in order to get you your book by August 4. (After the 25th, it will be too late for me to make alternate arrangements, and your book will ship out as described below.)
If you are NOT planning on bringing your copy to GenCon, OR if you live outside of the contentintal U.S., I apologize for bothering you with this email — you don’t need to contact me or do anything else at all.
Based on current printing and shipping estimates, I should be fulfilling preorders on August 2-4, with your individual delivery date depending on your shipping method and mailing address.
Thank you for reading, and I’m sorry for any trouble that this may have caused you.
This seemed like the right thing to do, and with only two parties involved — our printer and UPS — it had relatively few moving parts that could break down.
Seven of our 120-plus preorder customers took me up on the offer, and I ordered their books individually directly from our printer. I placed rush orders and selected UPS 2nd Day Air shipping (both absorbed as costs), and everything worked out: Our printer, Lightning Source, rocked the rush orders, 2nd Day Air proved reliable, and these folks got their books in time for GenCon.
Everyone who I heard from over email was pleased with this approach, and I appreciated their understanding. Several folks wrote again to tell me that their books arrived, which was also a relief. I hope I get a chance to meet them in person, shake their hands, and sign their books at GenCon.