Man, do I love working in the warehouse!
This summer when orders for our calendars and datebooks were coming in fast and furious, our warehouse manager Chuck asked the rest of the Llewellyn staff if any of us wanted to be trained in to pitch in a few days to deal with the rush. Of course I jumped at the chance, as did several others, because I love learning how all the nuts and bolts of this company come together. (And because Chuck thanked us with ice cream bars.)
So one nice summer day, a group of about seven or eight of us left our quiet cubicles and computer monitors for the bustling activity of the warehouse. Luckily weâ€™re all in the same building, unlike Llewellynâ€™s previous premises. ChuckÂ trained us all how to read a packing slip and navigate our way around all the shelves stocked with boxes and boxes of books, picking the correct books and putting them all together in an order. After the picker initials the packing slip, the entire order is scanned with a bar code scanner to make sure itâ€™s correct, and the scanner initials the slip. Finally, the packer packs up the boxes and also initials the packing slip, and puts the customerâ€™s copy into the box.
The books that sell the most are all right up front for easy accessâ€¦ and the less popular a book is, the farther back it gets pushed in the grand scheme of things. While out there, we found some really old books covered with dust that we didnâ€™t even know existedâ€¦seriously, I would link to them here but theyâ€™re not even on our website! So I donâ€™t know how they get ordered at all, or if they are just there for posterity. Maybe Iâ€™ll blog about them another dayâ€¦
Anyway, today I went out to the warehouse because weâ€™re getting slammed with pre-Halloween orders. And this just gave me so much satisfaction, itâ€™s hard to put into words. First, to fill orders with multiple copies of our annuals â€“ the Witchesâ€™ Cal, the Astro Cal, the Herbal Almanac, the Magical Almanac. The brand new Sabbats Almanac which I helped develop. And of course, tons and tons of Scott Cunningham books in every order, multiple copies of Bucklandâ€™s â€śBig Blueâ€ť in several orders, Silver RavenWolf, Christopher Penczak, Ellen Dugan, Raven Grimassi, Ted Andrews, Michael Newton, Richard Webster, Thuri Calafiaâ€¦ it was almost like seeing the living heartbeat of Llewellyn, pulsing right there before my eyes, in my hands. This is good stuff! This is the lifeblood of the company! This is the â€śother sideâ€ť of the business!
Yes, it was really therapeutic for my soul. I spend my days considering new books, reassuring new authors, letting down quite a few would-be authors, worrying whether manuscripts are good enough to publish, agonizing over why some of our books simply arenâ€™t selling, breaking hard news to authors when things arenâ€™t going so wellâ€¦because what I see in books is potential. The potential to connect with the right reader and help them with some aspect of their life. The potential to make waves in the fabric of reality. The potential to do really well in stores because the writing or the concept is so good. And to this day itâ€™s hard to understand why sometimes perfectly awesome books go absolutely nowhere, but thatâ€™s the business.
But on the other side of potential is realization, and thatâ€™s what the warehouse is all about. This is the opposite end of the line â€“ not the incoming manuscripts that I deal with, but the output that is eventually created. In the warehouse I get to touch (again and again!) physical books that I acquired, that I worked on, that I am invested in, and actually put them together with other books and mail them to a customer. It is a great feeling, and it really brings home the reality of what weâ€™re doing here. My work does not live and die on my hard drive â€“ it becomes a book and is shipped to places like Virginia, New York, Florida, Montana. I mean, how lucky am I? I’m not sure there are too many other acquisitions editors out there who get to work in the warehouse for a couple hours here or there and actually see, first-hand, the other side of the equation.
After picking countless Scott Cunningham books today, I returned to my desk to find out that his Book of Shadows just arrived to the warehouse. There are thousands of pre-orders on this book but since it just arrived today, I didnâ€™t get to â€śpickâ€ť any while out in the warehouse. Too bad! It is an amazingly gorgeous book. Itâ€™s a hardcover with an emerald green dust jacket, done in a matte finish with spot gloss on the text and some of the symbols. The paper is beautiful and it just has a nice weight to it when you hold it in your hands. You are going to love this book when it finally gets shipped from our warehouse. I actually worked closely with the editor and designer on this book, especially with queries, since sadly Scott is no longer with us to provide his own input. I really hope we did it justice. I think we did. Because at the end of the potential that was found in that beat-up manila envelope is realization. I just held it in my hands and was thrilled, and I think Scott would be thrilled too.