The package? Oh, nothing really. Just a copy of a book that I've had published.
I know, I tried being nonchalant when my colleagues watched me open it. "Oh, it's just that book that I wrote," but I think they could tell I was anything but relaxed about the whole thing.
I even left it casually on my desk, so that anyone passing would see it, and on their enquiry I could say "Oh that thing? It's just a book I've had published."
To understand this story we need to go back in time.
Born the third son of a dispossessed nobleman, I was cast out of the family home at the tender age of nine for a crime involving flock wallpaper, chutney and a small rodent.
Hang on, not that far back. Let's skip a few years.
Some months ago I put a collection of my short stories together as an eBook, available for download from all major retailers that are named after major South American rivers. I considered that there would be considerable scope for people who weren't that keen on reading a blog but were technically savvy enough to read eBooks.
Yes, I know. Stop looking at me like that. That's not a Venn diagram - that's two circles on different sides of the paper. So I looked into getting the book published as a paperback. There are, essentially, three ways of doing this:
- Be the one lucky sod that gets their book published out of a gazillion manuscripts submitted to the mainstream publishers every day. I may be waiting a while for this to happen.
- Go to a vanity publisher, which typically means paying £800 and ending up with a garage full of slowly rotting books that I can't give away. As I don't have a garage (or, for that matter, £800), this is not viable.
- Go to a self-publishing 'print-on-demand' publisher like Lulu.com, where through the joys of digital technology, your rough-looking Word document gets turned into a proper, printed, bound book. They only print one when someone orders it, so no costs upfront and no stock needed. Genius. When someone orders one from the site, they print it and post it out to their willing, hungry letterbox.
It would make a perfect present. When is it Father's Day? Thanksgiving? Christmas?
Now, you might say that this entire post is nothing but a thinly-veiled advertisement for my book. That I've used every opportunity to drive you to Lulu's website where you can pick up a copy for the bargain price of £2.99 (or whatever that is in your local currency).
As if I would engage in such obvious and shameful self-publicity!
Oh. OK, then. You got me on that one.