a 99% shit day!

When Mood Music
2004-09-30 23:33:00 frantic Chemical Brothers: chemical brothers

It started with me sleeping thorough 30 minutes of Radio Bollocks. When I got to work, I had to sort yet another techie hassle with email. This delayed my most important task: ensuring that the reprinted Higher Maths answer sections could be put into the books currently languishing in the warehouse. (It also further delayed some planning I have to do but more on delays later: reasons for delay have been delayed!) The warehouse just aren’t letting our printers know when the books can be collected so that the answer sections can be replaced. Meanwhile Trading Standards have made a branch of WHSmith take Higher Maths off the shelves because there’s a tiny error on the cover so all WHSmith branches have ceased selling this title. The print-run is only 18,500 so we’re not at all concerned. We’re writing to all bookstores who have bought the book, sending them replacement answer sections and a note that there isn’t really a mistake on the cover! The letter says that all stock will be sorted by 8th October. Fat chance of this is we can’t get the books back this week.

I found another mistake in a proof: our repro house say they check proofs before they send them out but apparently they don’t do so thoroughly!

All day I was trying to contact people and so didn’t dare go to lunch – my lunch consisted of beans and chips brought in by a colleague at 3pm.

I got shit for not printing someone else’s crap instantaneously – it’s not my fault they fucked their printer twice in short order.

Our admin assistant has been excused phone duty because the orders have built up and so she is too busy entering them to handle customer calls. Yet we know that the past papers release is going cause hundreds of calls because people are impatient for their books. Apparently, if we asked for a temp to cover the totally predictable 1 or two mad weeks, customer service would have been moved to Swindon. How fucking stupid is that? Either we look bad now or we look totally shit later when customer service are miles away and are even less on top of exactly what’s happening. Part of the rush to enter orders is to get revenue showing on the books. What difference can it make if we show the income this month or next month? Surely it’s the total income for the whole project that counts. Businesses have agreemetns with banks to cover cash-flow issues. Meanwhile production can’t work properly because we’re taking calls from Mrs Wank-features and her coterie of harridans who don’t appreciate that if we do a series of nearly 70 books, some are going to arrive before others, especially when we’re dependent on outside organisations and individuals and even more so when some of these outsiders are slow to do their work and when at least one of whom is actively obstructing production of his subject’s book. Of course we have absolutely no power to make them do the stuff we depend on them doing.

The obvious solution is to not say they’re published until they’re all in our warehouse but then we’d be accused of being late!

Two more printer’s proofs of answer sections arrived – one got approved without changes but the other was approved subject to further correction. I’m buggered to understand why it’s taken over 10 working days to create these proofs since all they had to do was feed the files into platemaking software and watch the pages print – and that will take a few hours at the most. Since the files are PDF-IT, it makes sod-all difference whether the answers are text or graphical. PDF-ITs are just dots and so there is NO parsing process. No bastard wonder these books won’t be ready for another 2 weeks.

Meanwhile my publishing colleagues have asked me to arrange an advance of a book that won’t be delivered until 15th October to go to a customer NOW! So I get another set of proofs output, hoping that they can be wiro-bound and sent to the customer. God knows what it will cost – it’s a nice gesture which won’t hurt our customer service reputation (which is somewhere in the subsoil just now) but sets a horrible precedent.

Why is our CS rep so shit, you ask? Well, much earlier this year, about 14 books flagged up as being close to selling out. So I sorted the covers and title pages to include the new logos but just after we’d run out, it was decided to totally revamp the covers and title pages. So the designer we’re tied into delivers the new covers two or three weeks after his agreed delivery date (by which time the new school year had started). Then we found that the spine widths we’d been working to are now incorrect, because the books are now being printed on standard GL paper which is thinner (but fortunately not weaker) than the paper we’ve used previously so the new designs needed to be tweaked. Half of the covers had been created in QwankAbcess and so our repro-house could sort them. The others had been created in InDesign: at first I was asked to tweak them: I wasn’t keen, because I was (and still am) up to my neck in Past Paper shite, and because I have almost no experience with InDesign and so can’t promise that I’ll get it right. Eventually our repro house said they can do the job. We found out another two weks later that they had subcontracted the job to some other bunch of repro-artists who took their own sweet time. Finally, the printing of the books had to fit in with GL’s batching of titles (to save money) which delayed them even more so they’re not set to arrive until about 2 months into the new school year.

Oh yes, the planning I had to do today: This was to check and then implement schedules for 4 new titles I’ve been handed to pass on to my staff. The schedules needed a lot of work to even begin to understand them. When I graped them side by side, I saw half the time my colleagues are supposed to be actively working on two projects at once – which means I’ll be doing a lot of fire-fighting. Then again, the schedules are self-contradictory but still there appears to be no real opportunity for me to take a holiday. The date proposed for celebrating this year’s past papers project is in one of the weeks I’d most want to be away from all things Leckie.

Good news? Well, GL give us 25th December to 3rd January off on top of our annual leave (and I still have 15 days of annual leave left to take) and Elly-total-nice-person has sent me some lovely Lush-stuff and a lovely email.

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