There might not be as many bookstores, or as many books in those stores that still exist as there used to be, but have you ever thought about how many print books are out there for sale at any given point in time? Consider, for a moment, the logistics of getting those books out there to all those points of sale and in time for their release dates! If that alone doesn't bring to mind a logistical nightmare, add to that the distribution of books direct to consumers.
Again, if you're reading this post, you probably know what the term direct to consumer or DTC means, because Heartwarming is a DTC series. The term is self-explanatory: upon release, the books are shipped directly to consumers who've purchased a subscription for the series. How many people subscribe to the series, you might ask. A lot . . . and thank you very much from each of us!
Which brings me back to the question of logistics. I happen to know a little more about that, since I had the opportunity last year to visit the Harlequin Distribution Center in Depew, New York.
I was honored to have been asked to visit for their annual employee recognition event. How far did I have to travel to get there from north of Toronto, you might ask?
The drive was 229.8 kilometers each way and worth every single kilometer to meet such phenomenal group of committed, hard-working and simply wonderful team members.
These two lovely ladies made all the arrangements for my trip. Not only were they a pleasure to deal with, they greeted me with copies of the just-released first book in my K-9 series!
I stopped along the way to pick up a couple dozen cookies for the team. Imagine my surprise when, in addition to a delicious lunch, the team had set up this sumptuous dessert table.
And if that wasn't enough, my visit occurring just before Halloween, there were more treats already on the tables. (Oh, and more copies of my book. Did I mention...silly me...I actually BROUGHT some books with me to give out! To a distribution center... Okay, before you laugh too hard, I thought it would be better for me to be prepared than not.)
Everyone was so welcoming and warm, the time passed much too quickly.
Imagine what a thrill it was for me to be able to sign my books for the people who work so hard to provide customer service to our readers!
If I wasn't over-the-moon happy already, this stunning bouquet of flowers would have done it.
And now back to the question of logistics. I was given a tour of the entire distribution center. There were so many conveyors in the warehouse, it made me think of a luggage-handling system in an airport. (Oh, wait, that's a key setting in When I Found You, the third book of my K-9 trilogy, and I didn't even know it then!)
Let's start with the DTC orders. When an order is received by mail, the machine you see below opens the envelopes, and sorts and separates the contents. All my fellow Canadians, please take note: We have a propensity (apparently unlike our US counterparts) to STAPLE our checks to the order form. For future reference, please don't do this. The staples can jam the machine. :-)
Not only does the distribution center distribute the books, they can print books, when needed in a hurry. For example, when Brenda Novak's A Winter Wedding sold out in no time all (and as a fan, I can say I'm not surprised!), the team was asked to print more. Here they are...fully assembled for distribution.
Imagine my delight to see Heartwarming's very own Cheryl Harper's books being printed, too. Here are the covers, ready for assembly. Have a look at whose covers are right next to Cheryl's. Yes, Nora Roberts'. And although you can't see it in this photograph, the covers just below Ms. Roberts' are Robyn Carr's. Talk about being in exceptional company!
Speaking of Heartwarming authors, here's a book from another Heartwarming author, Pamela Tracy. Yes, Pamela writes for Love Inspired, as well, and these books were already packaged and on skids ready to be shipped. (Do you love this cover as much as I do?)
Here are some more books ready to be shipped. This place really is a book-lover's paradise!
Oh, and I found more of Cheryl's books, this time fully assembled and ready to be boxed and shipped direct to consumers. (Anyone who loves animals would love this book, by the way.)
This is one of the lovely ladies who packages the books for custom orders. I should mention that everyone I met and had a chance to speak to absolutely LOVES what they do and working for Harlequin.
Phew...good thing these books were already shrink wrapped. I might have been tempted to ask for one, otherwise!
For authors, this distribution center also ships our copies of our books to us. Speaking of our books, I'm thrilled to share my next release date—July 1st—with Catherine Lanigan, Karen Rock and Amy Vastine. Our books are now available for pre-order in e-book format through most online retailers (paperbacks will be available soon). Please click on the titles below if you would like to learn more about a book or order your copy now.
Catherine's Sophie's Path;
Karen's Under an Adirondack Sky;
Amy's A Girl He Used to Love; and
the third book in my K-9 Trilogy, When I Found You.
As a teaser, it's my pleasure to introduce you to the hero, heroine and four-legged hero of When I Found You . . .
Just one more thing before I say good-bye . . .
The first two books of my K-9 trilogy and The Truth About Hope have been included by The Romance Reviews as entrants for the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards. The nomination process to advance books to the final round is currently under way and ends on March 31st. If you have already nominated my books, thank you very much. If you haven't but would like to, please click on the book titles below to go to the nomination pages.
A heartfelt thank you to all our readers for supporting our books and making it possible for us to do what we love.