A day at the office

I spent six years at two top universities in the UK (Manchester and Oxford) but my workplace these days is a beach shack on Phuket island with superb internet connection. My poor parents. But hey, welcome to the new world.

4th of May was not a typical office day. It was the day that my second parenting book, Easy Parenting For All Ages was made available for free download on Kindle. It all started in 2012. I wrote a parenting book called Barefoot In The City. It sold 5,000 copies in the traditional hard copy format and went down the route of conventional books with a book launch party (in the rainforest), book signings and book events. It became a much-loved book because I had successfully built a community around the Barefoot philosophy. The community is still going strong on Facebook and my blogs. In a sense, the followers had become real friends.

Four years down the road and the subject of the book, my youngest daughter Georgina, was about to turn 16. She said some scary, truthful things such as “You can’t stop teenagers doing what they want. We can always find a way if we want to.”

Fortunately for us, she does not want to party, do drugs, get high, sleep around….despite living in the party town of Patong. She wants to study, play football and occasionally eat junk food and veg out with Gray’s Anatomy. So I decided to write an updated version of Barefoot In The City. Georgina’s father thinks it is very easy to parent her (really?), so I decided to call the updated book Easy Parenting For All Ages. Yes, it has his perspectives too.

A NEW WORLD

I did well financially out of Barefoot In The City but Georgina strongly suggested that the new book be released on Kindle. “Think about the trees and the ink, Mum!” Since when has she become an eco-warrior, or does she know something I don’t?

But I have to live by my parenting creed, which is allowing teenagers to take the lead. So dinosaur, un-techie mummy ventured into the world of Kindle, foolhardy and optimistic. Can’t be that difficult, right? Right? After all, I paid for a professional book interior designer to sort the techie stuff out.

I decided to give Barefoot In The City free with Easy Parenting For All Ages. At a measly $3.99 for both books, I should hopefully recoup what I paid my decorator. Er, I mean interior designer. Note: I didn’t want to charge more because it is a learning experience for me and in case it turned out to be a bad job. I just wanted to recoup the costs.

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THINGS THEY NEVER TAUGHT YOU IN BUSINESS SCHOOL

I never went to one but I don’t suppose these were mentioned in MBA classes. Here they are, for what they are worth:

You can never be 100% prepared.

However much prep you do beforehand, there will be issues on the day. Easy Parenting was launched on 30th April, Georgina’s 16th birthday, with a list price of U$3.99. The Free Book Day was scheduled for 4th of May:

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I made a YouTube video and prepped followers on how to download the free Kindle app, where to find the book, etc.

Don’t assume

Global business does not mean global integration. Surprise, surprise, Kindle downloads based in Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk is not available for download in Asia. I cursed. Because despite all the checkboxes I ticked (WORLDWIDE), it seems that Asia is not part of the world in Amazon-speak.

You must learn to troubleshoot

On the morning of 4th of May, my messaging service, email account and Twitter were full with messages. All saying the same thing: CAN’T DOWNLOAD.

I knew I would be answering at least a hundred of these, so still in my pyjamas, I made another YouTube video. “Good morning, folks. It’s still very early. It’s still the 3rd of May in USA so please wait for Amazon US to wake up before you can get your free copy.”

Not that simple. There is no one solution for all. “I cannot see it on my iPhone”, “I can’t find your book on Amazon”, “Why do I have to pay $3.99?”

And therein lies the two most important lessons learned:

It’s the people that matters

Out of nowhere, the small army of tech-savvy mums began answering the “How do I switch on my computer” questions. They took screenshots, they advised, they encouraged. I was completely blown away, because as a one-woman-show, I could hardly keep up with the questions hitting me every few seconds. I din’t even have the time to pee because if I moved away from my laptop, there would be 30 messages on cue. Yes, at the end of the day, it is the people that matters. The teamwork. The human factor. Sod the book.

You must care about what you are doing

I made it a point to answer every question. Apart from Amazon, I cursed my daughter. She is incommunicado due to football practice and Biology exam. At one stage, I almost phoned the school to drag her out of the exam room to answer the “I can’t find your book on Amazon” questions.

Finally, the sun is setting and my day is coming to a close. And this is the grand total I have earned today, from the few generous who took pity on me and paid for the book that they could have downloaded for free.

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I am happy, because you can buy a lot of beer for that in Thailand. Now let’s just hope folks leave cheery reviews for me to wake up to tomorrow and no “I can’t download!” messages. Good evening, All. x

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