What happens when you lose 32 books in the mail?

32 copies of A Little Daily Dose are lost in September, somewhere between Singapore and San Francisco.

Were they lost during transit in Hong Kong? Did they arrive in Los Angeles and got lost on the road? Were they being checked at the customs where the officers disliked the content? Did someone steal them to sell on eBay?

“Don’t be stupid lah, nobody steals books! Why would they?” my mum sneered, “They will turn up tomorrow!”

Nothing came for us tomorrow.

I opted for Singpost (Singapore’s local postal service) among other international courier services, just because it’is more economical. Our first batch of 15 books arrived in four days. It felt promising and I had not considered the downside of not having tracking service. They came in two layers of tarpaulin bags with various tags (of information) among knots.

Could the custom officers have opened it up? Did they decide that it was too much work to re-tie them? As a result, are the books sitting somewhere in an office, abandoned? I had so many questions.

Was the second batch of 32 books too heavy for the mail lady? With this thought, we went to our friendly neighbourhood post office and inquired about the mail delivery time – 4:30 pm every Mondays to Saturdays.

We sat on our apartment stoop and patiently waited that evening. The mail lady told us that she is only in charge of the light documents -bigger packages are usually delivered by the mail trucks.

“Don’t worry… maybe it will come tomorrow!” she smiled.

The next few days, we went off for walks in search of mail trucks. We managed to ask some of them but there was no sign of any packages addressed to us.

Days became weeks and weeks became months. We submitted an online missing mail request and signed up for USPS Informed Delivery.

In a famous Ming dynasty poem – The Song of Tomorrow [明日歌]” – the poet reiterated “Tomorrow, yet another tomorrow, how many tomorrows could there be? If I spend my life waiting for tomorrow, Ten-thousand things (everything) would go wasted…”

Chinese poetry is a pretty fascinating form of moral education. My teachers and parents made me recite them when I was a child, over and over again. They did not tell me that at some point in life, every single word would resurface.

Suddenly it all became clear. Why wait for 32 books when there are Ten-thousand things to do?

Our self-publishing journey has been filled with such drastic ups and downs. Still, we are fortunate to have three hundred books printed in the first place. Now that we are down to about fifty copies, maybe it’s a good time to question what’s next?

Should we…

  1. arrange for an international courier to ship the remaining books or wait till the next time we head back to Singapore?
  2. sell whatever that is left and move on or explore print-on-demand book printing services?
  3. submit our idea to literary agents/publishers?
  4. start working on a new book idea?

Recovering the missing books doesn’t feel like a priority anymore as there are 9,996 other things we should be considering…



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