Things authors can’t control.

I’ve heard from half a dozen people so far that, as of Friday, THE BONE GARDEN had not yet arrived in their local bookstores.  The book was supposed to go on sale Tuesday, three days earlier.  Other readers have told me that in their stores, the books had arrived but were still in the back room, and only when the customer requested it did a clerk finally unpack them and pull them out.  Which means there are probably  dozens, if not hundreds of stores that will report no sales of my book for the first week — a vital week in a book’s release — and this could well be significant when it comes to tallying up the bestseller list. 

It’s frustrating for me to walk into a store and see that other books with on-sale dates the same week are on prominent display right in the front, while my book is nowhere to be seen.  Ironically enough, a book I blurbed is on display everywhere — while my own book remains hidden.   

Years ago, the same week that LIFE SUPPORT was released in hardcover, UPS went on strike.  Thousands of my books got stuck in warehouses, undelivered.  It dribbled into stores over the month that followed, and didn’t even make it into stores where I was doing signings. 

So this, in comparison, is a relatively minor aggravation. 

I’ve grown resigned to this situation, as it’s happened so often before, and I’ve learned to accept the inevitable.  The only thing I can control is what goes into the book.  After that, it’s in the publisher’s and the bookseller’s hands.

You can get agitated about this sort of thing only so many times, and then you learn to give up and let whatever happens, happen.  Over the years, I’ve fumed and fretted over situations like these.  This time around, it feels so familiar and so unchangeable that I’m just going to let the fates take their course.  I don’t expect a great first-week’s sales, so I just have to hope that THE BONE GARDEN will keep selling in the weeks to come.


19 replies
  1. dustinhood
    dustinhood says:

    Hey Tess,

    In the bookstore and one that somebody that I know went to, the book was put onto the shelves early, some where even a whole week early. When I went to my bookseller, I first looked around the store to see how many of your books they had, I only saw one on shelf and that was with your other collection, not with the new releases. I already had my book on hold so that I would be guaranteed a copy. I went to the customer service desk and asked them how well the book was selling. They replied, “We only sold one today (Tuesday, Sep. 18). The book has been on on the shelves since Thursday.” I responded, “It was not supposed to be released until today.” She gave me a what-are-you-talking-about look. “If today is the 18th, and I know it is, then today is when you were supposed to put it on the shelves.” “Oh well.” So, while some booksellers didn’t even get your books, and some didn’t even put them out, others put them out too early. Thought you might want to know. I’m on chapter 12 now, and I can’t put it down. Great job! “Would great be insulting? It’s more than great, it’s divine.” I believe those where the scary words from the girl off of MISERY.


  2. tuttle
    tuttle says:

    Thats terrible that out of all the books that came out last week and were available for bookstore staffs across the country to open up, pull out of the boxes and stock- YOURS didn’t get on the shelf!

    All that work you put into a book and at the end of the day it all comes down to the fact that your book rests in the hands of any number of store clerks who either love their work and go the extra mile to get the week’s books on the shelf OR any number of store clerks who think that just showing up for work every day at 9.75 an hour is more then enough work ethic.

    Lately, books have become as dependant on ‘opening week’ numbers as much as movies have. Without those large numbers the first week…both the movies….and the books…
    stumble along without further support and then get taken out of circulation after a few weeks with only netflicks or for a second chance at some sort of success.

    Such is the way of the world. And its only going to get worse.

    The control thing goes beyond the world of films and books too—-

    ….from the company CEO who decides to move the business overseas and put you out of work—–
    to stealing a frightful glance in your rearview car mirror and hoping that the the driver behind you is paying attention to the back of your car and not busy texting his girlfriend.

    But, we can only do the best we can and hope that lady luck and the world is kind to us each day.

  3. tuttle
    tuttle says:

    If I could be a bit nosy Tess-
    Has the publisher booked you on any talk shows or radio programs such as NPR?


    Even a 5 minute gig in the 2nd hour of Good Morning America would let a few million potential readers know that the book is out there. (If and when the store clerks get it on the shelf of course)

  4. Craig
    Craig says:

    As I said, I saw your book prominently displayed at my bookstore on Saturday. My guess is that since they get their shipment from Ingrams every Thursday at the latest, your book was only a couple of days late at worst. Your book will remain in its place probably for at least a month in the New Arrivals, unless it sells out or moves to the NY Time Bestseller Rack. Now here’s something I didn’t tell you. They are having trouble keeping your titles in mass paperback editions in stock. And several times in the past few months I’ve heard customers specifically ask for your works. Further, Body Double was the Book of the Month for one of the local discussion groups last spring. You have yet to peak in popularity, love. Your customer base is still growing.

  5. vividexpression
    vividexpression says:

    I bought a copy of The Bone Garden on Thursday. I checked on Tuesday and every store in Ottawa said they had copies, the numbers ranging from 2-12. (I didn’t look through every single store though, just the ones closest to me)

    I haven’t started reading yet because I’ve been busy with school but I am glad to have a copy. 😀

  6. Eileen
    Eileen says:

    I’m in Seattle for the weekend and the B&N had TBG on the front with the other new releases. I gave a big squeal as if Johnny Depp showed up and rushed the table prepared to do battle with anyone who got in the way of my copy. I’m not starting it yet- until I finish this project for work so it’s just sitting here taunting me….

  7. Lee Lofland
    Lee Lofland says:

    Today, I stopped in a Barnes and Noble in Framingham, Ma. on my way back to Boston. Your book was displayed in the front of the store, near the door, as well as on two other tables. The stacks on those tables were two-feet high. It looked like Tess Gerritsen Day in Massachusetts!

    I only found one copy of my new book in that same store. They were using it to level up one of the table legs for your display… 🙂

  8. lajean
    lajean says:

    dear Tess, for those of us who have anxiously awaited your new work, determination will prevail. I found The Bone Garden yesterday at the second place I tried. I finished it today. As always your work is beyond thought provoking, beyond scary. Beyond touching. And completely engrossing!!

    thank you for your amazing work! lajean

  9. BladeOmega
    BladeOmega says:

    I went to Wal-Mart, late Thursday night, with the firm intention of acquiring a copy of The Bone Garden. After looking around the book section for fifteen minutes, I decided that they didn’t have it. So I went home and ordered it from Amazon. Soon, it will be mine.

  10. amulya malladi
    amulya malladi says:


    I just wanted to let you know that I saw large copies of The Mephisto Club in paperback at the Copenhagen airport. No sight of The Bone Garden though. Usually, your books come to the Europe market pretty fast–I guess courtesy of your UK publisher.

    I know this is a horrible thing for a writer; to walk up to a store and see no book. Especially on the first week of release. I live in Denmark; so you can imaging how joyous it is to find a book of mine (doesn’t happen all the time) in a Danish English book store. BUT I just sold Danish rights for my next book and I can’t wait to see the sucker in Danish bookstores–just to feel I’m doing something right.

    But you are right, you can just right the book. You can’t decide how many copies, where, who, how…

  11. claytonh2
    claytonh2 says:

    Tess,I read your book,The Bone Garden, in one fell swoop. It’s a wonderful story. I could not put it down until I’d finished reading it. TBG has a little of everything in it,murder, mystery,suspense and humor.Did you call John Greenleaf Whittier Johnny? In any event it is a great book and despite distribution snafus I belive it will be successful. I do have a question. I have, “The Complete Poetical Works” of JGW published in 1876,Household Edition. What does Household Edition,mean? Clayton

  12. Tom Young
    Tom Young says:

    Finally found the book Wedensday at a Walden’s books. Checked three places Tuesday and not to be found. Checked one place Saturday (22cd) and still not found there, asked why and was told they don’t request new titles, just what is sent.

    I think it’s a goverment plot.

    Loved the book, growing up in NH I spent a lot of time in Boston and the surrounding areas. Maybe on day I can move back to NH from the god-forsaken PA.

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