VANISH will be #8 on the NYT list

Today’s Wednesday.  Those of you who are in the publishing biz probably know the significance of Wednesdays.  It’s the day when the New York Times releases its bestseller lists.  This afternoon, around six p.m., I got the call from my literary agent: VANISH will debut on the September 17 fiction paperback list at #8.  I’m delighted, of course.

Mostly what I am is relieved.  Crazy, isn’t it?  Instead of letting out a celebratory whoop, I just sort of collapsed on the couch with a sigh of “thank god I’m not an abject failure after all.”  

I also got some numbers reported to me, along with the list, and I’m struck by a few interesting things.  First, the utter invincibility of Nora Roberts!  She has two new novels on the bestseller list this week!  And the numbers she sells are staggering.  Her #1 bestselling title, MORRIGAN’S CROSS, sold almost four times as many copies this week as did VANISH.  Her sales far outstripped the #2 bestseller, THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER.  Another thing I’m struck by is how small a percentage of paperback sales is captured by the Bookscan numbers.  Bookscan, in case you’re not familiar with it, tracks book sales in a number of retail outlets.  But the numbers reported don’t include Sam’s Club, Walmart, or mass merchandisers such as Anderson, Hudson, Safeway, etc.

When I look at the breakdown for which companies ordered my paperbacks, nearly 3/4 of the books were shipped to mass merchandisers.  Not bookstores.  Which makes me think that over 3/4 of paperback sales may not be showing up on Bookscan.

What’s also interesting is that titles by Debbie Macomber (#4 on the list) and Vince Flynn (#5 on the list), which showed stellar sales this week, had debuted last week in the bottom third of the Times list.  I’m seeing this happening more and more often, that authors who I know are selling well aren’t popping onto the list, or very high on the list, until two weeks into their sales cycle.  What’s happening here?  Is it a distribution problem?  Instead of a good crisp laydown, are merchants slow in putting the books on display, thus screwing up their first week’s sales?

Finally, I’m struck once again by the domination of female authors on this list.  Of the bestselling 15 titles, 10 of them were written by women.  And most of the titles are what I’d call “women’s fiction.”

Which convinces me that I made a good choice in requesting a re-design of the VANISH package in paperback, changing it to a sexier, more seductive image that would appeal to women.  You just never know when your instincts are right, or when an idea will bomb in the marketplace.  I think this time, my instincts were right.

12 replies
  1. ebenezerearl
    ebenezerearl says:

    Congratulations! That’s great news. I’m betting that Mephisto Club is going to make the top five.

  2. writeforlove
    writeforlove says:


    I buy a lot of my books at Walmart, actually. I saw Vanish on the paperback top sellers last night when I was there. And there was only 2 copies left, whereas all the others had 5 or 6.

    Just finished the Memory Keeper’s Daughter- it was a touching story and well-crafted, but not really for me. I like constant action & drama and need to be entertained at every given moment….i don’t have the attention span that i used to at this point in life, so something needs to be happeneing continously in order for it to be a pageturner…..which is why I read your books. there’s only a handful of authors that i splurge for the hardcover, and you’re one of them. 🙂

    ps- you can imagine my issues with classics. they’re tough for me to get through, but i always feel like i have to throw one in there every now and then. to be a more “well rounded” person. whatever that means.

  3. Cece
    Cece says:

    I wonder if that distribution problem isn’t early sales and sellers not adhering to the laydown date, which seems a pretty common problem?

  4. vividexpression
    vividexpression says:

    I’m wondering if you know sales numbers from Canada? I bought two of your books from Chapters last week. (The Surgeon and Harvest, if you’re curious hehe) Anyway, congrats on the NYT list. It doesn’t surprise me since you’re such a great writer. The first two pages of The Surgeon still gives me chills!

  5. kac210
    kac210 says:

    Funny that you mention Morrigan’s Cross. I bought that, Vanish, and 6 Rainier Drive (the new Debbie Macomber) today!

    Congrats on the NYT list!

  6. Allison Brennan
    Allison Brennan says:

    Congratulations! I loved, loved, loved VANISH. It was my favorite since THE APPRENTICE. Not that the others weren’t great, because they were. I sat down with VANISH after dinner one Sunday and didn’t go to bed until 2 am. I was riveted.

    I completely agree with you about the cover. the mass market is eye catching and the colors fantastic, while still keeping with the overall brand of your covers. To me it fits better with the previous covers as well.

  7. claytonh2
    claytonh2 says:

    what wonderful news,congratulations! i was in the jabberwocky book store last week and they had vanish on a shelf,at eye level, facing the front really is striking.hope to see you at a signing at the end of the month.

  8. erwedin
    erwedin says:

    Congratulations! I have to admit Vanish is my first experience with your novels, and yes, the cover work is what grabbed my attention. Although I just finsihed the book earlier today i am already looking forward to buying mephisto club this evening. After that I will backtrack and get caught up on all of your novels. I am hooked…keep up the great work

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