Bone Garden #11 on New York Times bestseller list

I got word Wednesday afternoon that after its first week on sale, the paperback edition of THE BONE GARDEN will be #11 on the August 17 New York Times mass-market fiction bestseller list.  (It will be #12 on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list.)  It’s a really tough list at the moment.  Look at the big names who are also on the list: Grisham, James Patterson, Sandra Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Catherine Coulter, Faye Kellerman, Daniel Silva, and Janet Evanovich.  So … whew! 

 

A thousand books an hour

That’s the rate I was able to sign books.  I had no idea I was that fast.

A few days, I blogged about getting stuck in an airport en route to Chicago.  The reason I flew to Chicago was to visit the warehouse of Levy, a national book distributor in Romeoville, IL, that supplies mass market books to a huge number of retail outlets.  But because of storms in the Chicago area, my flight was cancelled (after an 8-hour delay) and I ended up stuck overnight in Portland Maine.  But the next day, by some miracle, I managed to fly out and got to my destination about nineteen hours late.  I went straight from O’Hare to the Levy warehouse, where I was greeted with this sign:

levy welcome

I was then ushered into the cafeteria, where I was confronted with a table covered with books to be autographed.

table of books

1500 copies of a single title.  That’s what you’re seeing in this photo.  And that was just a quarter of the books waiting to be signed. The man in the photo is Jerry Wujcik from Random House sales. I’m sorry he’s so hard to see in this photo because he looks exactly like Harrison Ford.  Trust me, he does.

I sat down and got to work.  With the assistance of some great guys from Levy, who kept the books moving, we got a mini-assembly line going.  (The guys kept muttering under their breath, in Spanish: “Wow, she’s fast.”)  In about six hours, I was able to sign 6,000 paperback copies of four of my backlist titles: THE SINNER, BODY DOUBLE, VANISH, and THE MEPHISTO CLUB.  These will be distributed to varous retailers.

People always ask me if I ever get writer’s cramp, and the truth is, I never have.  Not even during this marathon signing session.  I managed to keep going, at a rate of one book every 3.8 seconds, but I admit that my signature began to deteriorate.  By the end of it, it was looking pretty wormy.  But I guarantee that if you pick up a paperback with an autograph sticker on it, I did indeed sign it.  Even if it’s the sloppiest signature you ever saw.

When the signing was all over, here’s what the finished product looked like in the warehouse: 6,000 copies boxed for shipment.  And that’s my super-efficient team standing with me:

  warehouse

Why fly all the way to Chicago to sign books?  The answer is clear: readers love signed books.

I don’t have the hard facts here, but one person in the book industry told me that an autographed book sells five times faster than an unsigned book.  That alone makes a trip to a distributor a very worthwhile visit indeed!

why book tours are harder than ever

I happen to be one of those authors who absolutely loves being on book tour. I’ve been on eleven of them (whoa, that many?) and I’m gearing up for my twelfth tour, to promote THE KEEPSAKE. And for the most part they all went smoothly — well, except for the awful morning of September 11, 2001, when I was on the way to the airport and heard, on the driver’s radio, that all flights had been shut down. All I wanted to do was get home and be with my family, but I ended up stranded in Seattle for a week.

Aside from national emergencies, though, I’ve found book tours to be largely pleasant if hectic affairs, with only the occasional travel glitch. But at the moment, I’m sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight that is already seven hours delayed, thanks to thunderstorms in Chicago. I know that this is just one of those Acts of God that no one can predict or control. Lord knows, my publisher’s travel agent has worked heroically over the past few hours to get me to my destination.

But there’s no arguing with the weather.

It seems to me, a frequent traveler, that these airline fiascos seem to be happening more and more often. Planes are crowded and flights are overbooked. The seven-hour delay, the ten-hour delay, the cancelled flights, are now so frequent and routine that a multi-connection airline trip requires the same mental preparation required to charge into battle. I now expect something to go wrong. I expect to miss my connections. I try to get into my destination city the night before rather than the day of. (And even then, as with this trip, I may not make it to my appointment.) I expect to go hungry (pack granola bars!) and arrive exhausted, if at all.

I never, ever check my baggage. Because the airlines will lose it. They see my battered suitcase come rolling by on the conveyor belt and say, “ah ha! Let’s misplace that one again!”

I still love going on book tour. What I don’t love is U.S. air travel. I long for a good, reliable train network that can whisk me from coast to coast. I long for the days when I (on obsessive-compulsive about being on time) could count on arriving as expected. I long for some predictability in travel. It just ain’t gonna happen. Not these days.

So I take a deep breath and just try to be Zen about it. The reward for all the stress is the chance to meet wonderful readers and booksellers. I’d travel to Timbuktu to meet them.

I just hope they’ll understand if I don’t show up as scheduled.

I’m probably stuck in an airport.

The bookmarks are here!

I have quite a few KEEPSAKE bookmarks to give away, so if you’d like one or two or even a dozen autographed bookmarks, just send a self-addressed, stamped business-size envelope to:

Tess Gerritsen, PO Box G, Camden, ME  04843.

(For quantities of more than six, two stamps will be needed.)

If you’re a bookstore or library and want larger quantities for your patrons, email me your address.  I’d be happy to send you some!

I’ll be traveling for the next few weeks, so will be blogging only intermittently. The big news is: I’m headed off to my first book tour in Finland, and can’t wait to see that beautiful country.

And in answer to several queries about just what the heck Hadrian’s Wall is all about …

It’s an impressive vestige of the Roman occupation of Britain.  While most of the wall has been taken down, the stones cannibalized to build other structures since then, there are still a number of ruins that attest to the highly advanced architectural skills of the Romans.  As an archaeology buff, of course I had to hunt it down!