My book goes on sale today. I’m depressed.

Tuesday, Sep 18th, 2007 @ 08:45 am

This may be another one of those blog posts that I come to regret, but what the heck.  It’s my blog and I’ll be honest if I want to.

I’m suffering from post-partum depression.  That’s the best way I can describe it.  After spending a year to write THE BONE GARDEN, after months of anticipation and hopefulness, it comes down to this moment of truth.  Or, if you will, this week of truth.  Whatever happens this first week pretty much determines whether the book is a flop or a failure.  And I wish I could crawl into a cave and not come out until next year.

It probably sounds crazy to non-writers when I tell them that what should be a time of triumph — “Hey, my book’s finally in the stores!” — turns out instead to be the time of year when I’m most anxious and depressed.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  I don’t know if other writers feel this way, but I suspect I’m not the only one. 

Don’t get me wrong — I love meeting readers and talking about the book.  But the promotional and business side of writing is not the reason I became a writer in the first place.  I’m a writer because I love to tell stories.  Now I have to get out there and be a saleswoman, in what seems like an ever more difficult market.  I lie awake in bed, anxious about all the things that will go wrong.  They always do.  There’ll be stores that never got the book,  reviewers who hate the book, and booksignings where no one shows up.

Then there’ll be the sales figures dribbling in day by day, reminding me that yes, this is actually a business, and that someone’s keeping track of whether I’m performing adequately.

The worst insult any reviewer can throw at a writer is to say about her book: “The author obviously didn’t care and just wrote it for the money.”  Maybe there are writers who actually don’t care, but I don’t know any.  Every writer I know, bestseller or not, cares deeply about his book and how it does in the marketplace.  Even though this is my 11th thriller, I still can’t adopt a Zen attitude about its release, although I’m trying. 

In a perfect world, I’d just write the books and let someone else do the selling.  Instead I have to go out and beg people to buy the book, and I’m not a natural saleswoman.  I’m really a natural hermit.  

 

52 Responses to “My book goes on sale today. I’m depressed.”

  1. tiptop says:

    Tess, I’m sure there’s not much any of us fans can say to make you feel better, but just know that we love your work and we also love your blog and how honest you are on it. Every business has its ups and downs–the up today is that we are all thrilled The Bone Garden is out and we can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round (http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html) and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub (http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen).

    Hope you can feel all the Internet love!

  2. tiptop says:

    Tess, I’m sure there’s not much any of us can say to make you feel better. Every career has its ups and downs built in–the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  3. tiptop says:

    Tess, I’m sure there’s not much any of us can say to make you feel better. Every career has its ups and downs built in, but the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  4. Larry Willis says:

    Tess,

    As a writer struggling to be published for the first time, I understand. After a year+ of writing, editing and re-writing, I’m now looking for an agent. The anticipation and angst is as you describe… painful.

    Good luck. Looking forward to reading The Bone Garden.

  5. SheilaC says:

    Your term “postpartum depression” hits the nail right on the head. You live with your story and your characters for so long, with such hope and anticipation, and then you turn them loose and it’s out of your control. You just have to believe, both in your work and in your readers.

    I’m looking forward to the book.

  6. bob k says:

    Tess,

    I doubt you will have to beg people to buy the book…but I sure understand the “natural hermit” feeling and I can understand worrying with each book how it will be accepted.

    As for those book signings where no one shows up – all I can say is that my son and I enjoyed talking with you a couple years ago here in Augusta and it seemed kind of nice (to us) that there was no long line of people urging us to move on. That evening probably seemed mostly wasted to you – but to us it was a great experience.

    Hang in there Tess. It will be fine!!

  7. tiptop says:

    Tess, I’m sure there’s not much any of us can say to make you feel better. Every career has its ups and downs built in–the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  8. tiptop says:

    Tess, stay strong. Every career has its ups and downs built in–the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  9. HereToBeHeard says:

    Stay strong, Tess! Every career has its ups and downs built in–the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html and I also really liked your interview with Glam Hub: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  10. tiptop says:

    Stay strong, Tess! Every career has its ups and downs–the up today is that many of us are thrilled The Bone Garden is out and I, for one, can’t wait to read it!

    I’ve been Googling for new stuff on it, you got a thumbs up from Genre Go Round: http://genregoroundreviews.blogspot.com/2007/08/bone-garden-tess-gerritsen.html

    Hope you can feel at least somewhat comforted by all the Internet love!

  11. tuttle says:

    Well, not to push you over the emotional depression cliff but…..

    I am not published myself (hope to be) but I can imagine that even with all the previous books you’ve written, each new one makes one wonder if people have had their fill of you.

    After all there ARE a zillion other distractions for people these days like iPOd touch and iPhones and internet and of course theres REALITY as well like we’d like to move but mortgage rates are fer crap anymore and the kids need a few more years of college and the car has to go in the shop…..
    and yet here comes Tess with another hardcover……

    But thats the whole thrust of SELLING–

    Getting out there and pushing the book.

    Hell, many readers are too busy to KNOW a new book by a favorite author has been published and it’s your job to remind them.

    It’ll be fine.

    By now you have a faithful following who are already at Borders with your book in arm anticipating a quiet lunch as they turn each page….

    I envy you actually.

  12. HereToBeHeard says:

    Aw, Tess. This, too, shall pass. You have lots of supporters, in the industry and out.

    For those who haven’t read it yet, there’s a nice interview with Glam Hub that I just found: http://glamhub.com/2007/09/tess_gerritsen

  13. mainekitten says:

    Tess, if you were to put out a new book and not care how it did, we’d all have something to worry about! You care about your writing and that’s as it should be – the day you stop caring will be a sad day indeed.

    I’m looking forward to The Bone Garden and will be purchasing it today, as will one of my friends. I’m sure it’s going to do well. My only problem is, I’m scheduled to work right through Saturday and I’m dying to read it as soon as possible but work interferes with that! (LOL) At any rate, we’re going to be at The Owl & Turtle tonight for the book signing and so look forward to seeing you again to launch another successful book.

    Sending you warm positive thoughts on this special day!

  14. Kyle K. says:

    You know, Tess, whether you believe it or not, you’re really an engaging speaker. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing you talk on two occasions (hopefully I’ll be able to make it to Cambridge on the 27th for #3!), and I’m always fascinated by what you have to say.

    The fact that you care so much about your readers is extraordinary, and it really shows during your talks. You’re also a brilliant writer, so you shouldn’t be worrying…! :)

  15. knaster says:

    Tess,

    Maybe I can’t comprehend what a writer goes through, but as a reader, one who adores you and your books, this, too, shall pass. It’s natural to be nervous and depressed. If we didn’t have emotions, we wouldn’t be human.
    Take a deep breath, count to 10, and remember: those of us who know you and love you will always support you. Those that don’t, f**k ‘em!
    The best of luck to you, and keep the faith.
    Abe

  16. Hi Tess

    I’ll be buying The Bone Garden later today and am eagerly anticipating reading it. You’ve never let me down.

    As a new author myself, I can related to your anxiety and the salesman part. The “what if everyone thinks my baby is ugly” stress. I know this book will be just as wonderful as the previous ones.

    We met once at RWA a few years ago and then again in Memphis when you were promoting The Surgeon. I enjoyed chatting with you on both occasions.

    Darcy

  17. Liz Wolfe says:

    In other careers how well we perform our job is largely in our own hands. But as an author so much of it is completely out of our control. A lot of writers are hermits by nature so self promotion doesn’t come easily to us. I did practically no promotion for my first two books because I just didn’t know that I was supposed to. My next book comes out in 11 months and I’m already thinking about promotion for it. I’d rather spend that time writing.
    I’ve read your books, Tess. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I’m looking forward to this new one.

  18. ec says:

    The worst insult any reviewer can throw at a writer is to say about her book: “The author obviously didn’t care and just wrote it for the money.”

    omg, I HATE this one. Not only is it insulting, it’s assinine. It’s especially jaw-dropping when it comes from would-be writers. (Though the fact that they’d even THINK this goes a long way toward explaining the “would-be” modifier….)

    I must admit, though, that I haven’t yet seen it applied to any of my books. Heh. Probably because all but the most ignorant and snark-infested reviewers understands at some level that obscure midlist writers MUST be doing it for something other than the money. :)

  19. Sue says:

    I think that must be a natural feeling, especially for writers. Writing in itself is such a solitary activity that to ‘switch’ and suddenly have to become salesperson, yeah… difficult.

    Good luck with it all. I’m sure you’ll do well. You have such a great fan-base and everyone is anticipating this new book. It’s going to be fine.

  20. BernardL says:

    Take comfort in knowing you are not the only popular published author to experience the angst you feel as your newest novel hits the book shelves, and remember the fact every unpublished author wants to experience it.

  21. I hate that you’re depressed, but I’m relieved to know that I’m not the only one. I didn’t write for two months after my first book came out. I couldn’t write. I was frozen. And with my delivery schedule, being frozen is deadly.

    But because we’re writers and we love stories, we sit down and start it all over again. Contracts aside, it’s not like we really have a choice. Storytelling is in our blood. When I speak to writers groups where the bulk of the audience are unpublished, and I KNOW that most of them will never be published for a variety of reasons, I talk about passion. “If you knew today that you would never be published, would you still be writing?” If the answer is YES, they have the passion.

    Still doesn’t make release week any easier. I’ve learned to both dread and live for Wednesday afternoons . . .

  22. NewMexicanAnn says:

    Hiya, Tess! Hopefully you’ll make it to Albuquerque someday.

    Anyway, as people here have been saying, you have to have faith in your readers, too, as well as yourself. Case in point, me and others who’ve spread the word about you and have gotten folks interested in reading your books. Another case in point, I was so eager to buy The Bone Garden, that I did something I never do; I ventured out before work to find a copy at my local grocery store, which usually has them in stock and displayed the second it comes out. That wasn’t the case this morning, though. And instead of just keeping quiet about it, I took the time to enquire politely but insistently. The customer service rep called around for a few minutes and said that the delivery folks must be late, but when she was calling around, she said that there were “people eager to buy it”. Translation: Get it here or else! So I said that I’d drop by again after work. Translation: Get it here or else! :)

    I’m sure there are others who are pretty insistent too when it comes to having your books available.

  23. Ugh, I’m just now emerging out my own postpartum fog from my latest novel — fortunately this one only lasted a couple weeks. Oddly, my wife is more prepared for this than I am…somehow I think that finishing THIS book will be different, that I’ll just go swanning gracefully back into the interstitial space between writing projects, when instead I join the legion of walking dead for ten to fifteen days until somehow, some way, I snap out of it. Usually this involves starting a new project — even if it’s a short story. Something. Anything.

  24. Marcus Sakey says:

    Oddly enough, Tess, one of the moments that I fall back on not infrequently was talking to you at a conference. You were early in a new book, THE MEPHISTO CLUB, I think, and I was struggling with my second. I asked if it got easier, and you looked at me with darting eyes and said, “This is my 20th, and I’m absolutely terrified.”

    Which is, you know, pretty cold comfort on the surface. But at least it meant I wasn’t alone. And neither are you.

  25. JD Rhoades says:

    “I don’t know if other writers feel this way, but I suspect I’m not the only one. ”

    Nope, me too. Like Marcus said, knowing even Tess Gerritsen feels The Fear may not make it go away, but it’s good to know we’re not alone.

    Hope to see you on the road, Tess.

  26. Lorra Laven says:

    Tess,

    Like anything in our lives that involves a tremendous effort and oh so much anticipation, I believe a letdown and almost a sense of loss — you’re no longer creating your story, carrying your baby, planning your wedding, etc — is natural and a healthy response.

    Remember the anticipation when you were pregnant with your children? The wonder, the showers, the sheer joy of feeling the baby move inside of you. And then you bring that helpless, wailing infant home and start the grind of sleepless nights for the next eighteen years.

    Congratulations. I’m sure your new baby will turn out better than you ever anticipated and then you’ll be back at “look” like.

    Already preeordered your book. Can’t wait to read it.

  27. Lorra Laven says:

    Oops – rushing – edit: and then you’ll be back to wondering what the next one will “look” like.

  28. bob k says:

    AM I the first to post that I have actually attained copy of THE BONE GARDEN??? YAY!

    Now the major question – finish the book I started yesterday first…or put it aside for your book Tess?

    If I start your book today – then after about Thurs, night or Friday all I’ll have to look forward to from you for a whole YEAR will be this blog…

    decisions, decisions…

  29. Craig says:

    Tess, you’re ranked # 179 on Amazon. That’s not bad, is it?

  30. NewMexicanAnn says:

    I got my copy! WOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Turns out I went back to the grocery store after work and the stocker said they didn’t have it, maybe next Tuesday, and the translation from my “I’ll be back to check after work” was “Get it here or else,” you know? So I went back home to decide where to try next. By some freak luck, I found a gift certificate for a local bookstore that I’d forgotten about completely, went there, and got my copy there, which the gift certificate mostly covered. :)

  31. NewMexicanAnn says:

    P.S. Feels like a holiday to us readers, huh?

  32. bob k says:

    NewMexicanAnn – it does indeed. ANd I got mine with a gift certificate also. What to buy for the birthday of someone who loves to read – a book store gift certificate works every time!

    Oh…and I started the book…now to try to not read the whole thing tonight…

  33. Dru says:

    I have my book and can’t wait to start.

  34. SandyS says:

    Oh no…I’m so sorry you’re depressed! I hope things look better soon!

    On a happier note – I’ve just finished both “Harvest” and “The Mephisto Club” and…my HAT IS OFF TO YOU! Oh gosh…if there is anyone better than building almost unbearable suspense, I don’t know who it is. Your writing it wonderful! I can’t wait to read “The Bone Garden” and the rest of your books! Thank you for wonderful novels!!!

  35. joe bernstein says:

    to echo kyle,you are a wonderful public speaker-i saw you give a talk to a packed room at plymouth and you had everyone’s attention-i don’t think your books sell so much by review as by return readership anyway,so get rid of the opening night jitters with a gin&tonic or 2(or 3):)

  36. bob k says:

    So bn.com has the Bone Garden at 19 in the hourly top 100…and on Amazon, its up to 155…but #1 in Thrillers…

    gees, is it just me or is this like watching election returns?

  37. Kyle K. says:

    Bob – I KNOW! I’ve been tracking her progress on Amazon all day, too!

  38. I know I have been much more sane as a debut author this year just having this blog to refer to. (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sent various links to here to family members so they could understand the process.) Thank you, tremendously.

    My copy is winging its way here; good luck this week–I have faith that it’s going to be a great week for you.

  39. Jude Hardin says:

    I looked for The Bone Garden at BAM today, but it wasn’t in yet. :(

    I’ll try again in a couple of days.

    Some writers seem to embrace promotion, signings, interviews, etc.; others, not so much. To me, the play’s the thing. The product is what really matters, and your books are always first-rate, Tess.

  40. Tess says:

    You guys are all the very best. I really can’t say enough for all you’ve done to make me smile! And I have to laugh that I don’t even have to obsess over Amazon and BN.com numbers — I have friends who are doing it for me!

  41. kthacker says:

    Hey, Tess!

    I rushed out to buy The Bone Garden as soon as I could this evening. I went to Books-A-Million and Wal-Mart–basically everywhere in my little Mayberry-ville. Nobody has it stocked yet! I’m so mad at them.

    Just checked Amazon.com again, The Bone Garden went up two places.

  42. Craig says:

    You’re up to #153 on Amazon. Hey, is this a watch party? Cool!!! Where’s the Ripple?

  43. claytonh2 says:

    tess this is a very good book.with such a great title and with the very colorfull dust jacket that i declare should draw some curiosty to the bone garden. it should do well.i got my copy this morning after wainting 20 minutes for jabberwocky to open.a few moments lateri was on the commuter train to boston with my face buried in your book. this book could, i believe, out sell all others.i hope to have a opportunity to meet you at a signing. claytonh

  44. WritingAngel says:

    Hi Tess

    I really enjoyed the article written on you that you posted about yesterday.

    I love the sound of THE BONE GARDEN and will be checking out the book stores around me (Wellington, NZ) to hopefully find a copy.

  45. bones17nae says:

    Tess,

    I am currently reading your book Vanish. I am almost done with it and I must say I am enjoying very much. I have never read a bok like this, most of the books that I read deal with sex, drugs, and money. This book is keeping my attention and I like how the story is unfolding. I plan on reading more of your novels. I read your blog and saw that you are nervous about your new book, dont be, everyone will always have something to saw, but what matters most is what you think of your book.

  46. jtmillsny says:

    Tess,

    I must say, you’ve done it again. I’m less than 50 pages in to THE BONE GARDEN and I’m absolutely hooked. I would read all day and night if I could but, regrettably, school work comes first. There is no way this book will be a failure, it’s brilliant.

    ~Jeff

    P.S. The back cover pic is a really good one.

  47. NewMexicanAnn says:

    jt: I’ve been enjoying the book as well. Don’t you think it’s as close to being the legendary “Great American Novel” as a mass market book can get? I mean, the language overall is very pretty and most of all, it’s very emotionally powerful. It’s obvious, too, that it wasn’t an easy thing to write. Emotionally charged scenes are really hard to get through as a writer, huh?

  48. Kyle K. says:

    WOW… Two days in and already a FIVE STAR REVIEW on Amazon! Did you see this?:

    “This work creates a picture of life in the 1830s for the poor. Horrible doesn’t describe some of the incidents in the book, but the author’s accuracy and compassion are obvious. Tess Gerritsen cared about those women who lived and died so long ago. She told it as it was, painful, desperate and sometimes utterly foul. I am a Civil War researcher and I can validate all of her historical references as well as her heartbreaking accounts of the “lying-in” hospitals. They should have been called a place to die. Enjoyable to the last page, engrossing story and truthful to a fault. Keep ‘em coming, Tess.”

    Ditto…

  49. clare says:

    got a wait on here, UK release is a lot later!

  50. penmewse says:

    Dear Tess..
    You’ve released your characters to a waiting audience before. I don’t think that’s it. Reaction to your book release may very well be genre-based. Just a thought. The Bone Garden deviates from the type of writing you’ve done in the past; so, your reaction to its release may be different. You’re newly vulnerable, a feeling not expressed for quite some time. It could also be because you have created a special place within yourself for your characters, now existing in an historical context. A whole new relationship has been developed, affecting how you feel when you finally have to “let go.”

    I love your writing and the fact that you are a caring human being. Diversity means an expansion of skill, but perhaps it can also create a new vulnerability?

  51. penmewse says:

    A postscript..
    I daresay this book may be the biggest one of all..

  52. dorothy young says:

    I just finished your book The Bone Garden. Fantastic!!! I have been housebound for the past 4 days and your book helped get me thru it. I’ve only read a couple of your books but I will now backtrack and order them all. Only one question about the Bone Garden. How did the cheap tin ring that Rose wore end up in the grave in the backyard??

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