Book tour’s over!


  tess and luann  with Luanne Rice in NYC

It was fun and it was frustrating.  In short, a typical book tour.  

On October 11, I joined a panel of six authors at the San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon and was astonished to find out how HUGE an event it is.  1200 (!) attendees sat down in a hotel banquet room to hear writers talk about books.  The event is such a hot event that tickets don’t even go on sale to the public – because reservations are snapped up a year in advance, and there are no tickets left to sell!  Joining me on the panel were Tyler Florence, Sarah Bird, Marie Arana, Denise Brennan-Nelson, and Tim Derk.  Alert to all authors: if you ever get invited to this event — do it!

  In NYC, I had the pleasure of sitting on a a different panel, this time with Nora Roberts, Walter Mosley, Jed Rubenfeld, and Sam Roberts at the New York Times Great Tea in the Park.  Beforehand, the authors got a chance to chat in the cocktail lounge (and drink champagne if we were so inclined) and I was once again blown away by Nora’s amazing energy. I’d met her and her husband several years before in Toronto, and even though she’s a mega-selling icon of 160(!) novels, she is one of the most fun, down-to-earth people you’d ever hope to meet.  Walter Mosley, as always, was natty and charming.  And it was great meeting Jed Rubenfeld, whose historical mystery, THE INTERPRETATION OF MURDER, hit the extended New York Times bestseller list — quite an achievement for a debut author. 

 I also got to spend some time with author Luanne Rice (photo above) as we strolled the streets of NYC together.  It was a gorgeous day, and Luanne’s such a good storyteller, she could keep me entertained forever.

After NY, it was on to Myrtle Beach and the South Carolina Writers Workshop, where I got the chance to mingle with a lively and enthusiastic group of writers.  I was delighted to spend time with Ted Tally, the Academy Award-winning screenwriter of “Silence of the Lambs”.  

 DSCF2272MA14394707-0008.jpg  with Ted Tally at dinner

The prospect of meeting Ted was more than a little intimidating, I have to admit — after all, I’m a mere novelist.  But Ted turned out to be funny and sweet — and brilliant, too.  We sat on a panel with film veteran Kathie Fong Yoneda and discussed the uses of conflict in story telling.  All I could do was nod at everything Ted said — because he always said it better than I ever could.

At the Poisoned Pen in Phoenix, I shared a program with Robert Liparulo, a fine young writer whom I first met at Thrillerfest back in July. Then it was on to Los Angeles, and a signing at Borders in Torrance, CA.  And there I was so happy to see the familiar faces of fellow thriller writers.  That’s the really great part about  the thriller genre — the nicest people write these scary books.  Robert Gregory Browne, Brett Battles, and Vladimir Lange all came to say hello and offer support.

The Sacramento Bee Book Club evening came next, another nice event, with close to 200 people attending.  Again, if you’re a writer and you ever get invited to do this one, accept!

Finally, it was on to San Francisco.  I visited M is for Mystery in San Mateo for a stock signing, and then had a nice evening at Bay Book and Tobacco in Half Moon Bay.  Which is a town so beautiful I’d definitely think about moving there – if I ever have to leave Maine.

Those were the highlights. 

But there were also the constant reminders of just how tough a business novel-writing is.  A number of the small independent stores I dropped in on didn’t carry MEPHISTO CLUB — or any of my backlist.  Nor did they seem inclined to ever carry my books.  Their shelves were stocked instead with literary titles and trade paperbacks.  It reminded me of my earlier days trying to find respect as a romance author.  Thriller writers face the same challenges. 

And yes, there were the usual incidents that reminded me of my place in the publishing world.  Bookstore clerks who said: “What’s your name again?”  “I don’t know if we carry your books.”  “Do you write fiction or non-fiction?” 

But the incident that stands out happened on my trip home, on the very last day of tour.  I was happy to find a stack of MEPHISTO CLUB in an airport bookstore, and the clerk gave me permission to sign them.  As I was autographing the copies, a customer came up to me.

“Are you the author?” he asked.

“Why yes,” I said, hoping he’d be impressed and might even want to buy a book.

“Hey honey!” the man calls out to his wife.  “This lady wrote a book and she’s signing them.”

By this point, I was already opening a copy to the title page, ready to inscribe a personal note to my brand new reader.

Then he added: “Maybe these signed books will be worth something someday.  If she ever gets famous.”  And he laughed and walked away.

So that was the coda to my book tour.  One last reminder from the universe that the first lesson one learns as a novelist is humility.  

22 replies
  1. Meike
    Meike says:

    People are so stupid. You’d think they were smarter if either visiting or working in a bookstore, but after working in one for three years, I can tell that’s a definite NO.

    And our store did (and still does) carry your books. Mwuhaha.

  2. Alexandra Sokoloff
    Alexandra Sokoloff says:

    Ah, Tess. Once again, you put everything in perspective. I feel SO much better about my own tour, now.

    I finally got a chance to read MEPHISTO and I just loved it. Besides the fact that every single thing about it is right up my alley (The Watchers is one of my favorite myths!), I loved how Lily was really the main character of the book, as in a standalone, but Maura and Jane are still very much a part of the action, for your readers who prefer series. Just wonderful work – thanks for a thrilling ride!!


  3. zaedok
    zaedok says:

    Tess, is something strange going on here?? I noticed that you posted your message at 12:41 PM, and that there have been 2 replies clocked after 1 PM. Since you are in Maine, I assume that is the Eastern time zone. I am also in the Eastern zone, and as I write this, it is only 12:30 PM here. Are you testing a new plot twist for an upcoming novel, or did someone just not adjust the time stamp for the end of daylight savings time?

  4. Peggy Payne
    Peggy Payne says:

    I think the humility stories never end. I saw a funny one happen on a panel I was on at a library.

    One of the panelists was Orson Scott Card, who has sold a bajillion books, sci-fi novels. When the librarian read his introduction to the audience, she said: “and we are so lucky to have with us Orson Scott!”

    Then she turned the page, and read, “Card.”

    Afterwards the writer shook his head and said, “Just when you’re starting to get cocky.”

    Nice to see Mephisto Club on the stands in Heathrow.

  5. Tess
    Tess says:

    Zaedok, I don’t know how the time got screwy. Maybe our computers are weirded out by the switch to standard time. On another note, last night, I started getting a spurt of spam emails with their mail dates of 2014!

    Peggy, that’s a hilarious story! Although not so hilarious for poor Mr. Card.

  6. struggler
    struggler says:

    Tess, welcome back, I missed you. Just wanted to say that I feel very fortunate to have read all six Rizzoli novels (snd in the right order) over the past three months as opposed to the span of six years in which they were written. The honeymoon’s over for me now of course, it’s back to reality, and a wait of about a year or more until number seven. Just wish you could write them as fast as we read them…..

  7. leonie
    leonie says:

    I have to say that some of the independent book stores have a snob thing going on hence no romances or thrillers…their loss, financially as well as literally!

  8. knaster
    knaster says:

    Hi Tess,
    It’s Abe. Welcome back from your rewarding, albeit exhausting journey. It was so great meeting you at the Gread Read in NYC on 10/15 that I’m still overwhelmed. I placed your photo inside my autographed copy of The Mephisto Club.
    As for that bit of humility you wrote about. don’t worry. I can honestly speak for your many fans, if someone can’t look at you and recognize the quality of genius that you possess, then it’s their loss.
    Again, Tess, it’s so great to have you back.

  9. jilljames
    jilljames says:

    Tess, I love Mephisto Club and all your books. I meant to go to Sacramento to see you but I don’t drive in the dark and all my friends who were going with me got sick. Sorry about the people who don’t know who you are, they are the ones missing out.

  10. BA
    BA says:

    WELCOME BACK! My practice is so demanding and I can not get away when you are ever anywhere NEAR the southeast, but I dream about getting a signed copy by you. I have often thought of jumping on a morning plane to a northern city, jumping into the bookstore where you’re signing, and catching the next plane home. It would be worth it. Tess, we’re all glad you’re home safe – First, because we like you and because it means you can soon start on our next favorite read! We don’t mean to pressure you, but we’ve become Tess Addicts.

  11. Craig
    Craig says:

    Tess, Mephisto Club was prominently displayed at my bookstore but as of Friday Oct. 13 the last Lemony Snicket book is pretty much burying everything else. My bookstore has sold out twice.

  12. JanetK
    JanetK says:

    Wow, you really went all over, didn’t you? Sounds fun — but exhausting.

    Glad you’re home safe and sound.

  13. Susan Stehle
    Susan Stehle says:

    I’m glad you’re back in one piece, Tess! I love reading your blog. I just moved to Maine, but AFTER you finished your book tour. Whaaa! I’ll just have to catch you next book!

  14. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    Hey Dr. G! I’m glad you’re back and that you had fun. Some people never read, that’s why they said that to you in the airport b/c in my opinion you haven’t read anything until you’ve read something Dr. G has written! Anyway, I hope that you could come down to the south on one of your book tours someday (Louisiana that is, specifically Baton Rouge). Haven’t read Mephisto yet, but you can bet I’m going to soon!

  15. Charissa
    Charissa says:

    I went to our library at lunch time today, it’s just a little library, but guess who has her interview up on the billboard? Yes you!! — I stood there reading it, and getting in other peoples way, and grinning, and nodding. (I think most the librarians think I’m crazy anyway.)

    I can’t believe that guy in the airport said “if she ever gets famous,” he obviously hasn’t been living in the “real” world cos even around here, everyone knows who you are!!

    – Charissa.

  16. patry
    patry says:

    I pre-ordered my copy of The Mephisto Club on line, but when I wanted to buy another copy for a family member as a birthday gift, I decided to support the local indie and shop there. I also intended to buy myself a copy of George Pelacanos’ latest. You can imagine my surprise when they didn’t have either title!

    I know they have limited shelf space, but your novel was on the bestseller list, and The Night Gardener was getting buzzed like mad. Honestly, I don’t get it.

  17. pat
    pat says:

    Just finished reading Vanish. As a constant consumer of mysteries,I would put this at the top of all lists.
    The issue of human trafficking impacts our society at all levels. In fact the word trafficking should be replaced by slavery. Tess do you do many interviews on NPR? Your insightful approach to important issues within the mystery discipline, could provide a listener with motivation to get involved==as well as buying the book.

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply