Do you dare risk a sabbatical?

Read my entry here, posted over at

12 replies
  1. Abe
    Abe says:

    Hi Tess,

    As hard as you work, combining writing and family, why not take time off? You sure as hell deserve it. Go for it, Tess. We will always be here, and whenever your next book comes out, that’s when we’ll buy it. Don’t worry! Have a great time off.

  2. GerritsenFever10
    GerritsenFever10 says:

    You know you did the right thing Dr. G. I’ll be right here waiting, wallet open, whenever your next book cranks out of the press. You’re a marvelous craftswoman and to write the novels you do takes a lot of effort I’m sure and you just continue to amaze me with each new publication. I’m loving the Keepsake right now, but sadly I can’t read it as much as I’d like because finals are next week…I actually have a medical micro lab final in the morning. Take care of yourself first, Tess, your fans will be here. Happy Holidays!

  3. WJS
    WJS says:


    You know what? That is exactly, well almost the same situation I am in as you were. I mean in concept, I am majoring in graphic design, and I am currently taking four classes this semester which goes against every professors’ recommendations because it is lot of work and effort.

    Lot of work in graphic design means less quality from each project generated for each class. Balance is the key that I longed for since I regretted making that decision to take four classes.

    On to your stand, always bring your family FIRST over your writing anytime, because the fans and I can tolerance waiting time because we believe you in and want you to have every luxury and benefit in order to success beyond every outcome in every way.

    So, kick those shoes off carelessly like a kid, sit back, and dive into your historical/archaeological stories to enjoy the simple things in life. We <3 you and wish you Happy Holidays!

  4. therese
    therese says:

    From all the comments at Murderati, I think you have your answer. Readers read lots of books a year. Readers remember favorite authors and make sure they know when a new book is out. Readers do not live in the same time or dimension as a publisher. LOL!

    If your publisher required you continue to write to their deadline, I’d find another publisher. Your post is excellent advice for “other” authors to know the creative process of writing is different for everyone. I think advice that your career dies if a year passes may be valid for beginning writers, in the series markets.

    Your career is based on an inner fire to gift readers with good stories so a “when it’s finished” publication date is excellent. For your readers, we want the story you want to tell, whenever it arrives in our hands.

    A lot of new readers will find The Keepsake this year and be thrilled there’s a huge backlist to read. They’ll have no clue you took a year off because you’ll have new books out before they’ve finished all the old ones. Life events happen in readers lives that will alter not only their reading time, but tastes. New readers find “old” authors everyday.

    Not to say you’re an old author! :0 But I am a new reader who has only had time to read two of your books so far…

  5. yubin
    yubin says:

    Hey tess..

    this is kinda far form the topic but i need to ask you if you could pretty please find out when is your book the keepsake going to come out here in the philippines? ive been waiting since september.. huhu..

    i wish i could just order online but im still a studet.. i dont have any card.. heheh

    thanx in advance!:)

  6. DasV
    DasV says:

    Should you take a sabbatical?
    You are a professional writer, and though comparisons pale when discussing relative value, since relative value is relative to the person judging, all of your work is entertaining, imaginative, well plotted, and in many cases ingenious … putting you way out in front of most popular authors anywhere. That’s my opinion based on the 8 novels of yours that I’ve read, and I read an average of maybe 100 novel length manuscripts/technical journals a year. Writing is also second nature to you; you write constantly, you blog, and you even communicate with your readers; this is almost unheard of anymore for a best selling writer.
    So what is a ‘career’ anyway?
    If you look at the Modern Library list of the 100 best novels you find 3 novels by Ayn Rand on the list. She wrote only 4 novels over a period of twenty years or so; Anthem is a short short story, only 66 pages; you could write this in a week. Her work was denounced by many/most critics, rejected by many publishers. Yet Rand’s books have sold over 25,000,000 copies, they still sell, and her work almost always appears on the ‘most influential book’ list. Heinlein has 6 on the best novel list, and he wrote more than 70 books, over a period of 47 or so years, sold millions of copies and still sells. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan has sold over 50,000,000 copies; but he isn’t on the ‘best novel’ list. H.P. Lovecraft sold few books, yet his influence spread over many ‘horror’ genre writers, including King who said Lovecraft was, “the 20th Century’s greatest practitioner of the horror tale.” James Branch Cabell is virtually unknown, sold almost nothing; his novel Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice, 1919 was banned and denounced in many places, (as is my own), was the subject of an obscenity case, yet his work was praised by Mark Twain, Sinclair Lewis, and Ellen Glasgow, who won a Pulitzer Price for her book that Cabell edited. Cabell influenced the work of many authors, including James Blish, Robert Heinlein, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Neil Gaiman, and Larry Niven.
    If you go back a generation Richard Prather (Shell Scott) and Mickey Spillane (Mike Hammer) were kings of the detective genre, each selling millions of copies. Their books were wonderfully entertaining (to me and many others), yet there is only the nostalgia market for their work nowadays, and few of the current generation remember them. They wrote to deadlines. Professional writers write for other media also, such as José Luis Navarro; he wrote many of the Columbo episodes, did very well financially, his work was known and reproduced virtually worldwide; yet almost no one would know his name.
    Who had the ‘best career’ as a writer then?
    Scribners rejected Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, the novel was ‘too military’ and would not sell they said; he took it to Putnam’s, it won a Hugo, has sold millions, still sells, and was made into a (horrible) movie. It was a book he really wanted to write. Burroughs’ publisher fought against him because he wanted to release his characters and stories to comic books; he was told no one would buy his books if he made comic book figures out of them. This was poor judgment on the publisher’s part; people loved the comic books and still bought his books! This prompted Burroughs to set up his own publishing company;; he became perhaps the most successful ‘self-published’ author in history, in terms of sales. The internet may break down the monopoly of the major publishers. Look at W.P. Young’s self-published novel The Shack; now a best seller with over a million copies sold. It went by word of mouth from reader to reader, with virtually no marketing. Maybe we’ll see a wider spread of ideas if this progresses.
    No one with the talent to write Gravity, and all the entertaining Maura & Jane novels should ever worry about publishers and deadlines. You write it … people will read it. Whatever you write people will read it. Maybe sales will fluctuate; given the economy maybe how to make soup from stones will be a best seller, but it should not be the driving force harnessing creativity.
    Enjoy your Sabbatical.

  7. terri
    terri says:

    Hello Tess,

    You should you take a sabbatical! Authors are humans too and we can’t possibly go on and on forever at this break-neck pace. I remembered how I felt like dying with 9-page lab reports due every other day. Keeping up with deadlines alone is enough to drive every ounce of inspiration away. I think Therese is right about readers remembering who they’re favourite authors are. Readers connect with the characters in the novel, and indirectly with the author, and builds a really strong bond that doesn’t fade away so easily with time. We do visit bookstores and subconsciously go back to the same shelves from time to time to see if there are new titles available…

    Meanwhile, Keeping The Dead has finally hit the bookstores in Singapore and I’m sure its going to be te next No. 1 bestseller in town! Take a break, have a Kit Kat. And when you feel you’re all charged and rejuvenised, create the best ever masterpiece. I’m sure we’d still be ever so excited when time comes for the release of your next book.

  8. Tess
    Tess says:

    Thank you so much for the great comments! It means so much for me, to see all the support I have here.

    DasV, you point to some really good examples of how there really aren’t any rules in publishing. Authors who wrote only one or two good books became eternally popular, while those who repeatedly wrote to deadline faded away. We can only do what’s right for us.

    And Yubin, I wish I could tell you the release date in the Philippines — but each country has its own schedule, so I have no idea! I expect that the English export edition from Transworld should be available there already — hope you can find it soon!

  9. Rhonda Lane
    Rhonda Lane says:

    I’m another one who’s happy that you get to take a break to explore and live life.

    Plus, I think a hiatus will pay off big time when that book comes out. I’m imagining a promo tagline, “Tess Gerritsen returns.” Or “Rizzoli Returns.”

    After all, a gap between books didn’t hurt Jean Auel’s sales. When she finally released her 1990 book, it was a publishing event.

  10. jtmillsny
    jtmillsny says:

    Although many readers are disappointed when the writer’s they love take a break, the truly devoted always wait it out.

    Take Wally Lamb for example. His books are among my favorites I’ve ever read, and that seems to be the case with many people. His second book was published five years after the first and sold very well, partially due to some help from Oprah and her book club, but still…That was back in 1998. His newest book came out this year and he hit the bestselling list again, if I’m not mistaken.

    Six months in comparison is nothing. We readers will most certainly be anticipating the next Rizzoli/Isles book.

  11. drosdelnoch
    drosdelnoch says:

    Hey Tess,
    OK, I don’t write books but I write an ezine, and generally its got about 100,000 words per issue. Thats a hell of a lot of writing and after I get the current one out Im really looking forward to my sabbatical. (As the publishing world eases down between December and Feb.

    Yep its not six months but it allows me to take my time with my reading, it gives me the chance to tackle my own book project to try and get a rough first draft done and I really am looking forward to having things my way. However that said, its been an absolute nightmare with the current schedule of turning out a new ezine in less than 5 weeks.

    Tricky, difficult and above all its taught me about time management and how to schedule each article for certain dates. Well worth it in certain respects, in others its been a killer.

    SO whilst I’m not a professional author, I do understand your need for a break Tess, you need time to get your head straight getting back to your roots as they say. I suspect that the next novel will be one that you’re really happy with, you’ll have the right mindset, the characters will have welcomed a break and given the chance to recharge thier batteries and you’ll have had a lot of fun on the “journey.”

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