Home for a laundry break

I’m home for two days to deal with the bane of the traveling author’s life: dirty laundry.  But then it’s back on the road next week.

Book tour is a great way for authors to get an up-close look at how your book is selling (or not selling), and inevitably there are frustrations galore.  Publishers probably think authors whine and exaggerate when they complain about books not being displayed where they should be, but we’re the ones out there on the front lines, and we can spot the problems that our publishers in NYC can’t see. 

Take, for instance, the problems with co-op compliance.  I’ve blogged about this before.  When a book is on “co-op” it means the publisher has paid money for the books to be displayed at the front of the store.  This is the most powerful marketing tool a publisher can buy, but sometimes they don’t get their money’s worth.  Sometimes bookstores don’t put the books where they should.  On every single book tour I’ve been on (and I’m on my 11th one this year) I’ve seen numerous instances of noncompliance, and it drives me crazy.  I’ve heard industry estimates that the non-compliance rate is as high as 40%. 

Imagine paying for a dozen ears of corn, and only getting eight in your bag.  Yeah, you’d feel cheated, wouldn’t you?

This tour has been no different.  Last Tuesday, co-op for BONE GARDEN was supposed to start in Barnes and Noble.  The first three days, I visited four stores in three cities.  The book was at front-of-store in only one of those four stores.  When I inquired about their placement, the clerks were very friendly and quick to correct the situation, and they admitted that BONE GARDEN had somehow slipped through the cracks. 

By Friday, things were looking much better.  Every Barnes and Noble I visited that day in the Boston area had the book in the correct place.  It just took a little longer — four days — than it should have.

I’m curious about what other authors are experiencing.  Is anyone else seeing the same problems with co-op compliance?

8 replies
  1. Craig
    Craig says:

    I was at my bookstore today and every Saturday the staff makes the changes to the NY Times Bestseller lists. I saw them take all of the copies of the Bone Garden out of “New Arrivals” and put them on the NY Times shelf at # 10. It will be the first thing a customer sees.

  2. joe bernstein
    joe bernstein says:

    for what it’s worth in the paperback department-i was in stop&shop again today and The Mephisto Club was displayed with one other title on the impulse purchase rack at checkout-a nice change from the latest news of britney,paris,etc-you don’t have a co-op with this grocery chain, do you :)?

  3. WJS
    WJS says:


    I was shopping at Target other day. I was in the book section, and AT my eye level around the front area of the book section, right NEXT to Harry Potter’s The Deathly Hallows was your new book, Bone Garden.

    I immediately picked it up and put in my shopping cart. I did plan to buy it, and it seems Target did their homework into making it pleasing and easy for anyone to see. Interesting enough, I got the 2nd to last one on that shelf. It seems there are room for 8 books to fit in Bone Garden’s area, so I assume those are all Bone Gardens sold. 😀

    I believe my experience will contribute to your collection of feedbacks and statistic data. Hope all are going well, Terry (I know, its not your pen name)!

    Until we speak again,
    Josh Simpson

  4. WJS
    WJS says:

    Oh by the way, have you noticed that this month of this year is your most busiest and prolific blog entires? I would say that’s impressive, no wonder I came by here daily to check it out.

    -Josh Simpson

  5. Craig
    Craig says:

    Since the cat has been let out of the bag AGAIN about your secret identity (do you change clothes in a phone booth too?) I thought you might find this amusing about “another Tess”. Recently someone came into my bookstore and asked for Thomas Hardy’s “Tess of the Baskervilles”. I’m still hearing rumors of Conan Doyle’s unpublished manuscript entitled “The Hound of the D’Urbervilles.” Be safe on your journeys.

  6. Tess
    Tess says:

    Thanks so much for all the reports! What would I do without my book scouts?
    Joe, nice to hear about the great placement of Mephisto Club.
    And WJS, Target has been a really great place for sales this year. Maybe it’s that placement next to Harry Potter! I don’t know why I’m blogging so much this month. Maybe it’s because I blog when I’m stressed, and this would be the month I’m most stressed.

  7. ZanyMom
    ZanyMom says:

    I found The Bone Garden on the table with new arrivals, and there had to have been over 50 titles on that table. That was last week, and I haven’t been back to the store to see if it changed. That was at Barnes and Noble.

  8. Catherine
    Catherine says:

    I live in a small country town on the East Coast of Australia and only this morning saw 3 copies of The Bone Garden in the local independent bookstore, at eye height and front facing.

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