My friend, prolific popular science writer Mr B. C. of Swindon describes new and exciting functionality over at Amazon, which is providing ever more (and more useful) services for authors. Each author can have their own author page (here’s his), a convenient one-stop aggravator alligator for their products – one’s own, custom storefront. Through this page, authors can get some idea of how their books are selling. It’s not always terribly accurate, but it’s better than the alternative, which is having no idea at all.
I’ve had an Amazon alligator for a while, naturally, and you can visit it here. Should you be so kind as to act on this well-meant suggestion, you’ll see all those books I’ve published that feature on Amazon – including some (but not all) foreign-language editions – together with a brief biog, a rather alarming picture and – newly installed (with help from our Controlling Intelligence) – a feed from this very blog I am now writing. (Given that it’s late, I’ll type slowly, in case you can’t read very fast).
Now that I have this blog, and the Amazon author page, I’m all tooled up. So it’s as easy as peasy for you to visit my Amazon Alligator and get all your festive holiday shopping done. Go on, do it now, before you forget. In case you’re bewildered by the choice on offer (if I say so myself, I’ve written, edited or otherwise added my distinctive aroma stamp to a veritable heaving shelf of books) I shall make a few helpful suggestions. In what follows, think of me, if you will, as Your Personal Shopper.
Buy a copy of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs for the kids. If you have more than one dinosaur kid, why not buy one for each of them? If your child happens to be learning Spanish, you can buy the Spanish-language edition, so that next term your child will be able to enthrall his or her Spanish teacher with details of the sex life of Triceratops. (There are also editions in Dutch, Greek, Danish and possibly other languages).
For yourself, buy Jacob’s Ladder (also available in Spanish and Italian). I think it’s a jolly good book, and probably my favourite, but if you don’t believe me, read Mark Pagel’s review in New Humanist or Anne Magurran’s in the New York Times.
For the SF geek in your life, get Futures from Nature, a smorgasbord of 100 very short SF tales from Nature‘s award-winning Futures SF series. This got a coveted starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. If your SF geek’s tastes run to fantasy, why not lavish upon them The Science of Middle-earth, now available in German?
Creationists are very fond of my book In Search of Deep Time (dreadful title, I know – I wanted to call it Tropic of Cladistics) as they do so love to mine it for quotes to support the idea that my ‘belief’ in evolution is not entirely whole-hearted. Once, at lunch with P. Z. Myers and Eugenie Scott I opined that one shouldn’t seek to moderate one’s language for fear that creationists might misuse it – a point with which P. Z. and I found ourselves in complete agreement, against Eugenie. ‘Creationists are like herpes,’ I said. ‘They’ll always be with us’. To which Ms Scott’s reply was ‘That’s no reason not to practice safe sex’. I’m not quite sure how to answer that except by saying that if you’d like to read In Search of Deep Time you might want to take the appropriate precautions. Perhaps I could ask the publisher to staple a condom to the cover of each copy.
And for the ghoul in the attic, or that whatever-it-is that’s doing something nasty in the woodshed, the perfect choice has to be By The Sea, a Gothick bodice-ripping mystery thriller in which I try to do for Cromer what Stephen King did for Maine. (See here for an interview with Jennifer Rohn, who also has her own Amazon alligator). It’s not for the squeamish, but if your tastes run to sex, death, dismemberment, more sex, Victorian taxonomy, public house interiors, a dollop of sadomasochism and some extremely odd sea creatures – and, face it, whose doesn’t? – it could be just the thing for that jaded Boxing-Day palate. Go on, treat yourself. You’re worth it. And so am I.
Is this naked self-publicity not a mite brazen? (Brazen? Moi?) These days, authors must do all they can to publicize their wares. Last year at ScienceOnline2010 I heard Rebecca Skloot (author of terrific The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) talk on this very theme. She exhorted authors to use Facebook, Twitter and any other social media they can get their hands on to build reader interest, not just for books that are already Out There, but for those in development.
What do I have up my authorial sleeve, then? You already know about the guinea pig, currently nibbling being read by my agent. Apart from that, watch out for a major science-book-related announcement from me in the next few weeks. You’ll read it here first. Unless, of course, you’d rather hang out with my Amazon Alligator.