What an ericacious exhausting sackbut amazing week.

It started last Saturday morning when I discovered that I was being followed by the Literary Editor of the Times.  Followed, in the sense of Twitter. At least, I don’t think the Literary Editor of the Times really was following me, you know, in person, with a raincoat and binoculars, notwithstanding inasmuch as which the Present Emergency and so on and so forth, though of course he might have been, but if he was, he was very good at it, because I didn’t notice.

Perhaps, though, this was a signal. So alerted, Mrs Gee and I bought a copy of the Times on our regular weekend supermarket trip, just in case we were approached by a stranger who sat down next to us on a park bench and said something innocuous like ‘the tulips bloom early in Vienna this spring’. Actually, it’s only Mrs Gee who ventures into the supermarket. I sit in the car, in the car park. After all, someone has to do the stake-out.

Mrs Gee came out, with the usual groceries — atonal apples, amplified heat,  and so on — and a copy of the Times. When we got home we found that my latest book had attracted not just a book review, but the lead book review, noch, and a splendid one it was too. You can read it here.

The effect had a salutary effect on sales. The book had been published in the UK in September. Reviews were sparse but  generally good. There was a lovely one in the Literary Review, a magazine for which I have a particular fondness, though its appeal is, as you’d expect, limited to people like me who simply can’t get enough of books.  Following that, the Amazon UK ranking crept up to the low thousands. Although my publisher tells me that the algorithms Amazon uses are mysterious, this had to count for something.

The Times review gave sales a huge boost. Amazon rankings shot up well into the top 200 of all books – up with colouring books, celebrity autobiographies, books for children, and editions of novels by Sally Rooney in Hebrew. At one stage, I was told, the rank was in the 120s, though the highest I saw was 134.

In specific categories, such as ‘palaeontology’ and ‘dinosaurs’, it reached number one and stayed there for some days (see the picture). The hardcover edition was most popular, but the audiobook and kindle versions came up to approached got close.

And, quite unlike any other book I have ever written, it really was available in the canonical All Good Bookshops.

The Amazon rankings subsided over the following days, although very slowly, and as I write it’s still in the top 1000. By the end of the week normal service should be resumed and I shall return to the comforting obscurity to which I have long been accustomed.

People ask me about the paperback. (Well, one person did, take a bow, Mr. G. O. of Norfolk). There is what’s known as a ‘trade’ paperback, available from foreign markets that are less receptive to hardbacks. The UK ‘mass market’ paperback should be out in autumn 2022.

Meanwhile, editions are already out in German and Dutch, and on 9 November it’ll be published in the US & Canada.

In preparation I’ve been a guest on a lot of podcasts that’ll be broadcast nearer the time (I already have a podcast series of my own that you can hear now). I have a feeling that the hoopla has hardly begun.

About Henry Gee

Henry Gee is an author, editor and recovering palaeontologist, who lives in Cromer, Norfolk, England, with his family and numerous pets, inasmuch as which the contents of this blog and any comments therein do not reflect the opinions of anyone but myself, as they don't know where they've been.
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