A second bookstore sighting of the trade paperback of Old Man’s War, taken on the 26th (i.e., the day before the official release) by my pal Emily, who now gets the official signed chapbook reward. Good on ya, Emily! Incidentally, now that the OMW trade paperback is officially out, the “spot it in the stores” contest is done, although if you still want to send me sightings, I don’t mind; I like seeing the book out in the world. Just, you know, don’t go out of your way to do it.
A few people have asked me what I think about the Amazon’s new “author blogs” initiative, in which the online bookseller gives book authors a little space to blather on about life, the universe and everything. This should answer that question. I don’t have much intention of actively posting at the Amazon site, but as a way of letting people there find their way here, I’m all for it. And for those authors who don’t already have active sites and/or blogs, I imagine it can be a useful way to get their faces out there.
Now, this is not to say that I don’t see the potential for drawbacks. For one thing, I can see how other booksellers, online and off, might be non-plussed to see authors merrily blogging away on a competitor’s site. For another thing, the clock is now ticking on the first author to use their Amazon Blog to flame someone who posted a negative Amazon review; this is one of those “not if but when” things, because I can’t imagine a universe in which it doesn’t happen sooner than later, particularly if the author in question is relatively new to the world of online communication and hasn’t had his or her ego tempered in the fires of an online flame war. It should be interesting, at the very least.
If an author were to ask me whether they should develop their own site or just use the Amazon site, I would tell them that overall it’s better to develop their own site — there’s more control in presentation and it avoids any potential conflicts with other booksellers, and there are any number of blog solutions that are dead easy to use (LiveJournal, Blogger and (of course) AOL Journals being the prime examples). But I also think by and large any online presence is better than none, so if authors don’t want to bother with the time and effort it takes to create a site or learn how to use the freestanding blogging solutions, an Amazon blog is better than nothing. Just watch out about responding to negative Amazon reviews. On that path lies madness.