Monday 17 August 2015

A new book, Recreating an Age of Reptiles, coming this Autumn

Twitter and Facebook followers will be aware that teases of new artwork and allusions to a second book form the majority of my recent social media output. Today, the teases stop and the covers are coming off : Recreating an Age of Reptiles, a collection of my recent palaeoartworks, is due out later this year. I'm really thrilled to see enthusiasm from the online community for this project. Every time I mention this book I have someone ask a question or two about content, availability etc. With that in mind, I thought I'd provide some answers via a quick FAQ. I'll do my best to answer any further queries in the comments below.

1. So, what is this exactly?
Recreating an Age of Reptiles is a print-on-demand collection of my palaeoart from the last few years. Encouraged by a very positive social media response to the question of 'would people buy a book of my stuff?', I've been putting it together throughout the summer. The focus is on art, not text, and most of the latter focuses on the artwork more than the palaeobiology of the depicted animals. As I often attempt at this blog, it would be great to try to tackle both the scientific and artistic angles simultaneously, but there just isn't enough room for in-depth scientific discussion of each image. That said, I'm sure certain images will form the focus of articles here eventually.

2. How much new stuff is in there?
There's just over 60 images in the book, being a mix of new and old, with the bulk of it forming revised images from the last few years. Some of the revisions are substantial, but they're almost all to do with technique and colours: the compositions are very similar to the original versions. There are a bunch of completely new images in there too: giant vampire squids, the 'new look' Hatzegopteryx, Repenomammus and others. I've held back, or only partly revealed, many of those images, so hopefully there'll be plenty of surprises to even regular readers.

3. Any sketches or concept work?
Alas, no. To be honest, I don't really have any: working digitally removes a lot of need for dedicated drafting and conceptualising. I have included some older versions of concepts which have been redrafted several times where I think their evolution is particularly interesting.

4. What sort of format will this be in?
Pending some sort of formatting disaster with test versions, expect a full-colour, letter-sized (8.5 × 11", or 216 × 279 mm), soft-bound volume with 100 pages. I'm printing copies with Lulu, the same company that printed All Yesterdays and the Cryptozoologicon, so check those titles for an indication of quality (if you don't have copies of these, rest assured it's pretty good. Also, go buy those books! They're great, and All Yesterdays is a definite must-have if you're interested in my volume).

Draft cover art for what the kids are already calling RecARep.
5. Will there be a hardback version?
Sorry, no. I'd love to have a one too, but the costs are prohibitive for large, full-colour print on demand hardbacks. We're talking c. £100 for a 100 page volume - no-one should be spending that amount of money on a 100 page book. If anyone knows a way around this, I'm all ears, but I have no plans to pursue hardbacks at the moment.

6. What will this cost?
The likely pricetag is going to be £20-25 for each book. I know that's a little on the steep side, but the reality of print on demand is that each book costs nearly £20 just to produce - the profit margin here is not huge. Books published on a larger scale are made cheaper through bulk economy: alas, that's not an option here. That is, unless any publishers are reading and want to sign me up for a cushy deal...

7. Will there be a cheaper electronic version?
I expect so, although my focus is getting the physical version sorted first. An ebook should be available soon after.

8. 'Age of Reptiles'? What do you think this is, the 1950s?
A number of people have commented on the the title of this book, wondering why I've chosen the term 'Age of Reptiles' when it has connotations to more archaic views of many Mesozoic animals. There are a number of reasons I went for this title, not the least being that the world really doesn't need another tome entitled "[Something something] dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures".

Firstly, the focus of the book is not just dinosaurs, or even Mesozoic archosaurs. These animals dominate, but there's sufficient other taxa in there to warrant a title which doesn't overtly emphasise specific groups of animals. Secondly, the term 'Age of Reptiles' accurately describes the time period covered in the book, it being popular parlance for 'Mesozoic'. Given the dream that a book like this might sell a few copies outside a hardcore palaeontology demographic, it seemed sensible to use phraseology which is widely understood. Thirdly, 'Age of Reptiles' resonates within palaeoart, it being the title of Zallinger's seminal 1947 Peabody Museum mural as well as Ricardo Delgado's Age of Reptiles graphic novels. The latter was a big influence on my childhood art, a fact not lost on me when choosing the title. Finally, our advances in dinosaur palaeontology in the last few decades have not stopped dinosaurs being members of Reptilia (the turtle, lizard + archosaur clade): ergo, the title is scientifically sound. I'm sticking with it.

9. Will there be signed copies?
Possibly. I'll figure that out later.

10. When is it out?
There's not a specific date yet, and the honest answer is 'when it's done'! All being well, that won't be very long off: there's some text to finish and proofing to do, and then we're good. I'm aiming for copies to be available mid-late Autumn.

Right, that should do for now - I'm happy to field any additional questions in the comments below, or on Twitter, Facebook etc. Thanks to all who've given their support thus far, and needless to say, there'll be updates soon.


  1. So exciting! I'm adding RecARep to my Christmas list now!

  2. All of these ''lifelike'' scenes are so atmospherics, I hope that the print will do justice to your arts. ''Recreating an Age of Reptiles'' is a must buy for me ! (including all your next books)


  3. This is exciting! Also, big ups to your Delgado nod! I'm a huge fan as well.

  4. Sounds great, I love your art and I'm always happy to support up-to-date reconstructions!

  5. Yes!
    I have "Pterosaurs", so eagerly awaiting RecARep.
    Signed copies are a great free for pre-orders too much to ask?

  6. ...available mid-late Autumn.
    That's blatant hemispherism right there!

    Still, I found your Pterosaurs book to be passable entertainment so I will prob purchase this one too (assuming that we in the Antipodes will be permitted that privilege and not be geo-blocked).

    Harumph, etc.

    Seriously, it looks great. Well done. Xmas for me sorted.

  7. Mike from Ottawa19 August 2015 at 20:59

    Every time I see that cover pick I wonder what the sauropod is protesting against.

  8. Mike from Ottawa19 August 2015 at 21:00

    Oh, and of course, I'll be getting a copy, as should every right-thinking person.

  9. Oh, squeee! My birthday's late October, so I think I know what I'll be asking for.

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  12. I was surprised when I found out how much cheaper it is to use a printer and get a batch of books printed than to offer print-on-demand. (Also: shipping is a tiny fraction of the ludicrous price that Lulu charges for folding a book into a bit of cardboard and bunging it in the post.)

    It might be worth getting an online quote from somewhere like Lightning Source:
    I'm getting £700 including shipping for 100 copies colour printed in 70lb white paper. That goes up to £978 for hardbacks, so a bit under a tenner per copy. It's more hassle, and you're gambling that you'll be able to shift all the stock, but it's WAY better value.

    1. If guaranteed sales are a concern with Mike's route, Mark, since you hopped onto Patreon recently, why not try out Kickstarter or Indiegogo too? I won't pretend to know all the ins and outs, or suggest it's a doddle; but I've backed a few crowdfunders for books with higher costs and prices than the numbers brought up here, that were easily funded. And those weren't even about *dinosaurs!* From what I've seen, £1000+ for 100 books, and most of the work done barring the actual printing, would fund like that. (Imagine fingers clicking nonchalantly)

    2. Thanks for comments and research, chaps - I missed these first time around.

      Based on artwork sales, I'm a bit reluctant to having books printed as stock before sales are confirmed. My experience is that I end up only just breaking even, which defeats the point of these endeavours somewhat. The service provided by guys like Lulu isnt' a perfect solution to this issue, but does make life significantly easier for authors: there's no up-front cost, no pressure to sell stock, they sell the books widely (places like Amazon) and, in some instances, popular books are picked up by genuine publishers. That's a difficult deal to beat, particularly for specialist volumes.

      All that said, I do plan on ordering a bulk set of books from Lulu to sell at conferences and events. For some buyers, that will eliminate that (admittedly high) postage cost.