Two days ago, I had the Belfast launch party for the book Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser. I am now reflecting on how different the process is of publishing a book versus completing academic work.
I have spent many years in formal academic study, writing thesis after thesis for each of my honors, master’s and doctorate degrees. For each ‘book’, the writing would take around a year (two for my doctorate). Submission was stressful which involved juggling impossible deadlines and multiple demands while working full time. This was then followed by anxiety about the viva process. After each successful viva, the thesis was bound, submitted, and then left on the shelf. Although each of these achievements was celebrated at the time, the celebrations often came months later following the viva.
Personal book writing
Launching a non-fiction book about my passion of eclipse chasing has been completely different. The writing and work and deadlines are the same, but the motivation is different. With a personal book, there is no viva, but there is the anxiety about others reading and making public judgments about your work. The build-up to the launch is exciting, as you think of ways to increase your profile and that of the book. Momentum builds, as you stay with the project and roll with it. The launch itself – what a great experience. A public book launch is about celebrating and sharing this achievement with others. And how wonderful to see people queuing to have you sign it! And to see people reading it! For the whole of my launch, I was grinning from ear to ear. And I’m still grinning now.