Two days ago, I had the Belfast launch party for the book Total Addiction: The Life of an Eclipse Chaser. It has made me reflect on how different the process is of publishing a book versus completing academic work. I have spent many years in formal academic study, completing a thesis for each of my honors, masters and doctorate degrees. For each ‘book’, the writing took around a year (two for my doctorate) and submission was a huge stress which involved juggling impossible deadlines and multiple demands. 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 as I immediately got on with the next part of my life, appreciating the new found freedom of time I had. Although each of these achievements were celebrated at the time, life carried on rather quickly.
Launching a non-fiction book about my passion of eclipse chasing has been completely different. The actual writing and work and deadlines are the same, but the motivation is different. When you complete writing the book, there is no viva, but there is the anxiety about others reading and making public judgements about your work. Then the build up to the launch is very exciting, and you are thinking 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 – absolutely awesome. It makes such a difference when there is a public celebration of the book. To me, this launch was all about the celebration, and sharing it with others. And how wonderful it was to see people queuing to have you sign it! And to hear that people are reading it! For the whole of my launch, I was grinning from ear to ear. And I’m still grinning now.