My new non fiction book, God's Islanders, was finally formally published within the past couple of weeks, and my publisher arranged a launch party in a local branch of Waterstones (lately changed from Ottakars, but with the same excellent management team, thank God.) These events (and frankly, I haven't done all that many of them) are always nerve racking. Will anyone turn up? Will anyone buy the book, a large and reasonably pricy hardback, if they do turn up? Will they enjoy it? Will they enjoy themselves? In the event, some 35 people turned up and drank wine and listened to me rabbiting on and many of them did buy the book (some of them even bought two copies, as the manager later told me, cheerfully) It occurred to me that it is much, much harder to talk to a large group of friends and relatives, than it is to talk to a large group of strangers. Why should this be? Perhaps because they know all your faults and failings, and besides, you can't help feeling that they can hear you rabbiting on any day of the week, without having to buy a book in order to do so. But still, it's nice to be supported.
Somebody asked me 'Is it very exciting?' and I said yes, but afterwards I realised that it wasn't. Not very. It was nice to get those first copies through the post, because it is a lovely production, very beautifully published. And it has been nice to get the odd compliment. But the book has been such a slog. And there was no one point of celebration, no definite publication day, nobody cheering on the sidelines, as it were. I remember one publisher I worked with sending me a bouquet of flowers to mark publication day, and that made it kind of special, but nobody from Birlinn even came to the launch. So no, it wasn't exciting. The excitement is all in the writing - everything that comes after is in some strange sense, an anticlimax.