Web Interview with Dr David Goldhill
Dr David Goldhill was Director of Intensive Care at the Royal London. His first book ‘Longevity: Why we are living longer than ever and the discoveries that may allow us to live to 1000’ has just been published.
David talks about publishing his book
Over this period average life expectancy in all countries in the world has risen from about 40 years or less to around 80 years of life. Many more people are living to very old ages. Around 120 years of life seems to be the very maximum potential lifespan.
The book is aimed at an interested reader who may not have a grounding in scientific investigation or the biological science. I therefore start by looking at the nature of evidence and the way that scientific research has increased our knowledge of the human body. I look at the ways that lifestyle can drastically shorten lifespan and take a look at those factors that may increase duration of life. This encompasses diet, obesity, smoking, exercise and genetics. We live in unprecedented times with an enormous expansion in global population.
Within my lifetime the structure of DNA was described, the human genome decoded, stem cells discovered and computers invented. In the second half of the book I go on to describe how these and other discoveries have the potential to increase the human lifespan well beyond anything that has been achievable in the past.
I am now retired with time to fill. I didn't set out to write a book. It was really an attempt to educate myself. I became interested in the subject after I read an article where it was claimed that it was possible that the first person to live to be a thousand had already been born. This led me to read about the subject. I went back to the original research articles, attended lectures and spoke to experts. As I organised the information it naturally fell into bite sized chunks.
It took about another 18 months to organise my thoughts, fill in the knowledge gaps and put it all down on paper. But I never worked on it full time. Sometimes there were periods of a few weeks where I was concentrating on other projects so did no work on the book. When I was able to turn to it I typically spent a few hours most days with the occasional concentrated session.
Once I had most of the information and decided how to organise and arrange the information, the book was easy to write.
I used an Amazon company called CreateSpace to help with the publishing. I did have professional help to format and error check the content as well as to create the cover. I published on Amazon because I couldn't find a publisher or agent willing to adopt the book. Several publishers were interested but for a variety of reasons felt that it wasn't right for them. I learned that the normal way of getting published is to have an agent. I contacted several agents. Most of them were positive about the topic. The difficulty was selling a book with an unknown author. Building a profile with blogs, lectures or infamy undoubtedly helps.
Writing the book is the easy bit. If you are happy to self-publish that is no problem. Unless you are lucky and the book goes viral, you will be rewarded by seeing your name in print but you will be unlikely to reach a wide audience or make any money. If you can get an agent then fame and fortune may await you.