Rectangular photo of David Baron’s office bookshelf showing works on eclipses, starts, astronomy, Thomas Edison and the U.S. Naval Observatory’s record of the July 29, 1878 eclipse. Photo credit: David Baron.

David Baron—American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World (Revised Edition)

Cover of the book American Eclipse: A Nation's Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World showing the book’s title and author’s name and a quote from a Wall Street Journal review of the first edition superimposed on an image of the moon during a total eclipse, along with small historical pictures, including that of an early astronomer and the July 29, 1878 eclipse.

American Eclipse

AMERICAN ECLIPSE:
A NATION'S EPIC RACE TO CATCH
THE SHADOW OF THE MOON AND
WIN THE GLORY OF THE WORLD [Revised Edition]

David Baron
Liveright (A Division of W.W. Norton), February 13, 2024
Paperback, $18.99, eBook, $18.99
ISBN-10: 1324094699, ISBN-13:978-1324094692
eBook ASIN: B01MAX6COT

Baron reports:

This book, which tells the true story of a total solar eclipse that crossed America’s Wild West in 1878, was initially published in June 2017. (Read my original Advance Copy report.) It received flattering reviews and sold well, thanks to the attention brought by the total solar eclipse that traversed the United States two months later, on August 21. After the eclipse, however, interest plummeted. My publisher released the book in paperback in 2018, but sales were tepid. I soon encountered the book on remainder tables at bookstores, a painful sight.

Portrait photo of David Baron in Australia

David Baron

Two years ago, I alerted my publisher that American Eclipse might enjoy a second life, given that another total eclipse would cross the United States on April 8, 2024. My editor suggested that the book be reissued in a revised paperback edition shortly before the upcoming eclipse. After much discussion about how I might “revise” a work of narrative history, we agreed that I should write an afterword. This ended up being a personal essay about the 2017 eclipse, a remarkable event that—for one day—brought a divided America together.

Shortly before the new edition’s release, I created a book club kit—a pdf that consists of a welcome letter, an author Q&A, and discussion questions—and contacted libraries that were promoting themselves as 2024 eclipse education sites. I emailed information about the kit and a link to download it to some 4,000 librarians and received a flood of grateful replies. Many book clubs and a few entire communities chose to read American Eclipse in March and April 2024.

Seeing my book reborn has been thrilling. I know that the attention will fade again, but—in an unexpected turn—a team of theater producers secured the rights to my book and have adapted it into a musical. The show will premiere at Baylor University on April 7, 2024—the day before this year’s eclipse. The road from Waco, Texas, to New York is surely long and bumpy, but I dream that American Eclipse may yet see a third incarnation on Broadway.

Contact info:


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Tell your fellow NASW members how you came up with the idea for your book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. Include what you wish you had known before you began working on your book, or had done differently.

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Banner image adapted from original photo by David Baron.

March 19, 2024

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.

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