Sending your thesis (or book) out into the world

The moment you send a book out into the world can be full of emotions. 

On the one hand, a thing you had been working on for so long is now complete. You took something that was an idea, a hunch, a guess, or a feeling… and turned it into a sold piece of work that other people can read. You probably feel a sense of accomplishment, of pride, of excitement.

On the other hand, once you send off a thesis or book, you don’t have control over who  reads it, or how they react to it. People might misunderstand it. They might understand it but dislike it or judge it to be poor quality work. They might ignore it. That might make you feel nervous or apprehensive.

Finally, once you send your thesis out into the world… you can’t work on it anymore. It is done. There is often a bit of a sense of loss mixed in with the relief.

So the feelings are complex.


And one of the things that we humans find useful to deal with complex feelings and significant moments of transition is to use ritual.

One ritual that poetry writers have traditionally used to help them acknowledge and address these emotions is to write a “sending” poem.

Some examples from the 16th and 17th centuries (hence the spelling!)

Go, little Book; thy self present,
As Child whose Parent is unkent,
To him that is the President
Of Nobleness and Chivalrie:
And if that Envy bark at thee,
As sure it will, for Succour flee
Under the shadow of his Wing.

Edmund Spenser, Shepheardes Calendar


Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to publick view,
Made thee in raggs, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judg).

Anne Bradstreet, The Author to her Book

If you would like to read more, see these three 20th-century poems called ‘Envoi’: by Ezra Pound and William Meredith and Meg Bateman.



Perhaps you would like to write a letter to your thesis before you send it out into the world? Tell it about your hopes and fears for its future.

It doesn’t have to be a poem, but sometimes putting our feelings into art (whether its a song, a drawing, or a dance) can be an effective technique, so do consider it!


Anyway, I wrote this post just as I sent off one of my books after the last round of proofs to be actually printed printed, and my co-author and I had a lot of feelings. I was explaining about envois to him, and thought you might find it helpful too!

Also, I spent some time at Shut Up and Wiki fixing the Wikipedia article on envois


Succeeding in a Research Higher Degree

Doing a Research Higher Degree (like a PhD) is hard, but lots of people have succeeded and you can too. It’s easier if you understand how it works, this blog gives you the insider view.


Related Posts

Structural edits on paper

I just finished the first full draft of the Writing Well and Being Well book, and that means it’s time to go through the structural edits.
This blog post documents how I did it this time.

Read More

Does deadline juice give you wings?

“Deadline juice” is a term I just made up when talking to a student the other day, but it’s pretty apt. It describes the eustress response to an upcoming deadline—a healthy (yes short term appropriate stress responses are healthy!) jolt of adrenaline when your energy is up, your focus is up, your speed is up.

Read More

What is a ‘writing audit’ and when should you do one?

When I was part of the La Trobe RED team, and we were running our Accelerated Completion Programme for late-stage PhD candidates, we got people to do a thing we called a ‘writing audit’, where you counted up what was in all the sections of your PhD, and then worked out what was still missing. It could be scary, or a massive relief, but either way it gave you a sense of where you actually were.

Read More

Get the latest blog posts