Barnes-Svarney/Svarney: The Handy Anatomy Answer Book

The Handy Anatomy Answer Book cover

Cover: The Handy Anatomy Answer Book, 2nd edition, by Patricia Barnes-Svarney (NASW) and Thomas E. Svarney

THE HANDY ANATOMY ANSWER BOOK, 2nd edition
Patricia Barnes-Svarney (NASW) and Thomas E. Svarney
Visible Ink Press, February 16, 2016, $21.95
ISBN: 9781578595426

Patricia Barnes-Svarney writes:

The Handy Anatomy Answer Book, second edition, is part of a series my husband Thomas and I have been involved in for more than 15 years through Visible Ink Press.

When our agent, Agnes Birnbaum of Bleecker Street Associates, first approached VIP’s publisher in the late 1990s, and talked about our previous science books, he mentioned he was in the market for a dinosaur book.

Patricia Barnes-Svarney

Patricia Barnes-Svarney

My background is in geology and astronomy. Tom, a naturalist, has a background in physics. Since writing The Handy Dinosaur Answer Book, first published in 2000, we also have written books for VIP on oceanography, geology, mathematics, biology, and nutrition. There is a great deal of cross-over in our work, but in general, Tom does much of the research, while I do most of the writing. We both do editing.

All the Handy Answer books — including ours — are for general audiences. They are presented in a question and answer format (the “handy answer” part). The Handy Anatomy Answer Book is a completely revamped and updated version of a book initially produced by two other authors in 2008. It includes hundreds of questions and answers.

We get our information by reviewing literature in the field, conducting interviews, and attending classes taught by experts in the subject area. Many organizational websites allow the public to access recent scientific abstracts and papers; if we have questions, we contact the authors, most often by e-mail.

The most interesting part of revamping a science book is trying to fuse the unchanged, basic information with the newest on technology and discoveries. Writing for a series about science poses other challenges, too. Because some things in science seemingly change overnight, an answer or two can be outdated before the book gets published.

It’s also a challenge to keep new science information balanced with the old, and to distinguish studies that are truly valid from those that are in their infancy (read: they need more data). Fortunately, many VIP books are revised every few years.

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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February 17, 2016

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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