Betsy Mason & Greg Miller, All Over the Map

Cover: All Over the Map

Cover: All Over the Map


Betsy Mason and Greg Miller
National Geographic, October 30, 2018, $50
ISBN-10: 1426219725; ISBN-13: 978-1426219726

For this column, NASW book editor Lynne Lamberg asks NASW authors to tell how they came up with the idea for their book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. She also asks what they wish they had known before they began working on their book, what they might do differently the next time, and what tips they can offer aspiring authors. She then edits the A part of that Q&A to produce the author reports you see here.

Publication of NASW members’ reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Mason and Miller report:

Our book All Over the Map grew out of the map blog we have been writing together, first at Wired and now at National Geographic, since 2013. It’s a beautifully illustrated book of stories about maps and mapmakers that touches on many aspects of science, history, art, technology, and culture.

As we’ve explored the world through maps over the years, we’ve found far more stories that intrigued us than we could possibly have time to write for the blog. When a National Geographic Books editor contacted us about doing a map book, it seemed like a great opportunity to write some of those stories.

Betsy Mason

Betsy Mason

We worked with the editor to develop a concept for the book. When it came to negotiating the contract, neither of us had past book-writing experience to help us evaluate it. We consulted author friends and researched typical contracts for large-format books like ours. We debated bringing on an agent but ultimately decided to go it alone. In the end we felt we had a fair deal, but of course we'll never know if we could have done better with an agent (after factoring in the fee).

Greg Miller

Greg Miller

All Over the Map contains 80 stories that range from around 350 to 1,500 words. A few were based on stories we had already done for the blog, but the vast majority were new. We had a sense of how much research, writing, and editing work would be involved, but we hadn’t anticipated how much additional work we’d end up doing on other aspects of the book.

We were responsible for tracking down and negotiating permissions for images of the more than 200 maps in the book and working closely with the designers on page layouts. We suspect this would be the case for any illustrated book with a substantial amount of text that is closely tied to the images. Authors considering whether to take on a similar project would be wise to keep this in mind when negotiating the terms of the contract.

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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.


Thinking of writing a book? If you are a NASW member, you may access a list of more than 150 books and online resources to help you craft your book proposal, find an agent and funding sources, negotiate your contract, learn about self-publishing, publicize and market your book, and more at

Send book info and questions about book publishing to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor,

November 2, 2018

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 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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