Rectangular photo of Christopher Reddy’s office bookshelf showing books on leadership and leaders, including U.S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, and Steve Jobs. Photo credit: Christopher Reddy

Christopher Reddy—Science Communication in a Crisis: An Insider’s Guide

Cover of the book Science Communication in a Crisis: An Insider’s Guide by Christopher Reddy showing the title in white type on a black background and a doomsday clock on a green background that suggests ocean currents.

Science Communication in a Crisis

SCIENCE COMMUNICATION IN A CRISIS:
AN INSIDER’S GUIDE

Christopher Reddy
Routledge; May 10, 2023
Hardcover, $138.96, Paperback, $29.95, eBook, $14.55
ISBN-10: 1032377801, ISBN-13: 978-1032377803
ASIN: 1032377801

Reddy reports:

I am an environmental chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and have helped respond to several major environmental crises.

Writing a book on science communication has been a dream of mine for many years. While the seeds of this book were sown during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, it wasn’t until the pandemic that I was motivated to write it.

Portrait photo of Christopher Reddy

Christopher Reddy

I had become increasingly frustrated with how science was being communicated. The rise of misinformation and the death threats sent to Dr. Fauci and other researchers spurred me to take action. I wanted to explain to scientists and non-scientists that success demands trust, mutual respect, and knowing the wants and needs of everyone involved, in sum, teamwork.

In the book, I explore the challenges and lessons learned from communicating science to interested parties in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon and other spills, including the 1996 North Cape and the 2003 Bouchard 120 oil spills. I also explore responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant meltdown, and a 2021 shipping accident near Sri Lanka.

In the spring of 2021, I hired an editor, Christopher Pitts, who did a fantastic job arranging my drafts, audio recordings, and conversations into a coherent narrative.

I had a nearly complete draft before I submitted my first book proposal. Multiple rejections followed. For a scientist, the publishing world is somewhat baffling. When a scientific journal rejects a paper, reviewers provide specific details. Book editors, however, tend to give minimal feedback. Routledge made an offer in May 2022.

I wish I had known about the challenges of promoting your book. While writing is hard, I’ve found promotion even more challenging—and exhausting!

My advice for writers is to decide what a successful outcome will be. Book publicity and sales are dark arts. The process is unpredictable and often out of your control. There are days when it is easy to be disheartened. But those brief moments pale compared to the happiness, pride, and satisfaction I have found publishing the book I always wanted to write.

Contact info:

December 5, 2023

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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