Crume: Environmental Health in the 21st Century

Cover: Environmental Health

Cover: Environmental Health


Richard Crume, Editor
ABC-CLIO/Greenwood, February 8, 2018, $198.00
ISBN-10: 1440843643; ISBN 13: 978-1440843648 (set)
Ebook: ISBN: 978-1440843655

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 indicate NASW’s endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments, and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Crume reports:

Two years ago, writing a two-volume reference encyclopedia was not high on my list of priorities. The idea had never crossed my mind. Although I was experienced in writing scientific research papers and reports, and had published a number of renewable energy articles in popular journals like Solar Today Magazine, nothing in my resume came close to resembling an encyclopedia. I was surprised when the publisher recruited me for the task, arguing that I had the right mix of science and health expertise combined with a writing style that was appropriate for the intended audience: high school and early college students and the general public. I agreed to give it a try!

Richard Crume

Richard Crume

Rather than writing the entire two-volume set myself, I asked over 60 environmental health experts — including physicians, public health professionals, and university professors — to prepare encyclopedia entries of 500 to 1,500 words covering their areas of expertise. (I was able to entice authors by promising a complimentary copy of the published encyclopedia.) Additionally, I included interviews with 22 international authorities in the environmental health field and an essay on steps individuals can take to reduce their own environmental risk. Of the 300 encyclopedia entries, I wrote about 40 myself, plus many sidebars highlighting the science behind environmental health issues.

I quickly learned that environmental health experts are not necessarily good writers, and they do not always pay attention to deadlines. I spent considerable time editing and rewriting entries and cajoling authors to complete their assignments. Preparing the references for further reading (five to 10 per entry) was especially time consuming because I needed to ensure that the cited works were peer reviewed and represented the state of the art. Staying on top of the latest developments was especially challenging.

Despite my bouts of frustration and self-doubt along the way, the publisher provided great support and encouragement, helping me to stay on track and not be deterred by setbacks. The result is an impressive collection of knowledge that I hope will find a place among standard references in the environmental health field.

Contact info:

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NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Submit your report for Advance Copy.

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 200 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,