David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep

Cover: David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep

Cover: David B. Williams: Too High and Too Steep


David B. Williams
University of Washington Press, September 3, 2015, $29.95
ISBN: 9780295995045

Williams reports:

Too High and Too Steep is an outgrowth of my long term interest in the intersection between people and the natural world in the urban environment. Seattle is an ideal place to explore this relationship, because Seattleites have long been influenced by the city’s topography, and in turn have drastically changed the landscape through unprecedented engineering projects. These include removing an entire hill (Denny Hill), filling in 2,500 acres of tideflats, and replumbing the largest lake in the area. We are still doing it through projects such as the SR 99 tunnel and its ill-fated boring machine, Bertha, and a new seawall.

David B. Williams

David B. Williams

Regarding the nuts and bolts of the book: I had been rejected by two publishers. One day I had coffee with the new acquisitions editor of the University of Washington Press. The conversation was not supposed to be about the book, but I still told her about it. Surprisingly, she replied that the Press was hoping to pay authors more advance money. Wow, what a novel concept. Six weeks later I had a contract. By the way, this is the second time an informational interview with an editor has led to a book contract.

Additional funding came through public agencies that I had previously received grants from, the city of Seattle and King County. I have found that local funders are often a great source of money as there is less competition than with national sources. I learned of these funders by reading the acknowledgment pages of local authors.

The research was a blast. I dove into local archives, interviewed historians and scientists, and went out in the field, which allowed me to meet a central goal of mine — making the history tangible by telling the stories of individuals, providing photos and maps, and reporting on the modern landscape so that readers could find clues that helped them understand the past and the changes that were made. My highlight was finding someone who experienced the great Denny Hill regrade, and who had lived in the last house standing on the hill.

Contact info:

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

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 started this project, or had done differently.

See https://www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines.

Send info and images to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor, llamberg@nasw.org.

Sep. 9, 2015

Advance Copy

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.

Leon Levy Center for Biography fellows

Drexel University Online