Kristin Ohlson: The Soil Will Save Us


Kristin Ohlson
Rodale Books, March 18, 2014, hardcover, $23.99
ISBN: hardcover, 978-1-60961-554-3; ebook, 978-1-60961-555-0

Ohlson reports:

I had written an article about a Cleveland chef for Gourmet magazine, and stayed in touch with him over the years. He was a locavore pioneer, very active among farmers and ranchers, and a great source of article ideas for me.

One day he told me that many farmers were now paying attention to healthy soil, and monitoring the growing amount of carbon there, and even making the connection between increased soil carbon and decreased atmospheric carbon. I was interested.

Kristin Ohlson
I wrote an article for Discover magazine about the scientists involved in building soil carbon through more careful land use, then wrote a book proposal with the help of Jennifer Lawler, who does a class on this through the Freelance Success website. I already had an agent, and she was great about helping me whip the proposal into better shape.

Three publishers were interested. Rodale made the winning offer. I had a pretty tight schedule for turning the book around. Much of the research was done through phone interviews, but there was some travel to interview and observe in Vermont, North Dakota, Zimbabwe, and Australia.

When it came time to actually write the book, the material veered away from the outline in the proposal more than slightly. I think that has to happen because some things turn out to be not as interesting as you think early on, and you discover so many new things as you work. I had to work quickly, and am grateful that Rodale has a vigorous team of fact checkers.

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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.

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