Petersen: Astronomy 101


Carolyn Collins Petersen
Adams Media, July 18, 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 978-1440563591

Carolyn Collins Petersen

Petersen reports:

When Adams Media contacted me late in 2012 to write a book about astronomy, their concept was to offer a book of astronomy topics, with each one comprising about a thousand words that anyone could read and come away with a basic understanding of that topic.

Adams Media already had roughed out the concept, and provided some of the topics they wanted covered. It was my job to select more topics, and write about them. The publisher took care of the marketing, although in retrospect, I should have corrected their early marketing copy. It was a bit too disrespectful of textbooks, something that I fixed in the copy on Amazon — a task any author can take on if he or she belongs to Author Central.

I chose very basic topics to give people a taste of the subject I’ve spent much of my professional career exploring in documentary scripts, books, magazines, and my blog.

I’ve studied, done research in, and written about astronomy, astrophysics, planetary science, and space science, so I found many of the topics easy to write. Others required more research into recent discoveries, as well as email and phone interviews with scientists working in specific disciplines.

I had a very short deadline: only seven weeks. I assembled a team of background readers who assessed each chapter as I finished it. These scientists/writing colleagues provided the necessary extra pairs of eyes to help spy imprecise or out-of-date material that can easily creep into survey work.

Working on ASTRONOMY 101 gave me a great opportunity to catch up on the latest and greatest work in the field. I felt I was distilling a fire hose of information down to a manageable stream for my readers. I look forward to a second edition.

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Sep. 18, 2013

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.

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