Trudy E. Bell: Neptune—From Grand Discovery to a World Revealed




William Sheehan, Trudy E. Bell (NASW member),
Carolyn Kennett, Robert Smith, Eds.
Springer International Publishing, May 26, 2021
Print, $139.99; ebook, $109.00
ISBN-10: 3030542173, ISBN-13: 978-3030542177
Ebook: 978-3030542184

Bell reports:

I was brought into this project late—September 2019—after a rough manuscript of all 10 chapters had first come together. The lead author/editor William Sheehan (a big name in history of astronomy, author of a dozen or more major books) was concerned that the communal 700 manuscript pages did not hang together as a cohesive story. Chapters written by international non-native English speakers also needed polishing.

At first, my role was to be only a reviewer at the 30,000-foot level, a task Bill estimated to take maybe two weeks. But, because of my own considerable background in history of 19th-century U.S. astronomy, I found myself also making content suggestions. I also smoothed the English of several chapters. By late December, Bill recommended that I be made one of the co-editors listed on the front cover, which is how I came to be the only co-editor without a bylined chapter.

Trudy E. Bell

Trudy E. Bell

While coordinating all the contributors had its herding-cats aspect, any multi-author work is an exercise in negotiation. I wish I could have done more with the manuscript, but time was short and the book was not. Bill had other competing deadline pressures, so I ended up being point person for corrections on page proofs.

The biggest frustration was discovering after the fact that Springer’s production team is in India, restricting services offered. Most important, there was no copyediting stage for catching typos or conforming stylistic inconsistencies among the various authors. The book went directly from submitted copy to page proofs. This book was for an academic publisher, so no agent was involved.

Bill’s revelation: “Almost any story—no matter how seemingly treadworn—contains important fresh angles if viewed through new documents.” This was my first foray into editing an academic book. I was surprised that what I anticipated would be a small consulting job ballooned into a major project. The pay was negligible, but the huge reward is knowing I helped make an enduring contribution.

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Jun. 9, 2021

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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Hybrid 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting