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.

Contact info:

Buy this book now in the ScienceWriters bookstore. Your purchase helps support NASW programs and services.

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.


View Advance Copy archives at

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,

Follow @LynneLamberg on Twitter for news about science/medical books and writing.

Hero image by Tide He from Pixabay

Jun. 9, 2021

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.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.

Hybrid 2022 AAAS Annual Meeting