Writing a book has been a long-time personal goal, so announcing that I’ve done it is quite a hoot! I have Geary Schindel (former hydrogeologist with the Edwards Aquifer Authority) and my lack of good judgment to thank for this. A friend of Geary’s, the editor of this series, asked Geary if he was willing to write a book on groundwater sustainability. Geary deferred but recommended his friend contact me. Given everything on my plate at the time (at any time, really), I told myself that I definitely needed to say no. But I said yes instead.
It was a rewarding experience. Given that this is an academic book, and even though the editor invited me to write it, I still needed to run the reviewer gauntlet of peer review for the proposal. That was daunting because a quick check revealed many books about groundwater sustainability. However, closer inspection revealed that almost all were compendiums of papers from different authors. I have to confess that I generally despise these “books,” which are nothing more than a journal issue in hardcover (but I’ll admit there are some good-uns out there). So my most significant selling point was to write a book about groundwater sustainability in a single voice. These are my favorite books: well thought out, organized, and easy to understand.
The other interesting thing I did was to read the literature on groundwater sustainability forward in time from 1915 to “relive” the development of the subject. I stopped at about 2000 in reading everything because the literature became unruly and impossible to read on the topic (too many papers). Reading forward in time allowed me to make connections about the angst on groundwater sustainability that others hadn’t noted before. My background as a scientist who worked in government certainly helped my worldview here.
Finally, although this is an academic book and is (hopefully) thoroughly referenced, I tried to write it in a friendly, accessible style. I aimed for a multi-disciplinary audience and included a chapter on hydrogeology written for water managers and policymakers. When I sat down to determine what tone I wanted for the book, I decided to write the book I wanted to write, not the one an academic would expect me to write (an academic in science, at least; geographers are much chiller in this regard). So I wrote it and waited for the editors to tell me to change it. They didn’t! So here we are.
One of the proposal reviews (Reviewer #2) was skeptical that I was the right person to write the book, concluding, “This book is too important to entrust to a Texan.” That sentiment fits into the incorrect trope that Texas is all about draining its aquifers, mainly because of the world infamous Southern High Plains. While the book has a global focus, examples from Texas inevitably adorn the papers, including sustainable and unsustainable aquifers. Furthermore, understanding the motivations for sustainable management requires understanding the motivations for unsustainable management.
On a sad note, this book is damned expensive (~$170). I (naively) hoped that it would come in under $100. The primary market for this book is university libraries and academic specialists. An academic book that sells 170 to 200 copies is considered a good run (!!!), with very few selling more than 500. An article in The Guardian suggests that publishers hoodwink academics into writing books and that a book is a vanity project (so, you haven’t written a book, have you?). But isn’t any creative output to the public, however limited, a vanity project? Anywho… Although, I have to admit it’s a trip to see myself listed in Amazon (and on the bestsellers list [at #793,410 in books…]). 😉
As you might have guessed, I included some of my postcards (and other ephemera) in the book, including two items on of my favorite well, the Grenelle Well, as well as wells or springs from the Edwards Aquifer, Australia, and Iceland.
The book was a lot of work, but not as much as I had feared. So fortified with experience and happiness, I’ve embarked on writing another one. My vanity, it seems, knows no limits…
5 thoughts on “my book, “Groundwater Sustainability: Conception, Development, and Application”, is out!”
Have you thought about your next book being science fiction? Just a thought –
Sent from my iPhone
I actually have a first draft of a science fiction book I cranked out last fall. Setting it aside while I finish the non-fiction one (which I have a contract for).
“too important to entrust to a Texan”!! They must have been watching Texas lay waste to its groundwater and rivers for the past few decades.
From my first quick glance at the boldface title of this email, what I came away with was “Groundwater Sustainability Is Out”, so I was briefly horrified until I read it again more carefully. We need this book in our collection at Plateau UWC&SD.
ha! I should have thought about that harder!