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  • Writer's pictureBarbara Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

A Book is Born!

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

stork carries a newly released book

Writing a book is often compared to birthing a baby – beginning with conception, followed by a period of gestation, culminating in labor and birth. Both creative processes combine joyful anticipation with any number of struggles and challenges along the way.

How did Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide come into being?

The idea for this book was conceived by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics back in 2016. A book on this topic was requested by educators and practitioners to fill a twenty-year gap since “Communicating As Professionals,” published by the American Dietetic Association, went out of print.

The original version of that book was published in 1986 with 11 contributing authors and was 61 pages in length. The second edition was published in 1994, after having grown to 210 pages with 23 contributing authors.

When I started teaching the nutrition communication course at Purdue in 2000, I purchased the last remaining copies and kept them in my classroom for student use. Little did I know that I would be involved in creating its descendant, but I sure did wish for an updated textbook the entire time I taught the course!

How long did it take to write?

The gestation period for a human takes only 9 months, but books often take years to come into being. This one was no exception. The gestation period for a human infant is divided into three trimesters. Let’s look at the book’s gestation in three parts as well:

The first trimester

The first trimester lasted about a year and consisted of completing a needs assessment to determine the depth and breadth of content. A table of contents was developed and an author team was assembled.

Dozens of nutrition professionals volunteered to be authors or reviewers. The book had 57 contributing authors and 26 reviewers, in addition to the author invited later to write the foreword, Ellie Krieger.

The second trimester

The second trimester consisted of writing, reviewing, and revising. This started in the fall of 2017 and continued until the revised drafts were ready for the copy editor in early 2019.

The writing schedule did not proceed from chapter 1 through to chapter 42 but was initiated two sections at a time beginning with sections 1 and 5, followed by 3 and 6, then 4 and 8, and finally 2 and 7.

The book went through two extensive reviews: first with the review board of 26 nutrition professionals, followed by an academic review involving piloting the revised versions of the chapters with educators and students in a variety of settings.

The third and final trimester

The third and final trimester consisted of editing, adding images and diagrams, getting copyright clearance, and designing the layout. This stage extended from early 2019 to 2020. It included a series of editorial reviews, proofreading, making corrections, and reviewing again.

The Academy also included a final review by a sensitivity reader, which is often referred to as a diversity review. As described in Chapter 13, this review “can help prevent you from accidentally introducing potentially offensive material due to unconscious bias, overgeneralizing, lack of knowledge, or even the misguided application of good intent.”

This final “trimester” is also the stage in which the preface and foreword were added and indexing was completed. The final version of the book is just under 700 pages!

When was the book “born”?

The book went to the printer in July 2020. After the printer’s proof was approved the electronic version was available for purchase and the print version could be ordered. The print version shipped in mid-August 2020.

Both are available from the eatrightSTORE and from Amazon. The price for Academy members is discounted. Learn more about the book and the author team.

“Writing books is the closest men ever come to childbearing.” ~ Norman Mailer

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