Advance Copy: Backstories on books by NASW members

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.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit to submit your report.

Publication of NASW members' reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of their books. NASW welcomes your comments and hopes this column stimulates productive discussions.

Sheeva Azma: How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing

A science education can provide a competitive edge for aspiring science writers, Sheeva Azma contends. After earning an MS in neuroscience, Azma began exploring job options outside the lab. In How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing, she provides tactics to help students and scientists apply their skills to marketing, ghost and grant writing, producing website content, and consulting.

Chelsea Wald: Pipe Dreams—The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet

Humans produce about 100 lbs. of poop and 140 gallons of pee each year. Two billion people worldwide lack a minimally adequate toilet. Hundreds of millions don’t use a toilet at all, promoting spread of preventable diseases. In Pipe Dreams: The Urgent Global Quest to Transform the Toilet, Chelsea Wald explores efforts to make healthy toilets—and necessary infrastructure—accessible to all.

Jeff Weld: Charting a Course for American Education from out on a limb at the executive branch

In 2017, Jeff Weld, then head of STEM Education for Iowa, was tapped to be a senior policy advisor for STEM education at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His mission: to develop a nationwide STEM education policy within one year. In Charting a Course for American Education from out on a limb at the executive branch, Weld tells how he and colleagues met that goal.

Michelle Nijhuis: Beloved Beasts—Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction

Over the last 500 years, our planet has lost at least 755 animal species and 123 plant species, Michelle Nijhuis reports in Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction. Humans continue to kill species and destroy habitats, while climate change amplifies these threats. Growing worldwide conservation efforts, she says, have averted extinction of many species and aim to save more.

Carl Zimmer: Life's Edge—The Search for What It Means to Be Alive

The SARS-CoV-2 virus has used humans to make quadrillions of copies of itself. It also mutates. But is it alive? Many virologists say no: viruses get their sustenance only inside their host species’ cells. What is life anyway? In Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive, Carl Zimmer explores efforts by physicians, scientists, philosophers, & historians to answer this timeless question.

Olivia Campbell: Women in White Coats-How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine

“You cannot expect us to furnish you with a stick to break our heads with,” one of 29 medical school deans wrote Elizabeth Blackwell, refusing to admit her. But she persisted. Blackwell graduated from Geneva Medical College in 1849 at age 28, the nation’s 1st woman M.D. Others followed, as Olivia Campbell reports in Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine.

Joshua Hatch, Nicholas Jackson: KSJ Science Editing Handbook

Journalists and editors: How can you avoid false balance and false equivalency, identify a potential source’s lack of expertise or conflict of interest, improve source diversity, help your audience understand statistics, and use social media effectively? The KSJ Science Editing Handbook, co-edited by Joshua Hatch and Nicholas Jackson, addresses these and many other everyday challenges.

Liz Heinecke: Radiant—The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light

In 1890s Paris, modern dance pioneer Loie Fuller dazzled Folies Bergere audiences with her swirling movements and inventive lighting. Later, she sought Marie Curie’s newly discovered glow-in-the-dark element, radium, to apply to her costumes. Liz Heinecke’s Radiant: The Dancer, The Scientist, and a Friendship Forged in Light tells the story of Fuller’s and Curie’s professional and personal ties.

Christoph Droesser: It’s about Sausage-What you have to know if you like to eat meat

Parents who serve meat to their children eventually have to talk about how the animal lived and died, whether eating meat is healthy, and how meat production affects the environment, says Christoph Droesser. He addresses these concerns in his book for children aged 8+, It’s about Sausage: What you have to know if you like to eat meat, currently available only in German.