An Idea Grant at Work: Introducing The New Science Writers’ Handbook

NASW is pleased to bring you an update from one of our Idea Grant recipients. In 2011, the SciLance Writing Group, LLC received a $43,000 grant to develop a handbook for freelance writers. In a very short time, this committed group of writers recruited contributors, developed a draft, and secured a publishing contract. We are deeply proud of this group and happy that we could fund their enthusiasm, creativity, and initiative to produce a resource that benefits the science writing community. Congratulations to the team of Alison Fromme, Emily Gertz, Thomas Hayden, Michelle Nijhuis, Kendall Powell, Anne Sasso, Sarah Webb and all of the writers involved in this project.

The New Science Writers’ Handbook: Telling Important Stories in a Noisy Age by the writers of SciLance and edited by NASW members Thomas Hayden and Michelle Nijhuis will be released in April 2013 by Da Capo Press.

Written by an online community of freelance writers, this new guide takes on the issues that all science writers face amidst tough economic times and the shifting journalism terrain. “We’re all freelancers now,” says Nijhuis, whether that means true self-employment, telecommuting, or adding multimedia skills and entrepreneurial spirit to a staff position. The handbook covers fundamentals of the craft and commerce of science writing, and explores science writing skills and strategies with chapters such as, Delving Deeper by Douglas Fox, Rejection: Good Luck Placing This Elsewhere by Hillary Rosner, and Proper Care and Feeding of Editors by Monya Baker and Jessica Marshall.

But this book is about making a life as a science writer, as well as making a living. We coach writers on staying sane while working from home or with young children in the mix, and how to avoid the isolation blues when working alone with chapters including Just Write the Friggin’ Thing Already by Anne Sasso, the Art and Craft of Babylancing by Amanda Mascarelli, and Creating Creative Spaces by Hannah Hoag.

In addition, The New Science Writers’ Handbook covers the nitty-gritty of everything from networking, navigating contracts, and keeping funding flowing, to executing long-form writing projects, sustaining a career, finding work/life balance, and mastering story structure. All of this comes from the deep research and hard-won personal perspectives of 35 mid-career science writers. The authors bring their collective wisdom and wit to bear on this career that feels, at turns, like a crazy way to make a living, and a ‘dream job’ of capturing the wonder of the world around us.

This project was generously funded and launched off the ground by an NASW Ideas Grant of $43,000. The book will be available at a discount of 10% to all NASW members. If you would like to be added to the book's mailing list for updates, please send an email to Cameron Walker, cameron at

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