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Getting started

Making the jump to a PR/PIO job

One was escaping from a long-ago recession. Another wanted more pay and better benefits. Those were among the responses Denise Graveline got when she posted this Twitter-hashtagged question on her "don't get caught" blog: "How did you get started in #PR or #communications?" Don't miss the post from a longtime NASW member who began her account with the brief but spellbinding sentence: "Newspaper had fleas." (Just fleas? We've seen worse.)

The intern's gateway to science writing

Budding chemist Christine Herman wants to be a science writer and has taken the first step by winning a science writing internship at a high-energy physics lab, she writes in the Just Another Electron Pusher blog for Chemical & Engineering News. "Every science writer I’ve talked to seems to have taken a slightly different path to arrive at the same destination," she says. "But there was one piece of advice that nearly every science writer gave me: Take an internship."

Applying to a grad program?

Dear Prospective Student: Thanks very much for your interest in our graduate program in science writing. You're off to a good start by sending a professional message with some well-composed details about your background and your desire to enter our field. We'll talk soon over the phone, and I welcome you to visit us here in the redwoods. In the meantime, you've asked what I look for in our applicants — the signs that you might be a good fit for us, and vice versa. I'm happy to oblige.

How I did it: A scientist becomes a freelance science writer

Stephanie Chasteen

Stephanie Chasteen, a science education and communication consultant, was getting a PhD in physics when she realized she was more interested in learning about science than actually doing it. Time for a career change. Stephanie discusses how she launched a "do-it-yourself" program to learn science writing while still working on her PhD.

How I did it: reporting a story in Vietnam

Christie Aschwanden

Christie Aschwanden, a freelance science writer in Colorado, talks about how she raised funds for and reported a story in Vietnam.

Definitions: POD, subsidy publishing, self-publishing and more

You will encounter a great many unfamiliar terms in marketing and publishing. Here is a useful guide.

Publishing and marketing organizations, newsletters and discussion groups

There are many active organizations and discussion groups and useful newsletters to help you with your writing, marketing and publishing. Here's a list:

Deciding to become a self-publisher

Given the considerable frustrations of working with commercial publishers, you may well consider self-publishing your book.

Resources for self-publishing

The Marketing & Publishing Resource comprises a collection of articles to help NASW members take advantage of new technologies and techniques for marketing and publishing their articles and books, whether they self-publish or work with a commercial publisher.

More online resources

Useful links

A list of other science writing organizations is available on the NASW Web site at http://www.nasw.org/local-science-writing-groups

A list of available jobs in science writing, including freelance opportunities, workshops and fellowships, is available on the NASW site at http://www.nasw.org/jobs

Online reference sites: