Carpenter: The Craft of Science Writing

Cover: Craft of Science Writing

Cover: Craft of Science Writing

Siri Carpenter, Editor
The Open Notebook, February 1, 2020
Paperback, $24.95; E-book, $9.99; library edition, $95.00
Paperback: ISBN-10: 1734028009, ISBN-13: 978-1734028003
ASIN: B081LG93WV; Epub: ISBN: 13: 978-1734028010
Library edition: ISBN-13: 978-1734028027

Carpenter reports:

When The Open Notebook’s most longstanding funder, Russ Campbell of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, offered to support development of a TON anthology, I was thrilled at the opportunity to pull some of our best material into something that people could hold in their hands. Deciding what to include was tough, but I ultimately selected 30 TON articles that I felt would together make a coherent whole. I commissioned a few new articles as well.

I hired five journalists I admire to write introductions to each of the book’s five sections, and I wrote an introduction and miscellaneous front- and end-matter. Everything was copy edited by a longtime member of the TON team, the fastidious Aaron Brooks, and proofread by TON co-founder Jeanne Erdmann and me as well as one of my aunts and both my parents (thanks, family!).

Siri Carpenter

Siri Carpenter

Publishing a book independently to a professional caliber is a complex and daunting task. One thing I learned in producing The Craft of Science Writing is when to embrace yet another learning curve, and when to hire someone who knows more than you do. I hired a freelance designer, Alison Mackey, to design the book’s interior and cover; a book publicist, Sarah Russo, to advise on how to get the word out about the book; a web developer, Jim Webb, to create a template for a book page and a page where we could take direct orders; and a publishing strategist, Eric Van Der Hope, to manage the technical process of uploading files to several different publishing platforms (Kindle Direct Publishing, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital), linking them together, setting up pre-ordering, and more.

Bringing these talented people on board freed me up to continue overseeing the rest of TON’s work while also shepherding the book to completion. Maybe I could have stumbled along without their help, but I know I would have spent far more (unpaid) time, suffered through endless technical glitches that I wasn’t well equipped to handle, and ended up with a book that was less attractive and that might not have had as much of an impact as I hope this one will.

Contributors to The Craft of Science Writing (NASW members in bold):

Christie Aschwanden, Siri Carpenter, Tina Casagrand, Jeanne Erdmann, Dan Fagin, Dan Ferber, Azeen Ghorayshi, Geoffrey Giller, Laura Helmuth, Jane C. Hu, Alla Katsnelson, Roxanne Khamsi, Maggie Koerth-Baker, Jyoti Madhusoodanan, Apoorva Mandavilli, Amanda Mascarelli, Robin Meadows, Kate Morgan, Tien Nguyen, Michelle Nijhuis, Aneri Pattani, Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Mallory Pickett, Kendall Powell, Tasneem Raja, Sandeep Ravindran, Julia Rosen, Christina Selby, Alexandra Witze, Wudan Yan, Ed Yong, Rachel Zamzow, Sarah Zhang, Carl Zimmer.

Contact info:

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Jan. 29, 2020

Advance Copy

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.

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.

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