Emily Willingham—The Tailored Brain: From Ketamine, to Keto, to Companionship, A User's Guide to Feeling Better and Thinking Smarter

Tailored Brain

Tailored Brain


Emily Willingham
Basic Books, December 14; $30
ISBN-13: ISBN-13 is 978-1541647022

Willingham reports:

The proposal for this book was a couple of years in the development process. That in part was because it doesn't make huge promises about "this one weird trick" to achieve amazing outcomes.

I already had an agent who had initially contacted me after reading something I'd written about gender and the brain. I have a background in evaluating scientific claims and in taking up how society influences science. In this book, I combine both to look at claims made about "brain enhancements" and whether or not the evidence—if there is any evidence—supports them.

Emily Willingham

Emily Willingham

Basic Books is a perfect publisher for this kind of realistic look at scientific claims, and I was glad that my agent connected me with an interested editor there. I did receive an advance, which was the only funding for this project.

The research was intense, but what surprised me the most was how much many claims were overblown except for two: making connections with others and engaging in some kind of physical activity. Add developing the practice of keeping your mind in the current moment and being open to awe, and what you get is a set of tools that most of us can access and that don't cost a dime.

I don't think that there's much I would have done differently, but as always with books requiring deep research, you come away feeling that more time might have, well, uncovered more material. The thing is, I already had too much material and had to cut tens of thousands of words from my final draft. Knowing that I'd have to do that, I just wrote as much as I wanted about everything that I thought was important. Then I shaped and carved the final manuscript to make sure that it hit on everything that called for emphasis. It works better for me not to get hung up on word count during the writing process and to save the cuts for clean reads once the draft is done.

Contact info:

NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Submit your report for Advance Copy.

Tell your fellow NASW members how you came up with the idea for your book, developed a proposal, found an agent and publisher, funded and conducted research, and put the book together. Include what you wish you had known before you began working on your book, or had done differently.

See https://www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines.

Review Advance Copy archives at https://www.nasw.org/member-article/advance-copy.

Thinking of writing a book? If you are a NASW member, you may access a list of more than 150 books and online resources to help you create your book proposal, find an agent and funding sources, negotiate your contract, learn about self-publishing, publicize and market your book, and more at https://www.nasw.org/article/write-book.

Send book info and questions about book publishing to Lynne Lamberg, NASW book editor, llamberg@nasw.org.

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Hero image by Sara Cohen on Unsplash.

December 22, 2021

Advance Copy

The path from idea to book may take myriad routes. The Advance Copy column, started in 2000 by NASW volunteer book editor Lynne Lamberg, features NASW authors telling the stories behind their books. Authors are asked to report how they got their idea, honed it into a proposal, found an agent and a publisher, funded and conducted their research, and organized their writing process. They also are asked to share what they wish they’d known when they started or would do differently next time, and what advice they can offer aspiring authors. Lamberg edits the authors’ answers to produce the Advance Copy reports.

NASW members: Will your book be published soon? Visit www.nasw.org/advance-copy-submission-guidelines for information on submitting your report.

Publication of NASW author reports in Advance Copy does not constitute NASW's endorsement of any publication or the ideas, values, or material contained within or espoused by authors or their books. We hope this column stimulates productive discussions on important topics now and in the future as both science and societies progress. We welcome your discussion in the comments section below.

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