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

American Education

American Education


Jeff Weld
Torchflame Books, March 2, 2021
Paperback, $15.99; e-book, $5.99
ISBN 10: 161153416X; ISBN 13: 9781611534160
Ebook ISBN: 9781611534177

Weld reports:

In December 2017, I accepted an appointment to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as senior advisor for STEM Education. Twenty-one months later, after completing Charting a Course for Success: America’s Strategy for STEM Education–a national “North Star” and implementation roadmap for agencies–I left 1650 Pennsylvania Avenue behind.

So many people asked me how I navigated the toxic politics, the fierce independence of federal agencies, the constellation of special interests, the inter-state dynamics, and the unforgiving clock to complete the mission, I decided to write a memoir. My intended audience includes policy wonks, education professionals especially in STEM, and fans of memoirs where the little guy wins.

Jeff Weld

Jeff Weld

After I drafted an outline plus a chapter or two, I searched for an agent, drawing lots of interest in the topic but also fears that the audience would be too niche. I turned to publishers directly–smaller houses who publish current affairs, science, education, and memoir. Like the Goldilocks tale, some found it too policy-focused, others too education-y, and others too STEM-y.

An academic publisher made an offer but the timeline was too slow for me (18 months) and the royalty too low (7% of net). By then, December 2020, I’d found an outstanding editor through a NASW-JOBS ad, Julie Lipkin, and finished my time-sensitive book. I wanted it to come out soon after the presidential election.

I sent queries to hybrid publishers and found one who shared my passion and urgency, and with whom I shared the cost of production. The publisher guided me through the process with further copyediting, layout, permissions, ISBN, cover design, and all the other details, doing most of it for me with periodic base-touches.

We are now in the marketing phase. The publisher has placed the book on major retailer sites and provided a variety of marketing tools. Time will tell if a small hybrid publisher makes economic sense for a book of this scope. While it would have been ideal to land a big fish to publish my book, this pathway was swift, exceedingly professional and thus painless, and the royalties much healthier.

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Mar. 24, 2021

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.

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