Juli Berwald: Spineless

Cover: Spineless

Cover: Spineless


Juli Berwald
Riverhead Books, November 7, 2017, $27
ISBN-10: 0735211264, ISBN-13: 978-0735211261

Berwald reports:

I stumbled onto jellyfish, not on a beach like you might expect, but writing captions for a National Geographic story about acid seas. The piece included a graphic showing Winners v. Losers in a future acidified ocean. When I saw an image of a jellyfish on the winner’s side, I paused, and then fell headlong into scientific literature where I found so much was unsettled about the future of jellyfish in our seas that I couldn’t let the idea — forgive me — slip away.

Juli Berwald

Juli Berwald

I followed the story of jellyfish and jellyfish scientists from coast to coast and eventually beyond, mostly funding my travel by attaching it to family vacations. About three years in, I took a week off my freelance work and put together a proposal. I then asked friends to connect me to their agents. Because I had a snappy title and jellyfish have a compelling oddness, agents would usually agree to take a look. But I was turned down again and again because the book didn’t fit neatly into either the science or memoir genre.

After a couple years of rejections, the proposal had evolved. A publisher at an academic press liked what she read and made me an offer. At that point, agents were interested in representing me. One believed that that rather than take the offer, I could sell the book commercially. She helped me rewrite the proposal over about a month, and we sold it to a fabulous editor at Riverhead Books, who loved the science/memoir combination.

From the time I was young, I dreamed of being an author, but thought it was beyond me. Small articles, sure. But a whole book? The thing I wish I would have known earlier is that if you’ve dreamed of writing a book, you need to give yourself permission to write without worrying if it will ever get published. You might even tell yourself, “I’m going to write the worst book I can,” just to take the pressure off. And then you need to sit down in your chair, and write a book.

Contact info:

Juli Berwald, 512-228-0005, juliberwald@gmail.com, http://www.juliberwald.com, @juliberwald
Book website: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/543899/spineless-by-juli-berwald/
Blog: http://www.juliberwald.com/blog/
Agent: Mollie Glick, 212-277-9000, mollie.glick@caa.com
Publicist: Glory Anne Pata, 212-366-2575, gplata@penguinrandomhouse.com

Buy this book now in the ScienceWriters bookstore. Your purchase helps support NASW programs and services.

NASW members: will your book be published soon? Take advantage of this opportunity for shameless self-promotion. Submit your report for Advance Copy. Deadline for the Winter 2017 ScienceWriters is November 22, 2017.

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.

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 craft 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.

Nov. 1, 2017

Drexel University online

ASU Earth and Space Journalism Fellowship