Sidney Perkowitz: Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties

Cover: Real Scientists

Cover: Real Scientists

Sidney Perkowitz
Jenny Stanford Publishing, Nov. 30, 2019
Hardbound, $29.95; Kindle, $16.17
Hardbound: ISBN-10: 9814800686; ISBN-13: 978-9814800686
Kindle: ASIN: B07V9HNDJ4

Perkowitz reports:

Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties came about after Pan Stanford Publishing in Singapore approached me about doing a book. The company has a good roster of science books including Nobel Laureate authors. It wanted to expand its popular science list under a new imprint, Jenny Stanford Publishing. This publisher operates mostly on a royalties-only basis, however. I did not want to write a book without an advance. I proposed instead to edit an anthology of my published articles in return for a modest advance plus royalties and funds to cover reproduction rights. They agreed and we quickly negotiated a contract.

Sidney Perkowitz

Sidney Perkowitz

The big issue in designing the book was to put varied articles from my writing history into a coherent structure. The headings I use on my website, “Science,” “Technology,” and “Culture,” became main themes. I selected 50 articles out of 160 published items, focusing on the quality of the writing and the science, diversity of topics, and a balance between serious and light writing. These went, in clumps of three to seven related pieces, into sub-headings under the three themes. The final creative effort was to write about myself as scientist and writer and to write brief introductory notes for each theme and article.

I also had to obtain reproduction rights from the publications where my articles had originally appeared. As a pleasant surprise, every publication gave me the rights for free in return for a credit line, leaving enough in my budget to pay for some images that I especially wanted. Another necessity was extra-careful proofing of the articles from different sources to provide uniform usage across the book.

As I had hoped, all this took much less effort than writing a whole book. I made up for the small advance by continuing my regular freelance writing while easily meeting the book’s deadline. One unexpected benefit was that in reviewing my own work, I became aware of my long-term evolution in writing style and my turning from pure science toward science in society. And I’m happy to have a book that embodies a big chunk of my career.

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Nov. 27, 2019

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