Sidney Perkowitz: Real Scientists Don’t Wear Ties

Cover: Real Scientists

Cover: Real Scientists

REAL SCIENTISTS DON’T WEAR TIES: WHEN SCIENCE MEETS CULTURE
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

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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