Learning The Trade: Advice For Scientists Seeking Book Publishers

The well-publicized commercial successes of science books for the lay, or trade, market--going all the way back to The Double Helix by James Watson (New York, Atheneum Publishers, 1968), and through the more recent A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (New York, Bantam Books, 1988)--provide indisputable evidence that science titles can have broad appeal and even occasionally become mega-bestsellers. Less well-publicized have been those many science titles that never achieved such broad recognition, yet still returned handsome profits for their publishers.


Here are a few tips for the scientist thinking of writing a science book for trade publication:

  • Good trade book authors are trade book readers. Before you begin to write your proposal, go to a good general-interest bookstore and read through the science titles on the shelves. Don't limit yourself to those in your own...
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