Beyond the Hustle

Phew! “Academaze” is out, we’ve done a giveaway raffle, and I am ready to talk about something else. But perhaps not just yet.

Those of you who have read the book — thank you and I hope you enjoyed it! Whether you liked it or not, if you feel inclined to write an honest review (Amazon, Goodreads, your personal blog, etc.) or help us spread the word on social media, it will be greatly appreciated by both me and my publisher. Thank you!

I have to say, this promoting-a-book business is not for the faint of heart. While I understand it’s necessary, it is not a comfortable mode to be in for an introverted academic, pulling people by the sleeve with “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my boooooook!” I know how annoying it is to be on the receiving end of people’s attempts to extract money from you, yet here I am, doing just that. I am really sorry! And, yeah, buy my book.

Seriously now, I thought I would share my experiences about the process that led to the book being out in the world, in all its copyedited, cover-arted, ISBN-ed glory.

First, I have to thank Melanie of Annorlunda Books. She has been really wonderful throughout the whole process. Melanie has learned her publishing trade (she’s got several trades under her belt, such as being a PhD with considerable experience working in the biotech industry) by first self-publishing, as well as by having a couple of her own books published by others. There are many details regarding book formatting and distribution that would have required considerable time for me to learn, and I am glad I didn’t have to do it.

Overall, I am really happy I went with a small publisher and only had to ever work with Melanie, whom I trusted. I mostly knew Melanie from the blogosphere (although we met briefly in person a few years ago when I was traveling through her city), but I think that, when you interact with someone for years, even if it’s “just” online, you eventually do get a fairly good sense of who they are. I had gotten to know her as a kind and level-headed person, so I was comfortable trusting her with the book. She was great to work with; she was very accommodating of my preferences in terms of layout and put a lot of effort into making something we were both happy with.

Second, I now admire more than ever those writers who are able to churn out more than one book per year. It’s not just the writing; it’s the editing, going over the text again and again, revising, revising, revising, and then proofreading, proofreading, proofreading. Uuuuuuugh. Writers like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson, who produce multiple books per year, are freakin’ superheroes. Somebody fetch each of them a cape! Even if their genres aren’t your cup of tea, you have to admire the work ethics, literary talent, and fecund imagination that together enable them to publish as prolifically as they do the kinds of books that many other people enjoy reading.

In my case, there was a lot of raw material to start from, and I might have underestimated just how much there was and just how raw much of it was. Paring down from about 400k to about 150k words was not too onerous; that’s the level at which whole essays were removed as too personal or too ranty. Getting down to what the book is now, about 83k (i.e., about 20% of the starting material), was considerably more laborious; it required going through the text with a fine tooth comb, along with trying to find a reasonably coherent thread. Several essays are actually amalgams of two or three blog posts. Many pieces that worked on the blog simply did not otherwise; often, a sentence or a paragraph is all that survived.

I have reread the book probably a dozen times now, and as much as I am in love with it, I am also a little (alright, a lot) sick of it. I think I need to leave it be for a little while.

But I am extremely pleased that several people said they found it easy to read. I highly value readability of anything I write; when referees say my paper is technically complicated but easy to follow and compelling to read anyway, it really warms my heart; it means I have achieved what I was supposed to — presented new science, new findings, in a way that other humans can appreciate. So when reviews speak of the book as an easy read, I think I did my job right.

There are spots in the book that I would have liked to polish some more, but between it being a sizable text, me having a demanding day job, this being my first book (i.e., me not really knowing what I was doing), and several of us involved working hard to make the deadline despite varied other obligations, I think the book turned out really, really, really well. I am very proud of it.

I thought you might like to know that, after many weeks of agonizing, I have decided to send a copy to my former postdoc, after I had sworn him to secrecy. When I offered him the book I immediately felt it was the right thing to do, as opposed to an awful mistake. He is a trustworthy guy with a great sense of humor, and he’s going through the growing pains with his own group, being midway through the tenure track, so I think he’ll enjoy the book and also keep my secret.



Raffle Winners

Here are the “Academaze” raffle winners (in alphabetical order by first name):

Ebook (8 copies):

Alienor C.
Anshul K.
Beth W.
Gautam M.
Irina D.
Lisa F.
Matthew Q.
Michelle N.

Paperback (7 copies):

Anna A.
Ivana B.
Lydia K.
Megan M.
Neil R.
Peter M.
Smita G.

Ebook winners will receive an email from me with instructions on how to claim their prize on Gumroad.

Paperback winners will receive an email soliciting a mailing address. Please send your mailing address promptly. Your books are ready to go, so if everyone sends their mailing address ASAP, the books will be shipped first thing Monday!

Thanks everyone for playing!

Academaze is Out! Enter Raffle to Get a Free Book


Academaze” is out, and it’s glorious!

Paperback: Amazon | | Createspace

Ebook: Amazon | | GumRoad | iBooks | Kobo


Thanks to all advance readers — I hope you guys are enjoying the book!

Several early and detailed reviews are already up (in chronological order by date of appearance):

Pawel Niewiadomski

Elizabeth Haswell

Alex Small (Physicist at Large)

Clarissa’s Blog

Natalienne (Fill Your Bookshelf Blog)

All Amazon Reviews


To celebrate the publication of “Academaze,” here are some exciting giveaway options!

Enter “Academaze Raffle” to win a free paperback or ebook! (Ebooks sent anywhere in the world, paperback mailed within the US only.)

There are 2 ways to enter the raffle, and you can participate in both! There are multiple prizes, which will be divided between the two groups of entries.

Option 1. Fill out a simple form.

I would like to help some broke grad students and postdocs, so there will be a slight preference in choosing winners among those who are grad students or postdocs. (Your entries will be seen by no one but me and Melanie of Annorlunda Books, so I promise no spam will result from entering.)

Option 2. Help us spread the word about “Academaze”!

Via Twitter: Tweet about the book and make sure you use the hashtag #Academaze or refer to @AnnorlundaInc


Via Facebook: Mention the book in a public post and make sure you tag @AnnorlundaBooks

Raffle entries close on Friday, June 24th, at noon EST! The winners will be announced shortly thereafter, and the books mailed by the end of June.

(Update June 24, 12:31 EST: Raffle entries are now closed. Thanks for playing! Winners to be announced soon!)


The book turned out great, thanks to Melanie Nelson of Annorlunda Books (publisher), as well as Susan Lavoie (cover design) and Dora Dalton (editing services).

To all my wonderful blog readers: Bear with me for another week or so, and then I promise to stop talking about the book.

In the meantime, pick up a copy and enjoy!


Takeoff Imminent

I am traveling for work again. I hope to have a number of “Notes from the Road” posts for you!

I have some paper resubmissions to work on while away, as well as my editorial and refereeing duties. But, I also have to carefully inspect a paperback proof of “Academaze” so we can finalize the text for the June 20 release! (Update: Turns out print edition is out early!)

The book is really gorgeous in print. I don’t think I fully grasped how beautiful the greens on the cover were until I was able to hold a physical copy.
Below, Middle Boy is posing with a paperback proof — he volunteered! He’s the most excited one among my brood about the whole book business.




Melanie did a fabulous job with formatting, so I am really happy with the layout. (Thanks, Melanie!)  The book is beautiful and hefty, at 339 pages (without back and front matter). You can see the side view, with a 5-ft kid for size. Yet, I ended up using roughly 20% of all the blog material from 2010-2015, so the collection is nice and tight!

Before I forget: Melanie sent out ARCs (advanced reader copies) yesterday. If you signed up to be an advance reader but for some reason didn’t receive an ARC email from Melanie Nelson of Annorlunda Books yet, please let me know. Kindle users: the mobi file is a bit large, and many email servers will cap your attachment size at 25 MB. You can transfer the file via USB onto your Kindle directly or you can do what I did (I don’t have a Kindle device, but use Kindle for PC or the phone app): the file zips nicely to below 25 MB, and you can email zip to your Kindle address (it will unpack automatically upon receipt). Any problems, let me know.

I will shut up now about the book, at least for a little while.

Two awesome links before we part ways:

From Pharyngula: Midwestern rivalries

The Prodigal Academic is back! The Prodigal Academic and I started blogging around the same time in 2010, but she stepped away for a little bit when things got crazy on the tenure track. She’s tenured now and back to writing great stuff! I highly recommend that you go say hi to The Prodigal Academic and browse through her archives — many good posts there! And a must-not-miss Non-academic Science Career Information Aggregator.