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Want to write Popular Science?

The Popular Science website is primarily about existing popular science books and writers, but often those who enjoy reading popular science are interested in writing it too. This page contains a range of resources for would-be popular science writers. If you know of any other resources that should be listed here, please drop us an email at info@popularscience.co.uk and we'll consider them for inclusion.

Resource index (click an item to jump to the section)

The Non Fiction Agent

Ideally you would simply come up with an idea, jot down a few notes and a publisher would rush to your door and beg to buy your book. But we all know life isn't like that. It would help if you could get an agent. But if you aren't a well-known author, that can be harder than getting a publisher. Brian Clegg, a writer with over 20 books in print, with titles translated into a dozen different languages, has put together a simple, practical guide to making the most of your non-fiction idea.

Called The Non Fiction Agent, it's a step-by-step guide to presenting your book in the way most likely to get it noticed and published. Of course it can't work miracles. You need to have a good idea and be able to write - but there are plenty of unpublished authors in that position. The Non Fiction Agent gives writers the chance to operate on a level playing field and get their book noticed. It's a compact 48 pages because it's entirely focussed on that one task - making your non fiction proposal count.

Want to see what it's like? You can download the first ten pages for free by RIGHT CLICKING HERE and selecting "Save Target As..." or "Save Link As..." to download. If you have any queries about The Non Fiction Agent, just drop us an email at info@popularscience.co.uk

Please note that this ebook is licensed solely to the buyer and may not be distributed or resold in electronic or paper form.

Buy The Non Fiction Agent in UK pounds (Adobe PDF format) 8.99 IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD - you will be able to pay securely using a credit card or PayPal. Select Return to Merchant at the end of the transaction to get to the download page.

Buy The Non Fiction Agent in US dollars  (Adobe PDF format) $18.99 IMMEDIATE DOWNLOAD - you will be able to pay securely using a credit card or PayPal. Select Return to Merchant at the end of the transaction to get to the download page.

Non-fiction Reports

Our sister website Non-fiction Reports offers a cost effective service providing reports on your cover letters, proposals, samples and manuscripts. To find out more and see sample reports, take a look at the site.

Downloads and programs

There is an increasing range of downloads and programs available to help writers.

Books

If writers don't make use of books, who will...

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Writers' and Artists' Yearbook
The old master of UK-originated writer's guides, which also covers art and illustration markets. If you're a writer I either suggest buying this and the Writer's Handbook and seeing which you prefer, or alternating between the two. Either way, unless you have an agent it's an essential guide to where you can sell your stuff.

This resource includes up-to-date listings of all media markets, including artists, illustrators and designers. For writers, it covers more listings of national newspapers/magazines, more Websites, and practical information on writing for newspapers and magazines. Also included is advice on marketing your book, how to get an agent and how to submit a typescript. For the artist, topics include freelancing, picture research, market for greeting cards and cartoons, artists' agents, and Websites for artists.

There is now also a children's writers' version: Visit bookshop

   

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The Writer's Handbook
 

A useful alternative to the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook - much the same material but presented in a slightly different (dare we say slightly more modern?) way.

Our preference is to alternate between these two books year on year.

 

   

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The Writer's Market UK
 

The big name for US writers now also has a UK version - still some suspicions that the homegrown versions (above) might have the edge, but if you like Writer's Market, you ought to take a look at this.

 

   


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Writer's Market edited by Katie Brogan and Robert Brewer
The giant guide to the US market, packed with entries. Note that there also specific market versions (see end of write-up).

Writer's Market is the indispensable writer's reference, providing more up-to-date and accurate market entries than ever before. Break into the US market with these listings of book publishers, consumer and trade magazines, script buyers and more. Easy-to-reference symbols and indexes readers zero in on the most promising markets for their work. They'll find phone numbers, contact names, pay rates, e-mail addresses, guidelines and submission tips for over 4000 leads - crucial information that can help them get published and get paid.

There are several subsection books that give more detail for other markets, plus the Deluxe Edition with online access and more: Visit bookshop

  Novel and Short Story Writer's Market
 
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  Children's Writer and Illustrator's Market
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Writing Bestselling Children's Books by Alexander Gordon Smith

There's something attractive about writing novels for children - not only are children's books usually shorter than those for adults, but it's hard not to feel that you've got the chance - however small - of producing the next Harry Potter. Writing Bestselling Children's Books provides 52 key ideas to improve your chances of making it as a children's author.

Like other books in this series, each of the 52 ideas is much more than a one-liner, providing instead a range of useful, practical suggestions, little side comments, and very valuably a "how did it go" question and answer at the end, helping deal with any potential misunderstandings.

The author is realistic enough to emphasize that you won't necessarily get the J. K. Rowling treatment, but there's no doubt that if you take the very professional advice inside, you will have a significantly better chance of being published.

Alexander Gordon Smith not only gives positive tips, but picks up on the mistakes repeated time and time again by new authors, from talking down to the audience to writing out-of-date children's fiction.

   


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Inspired Creative Writing by Alexander Gordon Smith

Creative writing isn't something you can learn from a book - it takes talent and lots of practice - however, there's no doubt that a good book can give you a push in the right direction, and this member of the "52 brilliant ideas" series does a good job.

There are 52 short chapters (handily one a week if your mind works well with that sort of structure). Apart from the main text there's a here's an idea for you box to try out straight away, try another idea that links to another of the sections, defining idea which is a relevant quote and how did it go, which gives guidance when it hasn't worked out properly for you. To be honest, the defining ideas weren't particularly inspiring, but that last section, how did it go, is a brilliant concept - not original, but (as I'm sure the authors will tell you) creativity isn't always about being original, and having a "how to fix it if it didn't work for you" bit is superb.

You can guarantee that not every one of these suggestions will work for you - but many of them will, and altogether it makes a very effective kickstart for your creative writing talents. 

   


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Marketing Your Book: An Author's Guide by Alison Baverstock
You might thing it's enough to get your book published, but most of authors actually want to be read. That means getting people to buy the book in the first place. You might think that's the publishers' job - but they've got lots of books to concentrate on - you've only got yours.

This is an excellent, practical guide to what you can do to improve the marketing (and hence the sales) of your books. It's not one of those woffly self-help book that promises lots and delivers little - it is practical and effective. Highly recommended.

Out of stock in the US, but available from Marketplace by clicking the Amazon.com link, then selecting from the box on the right.

   

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Outwitting Writer's Block by Jenna Glatzer
The back cover says this: If you've ever found yourself staring at the blank page all day, or cleaning out the refrigerator for the fifth time in a week just to avoid seeing that taunting, blinking cursor, then you've experienced writer's block. Outwitting Writer's Block will help any writer break through the dreaded block and become a more creative and better writer than before. Filled with exercises designed to jump-start creativity and encouraging tips from fellow writers and instructors, this book is like Drano for clogged creative pipes.

The fact is, a lot of of us have problems getting down to writing, and whether or not you believe in 'writer's block' per se, it's a great benefit to have something to help you get started.

   



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Mining the Internet by Brian Clegg
This book takes the pain out of using the Internet as an information source, whether you need to know what's on at your local cinema, to find a telephone number of a publisher on the other side of the world, or to produce in-depth research material for your next book. It provides simple, practical ways to improve your ability to find the right information, with specific application-focussed sections to chase up specific requirements.

The Internet is much too fluid for a guidebook to be of any use. Instead of taking the user on a tour of the Internet, this book builds the skills needed for anyone to be their own explorer. It keeps the subject light, concentrating on the information rather than the technology. The book is split into Skills chapters, giving you helpful information on how to find things on the Internet, and Focus chapters, giving help with specific information topics.

   


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The Internet, A Writer's Guide by Jane Dorner
This isn't a 'how-to' book on getting connected to the Internet, but rather a guide for writers on making the most out of a powerful resource. The author likens it to a cookbook rather than a recipe book - principles and tips rather than a set of specific instructions.

Chapters cover getting connected, e-mail, the Web, virtual communities, electronic imprints, new writing opportunities, the practicalities of publishing on the Web and the issues of being involved in an online environment. There is also an online component of the book containing 800+ writers' links on the Internet (including this site).

If you are interested in using the Internet as in information source, we strongly recommend Mining the Internet (see above), but this book is an excellent complement for writers bringing in all the aspects of getting published on the Web, meeting up with fellow writers and using this amazing resource to the full.

   

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Writing the Blockbuster Novel by Albert Zuckerman
Cited by some as the best guide to writing popular fiction, this is part fiction-biology textbook, part cookbook. Its author, Albert Zuckerman, dissects the commercial bestseller, then provides recipes for each discrete element. Settings, according to Zuckerman, should be "topical, trendy, 'sexy'"--either newsworthy hotspots or uncharted territory--and main characters, la Don Corleone and Scarlett O'Hara, should loom larger than life. Like Hollywood blockbusters, "mega-books" should be high concept, with high stakes. Zuckerman discusses point of view (there should be multiple), character relationships, plotting, revision, and especially outlining. "Every mega-book with which I've been involved was planned and replanned and planned again," he confides. Indeed, a 63-page chapter here features four versions of Ken Follett's outline for The Man from St. Petersburg and an analysis of each. Still, no matter how good your outline, remember that there's a learning curve. A beginning novelist writing a successful blockbuster novel, says Zuckerman, is about as likely as "a high school athlete trying to play with the Dallas Cowboys."

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Last update 05 June 2007