10 factors that helped me write and publish my first book – Updated!

My book “The First Brain” is already available! I know of three main places: Amazon (hardcover and Kindle), Barnes and Noble (hardcover and NOOK) version (NOTE ADDED ON APRIL 3, 2014: I just found out that there is an itunes ebook version!) and of course at the Oxford University press website (there is a 20% discount promotion); interested? Go here.

As far as I know, the only “brick and mortar” bookstore that carries the book is the Chester County Book Company. Thank you!


It was a great feeling seeing it in a bookshelf there (:-)

I have though about the factors that converged to make “The First Brain” happen. Here’s the main 10. Maybe you are thinking about writing a book. I hope this will help you!

1. I started blogging. I have told you where I got the blogging advice from in this post. It truly was the first and likely the most important factor. It allowed me to gain writing experience and also I was able to test the waters to see if readers would actually want to read me. And they did! So thank you faithful readers…

2. I wrote about something I really know about. I know science, I know neuroscience, I know pharmacology and I know planarians. For the first three, I have formal training; for the fourth, I have practical, direct experience doing research with these critters. This is not to say that I know everything about these topics, but I know enough to know exactly where to look to learn about the things I did not know (does this make sense?).

3. I absolutely LOVE the topics above. I had to. It is simply not possible (at least for me) to craft a 200+ page book on topics I do not like.

4. I love to read. An essential trait to efficiently look for the required information! Also, an avid reader gets a sense of how to write well from the really greats. I my case, I read A LOT of popular science, from Sagan to Dawkins via Gould as well as many others.

5. I inquired to academic presses for proposal submissions instructions. Usually academic presses accept proposals directly from the authors, without an agent involved. I don’t have one (yet…(;-)…). I simply took the attitude of “if I do not ask, there is a 0 % chance that they will say ‘yes’…”, and as you know, this attitude paid off!

6. I crafted the book proposal with great care. I treated like a due report to be graded, following the specific instructions, etc.

7. I have a “coffee shop friend” who turned out to be a senior editor at a BIG academic publishing company. He gave me invaluable advice in navigating through contracts, etc… You see why is a great thing to be friendly and talk to people?

8. I wrote at every possible opportunity. I intended to honor my deadline and I adhered to a consistent yet flexible schedule.

9. I had simply awesome people on my side. Once the book was written I was fortunate to count on very talented editors and indexers. Their advice certainly improved the product. Literally closer to home, it is great to have a family that supports you, including my biggest fan shown below (take a look at the book’s dedication and acknowledgments section to see why).

10. I also had wonderful people who helped in many other ways. From the friend and colleague who came up with the book’s title to the friend and fellow blogger who read the whole thing and gave me invaluable advice; my brother, who drew many of the figures and a series of colleagues whom I interviewed over the phone or email. I also was blessed with people who sent me unique materials that simply enriched the book or helped me in other ways, as in translating Japanese papers into English. To all of you, thanks!

11. As George of the Jungle would say: “…just lucky I guess…” (:-D)

The are certainly more factors, which will be incorporated here as I articulate them. Tell me what you think!

With my biggest fan. Credit: Baldscientist.


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11 thoughts on “10 factors that helped me write and publish my first book – Updated!

  1. Pingback: My book reviews so far, and other goodies… | Baldscientist

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  5. I am writing a work of fiction which must be completely different. There is some science in my fiction but the fun part is the stuff that isn’t real and I get to make up. The not so fun part is trying to explain something that isn’t true and doesn’t actually exist. The good thing is that the reader knows this and that it is ok because it is a work of fiction. Assuming actual readers.

    I’m looking forward to getting a copy of your book and I have a flight to LA a couple of days after the release date so The First Brain will be my plane read.

    • And I wish you all the best with your book. I have always thought that creating a world that does not exists takes more talent than any non-fiction work. After all, for me, i only have to observe nature and “report” on it… you are a creator! Thanks for your kind words….

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