In our second virtual mentoring session, Bryn Nelson interviews guest mentor Jill Adams (bio) about her transition from a career in research science to writing about science for a popular audience, and takes questions in real time from viewers. The conversation is fun but focused, ranging from Jill’s “do-it-yourself science writer training,” to managing relationships with editors, to determining when it’s most important to love the story you’re working on, and more.
This session lasts one hour. If you’d like to pick and choose which segments to watch, however, refer to the time-stamped guide to the discussion below. (And if by chance you cannot see the video above, click here to watch it on YouTube.)
Guide to June 4, 2013 Virtual Mentoring Hangout, with Bryn Nelson and guest mentor Jill Adams:
01:44 How did you transition from a career as a research scientist into science writing as a career?
04:31 What was your first paid clip?
5:36 Knowing what you know now, do you think this pathway into science writing would work today?
7:05 What was the single best thing you did to become a science writer?
8:07 How do you get editors to notice you?
11:07 If you’re just starting out, is it really necessary to have a web site?
13:41 If you have very few clips, does that detract from the web site? How do you compensate?
15:16 How do you gain an editor’s confidence when you don’t have a science background? And conversely, how do you overcome having a science background with no journalism experience?
16:45 Can a blog help a science writer “brand” themselves?
17:54 How do you figure out what kind of story a magazine might want? Featuring: Clues to look for when reading a magazine’s back issues.
20:43 Which stories would you pitch to an online publication? Which to a print publication?
23:03 What do you do to check out a potential “central character” for a story?
26:37 What amount of time do you put into working up a pitch for a reported feature, as opposed to a news story?
30:00 How long do you keep pitching a story, if it gets rejected more than once?
34:10 Who are examples of writers who persevered and succeeded despite multiple rejections?
36:15 Going beyond the usual outlets to get the story published
37:06 To what extent do yo mix up your science writing with other work, to fill up your freelance plate?
39:15 When do you know that you’ve taken on too much work?
40:25 Is there a limit to how many assignments you’ll take at once? How do you manage your time?
43:49 How many editors do you work with at any given moment in time?
44:40 Do you check in with editors during the process of working on a story? How often?
48:38 How do you get access to scientific journals?
51:51 What’s the best writer’s conference you’ve attended?
56:00 How long do you wait to bug an editor, once you’ve sent in a pitch?
57:30 What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you were starting out?