Get Your Geek On!! – The Science of Writing Science by Wendy Lou Jones

Get Your Geek On!! – The Science of Writing Science by Wendy Lou Jones
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Calling all ‘egg-heads’ – you know who you are – this one is for you.

No matter what scientific discipline you originally came from, you can make a steady wage writing publishable papers for pharmaceutical, medical, and various research scientists. The key to your success involve understanding both the topics you are expected to write on and what it takes to produce a scientific paper to the respective journal’s standard. A lot of focused attention and tedious, monotonous, patience-trying tasks have to happen before any work is accepted by a journal. Here is where you come in – no busy chief executive scientist, or head MD, is going to take the necessary time to write a final working copy, let alone hand-hold any journal editor. All you need to do is convince him/her that this is YOUR job and you are fully capable of doing it. How do I go about finding these people in need of me?

For nutraceuticals and small pharmaceuticals, check the Natural Products Insider Buyer’s Guide. The main website lets you take a look at who the ‘movers and shakers’ are. Now type in the Ingredient Suppliers link for leads. Scan the companies then follow the link to their website. As of 1994 (certainly by the year 2000) the FDA had mandated that all nutraceutical companies comply with tighter regulations. For many smaller companies, that meant either outsourcing to a licensed facility or meeting new regulatory standards at their plant. This also means that some of them are now doing research and generating publishable data. Contact the companies you are targeting – speak with their president or their second-in-command. Often the company’s main number is advertised and they invite calls. When you get the decision-maker on the phone, give him/her your best one-minute pitch – let that person know what you can do for them. Remember, if they are small, you will be expected to multi-task so stress diversity. Follow up with a one sheet presentation on the hot-button topics and how you are critical to their advancement.

Eleven years ago I was in need of a specific ingredient for a formula I was developing. I went through the Ingredient Suppliers section of the book I had until I found a small pharmaceutical with what I wanted then I spoke with the president. After only a few minutes on the phone, it was obvious I had gotten his attention. I got the ingredient I needed – and a five-figure yearly retainer for the next eleven years.

What about finding that bench-scientist or dazzling brilliant MD in a research facility? Google, scientific conferences for the respective year. As an example for this article, I pulled up ww.faseb.org (Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology). I have attended these FASEB meetings and have even been asked to organize one. Look at the latest, past publication for topics that interest you. When you find an investigator who has published on a topic you like, check PubMed and find out just how prolific that author has been. Some scientists and MDs are on a ‘publish or perish’ schedule with their grant. This means it behooves them to publish on something (anything), each and every year, to keep their funding. Call the person – they are generally accessible — ask about their work and their needs. Odds are that one of their grads or undergrads are doing their papers for them. Since these folks are on a revolving door schedule, there is a real possibility that this individual will be interested in a steady go-to person for their paperwork. Then, just as above — make it clear that you would be there for them and do what it takes to win that cherished editor. A word on wages – be prepared to negotiate for project-to-project work, only. These people are very protective of their ‘soft’ (uncertain) money, and while they may want you, if you want the job, don’t throw big numbers out. Follow up with a letter – and since you now know they will be at a conference (usually in a very nice place with other attractions) offer to meet them there if you get a very positive response to your follow up. You will be amazed at how much networking for your second client you can quietly get in on the side.

Science is an ever evolving field and perseverance is the key to a successful position. A handshake in the 21st century beats all the Tweets that you could ever generate.

Director of Clinical Studies for a pharmaceutical, professional speaker, and actress, Wendy Jones has held professional positions in the USA, Canada, and Austria. The author of numerous books, journal and trade magazine articles, the field includes scientific and lay magazines as well as books – fiction and non-fiction. Works can be found in: Journal of Single Cell Biology, Medicinal Foods, Renal Nutrition, Bio-Techniques and Immunogenic; the former iSeries Weekly, and e-Business Quarterly, Midrange Computing, and Showcase Magazine; the pioneering renal demineralization book series: Food Fuel Fitness and More Bio-fuel Less Bio-waste; as well as fiction series – Golden Downs, and Jerimy. Wendy also holds patents in plant science and scientific research devices in the USA.

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