The business of all nonprofits, whatever their social or cultural mission, is publishing. From newsletters and blogs to reports and grant applications, nonprofits are having to continuously put out a range of publications in order to tell their stories and reach new audiences. Science Connected is the one nonprofit I've worked with that understood this perfectly, but that's because publishing is its core objective.
Science Connected – based in San Francisco – is the passion project of founder Kate Stone, who set out on a mission nearly a decade ago to make academic research more accessible to the general public. Becoming a nonprofit in 2016, Science Connected publishes Gotscience.org, an online science magazine (which I have had the honor of copyediting in the past), but the organization recently broadened its publishing remit to include downloadable teaching resources and now, for the first time, books.
I asked Kate to tell us about the first title to be released by Science Connected, Think Globally, Garden Locally, a book about pollinators and responsible horticulture.
(By the way, all profits from the sale of the book go to support Science Connected education programs, so CLICK THE IMAGE ABOVE to get yourself a copy today!)
Lorna Walsh: Describe the book for us. Why is the topic so important?
Kate Stone: The book is about how to welcome pollinators into your garden, grow food without pesticides, explore the relationship between chemicals and bee deaths, and meet a scientist who became a beekeeper. Available in full-color paperback and Kindle e-book, this book includes an annotated bibliography of additional resources for readers who want to learn even more about sustainable food production and protecting our pollinators.
Thanks to the support of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, Science Connected is ensuring that all citizens can access science information and education, learn about the world we all share, and participate in meaningful discourse about science, nature, and environmental sustainability. Agriculture is adapting to changing environmental conditions and consumers want healthy, sustainable food options, so access to scientifically accurate and easy-to-read material can positively impact in the products we create, the food we grow and buy, and the way we treat our planet.
LW: What tools and resources did you use to create the book?
KS: Crucially, we received a grant from the Clif Bar Family Foundation, which enabled us to assemble a team of science communicators to research and write the first GotScience Magazine special series and book about urban gardening, sustainable agriculture, and healthy pollinators.
Our designers used Adobe InDesign to assemble the print version of the book and the latest Kindle Direct Publishing tools to build the Kindle version.
LW: As a first-time book publisher, what were the challenges involved in this project?
KS: In addition to our usual team of writers, editors, and web developers, we had to assemble a new team with experience in print and e-book development. There are many different e-book formats and tools currently in use, so we had many lengthy discussions about which ones to target in our first project. Also, since GotScience Magazine is published solely in digital form, image resolution is optimized for electronic delivery. To publish a print book, we had to replace images with print-quality versions.
This book took just over a year from concept to upload, so the project was a big time commitment. A book is also a financial commitment, and we invested about $5,000 its production.
A lot goes on behind the scenes of producing a book. Any nonprofit should consider if you want to do the publication work in-house or work with an established publisher. Educate yourselves about the details involved in each option!
LW: Science Connected has been publishing GotScience.org online for some time, so where does book publishing now fit within Science Connected’s strategy?
KS: We believe that cultivating an informed citizenry is vital to democracy, and the mission of Science Connected is to create equal access to scientific research and STEM education for all learners. Expanding our publishing efforts to include e-books and print books further supports our goal of providing widespread public access to the latest scientific research.
Book publishing will help us in our mission to build bridges between citizens and scientists thus expanding scientific knowledge for the benefit of people and the planet. Science Connected values lifelong learning, equal access, conservancy, and empowering others to make informed choices to support a healthy planet. Nearly 1,000 teachers and parents have downloaded our science education materials. (You can access those through our STEM Education Resource Center.)
Our team of science education experts also collaborates with other organizations to produce science education resources for parents and teachers worldwide. For example, we wrote the teaching guide that accompanies this new book from the Marie Curie Alumni Association: https://www.mariecuriealumni.eu/news/mcaas-my-super-science-heroes-book-series-coming-soon.
What's it all about?
Welcome to the first ever Books with Spine Blog post!
I thought I'd better begin by explaining that “books with spine” is more than simply a play on words: it’s a genre.
In this blog, I’ll be talking about books written by authors who – whether or not they realized it at the time of writing – created something of social importance and inspired change. I will explore how books continue to touch our lives, looking at some of the most inspiring stories to be found in the field of mission-driven publishing, and my posts will fall into one or more of the following categories:
• Social enterprise
I’ll be mostly writing about nonfiction on this blog because, as a professional ghostwriter and editor, nonfiction is my bread and butter. However, that's not to say I don't recognize the awesome power of make-believe; you only have to read Alice Walker’s The Color Purple or George Orwell’s 1984 to appreciate the world-changing impact that fiction can have. Ultimately, whether rooted in fact or imagination, all great literature deals with truth, and the only difference is that nonfiction’s currency is real life and fiction’s is the lifelike (and, yes, even fantasy can be lifelike).
I hope you enjoy reading the blog and will recommend it to others. Oh, and if you have a story relevant to this blog, pitch it to me!
Lorna Partington Walsh, Wordsmith