As you might guess from the hundreds of MassGenomics blog posts over the years, I enjoy writing. It’s a vital skill to scientists, not just for writing grants and papers, but for communicating the achievements (and importance) of science to the general public. The researchers whose work I admire, whose careers are a model for success, tend to be excellent writers.
Writing fiction, for me at least, is far more challenging. While there’s no barrier for entry, the odds of success are much smaller. Few traditional publishers (Random House, HarperCollins, etc.) take submissions directly from authors. Instead, one must have a literary agent who can send a novel manuscript to a targeted list of editors. Most literary agents receive thousands of queries each year from aspiring authors, but take on only a handful of new clients. Even with an agent, the odds of landing an offer of publication (a “book deal” in industry parlance) are slim.
Through what I can only assume is a series of clerical errors, I have managed to navigate this gauntlet. My science fiction novel The Rogue Retrieval — about a researcher who goes A.W.O.L. into a pristine medieval world he’s been studying, and the mission to retrieve him — was published yesterday by HarperCollins.
In case you’re worried, publishing a book is surprisingly non-lucrative. In other words, I have no plans to leave the world of genomics. You won’t get rid of me that easily!