Monday, August 18, 2008

FSP : The Book

Part of what I have done with my summer vacation is compile some FSP blog essays into a book-like object. I have long had requests to do something like this, but I have ignored all such requests and suggestions because I didn't think it would be interesting, as in not interesting for me to do and not interesting for anyone else to read. But then my fading short-term memory increasingly made me consult the FSP archives to see what I'd discussed before and what I hadn't, and I got interested in seeing what it would look like if I strung together posts on related topics; e.g. publishing, advising grad students, teaching, being an FSP.

So I started organizing old posts, discarding the ones that I didn't like or that were boring, and putting others together. It was sort of like doing a puzzle, but only sort of because if there were any pieces of the puzzle that didn't fit, I changed them. For example, I added text to make transitions between blog posts and included some entirely new material to help pull the main topics together.

I also made the essays more 'timeless'; e.g., I changed posts that were about something that happened 'today' to something that happened in an unspecified or more general time frame.

There are some posts that I would write in a somewhat different way if I were writing them now, so that's what I did -- I rewrote anything that I wanted to say in a new or different way. And somehow it all came together as a book-like object.

The book-like thing is organized into chapter-like parts. In fact, much of the challenge and fun of this endeavor was figuring out what the chapters would be and in what order they would go. Within the chapter-like things are a mixture of old and new text, but mostly the sub-sections are blog-like bits of text.

The order of the chapters and sub-sections has no relationship to any chronological order inherited from the blog. I reordered topics and posts to make the book-like thing as coherent as possible.

I am not sure if this blog-to-book conversion works, so that's why I refer to it as a book-like thing.

At the suggestion of a reader, I used the self-publishing, print-on-demand website lulu.com. If so inclined, you can order a print version of the book (trade paperback, black and white interior, graph paper glossy covers) or you can download it as a pdf. Both of these involve a modest fee (and the printed version involves paying shipping costs to lulu.com). Or you can just read the FSP blog for free.

This all took a lot of time, but the biggest challenge was finding a title. I never did find one I liked, and ended up going with unwieldy and somewhat pretentious (with a colon; something I try to avoid in titles of my scientific articles). I considered various titles involving FSP-type keywords, but only some of my posts are about women-in-science issues, so I decided to keep the title general:

Academeology: Random Musings, Strong Opinions & Somewhat Bizarre Anecdotes From An Academic Life.

For the 2 or 3 of you who actually read this thing, please let me know what you think. Did I leave out anything important? Are there errors? Is it readable in terms of content and format? Is it an evocative and beautifully rendered portrait of life as a Science Professor?

That last question is an unsubtle request for BOOK BLURBS. To be a real book, this thing needs some blurbs. At present, the book is blurbless, though I could add some to a Second Edition. I can also just make some up; e.g.:

If my cat could read, this is the one book I would want him to have!

A Kafkaesque groves-of-academe satirical work of non-fiction written by a gender-lens-wearing anonymous female person!

"Catch-22" meets Strunk & White's "Elements of Style"!

An academic life stranger than fiction! This book makes the goose scene in Russo's novel "Straight Man" believable!




21 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was so on the money!

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

Hurrah! That's terrific news! I'm going to order it, proving once again that PT Barnum was right.

Blurbing without having yet read the book (just like the professionals!):

"In a world where little girls can grow up to be also-rans for President, FSP shows the way."

No, wait.

"If you were trying to write a graduate thesis, or send off a paper, or finish an experiment, this would be the absolutely last book you would want around."

Congratulations.

Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde said...

And now that I've read a few pages in:

"Her idiosyncratic and oddly appropriate font usage has survived the transition to book format."

Anonymous said...

Alright, you might not be going for sincere blurbs, but...

"Female Science Professor’s writing is proof that you can both light a candle and curse the darkness. She’s funny, she’s accomplished, she has a life outside of academia, and she still takes the time to be a beacon of sanity for all of us who are trying to have the best job in the world... even if everything she says about being a professor is true."

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to post a preview of a few pages? Lulu wouldn't let me past the table of contents.

Mad Hatter said...

How awesome! There have been so many great posts here, and I think it's a fantastic idea to put them all together into a cohesive piece. At first, I assumed you were going to say that you'd had the book published "professionally", and my first thought was that I'd better get over to Amazon.com to buy a copy. So I'll definitely go check it out!

Carl said...

Sweet! Now all I have to do is get it signed. Oh, no, wait... crap.

a physicist said...

No need to post this comment, but you can if you want. In case you're wondering who the heck is ordering your book, I'm an occasional commenter to your blog. From reading your blog, I am already confident it's worth the money to have this book in my lab for students to read, and I have just now ordered it. Thank you for taking the time and effort to publish this. After I read it I'll see if I can send you a "blurb".

flit said...

I am looking forward to reading it...and will be back with a blurb when I have...

perhaps a review on my site on Gather.com as well...

Female Science Professor said...

Actually, I was joking about the blurb, but any comments would be appreciated.

sandy shoes said...

Possible blurb: "Essential tenure-track reading."

Ms.PhD said...

Good job. Maybe someday I will do this too.

But I think you're going need to need to make up for the lack of 'women' in the title by making frequent reference to 'women' in the blurbs.

[btw, can we rename it to something more bloglike, like blurgs? or is that already a word for something else? I always think a blurb sounds like a particularly slimy place to live...]

Otherwise, an audience that should definitely be reading your book won't know how much they're missing out on.

And btw, I have to wonder where you found the time to do this. Do you ever sleep???

Aroza said...

Great news! I am checking your blog on a daily basis and I surely order the book.

Female Science Professor said...

Thanks for the offline comments. I fixed one typo (maybe I tried to do control-S and instead hit just the s key, making 'have' into 'shave'??) and deleted the repeated section.

flit said...

shave was pretty funny though :)

I have thoroughly enjoyed what I have read so far (about half).

I am, of course, particularly interested in the issues relating to working with - or being - grad students... but hopefully at some point the other parts will become personally relevant as well.

Science Cog said...

Congratulations! You have a great sense of humor and suberb writing skills. I tried my hand at blog writing but gave up because you say most of what I want to say and say it better.

A Life Long Scholar said...

A book blurb, if you wish to use it:

I have never ordered a book-on line before today, but when I learned that FemaleScienceProfessor had written a book, I promptly downloaded it. Her humorous anecdotes, advice and suggestions are timely for one, such as myself, who is completing her PhD and trying to decide if she'd rather apply for teaching, research or some combination thereof...

Anonymous said...

Probably not your intent, but I must admit... I'm thinking this might make a perfect gift for my (non-academic) parents, to clue them in just a bit...

Anonymous said...

very nice

MoonSinger said...

I love the cover. Snort!

DrugMonkey said...

congrats on the Nature review!