Advance Copy – Cork Wars and Getting Published

December 17, 2018

Recently the National Association for Science Writers’ book editor Lynne Lamberg asked me to talk about finding the idea for Cork Wars, finding and an agent and publisher, and putting the book together. Thanks to Lynne for posting that story on the NASW site for Advance Copy. Here’s an excerpt:

I came across the story while researching something else. I thought it might lead to a story where natural products got caught up in national security. I looked into the company, Crown Cork and Seal, and interviewed Charles McManus Jr., who worked there during the war, and was the son of the CEO. He was in his mid-90s when we talked, but recalled vividly the Baltimore factory fire. In 2008 I wrote about the episode for Chesapeake Bay magazine, and the story was picked up by NPR.

I pursued two more threads of the wartime cork story through interviews and declassified OSS records at the National Archives, where I found cork industry connections. I developed the book proposal. I received many rejections. My agent at the time dropped me.

I approached Johns Hopkins University Press, knowing its commitment to Mid-Atlantic stories, American history, and technology. An editor there was interested, and I found a new agent.

Some may ask: once you get a publisher interested, why do you need an agent to take a commission? That’s a juncture when bringing in an agent can be fruitful and easier to do.

Read the full post on Advance Copy here.

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