Re: Job qualifications dilemma

Subject: Re: Job qualifications dilemma
From: "Sandy Harris" <sharris -at- dkl -dot- com>
To: Chris Morris <cmorris -at- sfsu -dot- edu>
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000 11:40:49 -0500

Chris Morris wrote:

> Recently, I was given a lead to a writing job coauthoring a book
> with a medical toxicologist. The doctor is looking for someone who
> is interested in the topic and interested in writing, but not
> necessarily an expert in medical toxicology.

That's you, isn't it?

> As a writing student--and intern--focusing on science
> writing, I feel that I lack the experience to do justice in this,

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt here.

Sure, experience helps, but if you can write, are seriously interested
in the doctor's field, have basic background in the field (high school
chemistry & biology at least), and /are willing to work your butt off/
because this is a good opportunity for you, then /you are an excellent
candidate/, quite possibly better than more experienced but less
motivated folk.

> It seems ideal to have jobs that can be mutually beneficial, as
> these two could, so I hate to completely pass-up this opportunity.

I'd say take the opportunity if you can.

> Does anyone have any ideas how I could contribute while maintaining
> my integrity as a writer by not out stepping my current skill set?

Integrity demands that you be honest with the doctor, try to see if you
can work out a good co-author relationship. Don't lie to him or her
about your skills. Do explore what you'd need from him/her. Writing
large chunks of the text? Or is that your problem? If you're an editor,
can he/she cope with criticism? If you're writing it, does he/she have
time to review it? On schedule?

Be prepared to put in some extra work to make up for inexperience and
to learn enough to do this job. In particular, read everything you can
lay your hands on -- propaganda on both sides of the 'sick building'
controversy, university-level intro to toxicology texts, whatever the
doc recommends, whatever else you can find -- and don't bill for that

On the other hand, do bill for all the other time you put in, and not
at a discounted student rate, but at whatever the going rate is for a
junior tech writer in your area. If at all possible, try for a chunk of
the book's royalties.

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