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Harvard Gems: 7 Tips for Aspiring Authors from the CME Publishing Course

By Rachel Horwitz

Rachel at lunch at the Fairmont Copley's famed Oak Room with Lisa's clients and book writing participants working on polishing their book pitches

Lisa has asked me to share some gems from Harvard Medical School’s CME publishing course. For a soon-to-be English language and literature graduate I found the course especially enlightening. The most prevalent theme? Course director, Julie Silver, MD, stressed over and over: Develop your platform (your following, especially online) in order to interest publishers and also sell books, once you become published. Of all the leading edge courses run by the diverse faculty—from editors to publishers to book coaches, publicists and literary agents, I discovered several tips and secrets to improve my writing skills, which you may also find beneficial.

In a workshop on Narrative Writing, I picked up powerful tips from Elizabeth Rider, MSW, MD:
 

1. Capture the experience using all your senses to paint a picture for the audience. Even in a how-to book, the anecdotes or stories should come alive for your readers.
2. Before you ever send out a manuscript: reread, review, revise. Lisa adds that by reading aloud you will hear things you may not notice when reading “in your head.” In addition, you can have someone else read to you and you’ll discover additional opportunities to refine your writing.

Another influential class titled, Making English Move by publication consultant, Susan Aiello, DVM, ELS provided the following strategies:

3. Use strong verbs to be vivid and precise (this is one of Lisa’s favorite writing tips as well).
4. Thin nouns and adverbs; nouns and adverbs can make a sentence wordy and can be replaced with verbs

Rusty Shelton’s Media Training as well as a short chat with the digital media strategist, left me with a solid concept of how to begin building my author platform:

Lisa and Rusty connecting at the publishing course
5. Blogs are paramount: reviewing books will not only please authors, but attract attention and make connections.
6. Interviews online, on the radio and television are auditions for more interviews. Post any interviews on your website.
7. 35% of journalists are required to be on Twitter. If you want to get to know journalists in your field and potentially be interviewed by them at some point, there’s a window of opportunity to get to know them through following them, commenting on their posts and tweeting.
Workshop in progress

These inspiring workshops guided authors who have been stewing on a concept for years to strengthen their content as well as providing blossoming writers like me with the nudge to begin. I was reminded of how essential a platform is for an author and the advantages it provides. Not only did the conference allow me to network with these professionals but also absorb their critiques in a manner that was enormously beneficial to an aspiring author and member of the literary field.

Rachel Horwitz is a graduating senior at The University of Rhode Island, majoring in English. She is resurrecting her writing blog and will soon include reviews of food writing, environmental writing and writing tips. She is in the job market, seeking a full- or part-time position in publishing related endeavors: editing, research or writing. She’s done an incredible job here at Write Your Book and we wish her great success in future endeavors.

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Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

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