Publishing is changing by the minute and the savvy author learns about these trends and shifts to see how she can avoid new pitfalls and leverage the trends to benefit. I’ve been speaking and writing on this subject quite a bit recently, most notably on the Huffington Post and on Live Write Thrive.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in this moment in publishing is to attend a course or conference. The Harvard Medical School publishing course (which offers CME credits for medical professionals, BTW) Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Impact through Writing, Publishing and Social Media is one of the best opportunities around for getting a clear sense of publishing trends and requirements, what publishers are getting excited about right now, how to blog effectively, other ways to build your author platform and much more.
In addition, the opportunity to meet agents, acquisitions editors, successful authors and other publishing professionals–and get their feedback on your book ideas, your online presence, your greater “platform” as an author and your writing–is unique in the field of health publishing. The course takes place April 9-11 this year in Boston at the Fairmont Copley Hotel. I’ve asked the course director, Julie Silver, MD, to share some of her thoughts on publishing trends and tips.
Lisa: What is one of the biggest changes you see in publishing?
Julie: Professionals are using publishing more to build a reputation versus strictly to have a source of income. It used to be that you could publish a book and it would be a good source of income if it was successful. One of my colleagues told me that she published a book 20 years ago and it paid for a vacation home on Cape Cod. Today, it would be unusual to be able to afford a vacation home by publishing one book. In publishing, it’s important to set the right expectations regarding how much time you want to invest and what you want to get out of the time invested. I think publishing is a terrific way to build your reputation!
Lisa: I agree wholeheartedly. I often tell authors they need a business plan for their book. How will it make money? Many savvy authors invest more money in publicizing their book than they may even make back in book sales that first year–and it can be a brilliant strategy–but only if they have a plan for how that book and the pr will support other income producing activities like speaking, consulting, teaching or even, as one of my clients did, getting more research funding.
Can you share one of the most common mistakes of new authors–and how to avoid it?
Julie: There are a lot of mistakes that first time authors make, simply because they don’t have experience. Perhaps one of the biggest mistakes is not realizing that they actually need experience to do this well. What looks easy, publishing a successful book, is not really all that easy. On the other hand, many professionals can do this successfully if they put in the time and effort to learn how to do it well.
I get emails on a regular basis from doctors and other healthcare professionals who want me to have a short phone conversation with them and explain how to publish a book. Today, a physician emailed me and wanted to talk to me about HIPPA rules and publishing. Publishing is a complicated industry, and short phone conversations to explain these topics don’t work well. That’s why I direct this publishing course which has really transformed into a leadership course. I want healthcare professionals to be successful! Nearly everyone who comes to the course says that it opened their eyes to a lot of opportunities that they didn’t even realize existed. For example, we talked about productizing intellectual property. Many healthcare professionals have never even heard of this. Others, who have heard of it aren’t really sure how to do it.
Lisa: Yes, I love the idea of product-izing. Sometimes a book is a perfect way to interest readers in an online course where they can go deeper and even get some support. And that can be a much bigger source of income–maybe a down payment on that vacation home on the Cape! Thank you, Julie, for giving our readers a small taste of what they’ll get out of the course this spring.
I’ll be teaching two writing workshops in the evening as well as co-teaching an advanced workshop on Writing a Winning Book Proposal with my colleague Martha Murphy. Plus I am available throughout the course to help participants fine tune their ideas–as are other editors, agents and even acquisitions editors. This coming month alone, two more of my clients who are graduates of the Harvard publishing and leadership course have books coming out–both with Praeger Books and their acquisitions editor, Debbie Carvalko, will be at the course–one of many publishing gurus course participants will get to meet and speak with.
Dr. Silver is a physician, an award-winning writer and an editor whose latest book is You Can Heal Yourself (St. Martin’s Press). She is former Chief Editor of Books at Harvard Health Publications and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. She has appeared on the Dr. Oz Show, Today Show, CBS’s Early Show, ABC News Now, AARP Radio and NPR.
Join us at Harvard this April! And feel free to share any questions as a comment in this post.