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Writing Tips From Harvard Medical School Publishing Course: Part 3

author panelists
Jill Grimes, MD; Matthew Katz, MD; Diane Radford, MD; Craig Malkin, PhD

After teaching at Harvard Medical School’s CME Writing and Publishing Course, I’ve shared two posts on Publishing and Writing Tips from Literary Agents. This year, after course founder and director, Julie Silver, MD, welcomed and briefed participants, the writing and publishing course opened with a panel of past participants who shared where the course has led them. Of the four panelists, I worked with both Dr. Craig Malkin and Diane Radford, MD.

Now it’s time to share some of the great writing tips shared by these published authors and writers:

Dr. Radford is about to publish her book and you can expect to hear lots more about it on this blog in the next few months! She has also published stories in two Chicken Soup Anthologies, Here Comes the Bride and Hope and Healing for Your Breast Cancer Journey. She has become very active on Twitter, which has led to many exciting professional opportunities, from public speaking to membership in an editorial board to teaching other surgeons about social media.

From Diane Radford, MD:

“Support your colleagues. When the tide comes in, all boats rise. Be generous.” You’ll hear this advice often, especially when it comes to social media, where the results of generosity show up rather quickly.

Some specific Twitter advice offered by Diane:

  • Tweet about journals and societies
  • Live tweet meetings
  • Join tweet chats about your specialty or expertise, for instance,  #bcsm (twitter tag for Breast Cancer Social Media)

She adds, “The Harvard publishing course is a springboard for success.” In addition to the publishing credits mentioned earlier, Diane was also asked to write the forewords to two books by breast cancer survivors: Catch That Look (Ann Pietrangelo ) and Living Like a Lady (Donna Heckler). She started an active blog with a loyal following and uses Twitter and blogging to connect with colleagues and share information regularly.

From Dr. Craig Malkin:

Before he became a published author, I worked with Dr. Malkin on developing his platform and encouraged him to pitch a blog to Psychology Today. An excellent writer and quick study, his posts are often featured on the home page of Psychology Today and picked up by other media.

rethinking narcissism book coverDr. Malkin’s book, Rethinking Narcissim: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping With–Narcissists has led to an endorsement by Oprah’s Book Club 2.0 and several videos on the Oprah Winfrey Network, as well as acclaim, quotes and interviews in Time Magazine, The New York Times, Women’s Health, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, Cosmopolitan and on NPR and so much more.

Dr. Malkin encouraged participants to blog and to continue blogging or writing, even if their book proposal does not meet with immediate success. In his case, it took that kind of persistence to ultimately land a six-figure book deal with HarperWave, since his first book–though it attracted a top agent–was in a crowded market and at non-optimal timing for that particular subject. Just when he felt like giving up, he wrote another blog post for Psychology Today on Narcissism and it went viral on both PT and the Huffington Post. A more recent political post also went viral and continues to get attention, shares and comments on the internet, many months later.

In a later conversation, Dr. Malkin said, “Don’t be discouraged by the rejection of the moment; you never know what it means or where it will lead. HarperCollins didn’t think we could sell my first book, but it proved [to them] I could write, so they approached me about another book altogether. If they hadn’t read (but rejected!) my first proposal, I never would have gotten the second. Focus on the writing first. Worry about the outcome later.”

jill grimes book coverFrom Jill Grimes, MD:

Jill invited aspiring authors to ask, “What can I commit to every day?” Dr. Grimes committed to writing 10 minutes a day and her book, Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STIs was published by Johns Hopkins University Press and is now in its second edition.

Matthew Katz, MD shared that his attendance at the course led to blogging, a very active social media presence, peer-review publications, international talks, becoming associate editor of a new journal, volunteer projects and connecting healthcare professionals through his creation of twitter hashtags for various specialties in cancer. He encouraged participants to explore the many ways they can participate in writing and social media to serve their fields.


self help book cover

I spent a good deal of time with my friend Dr. Randy Kamen, author of Behind the Therapy Doorwho led two workshops on self-publishingRandy shared exciting news that her self-published book is being picked up by Central Recovery Press.

She expressed how self publishing helped gave her the  leverage needed for high profile speaking gigs at Omega Institute, Kripalu Yoga and Health Center, Red Mountain Spa and Resort, Harvard Medical School and a regular blog and videos on the Huffington Post. Arianna Huffington invited Randy to join a panel Arianna was leading in NYC with Deepak Chopra and other luminaries, discussing the subject of gratitude. One speaking opportunity led to teaching workshops to a high-powered group of young CEOs.

Randy even picked up a speaking gig in Palm Beach for 2017 when introduced herself to the organizers of another conference taking place at the Fairmont Hotel while we were there. She showed them a copy of her book, shared a bit of what she teaches and they signed her right up.

One thing Randy mentioned is that whenever she teaches, she shares the scientific research behind the mindfulness and positive psychology skills she teaches.  She knows that’s what helps motivate her audience. It’s an important tip for writing, too: “Know how much science or theory your particular readers need to buy in to your message.”

Your readers’ buy in will not only sell books and create additional opportunities for you, it will help readers, workshop participants and audiences truly benefit from the wisdom and information you have to offer–and to benefit at a deeper level.

If you did not attend the writing and publishing course this year, I hope you picked up a few tips from this post.  Perhaps you are now inspired to attend next year!

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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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