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Working on a Health Related Book? Writing, Publishing, and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals

Writing a Health Related Book

Dana Corriel, MD at Harvard Med publishing course
One highlight of the course is the opportunity to network with faculty. Pictured here: Dana Corriel, MD

This morning, I heard from a Family Practice Physician who’s been planning to attend Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course for the past two years. She started on her book idea five years ago and feels ready to dive in. Helping her clarify what she’ll get out of the course—and how to make the most of it—reminded me of some of the ways this course is so effective for physicians and other healthcare professionals:

  • In-depth knowledge in health and self-help genres: The faculty have a deep understanding of the many aspects of writing, publishing, promoting and selling health related books.
  • Ability to meet and get feedback from literary agents, publishers, book coaches and book proposal coaches, independent editors and others who can help you refine your ideas—and choose the best one.
  • An immersion in publishing, so you can see what it takes and expose yourself to a variety of strategies for getting your knowledge and wisdom to the people who need it—from writing a health related book to penning articles to blogging and podcasting.
  • Guidance and coaching to develop a pitch: I always recommend participants sign up for the optional book pitching sessions. It’s an important step in refining your ideas and sometimes new, highly marketable book ideas emerge in the process.
  • Advanced Workshops: The final day of the course, participants can take more specialized and in-depth workshops on social media, writing a book proposal, creativity, memoir writing and podcasting, for example.

Over the years, publishing has transformed, medicine has changed and the ways we reach people are almost unrecognizable from the how these fields operated 20 years ago. In today’s blog post, Julie Silver, MD, the course director and founder, shares how the course has changed over the years and what participants can expect in 2020.

What to Expect from Harvard Medical School’s CME Publishing Course in 2020

Lisa: How has the Harvard Medical School publishing course—Writing, Publishing, and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals—evolved over the past 20 years?
julie silver, md director of harvard medical school publishing course
Julie Silver, MD, course director and founder

Dr. Silver: When I first started directing the course, most of the content was focused on publishing books. Although the course still covers how to publish a book, there is also a lot of other content such as how to ramp up your speaking career or start a new podcast. Physicians and other healthcare professionals have a lot of creative interests, and so we aim to provide them with the training and networking contacts that they will need to be successful.

Lisa: Anyone who wants to write a health related book needs to have ways of reaching their intended audience, and so all of these arenas from social media to podcasting to speaking also greatly support the tribe-building that an aspiring author needs to do. Being exposed to this variety of areas also helps aspiring authors think about how they’ll reach their readers and get a sense of what’s involved in each one. And some participants may even find that they prefer their newfound medium to a book. What are some of the skills and knowledge that participants leave with?

Writing and Social Media Skills Click To Tweet

networking at Harvard Med School CME publishing course
Networking with course faculty, one of many perks!

Dr. Silver: Participants learn how to make the most of print, live, and online communication channels. Individual sessions focus on:

•Best practices for connecting the public with ideas and insights
•Getting a book published in 2020: new challenges and options
•Lectures and workshops to improve one’s writing and “elevator” or book pitch
•Personalized instruction from top-tier writing coaches, editors, and literary agents
•Social media: introductory and advanced topics
•Self-publishing books, blogs, and websites
•Strategies for impacting national and international healthcare audiences
•Workshops to assist in the development of memoirs and narrative nonfiction
•Training on giving interviews and how to start a podcast

Writing and Publishing Success Stories in Health-Related Genres Click To Tweet

Lisa: That’s a powerful list! Some amazing things have come out of this course. For example, Jon Lieff, MD was inspired to blog after taking a workshop with Rusty Shelton and myself on the subject.
Rusty continued to mentor Dr. Lieff, and Dr. Lieff’s blog, Searching for the Mind (http://jonlieffmd.com/) was chosen by Best World Wide Online Universities  in “Neuronal Plasticity”: The Science of Learning – Resources on How Our Brains Work Best. along with large, distinguished institutions including Stanford and MIT. His blog has attracted researchers and armchair scientists across disciplines, translating the latest research on communication among cells. Dr. Lieff went on to sign a book contract with BenBella Books.
Can you share some more examples of the kinds of projects and accomplishments coming out of the course? What are some of your favorite “success stories”?
Dr. Silver: I have so many favorites that it’s hard to choose. Literally thousands of past participants have gone on to do some really incredible things.
For example, Dr. Yvonne Thornton published a bestselling memoir titled The Ditchdigger’s Daughters that was made into a movie, and she came to the course years later to connect with literary agents and editors so she could publish her next book which is titled Something to Prove.
This year we had Dr. Connie Mariano come back and talk about what it was like to be the first military woman to become the White House Physician to the President the first woman Director of the White House Medical Unit the first Filipino American in US history to become a Navy Rear Admiral. She explained how she published her book titled  The White House Doctor and the road to this book becoming a television series.
Sarah Allen Benton is a therapist who did an amazing book pitch at the course and then went on to publish Understanding the High Functioning Alcoholic. Her work and book went on to be featured by Oprah.
Vint Virga, DVM is a veterinarian who came to the course and then published a truly moving book called The Soul of All Living Creatures: What Animals Can Teach Us About Being Human.
in shock book coverIn the upcoming course, we’re excited that Dr. Rana Awdish who is known for her bestselling book In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope will be talking about her publishing journey.

What Next?

Lisa: Wow! I’m struck by the variety of the topics and also genres—from memoir to self-help to health books.  What else would you like people to know about this course, Writing, Publishing, and Social Media for Healthcare Professionals?
Dr. Silver: We will have more content on publishing articles including op-eds, social media, and turning content into products and services. We’re excited to bring all of these creative and intelligent people in the same room to make some magic happen!
Lisa: Dear Reader, do you need any more to know this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity?! If you’re working with me on a health-related or self-help book, I encourage you to attend, even if you’ve attended before. There is so much to get out of this publishing course, year after year!

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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