Do You Want to Write a Book?
Many people write to me saying, “I have a great idea for book, how can I get it published?” Many healthcare professionals are interested in writing a book. In fact, many people from all professions dream of writing a book. We see successful authors that inspire us, entertain us, enlighten us and teach us. For those of us who like to read, writing seems like it could be a natural progression from the experience gained in our professional life.
Before you start writing here are some important considerations to think about first.
Why do you want to write a book?
Do you enjoy writing? If you consider writing to be a chore, then this would not be a good option for you.
Do you want to write, because you want to make money from the book sales, because you want to promote and market yourself or your business or to provide information for others?
Do you want to write a whole book (at least 50,000 words) or just an article (1000-10,000 words) or a blog (2000-50,000 words)?
Are you prepared for discouragement? People will undoubtedly tell you that your idea will not work. When I was running my book idea past other doctors, one physician told me, ‘No one reads books anymore.’ I objectively consider both encouraging and negative comments. I also received feedback from a publisher who wrote that I was not qualified to write a book because I am not an established writer. Again, all comments deserve some respectful consideration. Your credibility will be questioned, so you must explain why you are qualified to write your book in the content of your book proposal. The demand for your book will be questioned as well, so you must determine if there really is a demand for the subject matter. As it turns out, people still read books and a different publisher published my book.
Would you be willing to pay to self publish your book, or do you want to publish it through a publisher? It can be very difficult to get a publisher to look at your book idea. You must have a well-written proposal. I have already had many doctors tell me, ‘I just want to run this great idea by a publisher.’ If you are not already an established writer, it is not easy to get a publisher to listen to your idea. You must have an excellent book proposal. I suggest that you look into self-publishing. Calculate the costs of editing, printing, marketing, and other costs. Estimate how many copies of your book will sell. Do you think your book would be profitable if you self publish it? Any publisher will do the same calculations; so think the numbers through even if you prefer to write your book using a publisher.
If your objective in writing is to market your practice, then making a profit from your writing may not be a priority. You may be better served writing an article or a blog if your primary purpose for writing is to market your practice.
To get started organize your chapters and subheadings or write your first paragraph. Are you happy with what you see? Do you think that you have much more to write? Can you get started making an outline with chapters? Do you like how the chapter layout looks? Revisit the questions above. How many words do you think you will need to get your story or message across?
Now, if you still think that you have material for a book, you can get started by doing some market research. Are there any other similar books on the market? What differentiates your idea from what is already available? If you want to write your book to share information, you need to establish that you will present this useful information in a beneficial way. If your objective in writing a book is to make a profit, you must first estimate your market. For example, if your audience is going to be ophthalmologists, you should know that there are between 19,000 and 25,000 ophthalmologists in the United States. If every ophthalmologist buys your book, that is still not a realistic way to earn a living. With that in mind, you might still decide to continue with your project, but a reasonable appraisal of the financial returns is important early on. If your objective, however, is to promote or market your services, then writing anything, whether a book, an article or a blog, can help publicize your business.
Some doctors who have written popular books include Danielle Ofri, Michael Roizen, Mehmet Oz, Andrew Weil, and Deepak Chopra. The list of successful physician authors is long and the demand for good authors is sufficient enough that you can carve out your own niche if writing is right for you.
About the Author
Heidi Moawad, MD is author of Careers Beyond Clinical Medicine, a resource for health care professionals who are looking for career alternatives.
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