Losing the Contest but Winning the “War”
Dr. Julie Silver’s annual writing course (www.HarvardWriters.com) had me at “hello.”
Rarely do I enjoy sitting through a conference, but I was transfixed with the nuts and bolts presented about how to get a book published for all the physician-writers. The course was packed. The participants were invited to enter a contest: offer a title and a brief synopsis of the book that you would like to write. The winner gets to meet with an agent and discuss the process. I lost.
However, several months later I was contacted by a member of the Harvard Medical Book Publishing Division who had seen my entry and was intrigued. With a little encouragement I was off and running on a multi-year odyssey to write a compelling book proposal that a real publisher would actually want to underwrite. There were lots of starts and stops—the usual discouragement and shock at the amount of time this project was consuming with no obvious reward in sight. And this was just the proposal; I could only imagine what the actual book writing would entail, should I ever get to that part.
We finally reached the “fish or cut bait” point. Dr. Silver said that I needed to partner with a professional writer who knew how to write a proposal that would pass muster. Enter Florence Isaacs, a New York writer who became my alter ego for the better part of a year. Once she pulled me over the finish line, we got an agent, found a publisher, and in May 2010 my book was published—The 24/7 Baby Doctor: a Harvard Pediatrician Answers All Your Questions From Birth to One Year. The book really does exist, and people have paid real money to purchase it—what a thrill! More importantly, new parents and grandmothers have told me how helpful the book has been to them.
The journey was long, painful, and hard but worth every minute. With the help of many knowledgeable journeymen and women along the way, we now have a book that sits on bookshelves in retail outlets, hospital gift shops, and homes of new parents. You can order it on Amazon.com where the author page completes the story.
Victoria McEvoy, M.D. is an Assistant in Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Pediatrics at Massachusetts General West Medical Group in Waltham, MA. She is a former columnist for The Boston Globe and has written for numerous publications including The New York Times.