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Entries in Harvard Medical School (3)


Doctor, You Should Write A Book...Or Should You?

Doctors Book WritingAs a physician, there are many good reasons to write a book that draws upon your expertise. 

For example, physician authors I've had the pleasure of working with have:

- Developed their keynote speaking opportunities

- Secured large increases in research funding for their projects

- Grown their practices (even when that may not have been their goal!)

- Shifted their one-on-one practice to one that is based on offering courses, teleseminars, information products or other models that have given them more freedom in how they use their time

- Landed on national TV and become sought after for their expertise--both by media and conference planners.

And much more.

But should you really write a book? Not necessarily. Only if you can answer "yes" to the following 5 questions:

  • You have a new perspective, fresh voice, something new to offer, proven system, compelling success stories or address an audience that has not been served well by other books.
  • You're committed to put time aside consistently to get the writing done.
  • You're interested in writing--even if you don't think you're a great writer, you don't dread it!
  • You're willing to learn something about the industry and get input from experts (more on this in a moment)
  • You're willing to actually promote the book--whether through a blog, online course, speaking or some other venue--and you'll need to start building your following before the book is even published--often before you even get a book deal.

If you do decide to write a book, where do you start? My top recommendation is the CME publishing course through Harvard Medical School. There, you'll get a sense of the specifics required--from how to write a book proposal to how to write for a trade audience  to how to develop your following. You'll also have the opportunity to meet top agents and publishers looking for books on health-related subjects. As faculty these folks are not just there to hear your pitch but also to help you formulate your book concept. You'll also meet course director, Julie Silver, MD, as well as professionals who can help you get the pieces that may be missing in your background--whether it's help with learning to write better and editing your manuscript, formulating the book concept or developing an online following.

If you're even thinking of writing a book, I highly recommend this immersion into the book writing and publishing world, March 14-16 in Boston, MA. See you there?


The 24/7 Baby Doctor

By Victoria McEvoy, M.D.

Losing the Contest but Winning the “War”

Dr. Julie Silver’s annual writing course ( 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 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.


Getting Great Publishing Advice

As the Chief Editor of Books at Harvard Health Publications (the consumer health branch of Harvard Medical School), I am constantly seeking out great publishing advice. 

Daily I am talking to literary agents, editors, publicists and authors.  And, while the publishing industry changes almost as fast as my conversations with these folks occur, the good news is that despite the many changes, there are lots of fantastic opportunities for doctors who like to write.

In this blog, I'll share many publishing tips--some new and some tried and true. I'll answer your questions (if I can!) and help guide you with your publishing endeavors.  I will also invite some guest bloggers who are physician authors to share their stories.  Finally, I invite you to share yours. 

The physician-author community is one that I'm proud to support and to be a part of. Helping patients to heal can be done in many ways and writing/publishing is an important part of medicine. 

If you'd like to see more about my work in both publishing and healing, check out my website at  I'm looking forward to hearing from you, so tell me about what you are doing!

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