Writing & Publishing a Book – 101

April 4, 2013 at 2:26 pm | Posted in Professional Development | 1 Comment

Who knew a 45-minute presentation about verbs would be fun. I didn’t, that’s for sure. However, after listening to Susan Aiello, editor-in-chief, The Merck Veterinary Manual, for approximately 45 seconds, I was very pleasantly surprised. (She does the best impression of a cat vomiting, but I digress.) Making English Move! Dr. Aiello’s presentation was one of the seventeen segments over 2 ½ days at the Harvard Medical School’s Writers’ Workshop Achieving Healthcare Leadership and Outcome through Writing and Publishing I attended March 14-16. Also included during the workshop were oral book pitches for those attendees ready for the next step, evening workshops, and Saturday afternoon workshops – “Digital Public Relations and Social Media”; The Craft of Writing”; “Memoir Writing”; “Writing a Book Proposal”; and “Maximize Creativity and Write Productively”. Along with the presenters, there were also editors, publicists, and literary agents, all looking for new authors to represent.

Walking into the conference room I definitely felt a little intimated, but that quickly changed after talking to my “neighbors”. We were all there to learn the fine art of writing and (hopefully) publishing the books itching inside ourselves. The approximately 140 attendees, physicians (many psychiatrists, hmmm, what does that mean?), with a smattering of other professions (I was the only librarian) came from as far away as Australia (2 attendees); Philippines (1 attendee); Alaska (1 attendee) and as close by as Boston.

I truly believe that Julie Silver, the course director, does not sleep. Not only is she the course director, she is an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School; the Chief Editor of Books, Harvard Health Publications; an award-winning writer; lecturer; blogger; wife; mother of three; and cancer survivor. I probably left something off the list, but you get the picture. She alone is an inspiration to write.

There were so many take-aways from the workshop – a small list includes:

• Show, don’t tell
• Use strong verbs
• Make time to write
• Read like a writer, i.e, “listen’ to other authors’ voices
• Find a niche
• Think globally, submit locally.

I didn’t know this workshop existed until my boss, a Workshop alumnus, told me about it. He strongly encouraged me to attend, somehow knowing it was what I needed to kick start my writing. Up until now, my publications included a couple of journal articles, Hospital Library Section newsletter editor, and the occasional long-winded rant on one of the listservs. I knew I was capable of more, but lacked the mojo I needed to fire up the creative flame.

Well, I’m happy to report that my mojo is back. I have had many book ideas rumbling around my brain for, well, it seems like forever. All of those ideas were pushed aside during the conference by one thought – my book club friend Laurie. Laurie, one of the brightest, funniest people I know has Huntington’s Disease. Just writing that sentence makes me a little sad. That’s why I decided that her story needs to be told. However, would Laurie want her story told? Well, cutting to the chase – yes! A week after I came back from the workshop, I had the opportunity to ask her. Her response was immediate. She was hoping that somehow, some way her story could be told before it was too late. I can only hope that I do her justice. So, why am I telling you this? To hold myself accountable, that’s why. When you see me, I want you to ask me about the book.

I am also grateful to NAHSL for providing partial funding for the course. In case you missed it a couple of paragraphs back, my boss encouraged me to attend the workshop, however that encouragement did not come with the registration fee. That is where NAHSL stepped in. Support for fulfilling a goal is always a good thing.

Submitted by Katherine Stemmer Frumento
Director, Library Services
Greenwich Hospital, Greenwich CT

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1 Comment »

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  1. NICE! Very inspiring, Katherine. Keep writing and I do want an update in October at the NAHSL annual meeting. Sue


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