As the weather begins to cool and the leaves start to turn color, I am preparing my tips book, “Tips for Writing a First Draft,” for publication. This book includes helpful information and tips on writing journal articles to increase your chance of acceptance in your target journal. If you follow the exercises in the book, when you finish you will have a first draft of your journal article completed. Even if you have completed your first draft, these helpful tips will guide you in your revisions and your response to reviewers’ comments.

As I prepare to publish my tips book, I have been thinking about how to proceed with publication. The first question was–do I try to find a publisher or self-publish the book?

To help me decide, I have asked many people. Some of you have helped me by sharing your stories, and I thank you. Special thanks to Barbara Gastel, MD, Martha Stettinius, Tom Lang and Tom Annesely, Ph.D. were very helpful in this process.

For those of you trying to navigate the world of publication I thought I would summarize some of my learnings from the world of publishing.

Publishing with a Publisher

The process begins by finding a publisher that publishes books in your topic area. I found a publisher at a national meeting. I then contacted the publisher and connected with the person in charge of new projects. The next step was to prepare a well-written proposal, explaining the similarities and differences between my book and others currently on the market. I suggest consulting with others who have gone through this process. Once submitted, the publisher will decide if they want to take on the project. If they do, publishers contribute to book development and provide editing and quality control services. They are involved in the design of the book and can help market the book, and arrange for overseas rights, if applicable.


When you self-publish, you are responsible for completing all of the steps noted above yourself. Of course, there are ways to get help and on-line services to use. But self-publishing means you write the book, edit the book, format the book, proofread it, send the manuscript for review, and revise the book accordingly. Other steps include choosing the title, designing the book cover, as well as all aspects of marketing and distributing the book. Consulting others who have gone through this process is very helpful and worthwhile.

Either way, it’s a lot of work. The process of writing and editing the book can take 1 to 3 years and the process of marketing and distributing the book can take a minimum of 2 years, according to AMWA member, Martha Stettinius.

My Decision

I considered both options. Self-publishing was an important consideration for me because I wanted to maintain control over the book. This book is personal–it grew out of my writing and teaching experiences. Hence, I wanted to retain the copyright and all rights to the book. In addition, I want to be able to change the book and adapt it to the courses I teach on this subject matter. In the end, I’ve decided to self-publish my book. Stay tuned for sample chapters of the book.

AMWA 2016

I will be at American Medical Writers Association’s (AMWA) National Meeting on October 5 to October 9, 2016. I will be presenting a new roundtable entitled “Blogging for Profit” and co-teaching the class “Ethical Standards in Medical Publication” with Ann Davis. Please let me know if you are going to be at AMWA so we can connect and try to meet. When I return from AMWA I will share what I learn with you.

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