Wednesday, October 22, 2014

3 Key Factors for Successfully Self-Publishing a Health Care Textbook

I came across an interesting article on self-publishing the other day, and it got me thinking about the future of self-publishing in health care education.

The article mentions the huge success of E.L. James' book, Fifty Shades of Grey. The book was self-published and then "picked up by Random House and became the fastest-selling paperback of all time, propelling James to the top of the Forbes list of highest-earning authors in 2013."

We see very few successful self-published health care texts or references. One of the most successful of those ventures has been the Clinical Practitioners Pocket Guide to Respiratory Care, by Dana Oakes. He worked extremely hard for that success and continues to do so today.

So it's possible to succeed, but the odds are stacked heavily against it.

I think that going forward there will be three key factors for success for a self-published author of a health care textbook or reference book.

  1. Keep it Niche. Topics designed for markets underserved by medium- and large-size publishers will have a leg up for authors looking to self-publish.
  2. Promote heavily on social media. The successful self-publisher will make effective use many of the various social media outlets available today, including Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Authors who use Amazon's self-publishing app will also be able to sell the book on the site.
  3. Spend the money for a good copyeditor. Errors will kill any self-published book before it ever has a chance to grab the market. Hire an experienced copyeditor to go over your manuscript with a fine-tooth comb and then again with a bristle brush. You'll be glad you did.
One last piece of advice, if I may.
Don't self-publish.

Work hard to find the right publisher for your particular product, and then, only if you've exhausted all available options, should you consider self-publishing.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who Makes Better Writers, Men or Women?

Grammarly, a wonderful little company with a terrific blog on writing, recently released a cool infographic that tries to answer the question posed in the title of this post.

As far as trade publishing goes — you know, novels and such for the lay public — it seems that women beat men at descriptions, characters, and plot development.

From my end, having dealt with male and female authors in health care educational publishing, I would have to agree with the Grammarly results.

Granted, I deal with more female than male authors, but still, for health care education, for people who want to become engaged in a caring, giving profession, well, you just can't beat the ladies.*

Look these data over and let me know, who do you think makes the best writers for health care education or for any health-related publication, for that matter?

Click to enlarge

* Attention, Ray Rice: You can't beat ladies, okay? Or women. Or females of any age. Period.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5 Tips for Keeping Your Writing Clear and Focused

I see many beginning writers struggle to find a writing style that doesn’t sound too academic (read: stilted, boring, and needlessly obtuse). Here are five tips to help keep your writing clean and focused.

1. Avoid long sentences

It’s hard to write a long sentence that works, to get the verbs, punctuation, timing, and cadence right so the reader doesn’t get lost.

So don’t write them. Focus on writing plain, straightforward sentences.

One of the best writing tips I ever received came from a former boss, the wonderful Nancy Webb, who served as an executive editor at Weekly Reader for many years. I had been trying to write a compelling article lead but kept get mired down in my own prose.

“There’s nothing more powerful,” she told me, “than a simple declarative sentence.”

She was right. Take a look at your own writing, and look at how many simple declarative sentences you tend to use. If you don’t spot many, start slicing those long sentences into sentences that would make Nancy proud.

2. Avoid long paragraphs

There’s nothing inherently wrong with long paragraphs. In fact they can prove enormously helpful in fully describing a complex idea. However, for much non-fiction writing, and certainly for health-related textbook writing, long paragraphs should show up only when necessary.

Click to enlarge.
Part of the reason for that is to provide some white space (also called negative space) on the page, though that’s more a benefit than a reason. (See image, right.) Avoid long paragraphs mainly to maintain reader interest.

Purists might argue that a paragraph should be as long as it needs to be and that if the writing is good enough, the reader will come along for the ride.

For fiction and other more literary pursuits, that rule works. But for today’s student, for better or worse, faces time pressures many of us didn’t face when we were in school. To succeed in reaching today’s reader, then, writers need to take that pressure into account.

Vary the length of your paragraphs, absolutely, but try to stay away from paragraphs longer than a couple inches deep when printed on the published page.

Note how the size of the column on the left in the above image, with just a tad over one paragraph, makes the column dense, with little white space. The column on the right, with five shorter paragraphs of varied lengths provides more white space and so proves more engaging to the eye.

3. Use active verbs

Nothing moves prose along faster than active verbs. Learn them. Keep them handy. Use them often.

Banish to the extent possible those mangy passive verbs: is, am, are, was, were, to be, have, had, and the rest. Smash them. Splatter them. Lay waste to them like the Huns ravaged those pesky rascals of Western Europe.

‘Nuff said.

4. Change directions up front

When you need to present the "flip side," the "other side of the coin," or the proverbial and also trite "on the other hand," do so straight away. Don't make the reader guess the direction you're heading in.

Use words like these to signal a shift in direction:

  • However
  • Although
  • Yet
  • But (By the way, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting a sentence with "But." Just do so sparingly, because it gets tiresome quickly.)
  • Whereas
  • Even though
  • If only
  • Until
  • Unless

Once you've changed directions, continue apace!

5. Say what you mean

Too many people write as if to prove they’re intelligent instead of writing to make their meaning clear. They use jargon like mayo on a BLT and adjectives and nouns strung together like misshapen pearls on a too-long necklace.

For example…

To minimize the possibility of these mismatches proving problematic for intensive clinical interpersonal relationship-building, clear communication among active participants is essential. Any inherently vague instances of teacher-learner connectedness must be evaluated in light of ongoing information dissemination challenges.

Writing like that deserves one gargantuan Huh?

So don’t write that way. If you’re having trouble putting into words what you’re trying to say, speak it. Tell it to someone or into the nearest recording device.

Our “speaking mind” works differently than our “writing mind.” When we speak, our mind helps simplify and clarify our thoughts. Use it to help simplify and clarify your writing too.

Now, go forth and speak your mind in writing!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Hey, News Writers, EVERYONE Dies of Cardiopulmonary Arrest

A story today about the death of renowned movie director Paul Mazursky caught my eye. Yes, Mazursky was an excellent director (Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Harry and Tonto, and especially that coming-of-adult-age classic Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice). But what caught my eye was this sentence, in the beginning of the article.

"The filmmaker died of pulmonary cardiac arrest Monday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles," said Mazursky's spokeswoman Nancy Willen.

I see this all the time, and probably to most laypersons it makes perfect sense, but it annoys the frikkin bejeebers out of me.

Do these journalists not know that absolutely everyone who has ever lived, is living now, and will ever live die from cardiopulmonary arrest?

I know why they do it, of course. They do it because they don't have any other cause of death and, presumably, the editor tells them, "Hey, if you don't have a cause of death, just put in something about cardiac arrest."

Yes, because that adds so much to the conversation.

If you don't have something concrete, if you don't have a history of pneumonia, renal failure, dementia, Parkinson, or some other highly common cause of death in the elderly, why don't you just say that the cause of death hasn't been established?

I mean, there just ought to be a better way, dontcha think?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hatred Hits Home. Please Don't Let It Hit Yours.

Please pardon this detour. This post has nothing to do with writing, editing, or publishing in health care education, but it does have to do with the humanity needed to care for others and the inhumanity some people needlessly endure.

My niece, let's call her Aubrey, and nephew, let's call him Taylor, recently suffered a nearly unimaginable tragedy, the death of their son at 6 months of age from a congential heart defect. They were at Ollie's beside every day, loving him, nurturing him, giving him as much of themselves as they could in his short time on this Earth. Worse, Taylor had lost his beloved father in 9/11, a victim of the attack on Two World Trade Center. Despite all that, they are two of the sweetest, most loving people I've ever known.

But here's the thing.

Taylor is white. His delightful, intelligent, and enormously unselfish wife is black.

Taylor's mother, the woman who gave him birth and helped raise him to the compassionate soul his is today, has never once spoken his son's name. She has never spoken his wife's name.

Because Aubrey is black, and because Ollie was mixed-race.

Last week, the mother called Taylor to ask him how he was dealing with "your son's" death. Mom, why can't you say his name?

"Because," the woman said, "I've never said your wife's name. Why on earth would you think I would say his name?"


His 6-month-old, horrendously sick, now dead son. Someone who, in her estimation, warranted barely a pronoun.

The woman then asked Taylor how he was dealing with the debt that his "son's" illness incurred. She said that if the debt ever became too much, he "knew what to do."


"All you have to do is divorce her and I'll take care of all your bills."

Now, this is evil I can't understand. This is hatred the depth of which appalls me. I am angry and hurt and simply, mightily bewildered.

How can this person, how can any parent, treat someone this way? How can any human feel so much anger, so much hatred, so much pure evil toward another human, especially someone as sweet as this particular niece and this particular nephew — especially and conspicuously after all the trauma they have seen, felt, and survived?

I don't understand it.

I should, I suppose. It's not like it doesn't happen every day. It's not like that kind of hatred doesn't exist in thousands of people in this country.

I can understand it clinically, yes. The incomplete personality. The learned behaviors. The influence of misguided mentors.

But on a gut level? No, I just can't get there.

It seems to me that a parent, of all the many kinds of caregivers in this world, would have at least a modicum of compassion, at least a tiny amount of understanding, just a microscopic bit of humanity for the human they birthed.

I hope with every fiber of my being that everyone who cares for other people possesses not a whit, not a solitary atom of that woman's rancor, that woman's bitterness, that woman's unabashed prejudice.

I want so much to think we're better than that.

That we're nicer, more reasonable, more human.

I know we are, I absolutely know it. This woman is an aberration, an anomaly, a deviation so far from normal that she and her disgusting ilk will eventually disappear in disgrace.

We in health care, we who care for others, everyday, in an innumerable variety of ways, are better than that. We must be better. We are, I believe, preternaturally determined to be better.

We see beyond color, beyond internal prejudices, beyond disfigurements, beyond the surface. We see the person. The human. The soul.

Please keep seeing those things. Please keep looking past all of those things that, really, when it comes down to it, don't matter a damn bit.

You and I are better than that, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Author Areas for Major Health Care Educational Publishers

If you're looking for a publisher for your textbook, you're in the right place. Like all my counterparts here at F.A. Davis I receive book proposals frequently throughout the year, some of which I accept and some of which I reject. For those I reject I try to help the individuals find the right publisher.

To do that I recommend that they visit the author page for the major publishers. Nearly all publishers post detailed guidelines on their websites.

Here are author pages for the more prominent health care educational publishers (links will open in new window):

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

When It Comes to Contributors, Who's the Boss?

Well, maybe not that cranky.
What happens when an author the publisher is the "boss" over a contributor?

I'll tell you what. The publisher gets cranky.

Let's say you're authoring a book on, say, data management in hospitals. You feel fully confident in writing pretty much every chapter, but you feel less sure about the content in two of those chapters. So you decide to have someone else write those chapters for you.

That person would be a contributor, and their chapters (yes, I wrote "their" instead of "his or hers" or some other dastardly construct) would become part of your book, part of your intellectual material. Contributors are usually compensated for their contribution to the book, but are usually not part of the royalty structure.

In essence, the author hires the contributor to do some work -- in this case, to write two chapters -- and pays the person for that work. The author, then, is the "boss." The budget master. The decider.

This role can seem to conflict with the author's relationship with the publisher, in which the publisher is the boss, so to speak. When that happens, the author may turn to the publisher to do things he should be doing himself. (See how I switched gender up, there?)

Yeah, that's not good.

When you're the author, you are responsible for:

  • Finding the contributor
  • Telling the contributor exactly what you want done
  • Negotiating with the contributor what he will be paid for each piece of work
  • Reviewing the contributor's work
  • Sending the work back to the contributor if it isn't what you wanted, and then working with the contributor to provide the correct content
  • Performing a final review of the work to make sure it's exactly what you want
  • Letting the publisher know exactly what you've asked the contributor for, what they supplied, and how much the publisher should pay, assuming the payments will come out of the author's royalties, the typical scenario

The publisher is generally, but not always, responsible for:

  • Developing a contributor agreement based on specific information supplied by you, the author
  • Sending the agreement for signatures, electronic or otherwise
  • Securely storing the executed agreement
  • Paying the fee for the contribution, usually when the book publishes, sometimes before

So don't ask the publisher to tell you what you should pay to a contributor. Don't ask the publisher, "Can you take care of paying Such And So for doing those chapters?" Don't assume the publisher will play a boss-like role in that author-contributor relationship, because that will make them cranky. (Whoops, went back to plural, there.)

Happy, good.

Cranky, baaaad.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

'Many Happy Mediums' and Other Reasons Not to Write the Way You Speak

You've probably heard the adage, "Write the way you speak."

Please don't.

I'm all for writing clearly and simply, and mostly we speak that way. Too often, though, we just write what comes into our head and then expect the reader to grasp our meaning.

To wit. This sentence came across our desk recently from an inexperienced author:

“Being an office manager is very challenging since there are many happy mediums that must be mastered in terms of rapport, respect, and continual growth and improvement of patient care and finances.”

Putting aside the bland and overused very and the incorrect use of since (since deals with time; the correct word would be because), let's focus on that "many happy mediums" part.

I sort of know what the author means, and I think if I heard her say it, I would probably nod in agreement.

When that sentence is written, though, all that clarity disappears. What this particular author tried to do was to put too much information into one sentence, and she ended up with a sentence so muddy the reader can't hardly figure out what it means. For instance, how does rapport relate to continued growth in the practice's revenue? And where are all these happy mediums of which you speak?

It's okay to write the way you speak initially, but then read what you've written and look for unclear phrases, like "there are many happy mediums."

Unless, of course, you actually want a several smiling clairvoyants, in which case, go for it!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

5 Keys for Making the Most of a Convention

When you're a health care professional, student, or faculty, you owe it to yourself and your profession to attend pertinent conventions each year. Figuring out which sessions to attend at that convention, though, can be daunting.

Here are five tips to help you maximize your learning at a professional conference.

#1  Plan ahead

Check your association's website two weeks before the event and download the agenda. It should be available by then. Highlight all the sessions you want to attend, whether at the same time or not.

After highlighting your favorites, rank them in order of preference. Maybe your first choice will end up being canceled. Ranking your choices will allow you to quickly move to your second choice without reviewing again all the options in that time slot.

#2  Read descriptions carefully

Pay attention to the description of each session. Session titles can be deceiving. It seems that many speakers want their titles to be cute or funny, and that's fine, but those titles may not spell out exactly what the content will be.

Pay attention to adjectives that describe the content. For instance, if a description reads, "Learn simple techniques for handing conflicts," you can bet the session won't dig into conflict resolution but instead cover just the basics.

#3  Don't believe the descriptions

I speak often at conferences, and I know that as much as I plan ahead, there are times I don't have the full content of the workshop finished until shortly before the convention. Unless a speaker gives the same presentation over and over, they probably don't finalize it until near the convention too.

That means that the description the speaker gave the association ahead of time may change before the conference. Sometimes it changes only a little, but sometimes it changes a lot.

Make sure to review the final program when you register at the convention to make sure that the session still meets your needs.

#4  Check out the speakers

Identify the top two or three sessions you really want to see, and then evaluate the speaker. If you know the speaker already and like him or her, great, move on.

But if you don't, do an online search of the speaker to learn more about them. Let's say you'll be attending a session by a university professor. Go to and see if you can find the person's name.

If you see comments suggesting that the person is, um, less than dynamic, you might want to choose another session.

#5  See the sights

Make sure to leave some time to take in a few of the sights in the convention city. If you're in, say, Nashville (where I am as I write this), I'd recommend visiting the Grand Ole Opry. I mean, how can you not?

Get out of the convention hotel and find somewhere great to eat. Use UrbanSpoon, Yelp, TripAdvisor, or some other site to find a place where the locals go. Get a flavor for the area because, well, who knows when you'll be back?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What Goes Into the Front Matter of a Textbook?

Every health care textbook publisher has its own sequence of front matter pieces, but there are only subtle differences.

Front matter, by the way, is everything from the inside front cover of the book to the page 1 of the body of the book. Front matter pages are typically (dare I say always?) lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii, iv, etc.).

Full list

  • Half-title page
  • Series title or frontispiece (verso, or left-facing page)
  • Title page
  • Copyright page (verso)
  • Dedication
  • Epigraph
  • Foreword
  • Preface
  • Contributors
  • Reviewers
  • Acknowledgments
  • (List of) Tables
  • (List of) Figures
  • Abbreviations
  • Contents in Brief
  • (Table of) Contents
  • Introduction

Most common

These elements are the most commonly used, and a few are pretty much mandatory:

  • Half-title page
  • Title page
  • Copyright page (verso)
  • Dedication
  • Preface
  • Contributors
  • Reviewers
  • Acknowledgments
  • (Table of) Contents

For more information on front matter and book layouts, check this great page (and site):

Monday, March 24, 2014

PAs by Any Other Name...

One of the markets I serve, physician assistants, is currently going through some rough times as a profession. There have been discussions for many years about "Assistant" in the title Physician Assistant. The professional association for PAs, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, has held numerous discussions, debates, and votes about changing the title, but consensus has so far been impossible to achieve.

The last few years have been particularly rancorous, it seems to me, with debates raging on the Physician Assistant Forum, Facebook, and even Clinical Advisor, most recently with a wonderful article by Jim Anderson, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, ATC, called, "A new vision for the AAPA."

Jim asked for feedback on the topic from PAs for Tomorrow and received a number of sensible suggestions, including this one:
"Market us as PAs, not as Physician Assistants. Anything we can do to diminish 'assistant,' even if we don't end up at associate, is a positive change."
I thought I might be able to shed a bit of light on this subject from the point of view of an author, editor, publisher, and nurse. A linguistic bit of light, if you will.

Let's take the title one word at a time.


In traditional medicine there are two preeminent models, the medical model and the nursing model. Nursing has been highly consistent in their, let's call them, naming conventions.

For instance, when the NP arrived on scene in 1965, through the University of Colorado's groundbreaking program, Nursing "decided" to call them Nurse Practitioners. That is, whoever coined the term nurse practitioner, whether it was Loretta Ford, RN, or her partner at UC Henry K. Silver, MD, the profession adopted the term and made it real. It likewise made real advanced practice nurse, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist, consistently using "nurse" in the title.

Eugene Stead
When Eugene Stead, MD, formed the first PA program in 1965 at Duke University, he too, like Ford and Silver, was reacting to a shortage in physicians. Unlike the NP movement, though, there were at the time three iterations, by my count, of the PA:
  1. Physician Assistant
  2. Physician Associate
  3. Medex
It took some time for the profession to make PA real, and the effects are still being felt. The title Physician Assistant does, though, indicate consistency in medical model, just as Nurse Practitioner does with the nursing model.


Unfortunately the PA profession didn't have the benefit, from a purely linguistic view, of using practitioner to distinguish them from physicians. To call a PA a "physician practitioner" would have been redundant and unclear.

Associate, I think, was better but still not quite right.

What other descriptors might work? Well, there aren't many.
  • Colleague? Rather vague.
  • Collaborator? Sounds like a co-conspirator.
  • Ally? Oh, please.
  • Representative? Adjunct? Adjuntant? No, no, and definitely no.
There just aren't words out there that meet all the needs of the profession.

Now what?

As I see it, PAs have three basic options:
  1. Stay with the status quo. [Hate it.]
  2. Use a  different term that more accurately identifies what PAs actually do, whether it's physician associate, advanced medical provider, Medex, or some other term as yet unknown. [We haven't found an acceptable term yet, and I doubt we will.]
  3. Do what the reader from PAs for a Future suggested. Stick it out with PA, meaning Physician Assistant, but make it much harder for people five years from now, people who have never heard the term physician assistant, to find out what PA means. The thinking here is that if you use the abbreviation consistently but almost never use the full term, people will eventually forget the full term and recognize the profession purely by the abbreviation.
It's that latter course I recommend. Here's how I might implement it:
  • Revise association names and logos to delete "Physician Assistant" and instead use "PA."
  • Change web copy and copy in other documents to  PA instead of spelling it out, but leave it spelled out in selected documents and web pages. Make the user look for the spelled out name.
  • Replace PA in all instances within the profession's own lexicon, and then "push" that lexicon out to the public at all pertinent points.
It might take time, and it will certainly take money and effort, but I'm not sure, at this point in the growth of the profession, whether there are other viable options.

From my purely linguistic view, of course.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Can We Please Stop Using Impact as a Verb?

People in health care really shouldn't be using impact as a verb, as in, "Patient care is impacted by staffing shortages."


I mean, health care people know what that word means, and they still use it? Wow.

Enough, already. Impact is a noun, as in, "Staffing shortages can have a significant impact on patient care." If you want to use a verb that's similar, use affect.

And while we're at it...

If you're like literally giving patient care or writing about people who literally do, you owe it to yourself to like stop using literally instead of figuratively.

Yes, yes, I know that Merriam-Webster, MacMillan, and even Cambridge dictionaries have sanctioned the use of literally as a synonym for figuratively, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still sound stupid.

Just get to the point. Rather than saying, "The patient was literally vomiting all morning," just say she was vomiting all morning.

Like, okay?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NO FAIR! Three Steps for Avoiding Plagiarism

Plagiarism is far more common in textbook publishing than you might think, even health care educational publishing.

Plagiarism refers to the copying of someone else's work for your own purposes without giving proper attribution.

If you didn't say it, write it, draw it, or research it, it isn't yours to use.

Authors who probably should know better pick up content from a resource and then place it word-for-word, or nearly so, into their manuscript. The publisher does its best, of course, to identify such instances and to steer the authors away from that nefarious activity.

The majority of instances of plagiarism in educational publishing, I believe, stem from a lack of knowledge of the doctrine of fair use.The U.S. Copyright Office identifies four factors in determining fair use:
  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for, or value of, the copyrighted work
In general, works that use only a small amount of someone else's work — such as a quotation or in-line definition — are probably staying within the bounds of fair use, so the work can stay as is.

But picking up whole passages or entire tables, charts, or graphs? No way. That absolutely falls under the term plagiarism.

So, how can you avoid inadvertently plagiarizing someone's work? Here are three tips.

Tip #1  Use your own head, not someone else's

Most textbook authors write with two, three, or maybe four source books splayed around them as they type. They dip into the books as needed for clarity and then write what they've learned in their own words.

That's the way it's supposed to go. The way it's not supposed to go is to splay those books around, dip into the for information, and then write the same stuff you just read into your own own document.

So, get the info into your head and then out again with your own take on it.

Tip #2  Use the concept, not the words 

There's absolutely nothing wrong with looking at, understanding, even admiring the way someone has described a particular concept. It's too easy, though, to go from admiration to imitation.

It's unacceptable to say, well, that description of blood flow through the heart can't be written any better, so I'll just use it myself.

No, that just won't do. Write it again in your own words. You might surprise yourself at how much better your description is over that other one!

Tip #3  Use your own organization 

Let's say you find a list of adverse reactions for a drug in someone else's book, and you're tempted to use the same list. Don't pick up the sequence, change it around and reword the reactions as much as possible.

For example, here's a list of adverse reactions you find in a book you're using as a resource:
  • Palpitations 
  • Anxiety
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tinnitus
Don't just copy that list. Double-check another source to see if other adverse reactions might be applicable, and if so, put them in the list. Is "headache" too general? Can you find evidence to support, oh, I don't know, "headache, most often frontal"? Then use that.

Once your list is complete, alphabetize it. Or list the reactions by word length, from shortest to longest. Do something different to make the list your own.

Just know that the work you do now to make your book your own could save you money — lots of it — down the road. Any plagiarism in your work could be grounds for a forfeiture of earned royalties, depending on your contract, or even future earnings.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

GUEST BLOG: Grant 'Permission' to Let Go

Every now and then I post an essay from another blogger or author, and I'm proud to do so again today. Sharon Eagle has authored three books for my company, F.A. Davis, and is one of the most caring, intelligent, and gracious people I've ever known, never mind being a remarkable writer.

Sharon has cancer, one that can't be cured. She has been open and honest about it since day one, and the following post is an example not only of her eloquence but also of her compelling perspective on her illness. It is yet another reason why she's one of my very favorite people and will ever be so.

Grant 'Permission' to Let Go

One of the many things I’ve pondered in the time since my diagnosis is the term we hear so often about patients “fighting” against cancer and sometimes “losing their battle” with cancer. The following represents only my own personal thoughts and viewpoint on the matter.

There’s something about the term “fighting” that bugs me when it comes to cancer. But I haven’t figured out exactly why or what term I’d substitute for it. I suspect to most people the term “fight” indicates some sort of physical battle. Yet in my experience, the fight often feels more like an emotional or mental process than a physical one used in reference to the desire that the ill person not give up or give in.

All things considered, I’m doing well and have exceeded my doctor’s expectations. For this I am grateful. Yet on occasion I feel so tired, physically and emotionally, that I can see how a person may arrive at the point that he or she just can’t do it any more. When this time comes, loved ones need to know that the best gift they can offer may be to allow their ill loved one the space to move on with aided comfort of hospice instead of begging them to keep “fighting.” When one's physical, mental, and emotional resources are exhausted, it can feel so difficult, impossible even, to “keep fighting.” Yet ill persons often fear letting their loved ones down and keep on trying.

I realize that I’m treading on sacred ground and that everyone’s situation is different. I also know first hand, what this may cost loved ones. I will never forget the intense pain it cost me and my family when we gave my brother “permission” to go (die), if that’s what he needed to do, even though we wanted him to stay with all our hearts. It was the most difficult, one-sided conversation I’ve ever had. But I remembered countless times as a nurse that my patients seemed to hang on beyond all reason as their family begged and pleaded for them to stay and get well when there was no medical hope of healing. As a sister I realized that it is far more difficult (than I ever appreciated as a nurse) to walk the fine line between realism and hope.

I simply hope in this writing to convey the notion that death isn’t necessarily the “loss” of a “battle,” and that it doesn’t mean the patient has failed. They may in fact be at the very jumping-off point of mankind’s greatest adventure.

So when my time comes I hope people don’t talk about me in terms of fighting or, worse, losing a battle with cancer. I prefer they comment on how I lived without giving so much credit to cancer as a powerful foe that won some victory over me.

I’m in no hurry to go, and yet I no longer fear dying. Further I don’t believe my death will be any sort of failure, but rather a transition to what comes next. And I think what comes next will be pretty awesome.

— Sharon Eagle

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Say It Ain't So, Joe. 5 Reasons Why a Publisher Might Reject Your Textbook Proposal

Sometimes it's really easy to reject someone's proposal for a textbook or reference book. Mostly, though, it's difficult. We publishers would much rather accept and publish than reject.

Sometimes, though, the idea just isn't right. Here are five common reasons your textbook proposal might be rejected.

Reason #1: Lack of preparation

This one's easy. If you've sent a proposal to a publisher who doesn't publish books for the markets you're aiming for, you'll get rejected.

Do your homework. Look at the publisher's area for authors, we all have one. Use it.

Reason #2: Poorly presented proposal

Go ahead, write a proposal with tons of grammatical mistakes, misspellings, and punctuation errors. See how far that gets you.

Reason #3: Too niche or not niche enough

This is a tough one. Some publishers succeed really well publishing books for tiny markets. Others need books with a broader appeal.

A proposal that falls outside the publisher's comfort zone probably won't get accepted. That's not necessarily your fault. It's just that you need to find the publisher for that particular market. Keep at it.

Reason #4: Great book that people won't buy

Maybe you've got an idea for a great book designed for a market right up the publisher's alley. People should really know the material you'll present in the book. The publisher may still decide to reject the proposal, typically for one or more of these reasons:
  • There might be a perfect time for the book, but it isn't now.
  • Maybe people should buy the book, but there isn't a reason compelling enough for them to actually pull out their credit card.
  • The market, rightly or wrongly, gets enough of that kind of information from other sources and doesn't think it needs a book dedicated to it.

Reason #5: Right book, right author, right market, wrong publisher

You could have a terrific proposal for just the right book at the right time for the right market, and you're just the person to write it. And the publisher still might reject it.

When that happens, it's nothing you did or could have done; it's the publisher. Maybe they don't have enough penetration into that market to warrant signing another title. Maybe they have too many similar titles. Maybe the publisher knows something about to happen in the company that he can't discuss.

There might be several other reasons why a great proposal is rejected, but one thing will be clear.

It's not you. It's us.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This is Why Printed Books Will Be Around for Another Generation

Digital books are taking over the world!

Printed books are DEAD!

Out with paper, in with e-ink!

Digital Book World Study
Bunk. When you read pundits who declare print dead, stop and think about actual humans. A new study from Digital Book World and a consulting firm called PlayCollective, indicates that a growing number of children are reading digital books.

A growing number. Which means there are still many kids reading just print books; a third, to be exact. And of the kids reading e-books at least once a week, many if not most are still reading print books as well.

Which means that print books as an experience remain embedded in a child's determinative years. Which means, in my respectful opinion, that some people will continue to enjoy print books on some level their entire lives.

Now, when you can't hardly find a kid reading print books anymore, when they're introduced out of the cradle to e-books and never have a chance to hold a print book, then we can talk about the death of print books.

Until we're much closer to that time, if in fact that time comes at all, I'll remain a print book lover who also reads and appreciates e-books.

Monday, January 6, 2014

How to Make More Money from Your Published Textbook

Congratulations. You're a published textbook author and are now promoting your book everywhere. You're contacting colleagues, e-mailing friends, and posting links to your book in as many social media outlets as you can find.


But jeez, Louise, don't send potential customers to Amazon or Barnes & Noble or any other discount retailer. Send them to your publisher!


First, your publisher has just spent, most likely, many tens of thousands of dollars creating your book and ancillaries. It's trying now to not only recoup that investment but also generate profit. Without that profit, you will no longer be a published author. At least of that book.

Mostly, though, you and the publisher are both losing money. Publishers give Amazon and similar distributors sometimes absurd discounts to have their book listed. The distributor then charges customers considerably more. No problem there, that's how they stay in business, and sales through these distributors can really help publishers make money.

But every book sold through, say, Amazon instead of your publisher takes money right out of your pocket. You get paid, probably, on how much money the publisher receives for each book sold. Books sold at a discount put less money in your pocket (and the publisher's, of course) than books sold at or near list price.

So do everyone a favor. When you include a link to your book somewhere, use your publisher's product page address, and not Amazon's!

You're welcome.