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Frequently Asked Questions about supplementing your clinical income through writing.
Q. Do I need to have an agent to make money through writing?
A. Absolutely not. One of the key advantages of technical writing and self-publishing is that you do not need to secure an agent to represent you.
Q. Is self-publishing a viable option?
A. Yes. The publishing industry is undergoing a revolutionary transformation. With the rise of the internet, digital publishing technology and e-books and the rapid demise of brick and mortar booksellers, self-publishing is now a very viable alternative to earning money as a physician writer.
Q. Can I self-publish without breaking the bank?
A. Yes, although you will want to make sure that your final product is polished and professional and reflects well on you.
Q. How much can I make?
A. It depends. A successful technical writer can earn more per hour from writing than from practicing medicine. Successful mass market physician writers like former SEAK Faculty members Michael Palmer, MD and Tess Gerritsen, MD have earned millions of dollars from writing.
Q. Do I need an active medical license to make money as a physician writer.
Q. Do I need an active clinical practice to make money as a physician writer.
Q. Do I need to be board certified to make money as a physician writer.
Q. Are there other financial advantages to writing?
A. Yes. Writing and publishing can establish you as a thought leader and lead to lucrative teaching and consulting opportunities. In addition, writing can lead to offers of full time non-clinical employment and/or help advance your clinical career.
Q. What types of projects can freelance physician technical writers be called upon to assist with?
A. Many different types of projects including: abstracts, posters, marketing materials, editing, CME material, training material, presentations/slides, proposals, regulatory documents, scripts, web content, news articles, materials for the pharmaceutical industry, and white papers.
Q. What can I write about and get paid to do so?
A. Anything that people are willing to pay for. This runs the gamut from technical writing for the pharmaceutical industry to self-help books for the general public to romance novels or thrillers.
Here’s what past attendees have to say about SEAK’s writing programs:
“Dear Jim, Just wanted to personally thank you and your SEAK team for a fantastic writing meeting. I appreciate what you do for so many docs who need a ‘different way.’ Keep on inspiring.”
“Thank you kindly for your time and your insights. [The course] has been great and very easy to follow. Open eyes to new world. Always feel good attending your conferences. Learn something every time.”
“Thank you for putting on such an inspiring and invaluable conference. I came away with a surge in energy and interest in launching a writing career.”
“Thank you for another great course!”
“Amazing! So much great, invaluable info.”
“Contained a great deal of information in a short period of time.”
“Encouraging, practical, motivating.”
“Excellent conference. Provided options for medical writing.”
“Excellent content. The 3 presenters worked well together – complimentary in content & style.”
“Lots of great info and practical advice.”
“Great – informative – encouraging.”
“Great practical knowledge.”
“Helpful and informative.”
“High quality information, well-presented.”
“I felt the love in this seminar – the leaders are so genuine and passionate!”
“Nice to be surrounded by others with similar interests.”
“Superb. The topic in itself caught my eye; I was not aware of training sessions on something I have wanted to do for so long.”
“The speakers and their presentations were excellent. I wish I could have rated them higher than the 5’s.”
“This was a great and encouraging seminar that will help me get started.”
“Very thorough and high quality/expertise.”
“Well organized, focus, efficient, enjoyable, conducive environment to learning.”
“Thank you for all the wonderful tips and information!”
“Thank you! For sharing your expertise and valuable collection of wisdom.”
“Top notch – excellent teachers.”
“Thank you for your passion and authenticity! It’s contagious!”
“Just a quick note to thank you for your warmth, encouragement, and the wealth of information you shared at this week’s SEAK conference in Clearwater.”
“I have enjoyed learning from you and your expertise/wisdom. Thanks so much for your time and sharing.”
“Loved your Physician Writing course. I was very impressed and happy with the high quality of instruction, and the topics / discussions / lessons / lectures / textbook were all outstanding.”
“What a fun learning experience it was! Thank you for a terrific seminar.”
”Dear Jim, It’s been a while since the SEAK writing course in February 2018! You have lived in my heart and my mind since, particularly your mantra: good things happen to doctors who write!
I just published my first book! CODE BLUE: The Other End of the Stethoscope. It is a 384 page murder mystery/medical thriller with Russian hackers pilfering information from our EMRs for murder and profit. It is also an exposé set in a corporate-run urgent care aimed at disclosing the alarming direction medicine is going in, now that patients have become mere “consumers of health care.” I feel like I have strayed into a completely new profession, and I’m learning so much every day. I am hoping this will open a new world of income as well as being able to make a statement about our greed-driven culture. You were a driving force for me! Thank you and stay awesome!”
“I attended a SEAK conference over a decade ago, and it was invaluable. I eventually was represented by an agent I met at SEAK. At the conference I also met a professional editor who helped get my manuscript into shape. [I] am pleased to report that I do indeed have a book deal now through a small publisher, without agent representation. (Not self-publication.) My book will launch in January. SEAK has opened doors for physician writers like me.”
“Thank you for the info-packed writing seminar.”
“Learned a lot from the outstanding panel of speakers.”
“The course was excellent and gave me great ideas.”
“Thanks, Jimmy! What a wonderful course. It was exactly what I needed. I wrote all the character studies and most of the first chapter of my novel on plane ride home to San Francisco. I loved your motivating, can-do attitude. And Sorche is a gem: a gifted speaker, smart, relatable, tough and motivating. You are very lucky to have on your team! I went into the conference having my doubts about my bona fides as a writer and came away feeling more confident, like a door had opened.”
“Thank you so much for the conference. I was so inspired that I drafted a short science fiction story on the plane from Tampa to Seattle. The lady sitting next to me asked, “Are you a writer?” For the first time in my life I answered ‘yes’ to that question. I feel like a bit of poser right now, but I am determined to change that perception in the next few months.”
“I really appreciate the efforts and did gain a roadmap to success.”
“Detailed, focused, good guidelines and tips”
“Packed with relevant information! Can’t think of anything I won’t use in some way.”
“Sorche is amazing!”
“Thanks Sorche for reviewing queries”
“Very practical, relevant knowledge”
“Well-organized expert advice”
“Thank you for speaking personally to the participants.”
“Thank you for your hard work and support!”
“The practical exercises to assist with strategizing were excellent.”
“FYI–I have finally taken the plunge and retired from pediatric practice to pursue medical writing full time! I still have a lot to learn but I have 2 jobs, one of which pays almost as much per hour as locuming would. Thanks again for running these conferences. I had no idea what to think when I first started getting these brochures, but the conferences are really a “class act.”
“A big TEXAS SIZED- THANK YOU for the Writer’s seminar. It was one of the best I’ve been to, and all the SEAK conferences have been great. The speakers were all excellent. If you ever get tired of teaching us doctor types, you could have a third career as a stand up comedian.”
“Thank you so much for what I hope will be a life changing conference!”
“An amazing workshop!!”
“Excellent information, organized well. Presentations were well done as was the book accompanying the course.”
“Excellent! I was pleasantly surprised of the quality of the material. Manual very detailed and well written with no gaps.”
“Excellent, very practical instruction, thorough and entertaining.”
“Helpful and informative”
“Highly inspiring and informative”
“Inspiring and comprehensive.”
“It was relevant, well organized. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The speakers took a genuine interest in the participants, their work and aspirations”
“Very helpful in identifying steps”
“Very helpful, lighthearted but info packed.”
“Very interesting and provided totally novel info to someone of my training”
“Enjoyed different perspectives on self and traditional publishing”
“Overall very good and helpful. Small setting allowed for questions.”
“Really enjoyed the personal touch/interact.”
“Thank you Rich for the 15 minutes that solidified my plan. Thank you Sorche for sharing your experience and expertise. Thank you Jim for developing and providing this outstanding training Thank you Mandy for excellent exposure to writing opportunities.”
“This was the first program I’ve been to with all excellent presenters. All excellent presentations and all helpful information.”
In October 2007 I attended a SEAK Medical Fiction Writing for Physicians course moderated by Michael Palmer and Tess Gerritsen. Although I was a Pediatric Dentist, rather than a physician, I was allowed by your staff to register for the course. I found the course enlightening and gained so much knowledge about the process of writing a novel that I went home and completely re-wrote the draft of my first novel, Fatal Gamble. Michael Palmer, in particular, was very helpful and gave his email address to me so I could send examples of my first line. He said, “Keep sending your drafts of a first line until I tell you I want to read your novel.” For one month after the course, I sent revisions of my first line to him, only to get replies, “No, not quite … keep trying.” Finally, I sent this line: “At 6:30 in the morning, Dr. Jonathan Becker reached over and turned off his alarm clock for the last time in his life.” Michael Palmer replied, “Now I want to read your book.” At the conference I also had the opportunity to meet the fourteen literary agents in attendance. None of them were interested in representing me. However, Sheree Bykofsky urged me to prove I was a writer by writing a second novel and self-publishing both books. This turned out to be excellent advice. I self-published Fatal Gamble and a sequel, Deadly Codes: A Gallagher Novel in 2008 and 2009 through iUniverse. Through a series of fortuitous events, my novels found their way to Bobby Moresco, a screenwriter and director, who had won the Academy Award for screenwriting for Crash (Best Picture 2004). Bobby and I met for dinner in Boston at Legal Sea Foods where he told me that the characters and story line in my novels were perfect for a film noir. On Friday, March 9th, BENT opens in theaters across the United States. The film stars Karl Urban as Gallagher, Sofia Vergara as the leading actress and Andy Garcia as the supporting actor. Bobby Moresco is the screenwriter and director. Needless to say, it was a thrill for me to be on the production set and watch my characters come to life on the screen. I just wanted to send you this brief note to thank you for the impact your conference had on my writing career. It was only a two-day course but provided a wealth of information that helped to guide my writing since that time. I would recommend this program to any aspiring writer interested in gaining first-hand knowledge about the process of writing a novel. I am now nearing completion of my third Gallagher novel as well as a screenplay sequel to BENT.”
“Jim, I attended the 2017 course and have recently been reflecting on my year since that time and wanted to thank you for inspiring me to try something new. I went to the course thinking I wanted to write a book, but came out with a new agenda…. I kept thinking about your statement “good things happen to those who write” so I thought I would give it a try- I had nothing to lose.
I like the advice in the course about the future of writing and how it is likely different now than in previous years. I have changed my focus to gaining more followers on my blog first, and will next pursue publishing a book. I found this approach much more manageable and even fun.
It was daunting at first as I had zero IT experience, but I figured out how to create a blog, use ad words for advertisements, amazon affiliate links, and have recently been contacted by other possible affiliates. If I could do it, anyone can do it.
I loved the SEAK course, and I hope you guys will continue with the great work – perhaps even adding more valuable information about blogging/internet exposure for writing. Don’t forget to repeat your saying “Good things happen to those who write”!
Best to you, the SEAK team, and the new crop of writers this year.”
“Excellent … I found it so incredibly helpful”
“Excellent, definitely met expectations and lit a fire”
“Fantastic setting and very informative”
“Wealth of info”
“On point, exactly what I came to hear about”
“Full of helpful and insightful information”
“Very useful information and perspectives”
“Very well done”
“Well organized – interactive”
“Jim, thanks for suggesting that I attend the course—-it was well worth the flight from Newport Beach, CA. The highlight for me was that Sorche sat with me at lunch the first day and talked to me one on one about my [book idea]—-I didn’t know in advance that she’d have and give me that much individual time—-she, you, and all of the lectures were wonderful, but for me, they were just frosting on the cake. Keep up the good work—-“
“Hi Jim, It was a very informative and useful course. I learned a lot from the topics you handled Yes, I will remember, good things happen to those who write. I needed this course to overcome the block I had after completing my iBook. This course helped me to see what was missing to complete the project. I know my angle on this is much better. Hope to share with you and Ms. Sorche once I am on Apple iBook Store. Who knows Ms. Sorche might find it useful for print medium down the road.”
“Jim, Thank you for a most excellent program. I always knew anything produced by SEAK is a quality product. I am ready to hone my writing and look to a first book completion.”
“I really enjoyed the conference and found it quite helpful. All of the presenters did such a great job.”
“Jim, Great course from you all Thank you very much.”
“I appreciated the candid discussion and the shared, practical information.”
“Jim, The SEAK writing course was excellent, exactly what I needed. Many thanks to you, Soche, and Mandy for an outstanding seminar.”
“Hello! I just wanted to write to personally thank all three of you for the outstanding Seak Writing Course in Clearwater! I can not believe I learned so much in such a short time! I have been very inspired and enthusiastic since my return. On the way home in the airport, I started a leather journal to record important web sites and instructions I wanted to focus on after the conference. I used the back of the journal to list a flurry of ideas I had for articles on sleep medicine, sports medicine, general health, blog ideas, etc. I have kept that journal by my bed and have added to it most days. Before the conference I had started on a journal article about the treatment of Narcolepsy during pregnancy. I am happy to report that today I submitted that article to The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. So now the waiting game begins……but at least I got it finished. I have been talking to my medical students, my nurse practitioner, and even a young girl down the street about the importance of writing and that “Good Things Happen To Those Who Write”! I will keep you posted on my progress. Thank you again for all of your help!!”
“I am inspired. Your SEAK conference has lit a fire in me and for that, I’m saying THANKS ! Thanks for the how-to.”
“Thanks for a great and inspiring course! I just wanted to let you know that I have now launched my medical communications website. This would not have been possible if I had not attended SEAK’s “How to Earn Money as a Physician Writer” course.”
“Motivational, energizing, inspiring & informative”
“Didn’t want to take the breaks I enjoyed the sessions so much”
“Very professional & to the point”
“On a 1-10 scale, a 10”
“I learned more than I have in 10 years in a writing program”
“Well worth the time, effort & money”
“Best conference I’ve ever attended”
“Rejuvenated to write”
“See you next year!”
“Far exceeded my expectations. I’d pay 3 times as much to attend!”
“Absolutely fantastic. Insightful. Informative and detailed. Bottom line and essential information”
“Excellent and useful”
“Always interested in writing, this was the push I needed”
“I appreciated all the anecdotal material; you can’t find this in books”
“Excellent, inspiring, informative. I’m totally encouraged to write and will consider returning to the conference”
“The seminar motivated me, and leaves me feeling that a door has been opened”
“Outstanding, I loved it!”
“Excellent presentation, excellent speakers”
“The speakers were great. My only feedback is THANK YOU!”
“Thought provoking, inspiring”
“Excellent – I will come again”
“I found it excellent”
“I love this seminar – I came 2 years ago, and it was a great experience”
“Absolutely awesome” It made it a special bonus to attend the seminar”
“Good, very informative for those of us trying to get their 1st novel published”
“Excellent, very practical and helpful”
“Lots of questions and answers time—great!”
“Well done, very helpful”
“Great, thank you!”
“I really enjoyed the course. The information provided was very helpful. Now I must be moved to action (smile).”
“Thank you. I really enjoyed the conference. You guys were great and having other physicians in the group with so much knowledge was wonderful.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed the course and found it very valuable in many ways. I am sure the sentiment was shared by all. I was so inspired by the conference, that over the weekend I started writing!”
“Your presentations were invaluable, as well as food for thought regarding my husband’s consulting as a retired Navy SEAL. I know where to start for both of us in creating a platform from which to launch his and my endeavors in writing, speaking and generating more excitement using our advanced degrees. It is far more exciting than the traditional routes our careers are providing at the moment.”
“Excellent seminar and highly recommend to any physicians looking to enhance or change careers”
“Comprehensive information clearly laid out”
“Extremely useful, cram packed of useful knowledge, glad to have the manual to supplement info gathered during lectures”
“Excellent resource, networking”
“Very helpful and inspiring – both to continue working on my novel and to begin some freelance article writing”
“Very informative and motivating”
“Interesting. Provide info about process of writing a book that I didn’t know.”
“Very good. Participant input and pearls very helpful”
“Both speakers were very informative, knowledgeable and made info interesting, clear and concise.”