The Accidental Medical Writer is the story of 2 successful freelance medical writers who were initially unqualified to do what they now do for a living. We came to medical writing from opposite directions—I was a professional writer all my career with no science or medical background, and my co-author, Cyndy, was a health care professional with no writing background. This first book in our series chronicles our unique journeys, providing insights and tips so that others can learn and benefit from our mistakes and the lessons we learned along the way. This book was written to help others become successful freelance medical writers, too, including health care professionals, writers, people looking to change careers, and those with entrepreneurial spirit who want to experience all the personal, professional, and financial satisfaction of working for themselves.
Tell us something about yourself.
I learned the first important lesson that helped me become a successful freelance medical writer when I was 9 years old and launching my first business cutting lawns for my neighbors. But these early lessons pale in comparison to those I have learned since becoming a professional writer 30 years ago, and since I launched my own freelance business more than 20 years ago. It is because I love what I do for a living that I have not had to work! While each day has its ups and downs, my passion for writing makes each day a pleasure. The independence and control I have over my destiny gives me a level of security that others only dream of having. Like others, I try to mimic my successes. But my personal and professional growth has come from my failures. Bruised and bloodied, I have learned to glean the lesson from every experience and leverage it to make myself and my business stronger.
What inspired you to write this book?
I lead a number of workshops and give many presentations annually on the topics of launching and building a successful freelance medical writing business. I council many up-and-coming medical writers who come to the industry from a wide range of related, and unrelated, backgrounds. I wrote this book so that I could reach, inspire, and motivate a broader audience of people who I believe can truly improve their lives by forging their own paths to success in this great industry.
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
When I was a child I was filled with silly stories just trying to get out. I wrote them for my mother and father, and took great pleasure when my words made them laugh. (I’m sure they were being generous!) In high school I developed a passion for writing poetry. Inspired by Richard Brautigan and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., I knew I had to find my own voice. When I entered college, I discovered my passion for writing in all areas. I continued to write poetry, but suddenly I found it a breeze to write term papers. In fact, the only trouble I had was keeping them within the upper limit of the required page range. During my junior year I interned for an advertising agency. They trained me to do production work, which was mechanical and enjoyable, but when they gave me opportunities to conceptualize and write my heart and head soared. That’s when I knew I wanted to be an advertising copywriter, which is where I started my professional career. When I started my own business just over 20 years ago, I was freelancing as a medical writer to pay the bills while I was building a small ad agency of my own. Within 4 years both my ad agency and my freelance medical writing had grown to the point where I could no longer do both if I wanted either of them to grow further. I realized that to build my ad agency further I would have to step back from writing to manage the business, whereas to build my medical writing business I needed just to keep writing. I realized that the world probably did not need another ad agency but that I had much to contribute to the field of medical communications as a writer, so I gradually closed my ad agency and concentrated on building my freelance medical writing business. This is a decision I have never regretted.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am currently working on my second book, which will be the third book in The Accidental Medical Writer series. This book focuses on subjects that have been very popular lately, based on the attendance at sessions where I have spoken on these topics. The overall subject of the book is the business of freelancing, which I anticipate will be of great interest to all people with freelance businesses, not just freelance medical writers. Subjects covered in the book include choosing the right business structure, insurance considerations, legal issues, fee setting, developing estimates, fee negotiation, and strategies and techniques for marketing and building your freelance business. I am working to have this book published by September 2010.
Where can readers learn more about you and your book?