Sunday, March 3, 2013

it's happening again

It's happening again.

Thirty-some years ago, when I went into practice, I loved caring for my patients. Medicine was all about delivering competent and compassionate patient care back then.

But over time, the system changed. (Don't get me started.) In order to work within this system, physicians were forced to turn their attention to the business of running a practice. Experts who knew little about the diagnosis and treatment of illness imposed rules and regulations that were intended to increase ofice efficiency and speed. Doctors submitted to the dictates of newly created HMO's. We learned to conform to a cumbersome system of diagnosis and coding that was tied to reimbursement. Insurance auditors and attorneys stalked us day in and day out. And then, the Electonic Medical Record (EMR) was born. Now-a-days doctors can barely make eye contact with their patients. Their attention is focused elsewhere, bouncing from screen to screen checking off little boxes that are meant to record their thoughts about the patient's symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. If you're a patient who has experienced this, rest assured: doctors hate it as much as you do.

Sometimes you have to look into a patient's eyes to understand why a diabetic continues to poison himself with food. To understand how a patient's headaches are connected to shame and anger that have festered out of sight since childhood. Sometimes it helps to look a patient in the eye when you have bad news to share with them.

I truly loved caring for my patients. The rest of it? Not so much.

In the same way, I love to write. The problem is that things have changed. No longer is it enough simply to write well. No longer can we count on an agent or publisher to take care of promotion, distribution and sales. Now, most of us will be set adrift to master the business side of publishing, promoting and marketing our work...something I have no expertise or interest in. Meaning...I have all that to learn.


The book I have coming out, "Empower!--Stories of Breakthrough, Triumph and Discovery"--is a compilation of stories written by women who overcame immense obstacles in their lives in order to achieve success, or fulfillment, or happiness. It is not a "how to" book, but a collection of inspirational stories that bring us hope, encouragement, and a sense of connectedness. I enjoyed writing my chapter, "Begin Again"...but now it is up to me to promote, sell, and distribute the book. Meaning, I believe, that I have to:
  • figure out what audience I should target
  • figure out how to connect with people in my target audience. My friend, Don Helin  (, author of two thrillers, "Thy Kingdom Come" and "Devil's Den", suggested I drive an hour north to join an area business group for drinks at a local bar next week.

Shy, reclusive me??
  • how to promote the book on "my web page" (ps.: I don't HAVE a web page.) and among my social media contacts
  • how to host a book launch and where to set up book signings
  • how to create a merchant account with Paypal or major credit cards, or whether to use a "Square"

Thankfully, I am surrounded by writers who have tread this path before me. Thanks, Pennwriters! I'm getting ready to dip my toe in the murky waters of the publishing industry. I just hope I don't drown.

"We learn to do something
by doing it.
There is no other way."
--John Holt--
Suggestions, comments, and recommendations are welcome!


  1. I have so many relatives in the medical field. I've heard their pain the same as yours. I hope the business of writing doesn't take the fun out of the actual writing for you.

  2. Another fine mess the greedy monsters have created! It all comes down to the multi-million dollar contracts for the good old boys at the top, and stroking their power-grubbing egos. Remember Doc Strong in our little town? Quiet, unassuming. Yes he drove his Cadillac, but he was always available, compassionate, and well-respected in our community.

    Our health is now in the hands of big business, the same big business types that almost melted down the world economy... I'm like you: Don't get me started!

    - Pete

  3. Susan--I won't let it do that. Decided to skip the bar scene tonight!

    Pete--I still remember poking around in Doc Strong's "black bag" when he came to the house for you! That's what I'm talking about. Maybe that's how it all got started for me.