Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Title Capitalization In The English Language

By Carsten Cumbrowski (Guest blogger)

Titles of blog posts and web pages are very important. It important to make the title appealing and interesting at the same time, because it is usually the first thing people notice when people see your post or web page in the search results of search engines, feed readers (blogs) and news aggregations.

Interesting about titles in the English language is also the fact that they follow different capitalization rules for the words used in the title compared to the capitalization rules of regular content.

A simplified but wrong rule is to capitalize every single word in the title. It does look awkward in most cases, independent of the fact that it is just wrong to do it that way.

Using gut feeling is one way a lot of people do it, but following the specific rules that state which word needs to be capitalized and which word does not is probably a better way of doing it.

Most people probably heart about these rules and had them as subject at one point in time at school. The people who had it in school can consider this information a "refresher", especially if it has been a while since you learned it.

The Rules

In titles of songs or albums and band names, blog posts or articles, the standard rule in the English language is to capitalize words that:

1. Are the first or the last word in the title

2. Are not conjunctions ("and", "but", "or", "nor"), adpositions ("to", "over"), articles ("an", "a", "the"), or the "to" in infinitives.


Correlative conjunctions are pairs of conjunctions which work together to coordinate two items. English examples include for, and, nor, but, or, yet, and so, both ... and, either ... or, neither ... nor, and not (only) ... but (... also).

Subordinating conjunctions, also called subordinators, are conjunctions that introduce a dependent clause; English examples include after, although, if, unless, and because. Another way for remembering is the mnemonic "BISAWAWE": "because", "if", "so that", "after", "when", "although", "while", and "even though".


An adposition is an element that combines syntactically with a phrase and indicates how that phrase should be interpreted in the surrounding context. "Adposition" is a general term that includes the more specific labels preposition, postposition, and circumposition, which indicate the position of the adposition with respect to its complement phrase. Adpositions are among the most frequently occurring words in languages that have them. Examples: of, to, in, for, on, with, as, by, at, from


The words: the, a and an


The infinitive of a verb is its basic form with or without the particle to. Therefore, do and to do, be and to be, and so on are infinitives.


There are always border line cases so I would not worry about it too much, but it helps with the decision if or if not a word in the title should be capitalized if your guts took time off right at the time when you are finalizing a great post or article for your blog or website.

Carsten Cumbrowski is an author of articles about numerous different subjects, but writes primarily about internet marketing. He is also a blogger who writes for and More Articles by Carsten Cumbrowski can be found at his website Article Source here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Note on Blog Posts and Upcoming Materials

I'm getting ready to hop on a plane and go visit my folks in South America. I'll be there for the rest of 2007, so the blog activity may be reduced. I'm pretty sure you won't miss my posts during the holidays, though (you'll probably be busy drinking eggnog and eating ham). 

Okay. So, what's coming up? I have invited a student in USP's Master Program in Biomedical Writing to tell us about her experience taking the classes online.

Early next year, I will publish the updated second edition of Becoming a Medical Writer, with an exciting new bonus for those of you interested in Technical Writing.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Kindle, the new e-book reader by Amazon

No, my ebook is not available for Kindle. In fact, from the reviews I've read, it seems you can't read a PDF in this reader without first converting the file to MOBI (a format supported by Kindle).

So what is Kindle (1) and why am I talking about it here (2)?

1. Kindle is a little machine that can store up to 200 books, and uses an "electronic-paper" technology. It is supposed to look like real paper.
2. I love books, e-books and electronic stuff. I just couldn't resist!

However, because I haven't used it yet, I won't try to do a review here. Just check out the video on Amazon's Kindle page, and see what you think. If you like it, let me know!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Are You an Angry, Frustrated Freelance Writer?

By Yuwanda Black (Guest blogger)

Do You Recognize Yourself in These Signs?

As a freelance writer, it's very easy to become discouraged. Discouragement can lead to anger and frustration, which can stall your career - without you even realizing it. Following are signs to look for, and specific things you can do to get back on track.

1. Expending Negative Energy: Most freelancers surf the net looking for assignments. As you read job ad after job ad paying little to nothing, you boil over.

"Don't they realize I'm a professional, I have a family to feed, my skills are worth more than that?" So, what do you do?

You start to leave nasty comments and before you know it, you've spent two hours doing this. After logging off in disgust, you decide to take some time off because you're so mad you can't even focus.

Look at what this has cost you? Precious marketing time; not to mention focus.

Solution: Accept that there will always be jobs that don't pay enough. This is freelance writing after all. And while we should all earn a decent wage, there should also be world peace, enough food to feed the hungry and free medicine for those who can't afford it.

Not to make light of the situation, but focusing on what you can't change won't help. By NOT accepting low-paying assignments, you are sending a very powerful message. So, move on - if a job does not pay what you want, spend your time looking for ones that do, not sending nasty messages to job posters who offer low-paying assignments.

After all, the reason they're probably looking for help is they're where you want to be - a busy, working freelancer.

2. Output: As in, you haven't been doing any lately. Are you depressed over lack of work; not motivated because you are bored with work; and/or frustrated at the type of work you're doing?

Whatever your reasoning, as a freelance writer, you should always be producing - unless you are on vacation.

Many freelancers make the mistake of not working when there is no client project on their desk. Just because you are not working for a client doesn't mean that you don't put in 8, 9 or 10 hours a day.

Solution: This is one of the reasons I like article marketing - it forces me to constantly write, stay motivated and fresh. I may write about a new diet drug one day, or a new type of mortgage the next day, because as a freelance writer, my job is to write.

To this end, I keep my portfolio bulging with various samples; am always working on a new e-book or planning a new e-course.

Getting up and "going to work" every day is what I do - whether it's a client project or a "Yuwanda project," produce I must and produce I do.

3. Organization: As in, is your work hampered by your lack of organization - not only of the thoughts and tools you need to work with, but organization for the future of your business. Do you wonder, "Where will this freelance thing take me? Will I ever make enough to survive on this alone?"

Solution: If you find yourself thinking along these lines, then perhaps it's time you make a real plan for your future beyond just banging out the next client project.

Like any business, if you want freelance writing to be your full-time job, then you must plan for it - eg, create a full-fledged business plan. Target a niche, create an advertising budget and come up with a marketing plan.

In conclusion, frustration is the ever-present enemy of all who have a desire, but encounter obstacles. Embracing the obstacles and creating a plan to thwart them is the key; not expending negative energy railing against them.

Yuwanda Black is the publisher of THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business ofLaunch a Profitable Freelance Writing Career in 30 Days or Less - Guaranteed! freelancing, and more! Article Source here.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Staying Creative with Fiction Writing

I can't believe it's Thursday already and I haven't posted anything this week (in fact, this month). Well, but I have an excuse. November is the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Well, I took the challenge and have written more than 12,000 words so far. I've always wanted to write fiction but medical writing has consumed most of my time. (I did write a novel in high school, but that doesn't really count!). And since I'm the kind of guy that works better under the pressure of a deadline, NaNoWriMo was the perfect opportunity to get creative and write down a novel.

Perhaps you are not as passionate as me for novel writing, but you like poetry or theater (or even stand-up comedy). Well, there you go. Why don't you try writing a few verses or lines of dialog every now and then? You'll see that when you go back to your medical writing projects, you'll feel more creative and inspired. Perhaps you'll write even better.

Oh, and don't worry. I won't be posting excerpts of my novel here!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Writing for Magazines: Can you Make $5,000 for Writing One Article?

Did you know top consumer-health magazines pay up to $5,000 for a feature article?

Pay rates for consumer health writing, of course, depend on several factors: whether the article is to be published in print or online, the type of article, the word count of the article/or the number of pages and whether diagrams, line drawings or photographs are included. Generally speaking, any article submitted to a magazine goes to a specific article editor, whereas any pictures or photographs go to an art or photographic editor. Both will have specific guidelines and rates, depending on the specific requirements of that magazine.

The standard average industry rates for writers are a general guide, but the reality can be very different. Smaller consumer health and other magazines can only afford the lower rates, whereas the larger magazines can afford considerably more. However, this does not by any means guarantee that each sized magazine is the same. In fact, the rates vary greatly. The following are the basic ranges expected by writers (freelance/staff/ghost), whether writing consumer health articles or other articles:

Print publications (freelance, staff and ghost writers):
  • General Copy/News Articles/News Releases - $5 to $500/page
  • Brochures/fact sheets: $50 to $1,000/project
  • General advertising copy: $8 to $150/hour
  • Advertising articles: $0.10 to $2/word, $5 to $3,000/article or $8 to $100/hour
  • Medical reports/technical medical articles/General Consumer Health articles: $0.10 to $2/word, $50 to $16,000/project, or $8 to $125/hour
  • Government publications (news stories/news releases/medical studies/medical reports: $1 to $3/word, $50 to $100,000/project, or $8 to $125/hour
  • Newsletters (written only): $0.10 to $1.50/word, $50 to $6,000/issue, or $8 to $80/hour
Online Magazine/Web Content/General Website/Blog publications (freelance, staff and ghost writers):
  • All types of articles and projects: 0.10 to $3/word, $2 to $3,000/article, $8 to $100/hour, or $50 to $16,000/project
The important thing to remember is that the rate of pay can be higher for writers that editors are more familiar with or have worked with before. New writers tend to accept these rates without question, which can hinder their ability to earn a livable income. In fact, the difference in the earning capacity of a new writer and an established writer, both of whom may possess equal and exceptional talent, is simply that the established writer has learned to negotiate pay rates and has kept a portfolio of their published works (self-published and other) as proof of their abilities. This is something that every new writer has to learn.

Remember also that I offer an 8-week consumer-health writing home study course!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Five Habits For Writers

By Julie Gray (Guest blogger)

I have dear friend who recently told me that particularly on days when he feels frustrated about his writing, he asks himself – what did I do today that will move my writing career forward? And as he looks closely at that, he's usually surprised to find that he did a whole lot of things. It's just that like so much of life, forward movement is incremental, yes?

To paraphrase somebody – most of life is spent standing in line for something. But if it weren't for the small, pixilated steps, the larger picture can never come into focus. Every day, we are pointillist painters, we writers. And here are the five areas of your writing life that for my money, are going to collectively bring a career into focus.

Write Promote Network Learn Live well

That's right: WPNLL – pronounced – wipnill

So consider adding the following to your daily regimen:

WRITE every day. You might have more than one project you're working on; tend to at least one of them. And yes, generating ideas and spitballing is most productive and falls under this category, absolutely.

PROMOTE your material. Write and send query letters, enter screenwriting or prose competitions, follow up on calls, meetings and queries. Stay very on top of who has your material, when you'll hear back and what new opportunities have since cropped up.

NETWORK both with other writers and with professionals where possible. If you belong to a message board about writing or screenwriting, visit it daily seeking to build relationships. If you blog or read blogs, visit and comment. Keep building those relationships. Are you signed up for a class? How about a one hour Learning Annex course? Is there a festival or film community gathering in two weeks? Sign up. Continually seek opportunities large and small to create, sustain and nurture relationships with other writers and filmmaking aspirants of any stripe. Networking is extraordinarily powerful. It is impossible to overstate that fundamental truth.

LEARN more about the craft and the business constantly. Follow the trades. If the Hollywood Reporter or Variety are too much to absorb regularly, read Entertainment Weekly – a quasi-trade with pull-quotes, box office and celebrity news. Subscribe to Creative Screenwriting, Script Magazine or Written By. Sign up for classes, read books and see a lot of movies. Prose writers should subscript to Poets & Writers or Writer's Digest.

LIVE WELL by taking care of your essential core. We writers are sensitive souls. Pouring our hearts out onto the page is what we do. So be sure to exercise, get enough sleep, meditate or in some way return to your creative, essential self so that you can sustain and nurture the energy required to do steps one through four above. This one cannot be overstated or over-emphasized either. A burnt out writer doesn't produce good material and isn't fun to hang around with. Put your wellbeing before all else because everything you produce flows outward from that.

Know that life is good and writing is joyful. If this feels like work – well, it should, there's no candy-coating that – but it shouldn't feel like drudgery. Remember, nothing worth having comes easily. Any writer who makes a living at it is one who has worked long and hard for the privilege.

Real life moves much more slowly than the stories or screenplays we write. But if you can, do one thing to move your career forward today. Maybe it's that you just read this. Maybe you went hiking and had a great idea and stopped to write it down. Creation is the highest form of human expression. Tend it well.

Each day: Write, Promote, Network, Learn and Live Well. Wipnill©.

Side effects may include: productivity, career opportunities, dizziness and wealth.

Julie Gray is a mother, writer and story analyst living in Los Angeles, CA. Article Source here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

New Blog - Vaccine Risk Communication

Just a quick note to tell you about my other blog, in case this is a topic that interests you. Check it out here.

Microsoft Word for Medical and Technical Writers

I met one of the authors of this book at the AMWA conference a few days ago. Instead of a simple Word tutorial, the book "summarizes the authors' extensive experience with using Word to create regulatory documents, books on information processing, scientific manuscripts, and other long and complex documents."

I think it is worth looking into it. To see the full table of contents and get more information, click here.

Monday, October 15, 2007

AMWA Salary Survey 2007

Back to work from Atlanta. AMWA's annual conference was great, as usual, and I brought back some notes that may interest you: the results of the 2007 AMWA Salary Survey.

Tinker Gray and Cindy Hamilton gathered an impressive amount of data from this survey. The 76 slides of their presentation are available at the 'members-only' section of the AMWA Web site ( and the article summarizing their findings will come out in the May 2008 issue of the AMWA Journal.

So, how much do medical writers make? Of course, it depends on sex, educational level, years of experience, and type of employer.

Mean Income by Educational Level and Sex (working full-time for a company)

Bachelor's: $73,522 (women); $90,640 (men)
Master’s: $77,339 (women); $86,240 (men)
Advanced: $91,797 (women); $101,872 (men)

Mean Income by primary Employer

Biotechnology company: $102,297
Pharmaceutical: $97,807
Medical device company: $85,451
Communication or advertising: $83,338
Clinical research organization: $76,620
Medical Ed company: $77,088
Web/medical company: $73,500
Government: $71,014
Association or professional society: $68,574
University or medical school: $64,438

Income by Job Category

Supervision or administration: $120,629
Writing/editing/supervision: $99,004
Writing (primarily): $80,441
Writing/editing (equal mixture): $73,954
Editing (primarily): $64,500
Research and writing: $69,099
Education: $63,000
Other: $91,021

Freelance Income

Mean gross income: $119,295
Mean net income (gross income – deductible expenses): $93,306
Net income as percentage of gross: 78%

Net Freelance Income by Job Category

Writing (primarily): $110,232
Editing (primarily): $46,071
Writing and editing (equal mixture): $75,891
Research and writing: $76,620
Other: $97,181

I will incorporate some other info in my ebook very soon. Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Should You Use Rhetorical Questions in Medical Writing?

Last week I went with my boss to the annual conference of the Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) in sunny San Diego, CA. We were at the exhibit hall promoting our Web site and some of our new publications, when we had a couple of interesting encounters.

A couple of years ago we wrote a booklet called "Are Vaccines Safe? Evaluating Information About Immunizations on the Internet," which provides some guidelines as to how to find reliable information on the web and how to sort out misinformation. The "Are Vaccines Safe?" part of the title is, of course, a rhetorical question--we don't actually deal with vaccine safety in the booklet. But of the dozens of people who came by our booth, two people read that title and assumed we were anti-vaccine. We try not to advocate, just to provide science-based information--but we are certainly NOT anti-vaccine. However, these two ID doctors got that impression.

Was it a bad idea to use a rhetorical question in the title? I confess that the motive was to grab the reader. And I guess it does grab the reader based on the booklets' sales (more than 11,000 sold so far).

My thought is that it was not a bad idea because the rhetorical question works well for our target audience--parents considering immunizations for their children. If our target audience were ID experts, I would not use a rhetorical question. So, as always, think about your audience in everything you write.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Drawbacks of Freelance Writing From Home

By Matthew Bredel (Guest blogger)

The life of a freelance writer isn't all glitz and glamour. Before you take the plunge into freelance writing at your work-at home career choice, there are a few things to consider. While you can work from home earning money in your pajamas, there are negatives to this career choice. Here's a list of ten of the common drawbacks of freelance writing.

1. No sick days. Sometimes you have to work while you're sick. If you don't, you lose money and maybe a client. Clients aren't very forgiving unless you have a solid relationship with them and even then, sometimes their deadline is more important to them than your health and well being.

2. No medical benefits, a 401K or even a guaranteed income. You have to pay your own taxes too. This can make budgeting tricky when you take the plunge into freelance writing for a living, especially if you're the main breadwinner in your house.

3. Pay day is not guaranteed. You may go from famine to feast and then famine again regularly and payday doesn't come every second Friday so it can be a tricky balancing act, especially in the early days.

4. Juggling deadlines and family responsibilities can be challenging at times. You may have to give certain parties and events a miss because you have a deadline. You may feel conflicted at times when you have to let the laundry or dirty dishes pile up so you can finish an assignment. You may have to learn write with a crying baby on your lap.

5. Chasing payments isn't fun. There are customers who aren't as eager to pay you as they are to take your hard work. Sometimes people don't pay on time or try to short pay or not pay at all. You have to develop skills to protect yourself and may have to act as your own collections agent part-time.

6. Freelancers can have regular work, one-off gigs and can have a great paying regular deal that might suddenly disappear. The well can dry up regularly so you have to keep a constant lookout for work.

7. Reworking and multiple edits. You can slave over something for a client and they might hate it. You have to take criticism and might have to deliver work you don't think is as well written after your client asks for changes. You need to develop a tough skin in this business.

8. Projects can be difficult to estimate. You can underestimate prep time and working time for a project and find that it has lost you money in the end. This can be difficult but until you're very experienced, it will probably happen.

9. Sploggers, spammers and scrapers are rampant in online markets and want to steal your work and benefit from it! Be prepared to be plagiarized.

10. You have to have a really good eye for scams. When trying to establish yourself, it's a learning process and many new writers are scammed a few times before they become wise to all the tricks and signs of a scam.

Regardless of the negatives listed here, freelance writing can also be a great gig that can earn you money, offer a flexible home based business and can be personally fulfilling if you love to write. With time and experience, you'll find you are able to better deal with the downsides of writing for a living.

Matthew is the founder of TheWebReviewer: Home Based Business Ideas, and NetWebVideo: Work at Home Free Membership. Matt currently resides in San Diego, CA and is married with two children and has been an internet marketer since 2006.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Scientific Editing in the Internet Era: A Business Opportunity

The Southwest Chapter of the American Medical Writers Association invites anyone involved in scientific or medical publications—including scientists, doctors, writers, and editors—to attend a talk on the emerging industry of virtual scientific editing.

Dr. Susan Marriott, professor of molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and Walter Bigford, information systems expert in Houston, will describe the advantages and pitfalls of virtual editing and how they set up and operate their scientific editing and proofreading site Bioscience Writers (

The event will take place Monday, October 29, 2007, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Shanghai River Restaurant (2407 Westheimer, Houston, TX 77098). The cost, which includes dinner, will be $16 for AMWA members and $19 for nonmembers and will be collected at the door on the day of the event. To register for this event, please RSVP to Ruth SoRelle at by Thursday, October 25.

For more information on this event, please contact Ruth SoRelle or visit the chapter website at

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Can an English Major Become a Medical Writer?

Two people in the last two days have asked me the same question. Can they become successful medical writers without a science or medical background?

Yes, they can. Medical writers usually fall in one of two categories: scientists or doctors who loved to write and writers who loved medicine.

I was a journalist who loved science, so I decided to get a master's degree in science journalism, where I took both writing and science courses. And this is an important point. Not having a medical background does not impede you to become a medical writer, but you will have to get some science training eventually to be competitive. It doesn't have to be an advanced degree necessarily, but you will have to know what you are writing about.

If you want to become a freelance health writer and have no science training, you can join AMWA and obtain its new Science Fundamentals Certificate, for example.

Many employers, especially in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, do require their medical writers to have a strong science background. However, if you are willing to learn and are resourceful, you can be a successful consumer-health writer at a hospital, university, organization or as a freelancer.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Medical Writing: The Technic and the Art, by Morris Fishbein, M.D.

This little book had been in my office for months and I didn't know about it. A former editor in my department left it in one of my bookshelves and just now I've discovered it. This is from the second edition, printed in 1950.

It may be old, but the advice certainly is current. I love the section on verbosity:

"Verbosity is a blemish in the writing of most people--one that makes reading tedious, mars diction and wastes space. This fault can be overcome easily, but in most instances not efficiently until after the paper has been written. Unless you have tried it, you will be astonished at the number of words, phrases, clauses, sentences and, occasionally, paragraphs that can be deleted without affecting the meaning. Deletions of unnecessary words always improve grammatical construction and style of expression and facilitate reading with understanding."

Fishbein provides many "horrible examples," as he calls them, of verbosity in medical writing. But I'll better end this post now before it turns into logorrhoea (another word for verbosity).

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

American Medical Writers Association Annual Conference

For those of you who are not AMWA members, here's a good reason to join: their great annual conference. AMWA's conference offers dozens of workshops and open sessions in all areas of medical writing--they close quickly, so take a look before registration closes. The upcoming conference is in Atlanta, from October 11-13, 2007. Find out more information here.

For those of you who are going, I would love to meet you if we haven't already. I am going to be leading two breakfast roundtables (on Thursday and Friday) and will be speaking at two open sessions.

The roundtables are:

Writing about Vaccine Safety: Striving for Accuracy in an Emotional Environment (still open as of September 5)

Traditional Publishing vs Self-publishing: Creating Your Own Publishing Company (this one's closed--only 9 participants per table!)

The open sessions (these ones do not close) are:

OPEN SESSION 11 - Vaccine Safety: Dealing With Uncertainty

Communicating Public Health Policy During Periods of Uncertainty About
Vaccine Safety
Diego Pineda, MS, Moderator
Science Writer, Immunizations for Public Health (i4ph), Galveston, TX

Missing Information and Immunization Policy
Martin G. Myers, MD
Executive Director, National Network for Immunization Information
(NNii), Galveston, TX

Managing Uncertainty: Rotashield and Thimerosal Case Studies
Walter A. Orenstein, MD
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

OPEN SESSION 36 - Medical Writing in Developing Countries: Challenges, Successes, and Initiatives

An AuthorAID Perspective
Barbara Gastel, MD, MPH, Moderator
Associate Professor, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

A Chinese Perspective
Zhang Jian
Lecturer, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China

A Colombian Perspective
Diego Pineda, MS
Science Writer, Immunizations for Public Health (i4ph), Galveston, TX

I hope to see you there!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Medical Writing: Communicating to Different Audiences

I was on a call last night with members of our regional AMWA chapter and an interesting topic came up. How do you convey medical information when you have to write for different audiences (for example, health professionals, lay audience, and researchers)?

This is a common issue for medical writers working in academia or managing large-scale Web sites reaching to these different groups. This is an issue I touch on in my ebook, and that I think can be resolved with finding the right format for each audience and translating the information into that format.

If you have more than one audience, you can either write separate pieces for each audience or find a format suitable to all your audiences.

For instance, when planning the Web site for the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii), we wanted to present the findings of current research on vaccines to both health professionals and parents. (Click here to see an example of what we came up with). Our solution provided background information on the study's topic, a synopsis of the article under self-explanatory headings, and an editorial comment about the strengths and weaknesses of the article.

We thought this kind of format would appeal to busy health professionals with no time to read the whole journal article and, of course, to lay readers, who had the basic content of the article in a non-technical (or semi-technical) language.

As you become more familiar with a topic, it is easy to assume (sometimes unconsciously) that if you know something, your reader must know it also. But not everybody knows what oncogenes or immunodeficiency means--even though for you it is common knowledge. I am not saying you have to define every term, but at least you can find alternative plain-language words for some instances where the technical word is used. It is always useful to have both technical and lay readers review your piece before publication. That will assure your writing is accurate and clear.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Technical Writing for the Pharmaceutical, Medical Device and Biotech Industries

Check out this two-day course in Malvern, PA on September 24 - 26, 2007. According to the organizers, this is what you will learn:

* Understand the mandates for documentation set forth by the regulators, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and other governing bodies
* Know how the reporting process supports products in research, development, and the marketplace
* Understand how documents work in tandem from initial correspondence about a project to an approved protocol, amendments, and final study report
* Know how to produce effective written correspondence
* Understand how to assess and write to the audience
* Know how to organize and deliver information based on the message
* Understand how to structure reports
* Understand the innate structures of English grammar
* Know how to create grammatically sound passages
* Understand how the active and passive voices work and how to choose the most appropriate one for the type of writing you are doing
* Have a working knowledge of punctuation marks and their role in making documents readable
* Know how to review and revise documents
* Understand your own writing patterns and know the answers to your questions about the English language
* Have increased confidence in writing and revising documents

Get more info here.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Online Freelance Writing

By Dave Modie (Guest blogger)

Online freelance writing is a very convenient income-generating option, for both professional and budding writers alike. Dealing with writer's block for one is easier as online freelance writing offers every one the flexibility of writing at his or her own pace and time.

Searching however for credible online freelance writing can be quite tricky as there are scams out there. In order to ensure that you are looking in the right places, the following tips should be considered:

1. Apply for membership to writers' forums and online clubs. Not only will you get helpful writing tips from fellow writers but will also get important leads to writing jobs. This is because some forums and websites post ads looking for fellow writers. In addition, it is more likely that the projects are credible since you are dealing with fellow writers. Creating a network of writers will also prove beneficial in the future.

2. Check out popular sites for online freelance writing. A Google search of vital key words such as “online writing” “online freelance writing” and “writing jobs” usually leads to the most popular ones. These sites are usually devoted to posting advertisements for numerous online writing jobs in addition to providing tons of resources related to writing. Keep in mind though to double check before accepting projects. In addition, some of the sites also allow you to post your original articles of which you will get paid every time it sells. These sites are also perfect for building up your portfolio. A portfolio is important for prospective employers when looking for writers.

3. Check out the job bank sites. Some of the job search banks and websites post openings for online freelance writing and other writing jobs. As competition for online freelance writing can be quite tough owing to its increasing popularity, it is wise to have them bookmarked. Check them often as jobs could come and go in a flash. Applying early will give you an advantage. Make sure to have your resume and writing portfolio always on hand.

4. Subscribe to e-magazines. To give you an idea on the e-magazines, search for them online. Some e-magazine subscriptions are for free, if not, are only for a minimal fee. Just like some of the sources mentioned above, e-magazines offer excellent tips and resources for writers on online freelance writing. In addition, they have regular job postings for writers. Contributions to e-magazines are sometimes paid. And even if contributions are not paid, your efforts are not lost because your contributions will be part of your portfolio which can be accessed by prospective employers on the lookout for online freelance writers.

Remember, the Internet can be quite a “jungle”. If you do not know where to look and where to go, you can easily get lost. Be persistent and be patient. There is definitely an online freelance writing job for you.

Dave Modie is a HR expert on freelance writing opportunities and freelance jobs He knows how to find good writer jobs and become the best writer freelance. Article source here.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Web Site Writing and Editing

I was just told about an online course on Web site writing and editing. I know the instructor, MeLissa Houdmann is very good at this (I receive her newsletter). Although not specifically targeted to medical writers, the principles taught apply to all types of writing.

Offered through The Christian Pen, the course's six lessons are:
  • Understanding the Internet, its history and its undeniable potential.
  • Writing compelling content for an Internet audience.
  • Editing an existing Web site to meet the goals of the client.
  • Implementing basic search engine optimization tactics.
  • Learning fundamental HTML codes.
  • Putting these techniques to work on your Web site!
And it is only $75 for non-members!

Register here.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Book Reviews for Journals

The deadline approaching for the publication of my vaccine safety book, my co-author and I are readily thinking about sending out review copies for the media and some medical journals.

Have you noticed that most journals have a 'book reviews' section? As medical writers we tend to focus on research articles, and our bylines are usually subject to collaborating on other people's research and helping to write a paper.

But another way to get published in a medical journal is by submitting book reviews. Look for a new book on a medical topic and write to a journal's book review editor, offering to prepare a review of the book for the journal.

A great article that talks about this is A Strategy for Reviewing Books for Journals by Barbara Gastel (BioScience Vol. 41, No. 9, 1991). According to Gastel, book review editors tend to appreciate when someone offers to review a book.

“Calling their attention to little-publicized but valuable new books can be especially useful. And anything that helps editors expand their pools of qualified, willing, reliable reviewers is likely to be welcome.”

A good book review should describe the book contents and evaluate its strengths and limitations. Here are some tips for writing a book review:
  • Describe the stated purpose of the book and whether it was met or not
  • Provide information about the context of the book—for example, is it about a new treatment or does it follow up on previous works?
  • Discuss the qualifications and expertise of the author
  • Note any special features of the book such as illustrations, exercises, or glossaries
  • Tell who will benefit more from the book—health care professionals or patients?
Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Consumer Health Query Letters

One of my students recently asked me an interesting question: What makes consumer health queries different from other types of queries?

On the surface, queries sent to a consumer health publication should follow the same rules as any other query.

However, I think there are two special considerations for a consumer health query:

1. The query must reveal your knowledge of the consumer health writing market in general and of the queried publication in particular. This has to do with knowing what the "hot topics" are in the market and coming up with an original angle for your story. Editors receive hundreds of queries every week and your query will compete with other potential articles. If your story is about a rare disease and the next query in the stack is about a new treatment for diabetes, yours will probably be rejected (understanding that there is limited space for publication).

Editors want articles that sell magazines. In other markets, this would not be much of a problem. Think for example about a magazine on agriculture--an article about a rare plant disease would probably have good chances of being published because there is not so much competition and readers are less selective.

2. Your knowledge of the topic. Your knowledge of the health topic of the story (and to some extent your degree) is also important because health articles must be authoritative. In other markets, your knowledge of a topic can be addressed in the query with a couple of lines saying you have published on related publications or have written about the same topic before. In consumer health writing, however, you have the chance of emphasizing your medical/scientific education and professional experience. This can give the editor a good reason to pick your query over another.

To learn more about query letters in general read The Renegade Writer's Query Letters That Rock; for an in-depth look at consumer health query letters see the Consumer Health Writing Home Study Course.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop

Check this one out...

The Grant Institute's Grants 101: Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop will be held at the University of North Texas , August 6 - 8, 2007. Interested development professionals, researchers, faculty, and graduate students should register as soon as possible, as demand means that seats will fill up quickly.

All participants will receive certification in professional grant writing from the Institute. For more information call (888) 824 - 4424 or visit The Grant Institute at

Please find the program description below:

The Grant Institute

Grants 101: Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop

will be held at the

University of North Texas

Denton, Texas

August 6 - 8, 2007

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

The Grant Institute's Grants 101 course is an intensive and detailed introduction to the process, structure, and skill of professional proposal writing. This course is characterized by its ability to act as a thorough overview, introduction, and refresher at the same time. In this course, participants will learn the entire proposal writing process and complete the course with a solid understanding of not only the ideal proposal structure, but a holistic understanding of the essential factors, which determine whether or not a program gets funded. Through the completion of interactive exercises and activities, participants will complement expert lectures by putting proven techniques into practice. This course is designed for both the beginner looking for a thorough introduction and the intermediate looking for a refresher course that will strengthen their grant acquisition skills. This class, simply put, is designed to get results by creating professional grant proposal writers.

Participants will become competent program planning and proposal writing professionals after successful completion of the Grants 101 course. In three active and informative days, students will be exposed to the art of successful grant writing practices, and led on a journey that ends with a masterful grant proposal.


$597.00 tuition includes all materials and certificates.

Each student will receive:

*The Grant Institute Certificate in Professional Grant Writing

*The Grant Institute's Guide to Successful Grant Writing

*The Grant Institute Grant Writer's Workbook with sample proposals, forms, and outlines

Registration Methods

1) On-Line - Complete the online registration form at under Register Now. We'll send your confirmation by e-mail.

2) By Phone - Call (888) 824 - 4424 to register by phone. Our friendly Program Coordinators will be happy to assist you and answer your questions.

3) By E-mail - Send an e-mail with your name, organization, and basic contact information to and we will reserve your slot and send your Confirmation Packet.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Product Research and Effective Copywriting

By Laurence James (Guest blogger)

Most people who write for a living will tell you getting it right takes about 10% actual writing time and 90% research. Knowing what to write before you write it, and to whom, might sound like an obvious place to start, but when you're under pressure to meet a business writing deadline, the obvious can go out of the window. It shouldn't though, because even when you're up against the clock, the whole process of writing your content will become easier if you put the pen down, sit back from the keyboard, and consider it first.

"An important first task when you are planning a piece of written work is to think carefully about its purpose." (1). Start by identifying your reader, bearing in mind these three simple questions:

  • Who are my readers?
  • Will they read this?
  • What value is being created? (2)

If, for example, your brief is to write a 1000 word ‘business to consumer' brochure on a new range of motorized mobility scooters – the language, tone and style of your piece should not be targeted towards the youth audience. Sounds too obvious? Look in any newspaper, magazine or at any website, and you'll soon find countless examples of advertisements for products that seem to be incongruously addressing a completely irrelevant market. This accounts for the irritation or amusement you feel when viewing a TV advert not aimed at you. When this happens, the audience feels disconnected straight away, and the intended message of the content falls between the cracks. It's one of the biggest reasons sales copy and adverts fail.

In our example, after you've identified your main ‘mobility scooter' readership as senior citizens, you then have a very compelling reason why they will want to read about your new products. But it's a competitive market and the scooters won't sell themselves. So the next part of the process is to ask yourself, ‘What's in it for my intended readers – what benefits will our products give these readers over and above those of our competitors – and how do I communicate this to them in a language they will appreciate?'

Consider benefits, not just features

This is when the ‘analysis' stage of the research process kicks in – when you go back to your product and set out all the features it offers your target reader, listing the corresponding benefits. Think about everything your product can do, and how this will help the reader – how this will create value for them within the content you are about to write.

If at this stage you need to clarify certain product features or specifications, or identify more generalized subject matter that reinforces your point – go onto the Internet and Google your key topics, read up on relevant details that will put your claims into an authoritative context. Imagine yourself in the mindset of your target reader, and search for examples of similar products directed at them. Note the language used to talk to them, and consider what works and what doesn't in terms of tone.

The more detailed your research at this stage, the more rounded and effective your writing will be. You might think you're collecting superfluous details, but when it comes to actually writing your content, you'll find you're already a ‘mini expert' on the subject, and can cherry pick the best facts, stats and juicy pieces of information to back up your message.

The final stage of your research should take the form of collating your rough notes into a definitive structure. This structure will depend on the media in which your content will be published - for example, writing for the Web is very different than writing a sales letter or brochure – but if your research is sound you'll put yourself on a solid footing for actually structuring and writing effective content.


1. Prof. Gail Huon, The University of New South Wales, Writing Workshop, 2006
2. Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton, ‘Content Critical', Financial Times Prentice Hall, 2002

An English graduate from the University of Birmingham and professionally trained journalist at postgraduate level, Laurence James has been copywriting for over ten years. A Member of The Institute of Direct Marketing, he is also founder of The Copy Box. Article Source here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Medical Writing Network

I've been receiving emails asking me how to get a medical writing job or how to get connected with other medical writers. Someone even sent me a CV this week.

Well, I can't offer anyone a job but it occurred to me that I could do something else. I just finished setting up the Web site for the Medical Writing Network (MWN), the online community for medical and health writers.

Check out the site and join the network (it's free). As a member, you can participate in the forum discussions, create special interest groups (editing, regulatory, etc.), and even share photos and videos (a conference recording, for example).

You can also add or look for medical writing job opportunities in the 'Jobs' group.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Quality of Consumer Health Writing Today

A couple of days ago I started a thread on a medical writing "Yahoo! group" about consumer health writing. Here's my original message:

"I've noticed that most of the issues dealt with in this group are
related to clinical writing.

Although working in/for industry may pay better, consumer health
writing is still an important aspect of medical writing that we should
not ignore.

My perception is that most health-related articles in the media today
are written by non-specialized freelancers who hop from topic to topic
and who only write about weight loss and alternative medicine.

What do you think?"

One of the problems with consumer health writing today is poor research. Back in grad school my mentor insisted on going to the scientific literature first and interviewing the experts (not just one, but several).

Have you read a health-related article on a newspaper that quotes the same guy every other paragraph and the rest are indirect quotes? I have seen tons of those.

Or what about the health sections in some magazines that look like a copy-paste text from WebMD?

Okay, enough with my rambling. There are still some good health writers/reporters out there like Anita Manning (USA Today) and Larry Altman (New York Times).

For the rest of us, we should read and reread books like News & Numbers: A guide to reporting statistical claims and controversies in health and other fields by the late Victor Cohn and Lewis Cope, or the Health Writer's Handbook by Barbara Gastel.

As professional medical writers we should apply the same quality standards to consumer health articles than we apply to clinical writing. We owe it to our readers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Proofreading your Writing is Not Optional

By Mary Menke (Guest blogger)

So you've finished that rush document and you're ready to send it on its way. You've done your research and double-checked your facts. You've made sure your document is readable by leaving lots of white space top, bottom, left and right margins to make it more visually appealing to the reader.

Sure, you know you should proofread it, but the client is waiting it's a rush job, after all they'll understand if there are a couple of typos or misspelled words, right? Maybe they will and maybe they won't. Maybe they'll accept it this time, but when it's time to award contracts, they'll think twice about working with a company that does less-than-perfect work. Are you more important, is your company willing to take that chance?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking of proofreading as an “extra” step. It’s not optional; it’s mandatory. Proofreading should be the final step in writing any document, whether it’s a 50-page report or a 100-word email. If you send a memo (an internal document) with mistakes, you risk damaging your credibility; if you send a document with errors to those outside your company, you damage your company’s credibility as well.

Here are some proofreading guidelines:

  • Don’t rely on Spell Check. Spell Check is okay as a first resort, but not as a last resort. Spell Check only knows if a word is a word; it doesn’t distinguish between words that sound alike, but have different meanings; i.e., “there, their, they’re”; “its, it’s”; “one, won.”

  • Take a break between writing and proofreading. Proofread with "fresh eyes." If you have the luxury of time, wait 24 hours after you’ve written the document before proofreading. Most of us don’t have that luxury, but waiting even 20 minutes before proofing a document is helpful.

  • Always proofread a hard copy. Never try to proofread on your computer screen—when you proofread on the screen, you see what you meant to write. This advice holds for when you’re proofreading other writers’ documents as well. You’re more likely to see mistakes when proofing a hard copy.

  • Proofread away from your work space. When you proofread in the same place you have written the document, you are inclined to make the correction as soon as you find the mistake. This will slow you down.

  • Always proofread aloud. When you read aloud, you will see mistakes you might overlook while reading silently.

  • Get a second pair of eyes to proofread, especially complex documents or documents that will be read by people outside your company. It's easier to find others' mistakes than our own.

It goes without saying that you want everything you write to reflect well upon you and your company. Now proof it!

MARY WARD MENKE is owner and president of WordAbilities LLC, a writing and editing services company. Visit their website, Article Source here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Consumer Health Writing Home Study Course

Based on the feedback from some of my readers I have put together a Consumer Health Writing Home Study Course.

This is an in-depth, 8-week course with readings and assignments that covers various types of consumer health writing but emphasizes magazine writing.

I have even thrown in a few extras for those who sign up for the course such as a free copy of my ebook Becoming a Medical Writer and some other goodies. Check them out at:

Friday, June 22, 2007

Working as a Medical Writer

Check out this nice little overview of medical writing at, part of the journal Science.

Although the article does not provide specific direction for new or potential medical writers, at least it gives some exposure to our profession.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More about Health Insurance for Freelance Writers

A post from last month dealt with health insurance options for freelance writers. In the post I mentioned two professional organizations that offer insurance options for their members, the National Writers Union and the National Association of Science Writers.

Well, I just got the latest issue of Writer's Digest magazine and there's an article about the same topic by freelance writer Linda Formichelli. She mentions other organizations that offer similar insurance options:

Formichelli also suggests looking for health insurance plans through your alumni association, your local chamber of commerce, and your state's Farm Bureau. You can approach them as a rightful business owner (which you are!).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Where do Medical Writers Work?

Medical writers are in great demand today. Although many have chosen the freelance path, others prefer the security of a company job.

If you are a new medical writer you could look for opportunities in these type of companies (click on the links to see a list of them):

Pharmaceutical companies-they research, develop, market, and/or distribute drugs. Some of the major pharmaceutical companies (a.k.a. Big Pharma) in the world are Pfizer, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi Aventis.

Biotechnology companies-they may also produce drugs but using derivatives of biological systems or living organisms. The leading biotech companies are Genentech, Amgen, and Genzyme.

Contract Research Organizations (CRO)-these are independent contractors that offer their services to pharmaceutical companies—the services include product development and formulation, clinical trial management, data management, preparation of regulatory documents, and more.

Medical Device Companies-they develop instruments or machines intended to diagnose disease or other conditions, or cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease. Examples of devices include cardiac implants, infusion pumps, and elastic bandages. Top medical device companies include Boston Scientific and GE Healthcare.

Medical Communications Agencies-these provide marketing and public relations support to pharmaceutical and medical device companies, targeting both health care professionals and consumers. Some medical communications agencies are Pascale Communications (, Rete Biomedical (, and Complete Healthcare Communications Inc. (

Other organizations that hire medical writers (and which do not need an explanation) are:

  • Associations
  • Clinical practices
  • Foundations
  • Medical publishers
  • Medical schools
  • Patient advocacy groups
  • Government (all levels)
All the best finding your dream job!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Freelancers - How to Make More Money from Clients You Already Have

By Yuwanda Black (Guest Blogger)

Upselling is a skill that most freelancers don't use nearly enough. What exactly is upselling? Simply put, selling a client another, usually closely related product, after you've made an initial sale.

For example, if you complete a brochure for a client, you might pitch them on adding it to their website, in the form of web copy.

When most small business owners outside of the publishing/advertising/communications realm first start to use freelance writers, they have no idea how they can grow their business.

So, it's up to you, the freelance writer (graphic designer, web designer, illustrator) to let them know. All that being said, how do you upsell a client? Following are 3 things I've found that work well for me:

1. Make it a Habit: Most freelancers will finish a project, turn it and say something to the effect of, "Keep me in mind for all your freelance writing needs."

This is not upselling! To effectively upsell, you need to make it a habit, and this means having procedures in place so that you don't forget. A good way to do this is a Project Follow-up Calendar.

What is a Project Follow-up Calendar? It lists specific actions that you take each time you turn a project in. For example, if you vow make three follow-up actions every time you turn a project in, it might look something like this:

2/12: Turn Project in

2/19: Follow up Action #1: Call to make sure all was well with project turned in last week and ask about brochure* I sent along with project. Depending on answer to this, do the following:

2/26: Follow up Action #2: Do follow-up on brochure I re-sent after last week's call

3/5: Follow up Action #3: Touch base to see if they want to move ahead with e-book we discussed last week

*Do a brochure that lists all of your services - and include it with every project you turn in. A week or so after you turn the project in, follow up and ask if they've had a chance to look over the brochure with the other services you offer. If they say no, offer to follow up again in another week or so. [Follow the actions outlined in your project follow-up calendar].

2. Get Specific to Their Business: While including a brochure listing all the services you offer is a great idea, one that works even better in my opinion is to get specific to their business.

Eg, I noticed an article on your website about the benefits of Flood Insurance. Have you ever thought about making this a direct mail piece and/or or a full-fledged e-book detail the pros and cons of this type of insurance?

Research has shown that the more serious prospects are about buying a product, the more information they want about it. Having an e-book and/or mailer done about this can dramatically increase sales.

A 7-page e-book on the above can be completed within a week. It can be a wonderful promotional tool for homeownership seminars, networking conferences, stand-alone giveaways, etc.

I'll follow up in the next three days about this, after you've looked over this project. This type of follow up shows clients that you: i) have researched their business; and ii) are proactive in thinking of ways to help them grow it.

Did you know? NOTHING can happen with a contact unless you stay in touch. Waiting for them to call you is a crap shoot. They may meet another freelancer who does stay in touch, or lose your card, or forget your website.

3. Stay in Contact: Most freelancers - in fact, most small business owners - fall on their sword here.

To repeat, NOTHING can happen with a contact unless you stay in touch. Waiting for them to call you is a crap shoot. They may meet another freelancer who does stay in touch, or lose your card, or forget your website.

The onus is upon you to stay in touch because when someone needs a writer (graphic designer, illustrator, web designer, etc.), you want to be among the first they think of.

Yuwanda Black is the publisher of THE business portal for and about the editorial and creative industries. First-hand freelance success stories, e-courses, job postings, resume tips, advice on the business of freelancing, and more! Commercial Freelance Writing Seminar: Learn how to launch a successful freelance writing career via this informative, one-day seminar. Log on to for full details. Article Source.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Freelance Rates: How much should I charge?

New freelance writers often ask how much they should charge for a particular medical writing project. There is no definitive answer to that: some freelancers charge per hour, others charge per word, and still others charge per project.

I have met medical writers who never charge a flat fee, no matter the project--they think in terms of how much is their time worth. Other writers, however, prefer not to tally hours, but instead put a fixed price on a project--is their decision how many hours to invest in the project.

I believe that the method you choose must depend on your skills, your speed as a writer, and your work habits.

“A slow writer may have a low hourly rate, which would appeal to a client until they get the bill. A faster writer may operate at a premium rate but complete the task in half the time, making him or her cheaper and quicker, which is why you need to talk in terms of the bottom line—the overall cost of the project and the overall benefits to the client.” (Michael Meanwell, The Wealthy Writer, Writer's Digest Books)

Medical writing hourly rates can be as low as $30 and as high as $180, depending on the type of client, the type of work and the duration of the project. For instance, a Big Pharma company would pay more per project than a small company.

But in most cases, clients already have a figure in mind about how much the project costs. With experience, you'll learn how to approach each type of client and assignment and then charge accordingly.

If you want to get an idea of how much to charge for a specific project, consult chapter 18 of Becoming a Medical Writer or look at some rates in the Writer's Market. You may also ask fellow medical writers how much they would charge for that particular project.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Doctor-Writer

A number of fiction books I've read recently are by lawyers-turned-into-novelists. This leads me to the non-scientific and subject-biased conclusion that it is common for lawyers to become fiction writers (not that there is much difference with legal writing--the fictional part, that is). I'll call this the lawyer-writer syndrome.

Now, there is another condition known as the doctor-writer syndrome very prevalent among medical writers. In these cases, being a physician is a great advantage for reasons I explain in Physician Career Change and Physician Career Expansion.

Some doctors are even able to go beyond the corporate careers in medical writing and become expert authors themselves--for example, writing books on current health topics for major publishers.

If you are interested in this path, there is a nice little piece of advice on David Hellerstein's site.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, May 25, 2007

What To Write In Newsletters And Trade Journals

By Naomi Hulbert (Guest Blogger)

So you’ve been given the job of coming up with stories for your company’s trade journal or newsletter. What do you write about?

The general aim of a trade journal is to provide customers and potential customers with information and entertainment that increases the integrity of your business (through the sharing of knowledge), and boosts your brand (by positioning you as an expert in your industry).

There are several types of stories you can follow in a trade journal:


Have you received positive feedback from a customer recently? Let’s say the customer purchased your product and wrote you a ‘thank you’ email to the effect that the installation was very straightforward and the product was improving performance in their company.

Approach the person and ask whether they would be willing to be featured in your next trade journal. You could tell readers the customer’s story, such as the problems they were originally facing, and why they chose your particular product to solve those problems. Then talk about the process of installation, and the positive differences that this has since made to the company and to the customer personally.

New innovations

Has your company developed or introduced a new product or service? You could write a short story about industry innovation, and how your company is solving problems for its customers with innovation.


Does your company have some form of expertise that it could share? Write a ‘how to’ article for your trade journal. These types of stories add value to your customers, and you don’t need to be selling anything in particular because the goal is to increase the level of goodwill towards you, and position you as an industry expert to be remembered when next your readers require a service you offer.

Industry news & updates

Has anything of significance occurred recently in your industry? You may wish to write about this event or occurrence.

The key when you write about news or events in trade journals is to remember to make it personal for your readers. For example, say you recently attended a global industry conference. Big deal, why should your readers care? But if an agreement was made at the conference that would ultimately drop retail prices, or somehow solve a consumer problem, that would be of interest to your readers.

Strategic directions

Give your customers a sneak preview of new directions being taken in your industry. Tell them where product or service development is heading, why, and (most importantly) how it will positively impact them.

In this type of story, it is relatively easy to introduce some of your own products or services as examples of this new direction. It not only subtly advertises what you have to sell, but also positions you as a thought-leader at the forefront of your industry.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Author Naomi Hulbert is founder and managing director of Urashima Writing Services, an Australian company that provides writing, editing, translation and training services to clients in the corporate sector. Naomi is an experienced journalist, author, radio broadcaster, ghost writer, corporate writer and educational writer, and teaches at the majority of Urashima's writing workshops. Article Source here.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Medical Writing in Australia

I was recently giving away a report from an Aussie author and later wondered whether my American readers would "realise" that or would start complaining about the "s" in realize...

I guess they'll figure it out.

Anyway, my interest in medical writing issues around the world led me to "The unofficial, non-AMA Style Guide to the light-hearted use of Australian vernacular in Medical Writing."

Read it. You may get a chuckle out of it.

Apart from "the kangaroos in the top paddock," medical writing seems to be also thriving down under. I was surprised to see that almost 30% of the listings under Health & Fitness periodicals in the Writer's Market Online were Australian magazines.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Health Insurance for Freelance Writers

One of the most common questions every new freelance writer asks is, how am I going to get health insurance without an employer?

The best answer yet is: get coverage from your working spouse.

Of course, that doesn't work for everybody. Then you'll have to get a private policy, which can be expensive. On the other hand, you can deduct the premiums from your taxes if you file as self-employed.

In recent years, an alternative has surfaced from professional writers organizations, which offer their members discounted health plans through private companies. Two of these organizations are the National Writers Union (NWU) and the National Association of Science Writers (NASW).

AMWA does not offer these benefits, especially because of the difficulty of finding one company able to cover members in different states. For instance, NASW's Group Health Insurance is available in some states, not all of them.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Medical Writing Workshops

I've come across three upcoming workshops that may interest you. Just follow the links for more information.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Technical Writing in India

By Nithya K (Guest blogger)

Technical Writing generally translates to a piece of writing that conjures up an image in the mind of a layman about any device or software application.

In other words, the job profile of a technical writer involves writing and designing user guides, brochures and white papers for a plethora of products.

Though these procedures are not new, their categorisation under the term “Technical Writing” is quite recent. The latest entrant in the software field is not a whiz kid from IIT, but might be a journalist or an English literature graduate. This option is here to stay, what with India slowly accepting the prospect of technical writing as a full-fledged career at par with more popular contenders.

Now, the Indian technical writing scenario would seem very bleak for an onlooker who doesn’t delve deeper into the layers. This field was practically unknown till the 1990s. Tata Consultancy Services was a pioneer in creating a need for the current crop of technical wordsmiths.

Over a decade old, this profession does not have many takers, but does boast of a strong following in the various metros. In Bangalore the number is believed to be 500-600. Even by an optimistic view, the number of technical writers across the nation would be approximately 6000. These statistics prove that, corporate bosses and the software industry as a whole recognized the need for a specialized documentation team very lately.

The technical writing job has long come out of the confines of being a strict documentation-related activity. In some organisations, technical writers are asked to pitch in for test case development, product testing, creating API code, creating java documentation etc.

More recently, a technical writer has grown to don the garb of a graphic designer, web-content developer etc. Since a technical background is not a prerequisite for a technical writer, many writers foray into the field even with a Humanities background.

The one and only criterion, going by the current Indian standards, would be a firm grasp over the Queen’s language and a strong analytical mind. The prevalent need, is however to meet International standards in English usage. US companies recognise the need for a trained technical writer and that adds to the hiring and training impetus for technical documentators.

The US provides a lot of scope and opportunities for training and specialized study of the subject. In comparison, Indian universities shy away from offering unconventional and lesser-known courses aka Technical writing. The technical writers, who already exist in the industry having created a golden niche, are fast emerging as the “trainers” for this career option. Some of the Indian universities like the Calicut University and the Mumbai University have woken up to this profession and have included the subject in their curricula.

This trend, may give the Technical Writing profession the impetus it requires. The final recruiters, Corporates, MNCs need to step in boldly to hire and provide customized training to fresh technical writers.

This might beckon the golden dawn for Technical Writing in India!

Nithya K is a India-based writer who specializes in writing fiction and has tremendous interest in writing non-fiction related to science, technology and other genre. She is also experienced in creating technical documentation. Basically a BE graduate with an MBA degree, her main focus is still writing. Nithya is also interested in Ghost writing of books and articles in the areas of business writing, technical writing, science and technology writing and fiction. She can be contacted at and also invites readers to visit her webpage. See article source here.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Medical Writing in India

After noticing that many visitors to my sites came from India, I decided to do some research about it. I was wondering why medical writing is so popular in India. I found an article online that provided some insights:

"India has a pool of qualified, talented and experienced medical scientists. India, each year, produces approximately three million graduates, 700,000 post-graduates and 1500 PhDs in the scientific stream. This includes around 18,000 medical graduates passing out from 200 medical schools. Many Indian professionals have thorough knowledge of good clinical practices, drug development, experience with basic and clinical sciences and good writing skills. Many of them also possess industry experience and consequently know how to put together reports and analyze safety data.

"Further, English is the primary language of these professionals and they can communicate and produce good quality, scientific documents just like their American and British counterparts. An interesting fact is that according to some estimates, 15% of the scientific population of pharma and biotech companies in US is of Indian origin.

"Further, due to cost advantages and competitiveness, India is being considered as a destination for medical writing and other CRO services that are needed for the growth of the biopharma segment. Indian professionals have already made their mark in Information Technology and Medical Tourism and now the world is looking at us to be a partner in Clinical Research and Medical Writing."

Interesting. I'll keep you posted of any other information I may find.

Becoming a Non-native English-Speaking Freelance Medical Writer

Check out this article from the European Medical Writers Association (EMWA). Being a non-native English speaker, I found this experience very interesting. It not only deals with language but with many of the issues that new medical writers face when launching their careers.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Are You Carrying Buckets?

By Yanik Silver (Guest blogger)

I let my personal trainer, Jeff, borrow a copy of "Rich Dad Poor Dad" by Robert Kiyosaki. A few weeks later during our workout session he blurts out, "You know what -- I'm carrying buckets!"

"Huh?" I replied.

Jeff reminded me in the "Rich Dad" book Kiyosaki gives the example of someone carrying buckets to supply a town with a water and another person building a water pipe line to carry the water. It took longer for the pipeline to be built but once it was done - the money would continue to come in with or without him.

What are you doing?

Sadly most people are carrying buckets. They are getting paid based on the hours they work. Even if you are a highly paid surgeon or attorney your income is still limited by the hours you can work. Everybody has been taught to think the harder you work the more money you make. What if that's completely wrong? What if it's the smarter the work, the more money you make?

Personally, I prefer to work once and get paid over and over and over again. And there are lots of ways you can create recurring revenue for yourself. It could be via royalties from an invention, a song, or a book. It could be from network marketing. It could be from real estate. It could be dividends from investments. Or it could be from a multitude of other ways aside from the typical 9-to-5 grind.

The majority of my income day-in and day-out is a direct result of work I did 1, 2, 3...even 6+ years ago or more. For instance, if you create an information product to sell (like a report, ebook, software, video, etc) you only have to do the work once of creating it and once to write the sales letter.

Then if you set up some automatic promotion avenues like an affiliate program or autoresponder messages - you can continue to get paid for that product indefinitely. One of biggest income streams is a product I created 5 years ago and still makes me a nice six-figure income each year.

Frankly, I couldn't turn off my recurring revenue streams right now if I tried. That's because much of what I've created has fed on itself. One product refers people to another. Our affiliate network (over 35,000) refer people to our sites. Some of our sites cross-promote our other sites, etc. etc.

When you keep working on activities that have recurring value you'll create a momentum that's tough to stop. But the truth is -- it IS hard work in the beginning. It's like a rocket taking off in which it burns most of its fuel on lift off.

You need to put in the hours and effort upfront and then you can ease off the throttle. But if you don't put in the extra effort upfront you'll never achieve lift off and get that momentum you need.

The more you think about doing the work once and being paid multiple times the more creative your mind will become. Ask yourself the right questions and you'll get the right answers.

In fact, even this article, if I'm lucky, will become a recurring income producing activity. I wrote this material
once and the publicity from it will hopefully get a few people to my websites and into my marketing funnel.

Now of course, I'm not saying that every activity I do each day is highly leveraged because I still do some "dumb
stuff" like checking email or filling out tax forms. But I'm working on outsourcing as much as I can and focusing
just on income producing activities (just like you should). (c) Surefire Marketing, Inc.

Yanik Silver is recognized as the leading expert on creating automatic, moneymaking websites...and he still doesn't know how to put up a website. He is the author, co-author or creator of several best-selling online marketing books and tools, including his newest resource for "not carrying buckets" -

Friday, April 27, 2007

A 4-hour Workweek?

It's hard to believe that someone can work only 4 hours a week and be rich. But Timothy Ferriss, the author of The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich says it is possible. In fact, he does it.

I was in a conference call with Mr. Ferriss and Yanik Silver last night and have to admit that I'm really impressed. Ferris is not promoting a "get rich quick scheme" or anything like that. Instead, Ferriss advocates for a lifestyle design. In other words, your work has to serve your ideal lifestyle, not the other way around.

Some of the tips Ferriss offers in his book are very cool:
He even shows in his book how to get housing and airfares around the world at 50%-80% off.

You must read this book and implement some of his ideas: you'll see a great difference in your workstyle right away. Click here to read more about The 4-hour workweek.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Physician Career Expansion

In the past, I have talked about medical writing as an option for physicians looking for a career change. However, physicians do not necessarily have to leave their practices to become medical writers. They just need to expand their careers.

I learned the concept of career expansion from Francine Gaillour, a career and executive coach for physicians, who founded the Daring Doctors.

In an audio interview with me, Dr. Gaillour explains the concept of career expansion, the things physicians can do to expand their careers (not only medical writing), how to create an "expansion plan," and more.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Contract Research Organizations (CROs)

Contract Research Organizations (CROs) are independent contractors that offer their services to pharmaceutical companies, including medical writing—usually the preparation of regulatory documents, and clinical trial protocols.

Many biotech and pharma companies are now outsourcing all their medical writing instead of doing it in-house. See for example this news article about the giant Pharma company, Pfizer:

"All of Pfizer's data management is now outsourced, along with many other related functions such as data entry, monitoring, statistics and medical writing, said Thomas Verish, Pfizer's senior director of Development Operations, revealed at the recent Drug Information Association conference in Vienna."

No wonder CROs are hiring so many medical writers. If you are just launching your medical writing career, a CRO is a good place to start. There you can be exposed to different types of writing and obtain valuable experience.

See a list of CROs here.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

How To Become A Full-Time Grantwriter

By Katie Krueger (Guest blogger)

Most people learn grant writing accidentally; their employer needs funding and there is no one else to tackle the grant applications. This learning involves a lot of trial and error – mostly error in the beginning. Get a head start and teach yourself grant writing. By taking the steps below, I went from knowing nothing about grant writing to becoming a full-time grant writer.

Improve Your Writing Skills

Grant writing will be easier if you already enjoy writing, but that doesn’t guarantee you will good at this form of writing. You must be able to write persuasively and in a detailed, yet concise, manner. If you are not confident in your writing skills, take a writing course at your local community college or online.

Research the Craft of Grant Writing

Read as many “How To” grant writing books as your brain can hold. The two books that I found to be the most helpful are Grant Writing for Dummies by Bev Browning and Writing for a Good Cause by Joseph Barbato and Danielle Furlich.

You can find all the books, grant listings and information you need at your nearest Grant Information Center, which is a free funding information center provided by the Foundation Center. Find the closest Cooperative Collection in your State at visit the Foundation Center’s website.

If, after reading several books, they all start to sound the same - this is good! It means the grant writing process is getting etched in your mind.

Read Grants

Get ahold of some grants from friends, colleagues or a quick Google search. There are successful sample proposals available online at School Grants.

Read these and take notes on the similarities: what kind of writing is effective in presenting a clear project? What makes the Objectives section work? What elements of an Evaluation section have you believing in the project’s success, which cause doubt? Which budgets would you give your money to?

Have you noticed a feeling that you are reading the same thing repeatedly? That is because most grant applications ask the same fundamental questions, just in a different order or with a focus specific to their group’s mission. Become familiar with this application and understand the best way to address each section. Check out a common application forms available here.

Volunteer To Write Grants

There is no shortage of under funded non-profits strapped for cash and time that would love you to write and research grants for them, despite your utter lack of experience. Ask everyone in your social, professional, and family networks if they know of an organization fitting that description.

Bring to this position the knowledge you have amassed from your reading and a strong desire to learn and help. If you start to feel like an indentured servant, remind yourself that the experience you are gaining is the reward. Meanwhile, do your best work and keep track of what grants you research, identify, and write. These are all the first seeds to plant in your grant-writing portfolio.

Find a Good Editor

Find a strong writer (preferably someone with experience writing grants) to look over your work and offer honest feedback. The Executive Director, Director of Programs or even a friend will do. You do not have to always follow their advice, but begin to look for patterns. Do your objectives always score high marks while your evaluation plans confuse people? Focus on improving the areas that constantly come up as needing improvement.

Apply for Grant Writing Jobs

When you have succeeded in researching and writing grants that have been funded - you have arrived! Now go out and apply for full-time grant writing jobs. List your volunteer experience under relevant work experience and highlight not only the grants you wrote, but also the research and planning that you did.

Be sure to quantify your success – this is a skill needed in writing grants. Plus, if you can quantify your own success, any employer will be confident that you can quantify theirs.


You are well on your way to becoming a full-time grant writer, leaving only one thing left to do. Start at your printer and time exactly how long it takes you to get to Fed Ex. This information will be very handy in future deadline planning!

You can find grant writer job listings on

Katie Krueger is the editor of Find Funding, a FREE Grant Writing Newsletter. Subscribe online at Article Source.