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. www.urashima.com.au. 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 tutor19us@yahoo.com 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.