Monday, June 30, 2008

Medical Writing: Best Web sites for your Online Research

Internet is a good research tool even for your writing projects. However, never start with a search engine--you might get a lot of bad information.

Instead , start with a source that you know provides reliable information and which can direct you to other reliable sources of information. For example:
  • The National Library of Medicine’s Medline Plus is one of the best places to begin a search about health matters.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the lead federal agency for protecting the health and safety of people–at home and abroad. Its Web site provides a wealth of information about health, travel, the environment and disease prevention.
  • The National Institutes of Health is the steward of medical and behavioral research for the US. A great deal of information on health issues can be found at as well as at the Web sites of the 27 Institutes and Centers,
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) is the United Nations agency for health. A global perspective on many health issues may be found there.
  • American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) covers a wide range of information about children’s health.
  • Tufts University Child & Family WebGuide was developed by a group of faculty to create an evaluation instrument for information about children. The site is divided into various categories of information: family/parenting, education/learning, typical child development, health/mental health, resources/recreation and medical pages.
Do you have a Web site to recommend? Let me know!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Health Writing Guide

I've received some emails and calls from people interested in my medical writing courses, but who want new alternatives. For instance, some writers in Asia tell me they want to take the courses but can't afford them. Other writers in the US say they want the information in the courses but do not want to complete the assignments or even need a certificate.

Well, that prompted me to create the Health Writing Guide, a new ebook that condenses the information in the two courses, Epidemiology and Biostatistics for Medical Writers and the Consumer Health Writing Course.

While the online courses include assignments, email support and feedback, a certificate of completion (plus other bonuses like the Becoming a Medical Writer ebook), the Health Writing Guide is a stand-alone product with none of those add-ons. But it is far more affordable than the courses--in fact, my friends think I'm crazy for giving this away so cheap. You tell me. Just check it out.

Monday, June 23, 2008

AMWA Annual Conference

AMWA put together a nice fact sheet titled "What’s at the Annual Conference for Me?"

If you haven't decided whether to attend or not this Fall, maybe the fact sheet is what you need to finally make a decision.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Directory of Science Communication Courses and Programs

I just became aware of this site through the AMWA newsletter. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Medical Writing Job Openings

A recruiter contacted me about her need of medical writers for clients in NJ, Manhattan and Ohio. You must have an Advanced Science degree (MD, Ph.D or Pharm.D preferred) and some experience writing for professional audiences. Some of the programs/projects would be CME accredited. These are full-time, permanent positions that require one to be on-site.

If interested contact, or call 610-438-1440.

Monday, June 16, 2008

10 Secrets to Becoming a Speaking Superstar

By Darryl Mobley (Guest blogger)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to meet and work with an emerging speaker during an event in Las Vegas. That dynamic speaker was Kevin Bracy. In the years since, Kevin has taken his speaking career to incredible heights. Given his success and my insatiable desire to get the "secrets" to succeeding in so many areas, I asked him for his top 10 secrets to becoming a speaking superstar.

Before I reveal the 10 Secrets, let me tell you that up-shifting your ability to share ideas verbally will help you grow your business --- no matter what business you are in. With that said, here are the 10 Secrets, gifted to us by Kevin Bracy:

10 Secrets To Becoming A Speaking Superstar

Be warned that once you take ownership of these tips your phone could start ringing with people requesting your speaking services.

10) Speak As Often As You Can

I suggest speaking as often as you can whenever and wherever the opportunity arises, the more you speak, the more comfortable and confident you become. There will still be fear. The butterflies never go away. However, I have learned, as will you - to have those butterflies flying in formation. The more you do it the better you become.

9) Record Everything

Every time you step in front of an audience make sure you record it. Why? Because: While speaking you think you know what you're saying. However, when you listen back and study it, that is when you get to hear the power your speech had or did not have on your audience. For product purposes, there are times when you deliver a powerful message and the listeners want to re-listen to it or hear it for the first time. If it's not recorded then that "moment of power" within that particular speech cannot be re-birthed.

8) Live Life With Your Antennas Up

Pay attention to those "slices of life" that you can craft into stories that can be of value to an audience. Be a true student of life! I get the best stories from having my antennas up in the airport. One of my new coaching clients recently asked me where I get the material I use in my talks. My answer: living life with my antennas up!

7) Record Everything

Hey! Wasn't this number 9 too? Yes it was; however, in this instance when I say "record" I mean "writing." Most of life's lessons you learn on a daily basis. You will forget them unless you record them. Just having an archive of stories and lessons gives you speaking power that will surpass your fear.

Comment: I record my insights in my specially designed "Create A Life Worth Living" Journal.

6) Read

Decide to develop a love affair with uplifting and empowering books and magazines (such as "How To Create A Life Worth Living"). Reading helps you raise the opinion you have of yourself. When you feel better about yourself it shows in your physiology when you speak and in how you deliver your words. This all adds to your speaking power.

5) Listen

Listen to audio of motivational speakers and preachers as much as you can. Simply listening to audios helps you override the negative conversations you have with yourself. This will add to your self-image, which will allow you to speak with more power and passion. Les Brown says he was "self-taught" as a professional speaker. Well, I was "tape taught" through his tapes while I drove about my city.

4) Watch

Order DVDs of speakers, and watch them over and over again. You will not be able to help but adopt some of the mannerisms and gestures that the successful speakers use to tap into their speaking power. It's important to spend time inside of the energy orbit of speakers. Watch the tactics they use to impact audiences in a live setting.

3) Join Toastmasters

Toastmasters is a organization that stretches across the globe allowing professionals to get together to develop their communication skills. This is where I began speaking to tap into my speaking power and is a great place to start for anyone who is ready to learn how to speak with power and passion.

2) Invest In Yourself

Invest in the tools, programs, and literature that will help you develop yourself as a speaker. You are well worth the investment.

1) Connect With A Coach

A coach can show you things on the horizon that you didn't even know existed. It's tough to see the whole picture, when you are in the frame. Your coach can watch you from a distance and immediately tell whether you're speaking from that place of power within you, or not. My coaches have truly been my "meal tickets" for this business.

Remember --- You DO Deserve To Live A Great Life.

© 2008 Darryl L. Mobley: For nearly 25 years, super-achievers have praised "Life Acceleration Coach" Darryl Mobley. Darryl Mobley, publisher of the weekly How To Create A Life Worth Living™ eMagazine, business-building consultant, speaker, and top-selling author of books and audio/video programs, is brilliant when it comes to the strategies and action steps that lead to living a better life. Darryl is also known as the, "Bull Dog of Work-Life Balance". Darryl Mobley teaches people How To Create The Life Of Their Dreams - personally and professionally - with more happiness, more income, better relationships and more success with his How To Create A Life Worth Living™ system. To get FREE tips on "Living a Life Fantastic" go to For more on, Darryl go to
Article source here.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father's Day

This weekend is father's day here in the US and I'm the proud father of two boys (right). So I'm ready to celebrate.

Back on my birthday in April, I made a special offer that some of you liked a lot--I offered my ebook "Becoming a Medical Writer: How to launch a successful career writing about medicine and health" with a 30% discount off the regular price just for my birthday.

I'm going to do something similar this weekend. You can get the ebook and all the bonuses 20% off the regular price. Let's call it the Father's Day Weekend Special. The link won't work after June 15, 2008.

Happy father's day to all the dads!

Growing Your Medical Writing Business

This week I was again thinking about the future of my career. I've always dreamed of becoming a novelist but the what-if-you-don't-get-published fear has kept me from dedicating more time to fiction writing. So I though, "Well then, what's next for my career?"

One of the ideas I came up with was to become a health risk communication consultant. After all, I've been giving more talks and writing a lot about the topic. So in my search for the basics of setting up a consulting business I came across this wonderful book, How to Position Yourself As the Obvious Expert: Turbocharge Your Consulting or Coaching Business Now!

The thesis of the author is very simple but compelling. The only way to grow your consulting (or any type of) business is to become the obvious expert. Instead of you looking for clients, they should come looking for you. The book outlines several strategies to become the obvious expert in your area, such as writing a book on the topic, publish a newsletter, defining an unique selling proposition and more.

Then it struck me how right he was. I hear all the time about freelance medical writers who struggle to get more and better clients. They list their names in freelance directories, they make tons of phone calls and even hand out glossy brochures, but nothing happens.

You know, I do nothing like that, but I get unsolicited job offers all the time (at least one per week) because I have become an obvious expert in medical writing (thanks to my ebook, this blog, and some of my other medical writing Web sites). I usually ignore or turn down those offers because I love my current job and do well enough. But I think about those struggling freelance or unemployed medical writers.

Are you one of them? Perhaps it is time you start doing the right things to be recognized as an expert. Publish in magazines and trade journals--get your name out there. Speak at conferences and workshops--no matter how big or small the audience. Network with the right people as often as you can. Read the book I mentioned above.

I'm sure you can build a successful medical writing career. So keep moving forward.

P.S. I finally decided that I'm more passionate about fiction writing than risk communication, so I'll just have to face my fear.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Press Release: Do Vaccines Cause Autism, Asthma, and Diabetes?

Do Vaccines Cause Autism, Asthma, and Diabetes?

New Book Helps Parents Weigh the Evidence

June 11, 2008

Diana Olson - 703 299 0201

Almost 70% of parents who refuse to vaccinate their children do so because they believe vaccines may cause harm. Indeed vaccines have been blamed for causing asthma, autism, diabetes, and many other conditions--most of which have causes that are incompletely understood. Some parents believe that vaccines can “overwhelm the immune system.

To respond to these concerns about vaccine safety, the National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) writing team of Martin G. Myers, MD, and Diego Pineda have written a book titled, Do Vaccines Cause That?! A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Safety Concerns.

“The authors of this volume have recognized the absolute need to provide parents with clearly understandable, science-based information about vaccines, immunization, and vaccine safety,” write Samuel Katz, MD, of Duke University and Louis Sullivan, MD, of Morehouse School of Medicine, in the Foreword to the book.

This 272-page book is divided in two sections. The first section tells parents how best to weigh and evaluate what they read or hear about vaccine safety, emphasizing how scientists determine whether a vaccine actually causes a specific effect. The second section deals specifically with vaccine safety concerns such as asthma, autism, and autoimmune diseases, among others. The overall theme is to help parents arrive at conclusions based on science.

Dr. Myers is an internationally recognized vaccine expert and former director of the National Vaccine Program Office. He is presently a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB). Mr. Pineda has been NNii’s science writer since 2004.

Do Vaccines Cause That?! is available for $14.95 at and, where the electronic version is also available for just $12.95.

Do Vaccines Cause That?! A Guide for Evaluating Vaccine Safety Concerns by Martin G. Myers, M.D., and Diego Pineda, M.S. Original edition. 5.5 x 8.5, 272 pages, 12 illustrations. ISBN 978-0-9769027-1-3. $14.95. See our pressroom room for a 300 dpi TIF of the cover.

The National Network for Immunization Information (NNii) provides up-to-date, science based information about immunizations to health professionals, the public, policymakers, and the media. NNii is based at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and is affiliated with the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Society for Adolescent Medicine and the American Medical Association.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Epidemiology Blog

You may know about my usual mantra that every medical writer should be qualified in epidemiology and biostatistics. Well, I found this great epidemiology blog, EpiWonk, that you may want to check out.

The blogger is a now retired epidemiologist who "worked for more than 30 years as a professor in medical schools and schools of public health and as a senior epidemiologist at the CDC. " Other reason I like it is that he often blogs about a topic of interest to me--vaccines.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Medical Writer's Responsibility

I've been busy these days spreading the word about my new book on vaccine safety. This is a very important issue. It's not just about medical writing or freelancing. This is about the health of our children.

Watching the news these days about all the misinformation spread by Hollywood celebrities about the safety of vaccines, I am convinced that my job as a medical writer is more important than ever. The things we write are not for mere entertaining or information. They may improve (or worsen) the health of somebody. Think about it. If you are not a responsible medical writer, your reader may make a bad health decision based on what you wrote.

So do your homework. Get the facts right. Follow what the science says and not an agenda. Be a responsible medical writer.

P.S. Check out this review of the book from an autism blogger.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grants 101: Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop

The Grant Institute's Grants 101: Professional Grant Proposal Writing Workshop will be held Seattle, Washington, June 18 - 20, 2008.

All participants will receive certification in professional grant writing from the Institute. For more information call (888) 824 - 4424 (213-817-5308 outside US) or visit The Grant Institute at

Seattle, Washington

June 18 - 20, 2008

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.

Grants 101 consists of three (3) courses that will be completed during the three-day workshop.

(1) Fundamentals of Program Planning

This course is centered on the belief that "it's all about the program." This intensive course will teach professional program development essentials and program evaluation. While most grant writing "workshops" treat program development and evaluation as separate from the writing of a proposal, this class will teach students the relationship between overall program planning and grant writing.

(2) Professional Grant Writing

Designed for both the novice and experienced grant writer, this course will make each student an overall proposal writing specialist. In addition to teaching the basic components of a grant proposal, successful approaches, and the do's and don'ts of grant writing, this course is infused with expert principles that will lead to a mastery of the process. Strategy resides at the forefront of this course's intent to illustrate grant writing as an integrated, multidimensional, and dynamic endeavor. Each student will learn to stop writing the grant and to start writing the story. Ultimately, this class will illustrate how each component of the grant proposal represents an opportunity to use proven techniques for generating support.

(3) Grant Research

At its foundation, this course will address the basics of foundation, corporation, and government grant research. However, this course will teach a strategic funding research approach that encourages students to see research not as something they do before they write a proposal, but as an integrated part of the grant seeking process. Students will be exposed to online and database research tools, as well as publications and directories that contain information about foundation, corporation, and government grant opportunities. Focusing on funding sources and basic social science research, this course teaches students how to use research as part of a strategic grant acquisition effort.


$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

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Reporting the Findings of Clinical Trials

Check out this paper in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, describing an initiative to make clinical trial data reporting more transparent.

Monday, June 2, 2008

How to set and get the fees you deserve

By Robert W. Bly (Guest blogger)

One of the toughest questions beginning and experienced writers wrestle with is: "How much should charge?"

So, how much should I charge?

The amount of money you charge and how you present this fee to your potential client plays a big role in determining whether you make the sale and get the project.

Charge too little, and you diminish your prestige and importance in the eyes of your client. You also diminish the perceived value of your services and dramatically reduce your own earnings.

On the other hand, charge too much and you may price yourself out of the market, losing out on jobs to other writers who charge less.

Here are four factors to consider when determining what to charge the client:

Determining your status

Are you a beginner or an old pro? Are you well known in your field and highly recommended ... or are you still waiting to be discovered by the masses? Are you a novice, learning your craft as you go, or are you truly a master at what you do?

And do you just think you're good ... or do you have the client list, testimonials, referrals, and track record to back up the big fees you want to charge?

Because of their status, experienced writers generally can command higher fees than beginners. But ability is even more important, so a highly talented novice is worth more to clients than a hack, no matter how long the hack has bee working.

Still, as a rule, those who are less experienced set their fee at the lower end of the scale; old pros, at the higher end.

But be careful about underpricing yourself. Beginners hay a tendency to set their fees at the absolute bottom of the scale, reasoning that they do not have the experience or credentials to justify higher rates. I used this strategy myself when starting out because I felt most comfortable with it.

However, clients will probably take you more seriously it you put your fees in the range of medium to medium-high. have found that the less a client pays for a job, the less he o she respects the work and the person who produced it.

The going rates for your type of writing

Unless you are the #1 authority in your writing specialty, or the most in-demand freelancer in town, your rates will have to be somewhat reflective of what the standard rates are for the types of assignments you handle. And even if you are the leading authority, there's still an upper limit to what most clients can afford or are willing to pay you.

In some areas of writing, such as magazine writing, pricing is fairly standard. Magazine editors typically set standard article fees based on what they pay their other writers.

On the other hand, many writing assignments have no such standards, and their fees, as one professional put it, are all over the lot."

For example, in direct mail copywriting, fees for writing a mailing can range from $300 to $20,000 and sometimes higher!

The variation in fees in many writing specialties is tremendous. However, by talking with a few prospects, you quickly get a sense of the upper and lower limits you can charge.

The competition

Call some of your competitors and ask them what they are charging. Many will gladly tell you. If not, you still need to get this information, so it's acceptable to do so undercover. Call or have a friend call a few of your competitors. Describe a typical project, and get a cost estimate. See if they have a published fee schedule or price list, and ask them to send a copy.

Finding out the competition's fees is a real help in closing sales. You learn just where to price yourself in relation to other writers handling similar projects.

You'll also benefit by asking your competitors to send you their brochures and other sales materials. By reviewing these materials, you can learn much about their sales and marketing approach.

Your current need for work

How much do you need the work and the income? In some situations, when cash flow is slow, you may feel financial pressure to get the work. At other times, you may not need the money but, psychologically, you need to close the deal to feel successful and good about yourself.

Your need to get the work should not really be a consideration in setting your fees. But, practically speaking, it is for most of us.

Ideally, you should negotiate each project as if you don't really need or want the assignment. But when you're hungry, or just starting out, this isn't always possible or even wise.

Sometimes, you need the ego boost that comes with landing a project or being busy with work. For the writer, "psychic" wages can sometimes be as important as the green, folding kind.

Bob Bly is the author of 40 books including the just-published Secrets of a Freelance Writer: Revised Second Edition (Henry Holt & Co.). For a free catalog of Bob's books, tapes, and reports for writers, contact. Bob Bly, 22 E. Quackenbush Avenue, Dumont, NJ 07628, phone 201-385-1220, fax 201-385-1138, e-mail