Tag Archives: books

AHCJ board members speak at World Conference of Science Journalists #WCSJ2019

AHCJ board president Ivan Oransky, M.D., spoke on a panel about "Reporting on scientific fraud around the world" at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 2.

Len Bruzzese/AHCJAHCJ board president Ivan Oransky, M.D., spoke on a panel about “Reporting on scientific fraud around the world” at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 2.

Ivan Oransky, M.D., president of AHCJ’s board of directors, and Maryn McKenna, an AHCJ board member, were among the speakers at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Lausanne, Switzerland, on July 2.

Oransky, who is vice president, editorial at Medscape and Distinguished Writer In Residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, spoke about reporting on scientific fraud, something he regularly covers for Retraction Watch. Continue reading

Freelancers weigh in on what it takes to successfully write a book at #AHCJ17

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJFreelance journalists take notes during a panel that focused on writing books.

“Can you afford to write a book?”

This question keeps many journalists awake at night. It also served as the title for a compelling panel discussion at Health Journalism 2017.

The harsh and rewarding realities of taking on a book project – from the original moment of inspiration to the promotion of the final product – were explored by experts, including publishing industry veteran Amanda J. Moon. Continue reading

Sullivan, autobiography recognized with NAACP Image Award

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJ

Photo: Len Bruzzese/AHCJ

Louis W. Sullivan, who spoke to Health Journalism 2014 attendees about his just-released autobiography, has won an NAACP Image Award for the book.

Sullivan, the founding dean of the Morehouse School of Medicine – the first predominantly black medical school – served as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush from 1989-93. Continue reading

E-books may become new outlet for journalists

This is a guest post by Stephen Beale, an AHCJ member and editor of Bulldog Reporter’s Inside Health Media and news editor of Bulldog Reporter.

Interest in e-books is soaring as Kindles, Nooks and iPads fly off the shelves and readers increasingly consume content in digital formats. For journalists, the e-book marketplace also provides an intriguing new way to reach their audiences. With this in mind, the San Francisco Bay Area AHCJ chapter sponsored a panel discussion, “E-Books: New Opportunities for Health Journalists?” at the San Francisco offices of Yoga Journal on Nov. 12. About 20 people attended.

I was one of the panelists and served as moderator. Many AHCJ members know me as the editor of Bulldog Reporter’s Inside Health Media, but my background is in technology journalism, specifically the use of technology in publishing and graphic design. I figured this placed me in a good position to provide an overview of the topic, especially as it relates to self-publishing.

Joining me on the panel were Jim Azevedo, Angela Schiavone and Katrina Ramser Parrish. Azevedo and Schiavone work for Smashwords, which describes itself as the world’s largest distributor of “indie e-books.” Parrish provided a real-world perspective as the self-published author of “Fears to Fins: Overcoming Water Fears With Children.”

My own presentation covered a lot of ground, and rather than going into the details here, I’ve adapted my comments into an e-book that’s available for free download (details are below).

Some key points from the meeting:

E-books are just the latest in a long succession of media technologies that have proved to be empowering but also disruptive. Perhaps the most dramatic example is the World Wide Web, which has upended the business models that supported print media. But I think e-book publishing has the potential to be disruptive in a way that’s beneficial to journalists. It enables a new book-publishing model in which you can deal directly with online retailers and earn a 60 percent to 70 percent royalty on your sales. The tools are readily accessible – all you need is a web browser and a program capable of producing Microsoft Word documents.

As you might expect, there’s also a downside. You’ll find a lot of self-published crap out there, and this includes the health category.

Azevedo put it this way: “When people ask, ‘What’s the best thing about Smashwords?’ we say, ‘We make it fast, free and easy for any author anywhere in the world to publish and distribute a book.’ When they ask, ‘What’s the worst thing about Smashwords?’ we give them the same answer.”

Aside from having a good book, the key to success in e-book publishing boils down to marketing. The author becomes the publisher and takes responsibility for drawing attention to the book on Amazon.com and other marketplaces. No doubt, this will be a new experience for many journalists, but you can find plenty of guidance on websites and in e-books such as the free “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.”

So far, the biggest success stories in independent e-book publishing have come from the world of fiction. The most notable example is Amanda Hocking, who began self-publishing her fantasy novels in 2010 at the age of 25. Her titles proved to be popular, and a year later she signed a $2 million book deal with St. Martin’s Press.

Her story is an exception, however. Smashwords founder Mark Coker cautions that “some Smashwords authors don’t sell a single book. Some authors sell thousands of dollars’ worth of books each week. … Authors should publish their books on Smashwords not because they’ll make a lot of sales today, but as a long-term investment in their writing career.”

Ramser Parrish has worked for many years as a swimming instructor and freelance writer, so publishing an e-book on swimming “was a natural combination for me,” she told attendees. One decision that e-book authors have to make is which tasks to do themselves versus hiring outside services, and Ramser Parrish largely opted for the latter. She gave shout-outs to production consultant Damon Brown, copy editor (and AHCJ member) Heather Boerner and Jux.com, an online service that makes it relatively easy to set up a website (Editor’s note: This service no longer exists.). She published her e-book via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program.

“Marketing I did myself,” she said, though much of this has been to her existing clientele. Her book appeared in April, and sales so far have been modest but steady, she says.

My day job largely involves interviewing health journalists, including freelancers. I know from these conversations that many freelancers are struggling, and e-books seem to hold potential as a new source of business for these writers and for health journalists in general. It’s still a new category, and we’re definitely at the frontier stage. But my hope is that in future years we’ll find that e-book publishing success stories become more common not just among fiction writers, but health journalists as well.

My presentation, “E-Books: New Opportunities for Health Journalists?” is available for free download in MOBI and EPUB formats:

AHCJ member news: Books, awards and job changes

Luis Fabregas‘ new book, “A Transplant for Katy,” takes the reader behind the scenes of the transplant capital of the world, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where college student Katy Miller underwent a liver transplant. The 2005 surgery went awry, prompting a feud between Thomas Starzl, known as the father of transplantation, and administrators at the medical center. Fabregas is a reporter at the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review.

Steve Fredman‘s book, “The Troubled Health Dollar: How it Affects the Care We Receive,” has been published.

Kenny Goldberg, health reporter at KPBS, received the 2012 Inspiration Award for Media from the San Diego Chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for his coverage of suicide.

Joe Goldeen, health care reporter at The Record in Stockton, Calif., received the 2012 Media Champion Award from the Healthy San Joaquin Collaborative “in recognition of … contributions to changes that promote, support and encourage healthy choices and environments in San Joaquin County communities.”

Journalist Frederik Joelving ‏ is leaving Reuters Health to travel and do long-form journalism.

Richard L. Peck, former editor-in-chief of Long-Term Living, has written a book, “The Big Surprise,” that advises families on dealing with the long-term care system. He describes it as “a small book of readable, bite-sized blogs updated from ones I did originally for the facility search site SnapForSeniors.com.”

Maria Simbra‘s report, “Heart Attack Survivors At Risk for Developing PTSD”, has been nominated in the 2nd Annual Media & Mental Health Awards in the TV news segment category. The Media & Mental Health Awards are presented to stories that accurately report behavioral health within television, radio, print, and online media in southwestern Pennsylvania.

Jocelyn Wiener and Emily Bazar of the CHCF Center for Health Reporting received a California Journalism Award for stories they did about a lack of access to dental care for children under Medicaid in California.

Do you have news to share with your fellow journalists? Send it to info@healthjournalism.org for a future blog post.