Do you have a book inside you?
As my friend Dan Poynter asks, “Do you have a book inside you?” Nurses have many stories to tell, and experience and knowledge to share. Writing a book may be just the thing for you. It was for me.
I was working in an emergency department in central Florida when I decided to take the certification exam for emergency nursing (CEN). I was certified in critical-care nursing, and I studied for that exam using a book by a nurse, Dr. Thomas Ahrens. The book was amazing. I read it in the ICU in short sections while caring for similar patients. My clinical skills improved, and I passed the CCRN.
I looked for a similar book to review in preparing for the CEN exam. When I searched the bookstores, the review books I found were to practice exams or categorized by the body system. Because they were so large, these books were too awkward to handle at work. I purchased several, and had to buy a tote bag in order to carry them to the ED. Needless to say, when the charge nurse said, “Bemis, you have a seizure patient coming into bed 6,” I did not have time to find the page on seizures, much less read it. If I wanted a peer-reviewed book that followed complaint-based emergency protocols from triage to discharge, covered all emergency complaints, and could be followed during any scenario in or out of the hospital, I would have to write it myself. I did. The book is the Emergency Nursing Bible and is now in its fifth edition.
Do you have a book inside you? To publish a book, you have two options: (1) Use a publisher; or (2) self-publish it. Because publishing was new to me, I researched the publishing industry by reading books from the library and talking with authors. I chose to self-publish because I wanted to own the copyright, be able to quickly update the content, and get it in the hands of nurses as fast as possible.
After reading Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and attending his seminar, I came up with a basic plan, which I still use today when writing a new book. The steps are to determine the final appearance of the book by looking at similar books (size, shape, color, and layout); develop the table of contents; design headings and subheadings that are the same, or similar, in each chapter; research the information base; write the content in Microsoft Word® or a similar word-processing program, formatted to look like the final book; and make a print-ready PDF file for the printer.
For the Emergency Nursing Bible, I wanted a peer-reviewed book that offered nursing continuing education, so 10 of my peers read the book (printed on my home printer and bound in very large three-ring binders), provided me with a certified time study, and offered suggestions. The American Association of Critical-Care Nurses certified that book for continuing education. The total writing and approval process took 2 1/2 years. It was worth every minute.
When the Emergency Nursing Bible was ready for print, I chose a book printer (not a publisher) and ordered 1,000 books. When they arrived, they were on several pallets and filled my garage. I followed the marketing plan in the Self-Publishing Manual, and it worked.
My initial investment was about $8,000 (not counting my time). I recouped the investment in the first four months, and my income from the book has been steady every month since. The book has brought forth a number of other products, such as a CEN review class and a CEN home-study course.
Technology has changed since I wrote my first book. Microsoft Word® is greatly improved, so that it works seamlessly with Adobe Acrobat Pro® for a print-ready PDF file; self-publishing no longer carries a negative implication; and digital book printing allows the author to order a smaller number of books (1 and up). E-books and e-book singles are available in EPUB files for mobile devices.
If any of you have a book inside you, Dan Poynter and I recommend that you let it out so you won’t die with a book inside you.