When You Didn't Intend To Write a Book

We did not intend to write a book. We are two busy physicians, each with three kids, who some how managed to launch a business three years ago. We had come up with the concept for Vous Vitamin after years of seeing patients complain about the same things— confusion about what vitamins to take, concern about their individual needs and uncertainty about which vitamin brand to take. As physicians we knew we could solve this problem and create better vitamins. We also knew that our expertise and experience could help us provide people with the answers to the common health related questions that we hear every day in our offices.  Thus was the birth of the Vous Vitamin website and our blog.

The blog came naturally— take a question that we hear all the time and answer it. Write down what you tell people every day. Easy.  The feedback was wonderful. Everyone seemed to love having an easy to understand answer to their questions, written by real MDs, no less. Someone said, “It’s like having a friend who’s a doctor there to give you the answers you need”. But a book… That was not even a consideration. Our heads were spinning from the launch of our business and figuring out ecommerce, distribution channels, manufacturing, SEO and more. Then one day, a trusted friend with a marketing background said to us. “You really need to write a book, you know.” Cue hysterical laughter.  Just what we have time for.  “No seriously you need to write a book. You have the content, the expertise and it is the obvious next step.”  Next step for who? Someone certifiably insane? 

Somewhere thereafter we convinced ourselves that writing a book would be easy (just like launching a business, right?)— we would just string together a bunch of our blog posts and somehow get it published… voila! Yea, not so much. It turns out to be a gargantuan task (even when you have blog posts off which to draw). Yet somehow we did find the process to be as smooth as it could be given our insane schedules.

We were incredibly fortunate to know of SWP already. In the name of full disclosure, Kamy Wicoff, its founder, is one of Arielle’s best friends from college. Thus we knew of the concept and the advantages that hybrid publishing had to offer. We did however also consider traditional means of publishing.  When we looked at the amount of effort and time involved in getting an agent and shopping a book we knew that SWP was a better alternative. Due to the time sensitive nature of our content (current health information) and the needs of our business (we wanted exposure… yesterday) we felt that that we wanted the shortest possible time from starting the writing process to going to press.

We started by using the SWP network to employ a writing coach. Annie Tucker was fabulous in helping us stay on a strict timeline and really giving us incredible direction in our writing. She was even able to mediate a few disputes between the two of us! She was also skillful at helping us put our medical jargon into plain English. This is something we thought we knew how to do. However, it turns out that, as two physicians, we often assume that lay people understand certain terms that they in fact do not. We figure that Annie, with her literary wisdom was a good judge— if she, with her Yale degree, didn’t know what we meant when we said “body habitus” then it was safe to assume most readers would not. 

It turns out that blog posts can not just be strung together to create a book. However they can be retooled, refined and repurposed to create some of the content in a comprehensive manuscript. With Annie’s help we created a framework for a book that we felt would be user friendly and accessible. We wanted it to be readable from front to back by those looking to get a comprehensive approach to better health. But we also wanted it to serve as a quick reference where one can look up a certain health topic or find out more about a certain vitamin. 

With much help from our writing coach, then copy editors and proof readers we somehow managed to produce a manuscript that we felt did justice to our mission, our years of knowledge and experience and desire to share this with the public. To those of us used to rattling off dozens of clinic notes a day and never looking back at them, the editing and revision process seemed painstaking and monotonous. All said and done it was truly gratifying in the end. Nothing replicates that feeling of opening up the first box of galley copies and seeing your names in print on your snazzy cover (also much thanks to SWP for this).  Even treating and helping patients rarely comes with such a tangible sense of accomplishment. 

Here we are almost two years later, after 7 awards and 4 print runs of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health.  Perhaps the most satisfying part of our book journey has been how it has both elevated us professionally and taken our business to the next level. Via the book we have been taken as credible experts to obtain media placements we would have not otherwise gotten.  We have been featured speakers on TV news, in a multitude of print publications and have headlined several events.  We largely attribute the book to giving us the credibility to do this. It turns out that being authors and doctors gives you a lot more street cred then just being doctors! Who knew?  


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