I met Sara a number of years ago when she took my 90 Day Book Challenge course. Later, after she finished the manuscript, I laid out the interior of her book Obese from the Heart, which includes one of my favorite chapter titles ever: “When I Grow Up I Want to Be a Chocolate Chip Cookie.” (How can you not love that?!) Since then, as you can see, Sara has gone on to do amazing things. Here are her answers to my questions.
Why did you want to write and/or publish a book? How did you know it was the right time?
It was time for me to write a book when I realized that my message about obesity and Functional medicine had been succinctly fine-tuned. I was seeing patients in an Obesity Clinic and repeating the same explanations patient after patient. They all said the same thing…how come no one ever told me this before? It was then I realized that I had a unique understanding of obesity and that people wanted to and needed to hear my message.
How long did it take?
I started with a minicourse that helped me outline, and then after a few months of doing nothing, took your 90 Day Book Challenge hoping it would motivate me to finish and provide me badly needed structure and advice – which it did. The other group I used for support was a chat group on Twitter called #writechat – it helped to be in the company of other people who were writing.
When I had about 40 pages done, I took 2 weeks off and finished the book – 144 pages. I hired a developmental editor through elance.com who did a great job of organizing material and text boxes.
How did you opt to publish and why?
I’m a very impatient person by nature, and to wait another 2 years to say what I needed to say seemed untenable. Self-publishing was an expedient and reasonable option. I started as an e-book while I was in the process of print publishing.
What challenges did you face?
I had no idea what I was doing, and suddenly I was in the world of editing, publishing, graphics, websites, business, marketing. It was a huge learning curve.
How did you decide on a topic?
That one’s easy! By the time I wrote my book, I had lost 75 lbs, and my husband 100 lbs using my methods, and had successfully treated a number of patients. Now I’m at 100 lbs down, and he’s at 150 lbs down. I wanted people to understand there is hope and healing from obesity, one small change at a time, and I felt that telling my story in combination with what I know as a physician was the most effective route.
What resources did you use and how were they beneficial?
I did a book in a weekend event and although I didn’t write the book, I did do an outline. Then I took your 90 Day Book Challenge course and I wrote 1/3 of the book and gained clear direction on how to finish and what comes next to publish it. I also had a developmental editor, and then set about finding a graphic artist for book cover design, and an interior designer — Susan Daffron, I believe 😉
Then I followed directions on how to publish, copyright, and market. Later, I joined some social media book author and marketer groups for directions on marketing. I had a professional format my book for Kindle and priced it very low, which has resulted in many more sales.
Ultimately I hired a PR firm for a radio tour, which gave me credibility for the next series of interviews. I read that John Gray, author of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus, said it takes 1 to 3 years for most books to take off. This is absolutely true. My print edition was published in fall 2009, and I had minimal sales at that time. I entered into book award contests and was a finalist, did a radio tour in early 2010, and have had steady and steadily increasing publicity since then. I do as many speaking engagements as I can at no cost, and I bring books with me everywhere I go.
What were the results of your efforts?
I left my job and opened my own clinic in July 2011, when I saw how people were responding to my message. I was able to put together a weekend teleseminar and a subsequent DVD set for people who want to do-it-yourself.
I’ve been featured in a national magazine – First For Women August 2011, and have had multiple interviews and speaking opportunities.
One thing prospective authors should realize is that they will likely not be able to live off their royalties, so if they’re doing this for the money, it’s cheaper and more effective to get a job. The reason to do all the work involved is because you are passionate about your message.
What would you do differently next time?
I’m not sure. I made some changes in decisions as time went on, so some things were done twice and perhaps more expensively than necessary, but that’s a learning curve.
I’m glad I wrote the book, and look forward to writing the next one! The 90 Day Book Challenge course I took was a huge boost in getting me from an outline to a working draft, and Susan (and her husband) have continued to be valuable and trusted advisors on how to write and publish.
About Sara Stein (The Official Bio)
Obesity expert Sara Stein MD has 20 years of medical and psychiatric experience and a lifetime of understanding obesity. In 2011, Dr. Stein was selected as one of the Crain’s Cleveland 2011 Healthcare Heroes. She is the author of award-winning “Obese From The Heart” (2009), and the recipient of the 2010 Kaiser Permanente Humanitarian Award for Community Service for her work with Obesity Clinic. She lost 100 lbs using this method, and has successfully treated hundreds of patients.
Dr. Stein is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and trained in General Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic. She trained in General Psychiatry at MetroHealth Hospitals of Cleveland and Stanford University School of Medicine and completed a combined National Institutes of Mental Health-Stanford University fellowship in Human Development.
Sara’s Book Site: Obese From The Heart: A Fat Psychiatrist Discloses
Sara’s New Clinic: Stein Wellness Centers