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So You Want to Write a Book

Friday, September 21st, 2012

When I decided that my story might help other women striving to overcome their own circumstances, I worried that my expertise as a physician wouldn’t exactly translate to the process of writing a great book.  Instead of giving up right there though, I decided to look into hiring a writer to help me out.  Luckily, I found talented freelance writer and editor, Anita Bartholomew who truly is a book doctor.

After reading my first best-selling memoir, The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, Anita saw potential in the next chapter of my life as a professional woman trying to balance career and family.  Her writing skill and knowledge of the changing publishing industry allowed me to get exposure to a much bigger audience than I would have been able to do on my own.  With her collaboration, my newest memoir, “SOMETHING TO PROVE” won the Grand Prize in the New York Book Festival.  On my radio show, Inside Information for Women, Anita and discussed this process and how the publishing industry is shifting in a way that actually benefits small publishers and unknown authors.

As the cost of print media slowly begins to outweigh its profits, many publishers are scaling down and moving to digital publishing.  You’ve no doubt noticed the increase in e-books and e-readers, but many are unaware how this is changing the popularity of what it is we’re reading as well.  Before, you needed a book with surefire potential for big profits or a name that already had clout in the genre in order to get the attention of publishers.  Now though, many people are partnering with smaller publishing companies or even publishing and promoting their own work through digital formats.  This has allowed new authors to sell a lot more of their work, and this time, without losing the percentage a publishing company would have taken.  It has also, surprisingly, shifted what people are reading altogether; as steamy romance titles are easily concealed on e-readers and nobody knows whether someone is reading about politics or pop stars.  These digital authors and publishers have also increased competition in the publishing world in general, driving prices down to much more easily consumed costs for their audience, which translates into more sales for more writers.

Even though it is easier to get e-published these days, you’ll still need great writing in order to sell a lot of books.  I’m thankful I found Anita so that my book could have that chance.  If you too are dying to get your story told, whether fact or fiction, you don’t have to be the next great author, you just need a great idea and a partnership with a talented freelance writer like Anita Bartholomew.


– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.


ANNOUNCING: My new memoir, the sequel to The Ditchdigger’s Daughters, to be published by Kaplan Publishing

Monday, October 26th, 2009

This is the news I’ve wanted to share with you for months but I had to wait until the contracts were signed. Now I can shout it to the world.

My new memoir, SOMETHING TO PROVE: Memoirs of a Ditchdigger’s Daughter, by Yvonne S. Thornton, M.D., with Anita Bartholomew, will be published by Kaplan Publishing in Fall 2010.

The book sold at auction, meaning that more than one publisher wanted to publish it. I decided to accept Kaplan’s offer over the others because the team at Kaplan really seemed to get what I was saying and what I was about. And Kaplan has published a number of other memoirs by physicians and medical professionals, so I feel that it’s a good match.

SOMETHING TO PROVE: Memoirs of A Ditchdigger’s Daughter, builds on the foundation of my earlier book and shows that what was true as I was growing up is true today: despite bias, despite setbacks, with hard work and determination, we can accomplish whatever we set out to do.

The book begins with the challenges I encountered when, in the early 1980s, I entered what was still an all white boy’s club of academic medicine. Although I faced bias for both my gender and color, I had a secret weapon: my father’s wisdom. The essence of what he drummed into me as a child was that, as a female, and an African-American, I’d have to work twice as hard as anyone else to be thought to be half as good (a sentiment that later became a mantra for the women’s movement). And I did.

SOMETHING TO PROVE will also document how I handled the personal struggles that every working mother must confront, of juggling a career and family life.

And because I’m a specialist in high-risk pregnancies, SOMETHING TO PROVE will offer plenty of edge-of-your-seat medical drama.

It won’t focus solely on the challenges though. Yes, I’ve dealt with setbacks and pain, but I have also enjoyed great success in my career. I have a supportive, wonderful husband, and two children who are poised to follow their parents into careers in medicine.

And that’s the ultimately uplifting message of SOMETHING TO PROVE, in life lessons passed down from my father to me, and from me to my own children.

It’s been a great journey and I look forward to sharing it with you in SOMETHING TO PROVE.

– Yvonne S. Thornton, MD, MPH