Bestseller or Bust!

For physicians, seeing a nonfiction book through from idea to published masterpiece takes a wealth of patience. Take this advice to get started.

By By Jon VanZile | Feature Articles | Winter 2011


Dr. Christine Horner’s path to becoming an author was “a little unusual.” Before becoming an author, she was a plastic surgeon whose mother had breast cancer and went through conventional treatment, which seemed to work.


"The more I was learning, the more upset I got about how we practice medicine."

“Then, five years ago, she had a metastasis to her bone in her leg and gave up,” Horner says. “Nine months later, she was dead.”

As Horner dealt with this personal trauma, she saw the population of women coming in for reconstructive breast surgery after mastectomy get younger and younger, until she found herself working on breast cancer survivors in their 20’s.

Horner soon came to the conclusion that something wasn’t working in the way the medical community diagnosed and treated breast cancer. So she dove into the literature and was shocked at what she found.

“I found thousands of studies about things we weren’t doing in our culture to protect against breast cancer,” she says. “The more I was learning, the more upset I got about how we practice medicine.”

Horner wanted to spread what she was learning, and she was soon contributing regular segments to a local TV station while still working at her practice. But the workload quickly became overwhelming, and she knew it was time to take the next step.

“One day, I woke up and quit my practice and took some time off,” Horner says. “I thought I was going to write a book.”

The resulting book, Waking the Warrior Goddess, was published by Basic Health Publications in Laguna Beach, Calif. Norman Goldfind, her publisher, says the book has been a great success for his company, and they’ve returned to press several times.

The book has been good for Horner as well. She has been on multiple national TV programs, done hundreds of press interviews for major media, and has spoken before hundreds of audiences all around the country.

But as Horner learned along the way, publishing a book is a labor of love that requires skills doctors don’t naturally cultivate. And even with national media exposure and multiple print runs, it doesn’t necessarily pay the bills.


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