Dr. Bruce Rowe’s new book is timely, given the focus on our healthcare heroes during this time of COVID-19. He wrote Everything Under the Sun: A Family Doctor’s Reflections on Life, Love, Loss and Renewed Hope in Medicine to inspire and provide hope to people in health care who may be struggling with burnout and frustration due to the significant stresses of modern medicine, and it does so in a very entertaining manner.
Not often do we have the opportunity to read a book about healthcare written by someone on the inside. What is it like to deal with governmental regulation and insurance oversight, not to mention the occasional difficult patient and the spectre of medical malpractice? Bruce admits that these pressures made him question his reasons for being a family physician. Fortunately, working on his book made him remember his “Why.” He says, “As my book took shape, I recalled the many special moments that I shared with my wonderful patients, and I felt my spirit to engage as a healer rejuvenated.”
In Everything Under the Sun, Bruce shares the special moments that define the life of a family physician. He has included multiple personal experiences and clinical vignettes in his book. “I have been blessed with a lot of experiences, both wonderful and tragic, which have had a tremendous impact upon my life,” he reflects. “I think that health care professionals will identify with my journey and the many hats I wear.” Bruce then goes on to list these hats: obstetrician, psychiatrist, geriatrician, internist, and pediatrician.
Throughout his book, Bruce provides a glimpse into small-town Midwestern life and how his rural Iowa upbringing impacted his values and his bedside approach to patients. Although Everything Under the Sun is ideal reading for health care workers, it’s written for anyone who enjoys a good read about interesting people, entertaining case histories and how medicine can positively affect families and communities. Finally, Bruce’s book is meant as a legacy for his family and friends to learn more about him and share in his story.
Bruce worked for several years to pull together his stories and complete a memoir describing his journey. His busy clinical practice made embarking on this project difficult. Says Bruce, “Finally, I reached a midlife crossroads, and I felt that the time was right to devote my energy to telling my story.”
After finishing his book, Bruce put out some initial feelers to a few literary agents. He recalls, “I got little or no response and no encouraging feedback from the agents. Upon further reflection, I realized that this was a blessing in disguise.” Bruce knew he wanted to produce a quality piece of literary work, but he didn’t want pressure from the publisher to sustain a platform and meet marketing obligations. In addition, maintaining ultimate creative control over his project was very important to Bruce. Self-publishing by hiring the publishing services he needed was the answer.
Bruce learned about 1106 Design from his book editor, and he has this advice for authors: “Be sure to ask fellow authors and people in the business who they trust with self-publishing projects.” He counsels new indie publishers to go with a reputable, well-established firm that has a lot of insight and experience in the publishing world, and suggests that they check with the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) to make sure the company has a favorable review.
1106 Design provided cover design, interior design, proofreading and eBook formatting services to Bruce. He says, “It was great to enter a partnership with the team at 1106 Design and utilize their expertise and insights into publishing. Learning that many of their people have been intimately involved in the traditional book publishing industry was reassuring.”
1106 Design’s team approach and combined experience had a big impact on Bruce. “Their experience helped me over the finish line with this book,” he reports. “Michele helped me with the big picture items and broad overview of the project. Ronda assisted me through the various stages of the publishing process and offered much-needed insight and encouragement. Brian was absolutely critical in the microscopic workings of each step of the process. They complemented each other very well and I was fortunate to be able to work with them.”
Bruce was pleasantly surprised at the rapidity of the publishing timeline and the efficiency of the process. He had a lot of fun with the cover design stage of the process, during which 1106 Design created three cover concepts for his consideration. “They were all excellent,” he smiles. “I chose my ultimate cover almost immediately with only one small color alteration: making the sky color a little bit bluer.”
The proofreading process? Not so much. In fact, Bruce feels it was downright difficult! “Proofreading to eliminate all grammatical and spelling errors requires a lot of patience, concentration and attention to detail at a granular level.”
When asked for his counsel to authors who are looking into self-publishing, Bruce had this to share: “There are so many nuances and details in the publishing world, many of which I could never comprehend or foresee, that needed to be done to produce a high-quality book.” He advises authors to invest a bit more money than initially anticipated to ensure that their final product is the best that it can possibly be.
Responsiveness and customer service were also important to Bruce. “1106 Design was very responsive to my emails and concerns. They were very accessible and I had the opportunity to schedule a telephone conference with them any time that I needed to discuss issues in further depth.”
Bruce had some great insights on his choice of print-on-demand over offset printing. “Print-on-demand was the best option for me,” says Bruce. “I didn’t want the expense and challenge of a large order of books and the stress of trying to sell them on my own. Print-on-demand allows people to order their books online, and I don’t need to maintain a burdensome inventory of paperbacks at home. Essentially you are relieved of your duties as serving as a bookselling middleman.” Bruce chose print-on-demand from Amazon KDP and IngramSpark, meaning his book is available for purchase online and for order by bookstores as well.
We recommend that authors cover all the bases by producing both eBooks and print books. Says Bruce, “I wanted people to have an option to download the book, so I did an eBook as well. 1106 Design was able to complete this for me, and their attention to detail was superb.”
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Bruce launched his book in Spring 2020 during the onset of COVID-19. He reports that his book marketing options were limited as a result. “I have reached out to my hometown bookstore in Iowa, as well as a highly regarded, independent bookstore in Iowa City where I went to college and medical school. Hopefully, I can get a high profile placement of my book in those environments.” He has found Twitter to be particularly helpful in reaching out to fellow medical book writers. In the coming months, he plans to connect with University of Iowa undergraduate and medical school alumni who may be interested in his medical experiences. We foresee some speaking engagements in Bruce’s future!
Reflecting on his experience, Bruce was able to say without hesitation that self-publishing was the absolute best option for him. “Being able to produce a quality book in about three or four months—without the time-consuming, often discouraging process of querying literary agents with no guarantees of publication—was one of the highlights of my publishing journey. I had a wonderful publishing team on my side, and we struck a nice balance between exchanging insights and input, yet I was able to maintain ultimate creative control of the project. The end result was truly an excellent published book that equals the quality of work produced by any New York publishing house.”
Overall, Bruce found the experience of self-publishing with the 1106 Design team to be very straightforward and rewarding, and we look forward to working with Bruce again in the future.
Everything Under the Sun: A Family Doctor’s Reflections on Life, Love, Loss and Renewed Hope in Medicine
Author: Bruce Rowe, MD
Link to Amazon book page: https://www.amazon.com/Everything-Under-Sun-Reflections-Medicine/dp/1734020202/
Author website: bowtiedocblog.com