When Robert Marckini was diagnosed with prostate cancer 12 years ago, his life came to a stop. He was devastated, but also motivated — to find the best care. Robert quickly ruled out surgery after seeing what it did to his brother, who’d been diagnosed with the disease years earlier. So he started looking into other options, such as external beam radiation, internal radiation, cryosurgery, and active surveillance. He read everything he could find on the Internet and in libraries, interviewed a number of doctors representing each treatment modality, and spoke to dozens of patients. With all this information, Robert felt a duty to help others make their best choice.
Thus his book You Can Beat Prostate Cancer was conceived.
As many independently published authors can attest, once the manuscript was done, they turned toward traditional publishing but found mostly rejections and closed doors. Robert had the same experience. As he explains:
“When I approached publishers, they told me I needed an agent. When I approached agents, they told me I needed to have been published before. The decision to self publish was easy.”
Although Robert doesn’t have a social media platform, he still managed to spread the word by mentioning the book’s publication in his monthly newsletter. Started in 2001, it runs between 18 to 22 pages and covers prostate cancer prevention, detection, treatment and proton therapy. Currently his newsletter goes to 6,200 members and 1,000 additional readers.
Robert also encouraged both practitioners and patients to review his book on various retailer’s websites. His nudging definitely paid off — he’s garnered over 100 reviews on his Amazon page (a “must read for all men” says one customer) and close to 30 (“If you should buy one book about prostate cancer – this is the one,” says a reader) on Lulu. That said, explains Robert, his strategy mostly relied upon the strength of the product.
“Most of the marketing happens by word of mouth from men and women who have read my book and found it helpful. Many have told me it changed their lives.”
He may not have ever thought he’d be an author but Robert Marckini sure is now — and for aspiring writers he has some advice:
“Don’t put off starting your book. Just sit down and start writing. It will come to you. Go over your drafts many, many times. Have trusted friends and pseudo-grammarians review your manuscript. Read Zinsser’s book, On Writing Well. It’s the best book I read on how to write a book.”
As for Robert, he’s already at work on a second edition that will include an index, information on the latest developments in prostate cancer detection and treatment, along with considerably more graphics.
Jessica Schein writes for the Lulu Blog – Archived