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Ep.23: Why Surgeons Should Write a Book

Why Surgeons Should Write a Book:

In this episode, Dr. Dohner explains the need to write your book to:

• Make You an Authority
• Get Name Recognition
• Earn Prestige and Respect
• Set you apart from the herd

Dr. Dohner’s FREE Hardcover Book & Slides on Writing YOUR Book

Catherine’s FREE Book

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Episode transcript:

Beauty and the Biz, 23: Why surgeons should write a book

Catherine Maley, MBA: Hello, and welcome to Beauty and the Biz, where we talk about the business and marketing side of the cosmetic practice. I’m your host, Catherine Maley, author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients are Saying, as well as consultant to cosmetic practices to get them more patients and more profits. So, today’s episode is called, Why Surgeons Should Write a Book. So, I’ll just give you an intro to this. And then I’m going to introduce you to my special guest. And I have a book that I talk about a lot is here, I just said it. And my book is called Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying. And I wrote that for so many reasons. And we’ll go into all of that tonight. But suffice it to say that book was an absolute career game changer for me. And it would be for you as well, if you do it right. So, I know it can sound so daunting to write a book and that’s why I have my special guest is Dr. Eric Dohner. And I’ve known him for many years and we are kindred spirits when it comes to marketing a practice because he understands that you can have a great practice but if you don’t know how to market it and attract patients to your practice, it won’t matter. So, he is actually the owner of New York Skin and Laser Center in upstate, New York with five locations. And New York Skin and Laser is the leading office in upstate New York for medical and cosmetic dermatology, as well as varicose vein treatments. Now he has quite a staff, he’s got seven mid-levels, four laser nurses, two injection nurses, he’s got well over 15 lasers and devices. And he does speak for caetera and he even has his own coaching program for aesthetic offices. So, Dr. Dohner has written four books, and I read all of them. And he’s working on number five and number six as we speak. Now his latest book is called, About face: The smart Woman’s Guide to natural good looks. So, before you talk about your book, Dr. Dohner, I know how hard it is to write a book because I did it. But let’s just talk about a few things. Let’s just start with why should surgeons write a book? Let’s start with the why.

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Hello, Catherine, thank you for having me on tonight. I’m very pleased to be speaking with you. And so why should surgeons write a book, books are the second most important part of your total marketing plan and that comes after a monthly written newsletter. Book set you up as the expert. Who writes important books? Important people. A book will help build you up your credibility, it positions you as the authority in your field. You will close bigger cases and you will add more revenue. I’ve had patients tell me that they knew I was the one after they read my book. A book attracts your perfect clients, your avatar patient, and no one else I’ll bet in your area has written a book you will be unique when you’ve written the book. A book acts as a calling card, it reduces no show consult. And books sit on your shelves, books are never thrown away. If you think about it, when’s the last time you’ve thrown away a brochure, sure a trifold all the time. You don’t throw away book, your book overcome price objections and it actually makes price irrelevant. Since I’ve written my books, the last thing that ever comes up is talking about price. We have increased our prices dramatically. And there is no pushback. It’s useful for the client on the fence and not ready for treatments. So, we know that there is this timeline that that clients have. That’s not our timeline, you know, we’re ready to do the case right now. Well, you know, they have stuff happening in their life, they don’t have the downtime available, they’ve got to work, they’ve got to go on vacation, but it keeps you top of mind for the surgeon to go to. A book builds your platform, it acts as your Billboard, it shares your message and attracts more leads. You’ll reach many more people because your book will be handed out by your mavens and everybody has mavens. You know people who just love you they can’t speak highly enough. And if you give them your book the handout, they will get handed out and we do know that the second easiest person to quote sell to is a referral. Book connects you with otherwise untouchable clients, people have, you know, advertising advertisement, they just don’t want to talk about it, but they’re going to read your book. Book is a good exercise for your brain because it consolidates your thoughts, it makes you think logically about what you do and how you do it. I use one of my books, depending on the con fault in a so-called and I’ll package to educate the client before they come in, it will increase your Google rankings. And it’s an alternative pathway for reaching prospects. So, if you’re not ready for a consult, call for Dr. Smith’s, book before breast augmentation, for instance. And it preps the patient before a consult. So, it educates them, it gets them ready, it makes your consultation process all the easier. And they will be speaking your language. So, you don’t have to start at square one, you can start further down the line and it becomes not, are we going to do this, it becomes when are we going to do the case.

Catherine Maley, MBA: That is so true. When I look at it from a patient’s point of view, when I used to always call around the nation. And when I first got into this, I would call around to the various practices. And I would ask them questions and see if they would send me any information. And most of them would just put their business card and a number 10 envelope. And I was like wow, that’s your marketing shopping off package. And then the really good ones would at least send me the medical associations brochure with their business card and a number10 envelope. And which is kind of silly, because if a patient’s calling around, and they’re getting the same information from the medical association that didn’t differentiate you, but the really tough quality surgeons would actually send me a shock it on and [inaudible], although they weren’t calling it a shock it on, they were just a good quality practices and, you know, doing good quality promotion of their practice. And they would send me their book that they had written themselves. And I won’t mention any names right now, because I’ll have some of them on later in the podcast as we go along down the road. Because, boy, you get somebody’s book in the mail. And I know that’s hard copies of old school stuff, but boy was that impressive. I still have all of their books, all three of their books, I might say, on my bookshelf. And I used to have a couple more, but I’ll have to tell you, if there are 1000s of surgeons out there and I can count, gosh, maybe two handfuls of surgeons who have actually written consumer books. A lot of you have written books or chapters in clinical books but it’s not the same as a consumer book. It just differentiates you from everybody else. It gives you such great cachet, and it makes you the authority. And even though there’s somebody who might be more experienced than you, or more well-known than you or more profitable than you, you can rise above them quite easily using your own book, because you set yourself up as the authority when others didn’t bother to. And I do love using it. We call it like a lead magnet in marketing. In your case, it would be like lead generation, even on social media, anywhere email marketing anywhere, you can offer your book, let’s see a free PDF copy of your book. And then you can inside your book, you can actually offer some kind of a gift card for a non-surgical treatment. And then they get to know you and now they’re ready for surgery. There’s just so much to do with your own book. I’m just so surprised. You know, surgeons don’t do this. Okay, sorry for getting off course there. So, Dr. Dohner, let’s just talk about the important parts of a book because this is really daunting if you’re not ready to do this. How do you keep this simple and what do they want to write?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Well, it’s very interesting, because as soon as you think about writing a book, and promoting a book, you think about all the task, all the verbiage that goes into it. And I’m going to tell you that all that verbiage is not the important part. So, the three most important parts of the book are one, the front cover, the back cover, and the table of contents. I think the front cover is self-explanatory if it’s not catchy, if it doesn’t have a good headline, if it doesn’t have a good sub headline, it’s just not going to be interesting. And just like any other ad, if you don’t have a good headline, you’re not going to catch the attention of the person looking at it. The back cover is interesting because it establishes your credentials, your cred, your street cred, who you are, what you’ve done, where you are, etc. And so, the back cover is the second most important part of the book. And then the third part is the table of contents. And so why is that? Because frankly, your books not going to get read that much and you’re going to you know, try to push your patients to read it. But if you can have a really catchy table of contents, they’re going to go to the part that is important to them. So that’s very important. And then next is going to be testimonials and patients’ stories. I believe that color photos are extremely important, and a book about cosmetic surgery. Because you know, one of the most widely looked at parts of our websites are the befores and afters, everybody wants to look at the befores and afters. And I’ve seen books written by big names in the cosmetic world and they have black and white photos that aren’t very good, and the books look terrible. I’m going to tell you; you’ve got to have color photos in there that are before and afters. And then lastly, something that’s very important is a call to action with an offer. Now, I don’t offer anybody a free consultation, not at all. However, you can offer a consultation with every consultation, you’ll get, you know, in care, appeal, a minor laser procedure, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But you want to have a reason for them to respond to you. So once again, the important parts are the front cover, back cover, table of contents, patients’ stories, color photos, befores and afters and a call to action with the offer.

Catherine Maley, MBA: You know, I would suggest regarding the photos, you are actually right. I saw a couple consumer books that surgeons wrote and they had no photos in it. And I was so surprised because the first thing I look for are the photos, I don’t see how you can write a book without them. But one little suggestion would be trying to make them as dateless as possible. Get rid of all the jewelry or crazy hairstyles like a bouffant or something from the 50s, try to make them ageless so the book wears well throughout the years or down the road. You can always you know, when you update the book periodically put in some you know, new photos, you just don’t want it to look dated, you know. Okay, now Dr. Dohner, what shouldn’t you put in the book?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Well, stuff that you don’t want to put in the book is the boring parts, so references, no. A bibliography referring to other passages, no, you don’t need an index, you don’t need long winded passages, you don’t need footnotes. This is not a reference book. This is not an academic exercise. This is not a book written for your peers. This is a promotional book for your potential clients and patients. So, you want to keep it interesting. You don’t want to bore your potential clients, that’s going to be your worst thing you could possibly do.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay, that’s for sure. All right, and then what else do you have? How can you write this book?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Okay, so ideally, your client should be able to read your book in about an hour. Okay. So, if you get a 300-page book in the mail, and your doctor says you have to read this before your appointment, what’s going to happen? They’re not going to read it, they’re going to put it aside, they’re going to feel like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. So, you want your client to be able to sit down, read it in an hour and be done with it. So, you got to keep it short. I say less than 100 pages, my books have ranged from 45 to 120 pages, I wouldn’t do any more than 120. A big key is that you want to write your book to your ideal patient and use the word you all the time. You don’t want to say many people do this, or one will do this, you got to say you you you, it’s all about the person sitting down and this is your one time that you get to talk to them directly. And you have to decide is it going to be a paperback or hardback and this just comes down to cost. You can self-publish a paperback for between 3$ and 5$ or $6. A hardback is going to be a minimum of 12 bucks and more likely if it’s a full color with a flyleaf, you’re talking about $25 and so remember, you’re going to be handing these out by the 1000s. I’ve probably handed out 10,000 of my books about varicose veins. And so, it becomes cost prohibitive if you’re going to be having this fabulous hardcover book with a fly leaf. And you know, you’re afraid to hand them out because you’re afraid of the cost. You know, we usually order our books 3 to 500 at a time.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Could you just do the first run via hardbound when you’re like doing all the PR and the promotion initially and then later can you do the soft copy?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Absolutely you can. And when I first released the book, I don’t hand them out for free. I charge patients or clients for them, but then I donate all the sales to a charity. So, it gives the book some value to it. Okay. And when we had our last book signing event, we charged $10. And we raised several $100 to give to our favorite local charity. So that was something nice to do. And you can certainly do that with a hardback book.

Catherine Maley, MBA: All right, that’s a great idea. Okay.

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Full color pictures are very important. As I said, don’t skimp on this, they’ve got to be full color. If you do black and white, you know that you don’t want to look at them, your patients aren’t going to want to look at them. Size of the book is important, I recommend six by nine because it gives it some [inaudible], it gives it some sense of being there, as opposed to something smaller. And if you get to a book that’s much bigger, then you’re not going to have as many words on the page, I always write them in Microsoft Word and just convert it to a PDF and upload it straight to the self, publisher and you’re done. For the covers, you can find somebody on, or you can do I use to print all of my books, and like I said, it cost three to five bucks print in full color. Something as very important as you’ve got to write on a fifth-grade level. Yes, your clients are college educated, they have their master’s degrees, etc. but a lot of them don’t. And you’ve got to write at a fifth-grade level, and you got to keep your sentences short. Okay, you want to get your point across and not have long winded passages, like I said before, Chapter lengths one to eight pages is all you need. You don’t want to be going on and on and on and your chapters, because you’re going to lose your clients. You think about it, when you open a book, sometimes you’re going to look at the chapter, and you’re going to count back to how many pages are in that chapter. And if you’re going to see it’s 26 pages, you’re like, I’ll put this to the side. I recommend that you write a book every four to six months to keep your patients interested. Yes, you’re going to write your book. However, there’s lots of topics to write about that we’ll talk about in a minute. Now, should you put your book on Amazon, well, here’s the deal, it’s not needed, you’re not going to be selling these, these are promotional. If you really want to get into promoting your book and trying to make money and getting booked as a speaker to various groups, that’s very different than the project that I’m talking about right now. And you don’t even need to do the ESPN number, it’s not needed, you don’t need that cost, you don’t need to worry about where you put it, listed at the Library of Congress, none of that is important.

Catherine Maley, MBA: I am gonna defer on this one though. Amazon and Google Books has been super helpful to me and my SEO and SEM, because it has built, it’s just more platforms for me to be found on so if somebody knows my name, or they want to talk about cosmetic patient attraction, and that’s been really helpful. So, I would say yes, put it on Amazon, put it on Google Books, put it everywhere you can on the internet, it certainly can’t hurt. And it could certainly help.

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: I’m not disputing that. However, if you’re talking about a local audience versus a national audience we’re talking about, we’re just talking about two different audiences here. So, I mean, if you’re going to be in us in upstate New York, like I am, you know, encompassing, you know, five or six counties versus, you know, you’re trying to reach our national audience. Absolutely. Then I would put it on Amazon, I would get it on ESPN number etc.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay, and then let’s talk about what is the topic of the book, what are you writing about?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: So, the most important thing is you don’t want to put everything into one book and make it your one grand magnum opus. You’re going to bore people; you’re going to essentially lose all of your energy. You’re not going to have any other topics to write about. It’s going to take you years and years and years to write it. So, you only want to write about one specific topic. So, it could be breath, it could be noses, it could be faces, it could be butts, it could be bellies, it could be breast. Your clients are not interested in every single thing you do, they’re not. Even in the mommy makeover, they’re not interested in everything you do. So, ideally, you’re going to have a book about each individual topic, especially if the information is there. So, my good friend, Dr. Ed Williams, out of liaison, wrote his book just about rhinoplasty for his direct consumer book. And does he do everything on the face that can possibly be done? Of course, he does. So, the topics I’ve written about have been varicose veins, women’s sexual health, laser tattoo removal, non-surgical facial rejuvenation coming out soon as men’s Ed, non-surgical body treatments. And then I’m also working on a book for the lay public about how to interact with your doctor. So, remember, a book title can’t be copyrighted, so you can steal the titles ethically and use them. You know, and I’ll tell you some other ideas that I’ve had all about eyes. Of course, mommy makeover, daddy makeover, I hate my neck, hate my breasts, I hate my face, I hate my wrinkles. Get the body you’ve always wanted, luscious lips, etc. So, all you have to do is do a quick Google search or Amazon search and it’s going to give you great ideas about what you want to write about. You know, but just think about what are the cases you want to attract? If you want to attract facelifts, write about faceless, if you want to attract tummy tucks, write about tummy tucks and start from there.

Catherine Maley, MBA: This feed right into typical marketing fundamentals. When you’re trying to talk to an audience or get attention from the public, you pick one thing that a particular group would be interested in, and then you just stay there, you focus on the one thing, and it’s funny, everybody wants to tell everything they offer, and they do that laundry list of things. But then you’re nobody. So, I could agree more, pick a procedure and stick to that one. And if you’re dying too, just write more books with other procedures, but focus on a book is the absolute main key. And it’s funny, you said, you know, you need to digest that book in one hour. That’s exactly what happened when I wrote my book, it used to be 300 pages. And thankfully, a certain friend of mine, reviewed it and he said, you’ve got to chop this down, no one’s ever going to read all this. And that was the greatest advice I ever got. And because of that I’ve sold 1000s of these books, because and the surgeons always say, Oh, your books sitting right on my desk, or the staff, you know, everybody has a copy of it, and they use it for staff meetings. But it’s really easy to read, it only takes about an hour to read. And that was a mistake, that was just a lucky mistake on my part that it got down to only an hour because boy, I was trying to just fill it up with everything I knew. And that was really not a good idea. Okay, so Dr. Dohner swears that you can write a book in six weeks or less. I will just tell you when I wrote my book, I didn’t know him then, so I didn’t know how to write a book. So, I did it the laborious way. There are two ways I used to know to write a book, you either hide yourself away somewhere in a log cabin, and you like get that book written within a month, or you write it every morning for 30 minutes, you know, before everybody wakes up or before you have to start your day. So, for two years, I was getting up early. And before work started, and I was writing this book and it was painful. I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t know where I was going with it. And that’s how it got to be too long. He’s saying you don’t have to do either of those anymore, you just write it in six weeks or less. So, Dr. Dohner, how did you do that?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Well, we all already have thoughts in our head. And most of us have written reports. So, you already have a preexisting report, a patient information guide. That’s a great place to start. I’m a big advocate of dictating, you know, surgeons are used to dictating op reports and consults and I dictate everything. And so, my books have all been dictated. I give it to my secretary who transcribes it, and then I get it back, edited down, get the table of contents from there. Another easy way to do it is to be interviewed by someone else. So, you think about the questions that the typical patient will ask about the procedure or condition that you’re writing about. And then have some interview you. Okay, so and you can also use the same talk that you give to patient day in and day out, we all have that same spiel that we use with patients, well, that should definitely be part of your book. And just like you said, Catherine, if you sit down, and you write 500 words every day for five days a week, for six weeks, this equals 15,000 words, and you’ll have your book written in six weeks. Now, if you really want to force yourself to do it, I have a secret. You set up a book signing three or four months in the future, you announce it to everyone. And guess what you’re going to be forced to do this freaking book. All right. So, if you set a deadline, just like any other deadline, if you know that you got to close on your house, or you need to open your office, or you have to do anyone of a million things that has a date, drop that date. And if you do that for your book, you’re going to write that book. All right. And so that’s an easy way to do it. It also gives you a great way to promote the book, use it for an event, and be glad to tell people at some other time about how I promoted that book. And you know, how we had close to, I think 100 women in a room for the book signings. So, you can do it yourself with massive action, you can dictate the book, have it transcribed, edited, table of contents, add pictures, format it, hire someone do the covers, unless you’re a graphic designer, and just submit it and self-publish. I will tell you that hiring someone else can be expensive. There are many different companies available, they’re usually going to cost in the 30 to $35,000 range. If you hire a good ghost writer, you’re going to be paying through the nose. Plastic Surgeon friend of mine just told me he spent more than 35,000 as a big publishing house. And he wasn’t satisfied with the outcome whatsoever.

Catherine Maley, MBA: My own advice is, I have seen bad happen and most of the surgeons get caught up in that, they think it has to be like a best seller and it doesn’t. I self-published and it has been terrific. Because it’s a workhorse, it’s not an ego trip, it’s full, it can be an ego trip for you. But for the patient, it’s a tool for them to choose you or somebody else who didn’t bother writing a book, you really catapult yourself to the top when you have that book, regardless if it’s hard copy, soft copy. When it’s on the internet, nobody can even tell if it’s hardcopy or softcopy. It’s much more about what you do with the book than it is about the book. And I know that it’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s so true, the books should be solid, but I wouldn’t get caught up on waiting 10 years, because you’re still fiddling around with the pictures, just get it done, get it out in the world, you know, be proud of it, and then just use it for marketing like crazy. As a matter of fact, I use my book all the time for lead generation. So, when you go to my website,, you’ll see that I offer my books for free but I do charge shipping and handling. And I do that because I want people who are serious, and I give out free books, but I’m looking for better quality leads than that. And you can do the same thing, have a free book, just charge for shipping and handling and mail it out. I mean, why not? And then now your staff has a reason to follow up with people. You know how they’re always like, I don’t want to follow up. You know, I don’t want to do that. Well, it’s a great reason, you got your book, so can I get your feedback on it? Anyway, so Dr. Dohner has an offer that he wants to help you with because he believes so highly in books, because he got six of them coming, and so do I. The book really can be a game changer for you. So, Dr. Dohner go ahead and tell them what you’re willing to do.

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Sure. And Catherine, just as an aside, I would absolutely agree with you. Good enough is good enough, it doesn’t have to be perfect. You’re not doing a [inaudible] or a facelift. You’re writing a book. And so yes, your punctuation has to be correct. It has to look good, but you don’t have to agonize over every single detail. So, here’s an offer for your listeners. Catherine has done a lot for me over the years. So, for the first 100 people that respond, if you go to, enter your information, it’ll just take you to a little landing page and you can enter your information. And I’ll send you a hard copy of this talk, all the notes, plus a detailed PowerPoint that I give to the audience that I speak to about writing their book, I’ll send you some other information about helping you write your book. And if you get started now, you can have your own book signing event in January, just in time for the slow season, after the holidays. And all it’s going to take us a weekend. So, I know that Catherine has 1000s of people listening to this podcast, and I’m only going to do this for 100 people because I’m sending you a hard copy. So, this cost me some money, so you better sign up now.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay, that is that. Thank you so much. I really hope that you got out of this podcast what the intent was, and that is to write a book. And honestly, what I would do is have your staff nearby with an iPad or with some kind of recorder, some kind of recorder, and just get down everything you say all day, every day to your patients. And now it becomes a book, I really believe the content is you being a surgeon, you talking to your patients, you don’t need to make up anything, you have all the content in you that you give out all the time. And then you just give all that transcription to a service. By the way, there are plenty of transcription services that are super-duper cheap. like Dr. Dohner mentioned, there’s Fiverr, and then there’s also So, they’ll just transcribe the whole thing. And then you give it to a ghostwriter to make sense of it. So, it really is relatively easy once you just get over it and just put the content down and let somebody else take over and finish it. Okay, so that is that, would you please subscribe to beauty and the biz, if you haven’t already. And I sure would appreciate it. If you give me a good review on iTunes, that’s always super helpful. And if you would share this with your colleagues and your staff, that would be greatly appreciated. And then of course, I’d love your feedback, your comments, questions, any other topics you’re interested in, you can just leave me a message on my website, And you can also follow me on Instagram at Catherinemaleymba, and you’ll see how I use my book a lot in my social media, in everything. I just use it a lot. Okay, anything, any last closing remarks, Dr. Dohner?

Eric Dohner, MD, ABVLM: Nope, I think we got it all done. The most important part is start now. Don’t think about it, don’t worry about it, don’t fret about it. Just start doing, just put words on the paper and get it done and you’re gonna be so happy that you did.

Catherine Maley, MBA: Okay, start tonight. Thanks, everyone. Bye,bye.

Catherine Maley

Catherine Maley

Catherine is a business/marketing consultant to plastic surgeons. She speaks at medical conferences all over the world on practice building, marketing and the business side of plastic surgery. Get a Free Copy of her popular book, Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying View Author Profile.


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