Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Creative Readings Returns to the Annual Conference

AMWA members are far more than just skilled medical writers and editors. Many of them use their considerable talent in more creative writing endeavors. For a number of years, they had an opportunity during the Annual Conference to share their creative efforts with fellow AMWA members at a Creative Readings open session. But because of low turnout over the past couple of years, it was not offered at last year’s conference. Thanks to attendees who said they missed it, the Creative Readings is coming back—on a new day and time.

Traditionally, the Creative Readings session was held on the first night of the conference, following the Welcome Reception. The AC Committee wondered if perhaps this time slot for the event was a challenge, because members, tired from their travels, were anticipating an early morning wake-up call and the full day of workshops that lay ahead of them. So, the Committee decided to offer the Creative Readings session on Saturday afternoon (3:30 to 5:00 PM), as a perfect time for members to unwind after a busy 3 days of conference activities.

This open forum provides an opportunity for conference attendees who “dabble” in creative writing to share their works with their colleagues. Over the years, members have read short stories, science fiction, excerpts from novels and plays, and creative nonfiction, both serious and humorous. Song parodies have been another popular offering. Several years ago, a member lamented about the life of a bench scientist to a tune from “The Pirates of Penzance.” More recently, a member played his guitar and sang about the trials of being a copyeditor.

A past Creative Readings session also served as the impetus for gathering humorous observations about the lives of medical writers that were subsequently published in the book More Than 101 Ways to Know You’re a Medical Writer, which will be available for sale at the conference (at the Editorial Rx Press booth on the Exhibit Hall).

The purpose of the Creative Readings open session is to share and appreciate—not evaluate or criticize—in a comfortable nonthreatening environment. And the event is not just for those who want to share their creative work. It is also for those who like to listen and appreciate the creative endeavors of others—and perhaps get ideas and encouragement to stretch their wings and try writing their own poem, short story, or humorous essay, or starting that novel they’ve been thinking about writing.
No reservations are required to attend. However, we do ask those who want to present to please sign up ahead of time so that we can make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to share his or her work with an appreciative audience of peers.

If you would like to sign up to be a presenter, or would like more information about this special event, please send an e-mail to Creative Readings chair Donna Miceli at dmiceli@comcast.net.

—Donna Miceli, 2013 Annual Conference Committee

Monday, October 28, 2013

AMWA’s Giving Back Program

We are gathering in Columbus to serve each other as educators and colleagues, and it is therefore fitting that we take the opportunity to serve the host community. This year, we have arranged for conference attendees to give back by donating nonperishable food or monetary donations to the Mid-Ohio Foodbank.

The Mid-Ohio Foodbank has been serving central and eastern Ohio for more than 30 years and now distributes food to more than 550 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, after-school programs, and senior housing sites. The foodbank provides a vital resource to organizations that serve children, the elderly, the homeless, and the poor. It does so with a high level of accountability and at a low administration cost: it is a 4-star organization on Charity Navigator, with almost 95% of expenses going to programs, less than 4% to administration, and just over 1% to fundraising.

The AMWA conference site is not near grocery stores, so please find space in your suitcase for a nonperishable food item. If you don’t have space (or forget), consider a monetary donation (cash or check). Food and money are both helpful, especially as the busy holiday season approaches. Every $1 you donate can buy a needy family, child, or individual $11 worth of groceries.

Look for the Mid-Ohio Foodbank donation box in the AMWA registration area at the conference (Country Foyer) to leave your gift. And thank you for your help as we give back to the community that is so graciously hosting us!

—Tim Peoples, MA, ELS, CMPP

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making Things Clear: Tips and Hints for Working with Non-Western Clients

Most Western readers think it is the writer’s responsibility to make things clear for the reader. However, some non-Western cultures assume that it is the reader’s responsibility to figure out what the writer meant. This assumption can add to the difficulties experienced by non-Western authors as they write for publication and international regulatory approval.

Given that considerably more than half of the world's research is done by researchers whose native language is not English, the demand is growing for people who can assist in writing clear, understandable English in an international context. Of particular note, this “clear understandable English” is not necessarily the same as idiomatic “native English-speaker” English.

You can learn about the challenges and opportunities of writing for this emerging market at the AMWA Annual conference session “The West and the Rest: Working with Non-Native English Authors and Readers in Asia and Eastern Europe.” Panelists Lee Seaman of the Northwest Chapter; Mary (Mimi) Wessling of the Northern California chapter; and Mieko Onuki, an AMWA member residing in Japan, will share their experiences.

Here is a sneak peak at some of what that these panelists will be talking about.
• The English that readers in Asia and Eastern Europe need.

• Principles for making your English easier to understand: The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has PLAIN language principles that can be applied to all types of writing. Japanese writers can also find advice for better English medical writing.

• When working through a writing/editing agency, which demands are reasonable and which not? How do you decide?

• How can you “upscale” your services to appeal to higher-end agencies and end-users?

Bookmark or schedule this session in the AMWA Annual Conference app and join us!

--Noelle Demas, 2013 AMWA Annual Conference Committee

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Think Outside the Pharmaceutical Industry Box at AMWA Annual Conference

Whether you’re a veteran medical writer with extensive pharmaceutical and biotechnology experience, or a newcomer to the medical writing profession, this year’s AMWA Annual Conference program offers a number of opportunities to broaden your professional horizons with sessions focused on the medical device industry.

Terminology, FDA structure, regulatory requirements, standards for clinical trial design and product promotion, and key professional qualifications for medical writers can differ significantly between the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. A basic understanding of these differences can give medical writers an entrée into a potential new market for their services.

For an overall introduction to the field, there’s “Scope of Medical Communication,” where Scott Thompson, a writer in the medical device field, will provide an overview of the medical device setting; discuss career opportunities in the field; talk about the knowledge, skills, and attributes that increase the likelihood of success; and tell you what you can expect to earn. Open sessions featuring content related to medical devices include “Current Regulatory Challenges for Reporting Drug Safety Information for Approved Drugs, Biologics, and Devices,” presented by Mary Whitman, and “FDA’s Other Box: Medical Device Regulation for Pharmaceutical Writers,” featuring a panel of device-industry veterans.

“The ‘FDA's Other Box’ panel discussion should appeal to medical writers working in the device or pharmaceutical industries,” says Cynthia Carr, PhD, a senior medical writer at Ventana Medical Systems Inc. and one of the panelists at the session. “Working for a device manufacturer, I've seen a huge increase in the number of collaborations with pharmaceutical partners in recent years. Our clinical study managers have expressed repeatedly how beneficial it is to the collaborative effort when our pharmaceutical partners have some basic understanding of device regulations.”

Medical devices is also a topic in this year’s Alvarez Award Address, titled “Medical Devices: Policy, and Politics. ” Gregory D. Curfman, MD, executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and the 2013 Alvarez Award winner, will also discuss policy issues currently affecting the industry.

The growing number and popularity of device-focused sessions at AMWA conferences had its genesis after the 2011 annual conference in Jacksonville, when a small group of device writers noticed that the industry was underrepresented at the AMWA conference. Many had been flying under the radar for a few years and thought it was time they shared their knowledge to help enhance their fellow AMWA members’ knowledge and career prospects.

"I'm a medical device specialist, so I'm somewhat biased," says Christine Welniak, principal of Upside Communications and a long-time a champion for efforts to increase medical device educational content at the conference. "But I love that AMWA is expanding its educational offerings to include device-oriented sessions. In terms of unmet need, there's a dearth of people who specialize in devices. AMWA is a logical place for manufacturers and medical communication agencies to seek writers and editors. I hope attendees capitalize on the programming at this year's annual conference. They can quickly learn device nomenclature and unique considerations, such as patient selection or types of adverse events. That way, they'll be able to take advantage of the many and varied opportunities in the field."

Be sure to bookmark this session or add it to your schedule in the AMWA Annual Conference app.

--Jeanne McAdara-Berkowitz, PhD

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Are You Professionally Invisible?

Do you feel like you have control over your career? Does your boss recognize the value you offer? If you answered no to either of these questions, you’ll want to learn to create visibility in your career. Enhancing your visibility can help get you noticed for new opportunities and may even help reduce the risk of losing your position during a “reorganization.”

You can learn how to get noticed in your work by attending the Intensive Seminar “Create Visibility and Influence to Fast Track Your Career,” held at the AMWA Annual Conference on Wednesday, November 6.

You want your boss and other senior people to regularly think about how they could get you involved in new and interesting initiatives, says John West Hadley, Career Search Counselor, John Hadley Associates, LLC. “The key to making this happen is to consistently communicate value in everything you do, without appearing to brag. It’s about what you say (or write) and how you say (or write) it, and even about when you do it,” says Hadley.

“The vast majority of us fall down badly in this, assuming that our good work will speak for itself. It may, but only if it gets noticed, which often doesn’t go beyond your immediate superior.”

Hadley also notes that when we have a rare opportunity to have a conversation with a senior executive or other people in key positions in our companies, we don’t take advantage of the opportunity to make it an “influential conversation.” Medical writers have a natural mindset for providing information, he says. And the more we focus on pushing information on people, the less engagement and the lower the influence level of the conversation. In his seminar, he will describe the mindset necessary to consistently get into seriously influential conversations, and he will provide a “model” for how to conduct such a conversation successfully.

Hadley has given several popular seminars and talks, including one on networking at a 2012 AMWA Delaware Valley Chapter event. He also participated in a podcast on networking for the AMWA Journal. In addition to his Wednesday seminar at this year’s AMWA Annual Conference, he is also leading a session on networking on Thursday. Don’t miss either chance for a face-to-face experience in learning strategies for taking charge of your career and marketing yourself better.

You must register separately for “Create Visibility and Influence to Fast Track Your Career.” If you have already registered for the AMWA Annual Conference, send an e-mail to annual_conference@amwa.org to ask about adding the seminar to your registration. If you have not registered yet (why not???), you can register for both the conference and the session onsite.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Getting Around at the AMWA Annual Conference

We can count on many things being the same at the AMWA Annual Conference year after year: outstanding educational offerings, great networking opportunities, and the chance to see old friends and colleagues. But each AMWA Annual Conference is different too, especially with AMWA’s added emphasis on innovative programming. Making our way across the meeting space and around the host city is always new.

Thanks to modern technology, you can become more familiar with your conference surroundings from the comfort of your home (or, if you’re a procrastinator, as you travel to Columbus).

There’s an App for That
Yes, there’s an app for the AMWA Annual Conference—the most exciting thing to happen to the conference since…well, I’m not sure what. If you haven’t downloaded the app, do yourself a favor and download it before you leave for the conference so you have plenty of time to become familiar with it. You can download the conference app for free to your iPhone, iPad, or Android device. Just search for the app in the iTunes store or Google Play store with the search term “AMWA.”

First, make sure to create an account and profile after you download the app. You can make contact information public or private. One feature of the app allows you to download contact information for other attendees—great for networking! Attendees can download your contact information only if you make your information public, so be sure to consider this.

Want to see the conference schedule? With the app, you can review the schedule in a variety of different ways. First is the traditional by day. If you don’t want to think linearly, try looking at the schedule by track or by topic. Or, look up the schedule by speaker. If all else fails, you can search for a word or words.

Once you find sessions you want to attend, you can create your own personal schedule. And, you can even set a reminder for the sessions in your schedule. If you’re not sure about whether your schedule can accommodate a session, bookmark it. Later, you can look at your bookmarked sessions to see what you can get to.

The app includes the rooms of sessions, as well as maps of the meeting space at the Hyatt. No more waiting until you’re onsite to see where your sessions are and how far you have to run to get from one to the next. Map it out in advance!

Also become familiar with some of the things you’ll be able to do with the app during the conference…like take notes at sessions, connect through your social media accounts, rank sessions. We really hope the app enhances your conference experience from beginning to end!

If you really don’t have time to play with the app before the conference, staff will be on hand in the registration area to help you. And tips for using the app will be available at the Editorial Rx Press exhibit table, the sponsor of the app.

Get Out!
Yes, the AMWA Annual Conference is packed with opportunities to learn and to network. But be sure to get out at some point to enjoy this unbelievable city! Right around the corner from the convention center is the Short North, the culturally rich neighborhood known as the “art and soul” of Columbus. You’ll enjoy walking through this city gem.

Also just steps from the Hyatt is the North Market, which describes itself as “…the fabulous foodies, persnickety purveyors, and artful artisans peddling the fresh, the tasty, the exotic, the beautiful, and the special.” As a bonus, a Farmer’s Market is featured every Saturday. Wouldn’t some nice fruit or fresh flowers look good on your hotel desk?

A little farther out is the German Village, a tiny neighborhood that is one of the premier historic districts in the country. It’s packed with fun places to eat and drink.

Learn more about what Columbus offers at My Columbus. Also, members of the Ohio Valley Chapter will be available in the registration area (and by phone) to help answer your questions about the area and make suggestions. The AMWA Conference app also includes a list of some restaurants compiled by Ohio Valley Chapter members.

When you do venture farther away from the Hyatt, remember Columbus’ famous saying: “All you need is 4’s.” That’s the motto of Yellow Cab of Columbus, which has been operating since 1928. The background to the saying is the cab company’s phone number: 444-4444 (area code 614). And, to capitalize on the 4 theme, four people can ride for the price of one. Sounds like a good way to get around (and traveling in groups is always best). Besides the easy-to-remember phone number (you’ve memorized it, right?), Yellow Cab offers 4 ways to order a cab: phone, online, an app (available in the App Store), and even by text message (you send your pick-up address to 777222—hey, what happened to the 4s?). So, there’s no excuse for not exploring Columbus—or not getting back to the hotel on time.

I look forward to exploring Columbus with all of you!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Strategies to Build Education Content for Health Professionals

Given that the past decade has witnessed a rapid expansion of biomedical knowledge, you’d think the case for continuing medical education (CME)/continuing education in the health professions (CEHP) is made. If you’re a health professional, there’s always something new to learn. However, according to several reports (notably Redesigning Continuing Education in the Health Professions), learning something new isn’t enough anymore.

Today, health professionals need to not only accumulate facts (characteristic of the old CME paradigm) but also integrate new knowledge into practice and develop analytic and diagnostic thinking skills that support performance and quality improvement. These changes are needed to meet the demands of a complex, team-based, patient-centered health care system that is evolving to address persistent health disparities and deficits in patient safety and health care quality. As a result, CEHP needs to be up to the task of delivering what education leaders call performance-based, transformative, interprofessional learning.

The good news is that CEHP continues to be an important area of content development for an expanding range of learning platforms (e.g., point of care, online, simulations). The bad news is…actually, if you’re a writer, there is no bad news, because, as Johanna Lackner Marx notes in her CME Rising column in the AMWA Journal, where there is content, there is a need for writers, especially writers skilled in developing interactive content that addresses the kinds of real-world clinical, organizational, and system challenges faced by health professionals in their daily practice.

If you create education content for health professionals, your own education can get a bolus shot at the 2013 American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio. The AMWA annual conference is well-recognized for the value of its educational offerings; a recent survey demonstrated that the conference is the primary source of continuing education for 76% of AMWA members.

At least a dozen annual conference sessions focus specifically on creating content for practitioner education, in print, online, and multimedia formats.

Audience Analysis
If you want to refine your audience analysis skills, and align audience needs with the medium you are writing for, consider “Target Audience: Preventing Tragedies on a Train.” This hands-on session will prepare you to identify target audiences—arguably the single most important skill in medical writing, especially when writing for members of interdisciplinary health care teams—and tailor your content accordingly.

Medium Matters
Of course, in writing, medium matters as much as audience. If you write education content specifically for online/multimedia formats, consider “Medical Writing for Instructionally Sound Engaging e-Learning” or “Evidence-Based Instructional Design: Practical Tips for the Occasional Educator.” Online/multimedia education is a growing segment in CEHP, as online learning offers ease of access and convenience to busy, time-strapped health professionals. If you are a new, or moderately experienced, writer who is new to e-learning, this session will introduce you to the works of leading educational researchers and help you expand your ability to write instructionally sound content for e-learning educational and training courses—without having to become a software expert.

And if that’s not enough for you, “Writing for Video” will get you simultaneously using the left and right sides of your brain. Writing for video/CD-ROM requires more than words, calling for both verbal and visual communication to hold viewers’ attention. Stuck on how to achieve both? This session with show you how to create effective presentations through conceptual development, scriptwriting style, production commands, and the interactive features of CD-ROMs.

The Case Rests
In fact, interaction is increasingly the name of the education game. Case-based learning is the new normal in adult education in general, and in CEHP in particular. Although Harvard Business School is often credited with inventing the case method, Steve Sturdy, my old colleague at the University of Edinburgh, argues that University of Edinburgh pathology professor James Lorrain Smith actually invented the ‘case method of teaching pathology’ in 1912. You can explore case development at the AMWA Annual Conference in “Stating Your Case (Study).” In this seminar, you’ll learn the nuts and bolts of creating robust case studies. Eve Wilson, one of the presenters in that session, says that developing questions to incorporate within case studies that challenge clinician learners and allow educators to assess learning is key to case creation. The seminar will provide an overview of the steps in developing appropriate knowledge- and competence-based questions within case studies to enhance learner interaction.

If you want to dig deeper, “Learning in the Health Professions: Practical Strategies for Developing Continuing Education Cases” is a foundational workshop that offers even more hands-on practice in case development, including how to optimize adult learning principles to enhance learning. A client recently commented to me that it’s hard to get writers who can handle cases and develop an activity that incorporates a case, multiple choice questions, and evidence-based feedback. After these sessions, you’ll be able to do all three.

Need to Know
For a review of the current regulatory environment in CEHP (and who doesn’t need this review?), there is “Where Does the Sun Shine? The Regulatory Environment, Education, and Promotions.” Led by continuing education experts Marissa Seligman, PharmD, FACEHP, CCMEP, and Pamela Ostreicher, PhD, this seminar also focuses on changes in states laws, trends in institutional regulations, and do’s and don’ts for medical writers who provide services for both CME and non-CME projects.

If you want to publish about your development of continuing education projects, you can hear what Dr. Seligman, who is the Editor of the ACHEP Almanac, looks for in manuscripts at “Getting Published: A Discussion with Editors of Medical Communication Publications.” This panel discussion is led by Vicki White, editor of the AMWA Journal, who will also discuss how to get your manuscript noted for our organization’s peer-reviewed journal.

Register now for the AMWA Annual Conference to enhance your skills in developing educational content. You can find the days and times for sessions in the registration brochure. Act fast—early registration ends today, Friday, October 18. You can register on-site at the conference, but you’ll pay a higher registration fee. Save money and register now!
--Alexandra Howson, PhD, 2013 Annual Conference Committee

Thursday, October 17, 2013

AMWA Is Not Just for Writers

One of my biggest challenges as an editor is demonstrating my knowledge, ability, and worth. Medical writers have writing samples, but how do medical editors make themselves stand out? The American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) has been my toolbox for several years, giving me what I need to become a better editor and help me stand out among others. It’s true…AMWA is not just for writers, and this year’s AMWA Annual Conference offers a wide variety of sessions designed to help you be a better medical editor.

In “Leveraging the Talent in the Editorial Freelancers Association: What Editorial Professionals Can Do for You,” expert editors will focus on levels of editing, differences between editing and proofreading, and other editorial tasks. You’ll come away armed with tools and websites to help you improve and streamline your editing and proofreading.

Are you a medical journal editor? Learn about podcasts in “Scientific Podcasts: Why, When, What, Everywhere?” This seminar is an encore presentation by two managing editors who discussed this topic at the Council of Science Editors (CSE) annual meeting earlier this year. In another session, “The Rising Tide of Plagiarism in Medical Writing,” you can learn about plagiarism from an editor’s perspective and about how to use plagiarism detection software and evaluate and share the subsequent results.

Are you one of the many editors and content planners who are afraid of or confused by new media? Then you need “Tweeting, Blogging, SEO, and Strategy: Online Content Planning for Medical Editors.” You will learn how to integrate online content planning and social media marketing into the editorial process to promote content in search engines, improve quality, and increase user engagement.

Another panel presentation, “Holistic Strategies for the Biomedical Manuscript: Collaboration of Art, Editing, and Journalism,” provides an overview of an approach to translate biomedical manuscripts into news releases and subsequent media coverage.

You can also hone your skills in using technology for your editing projects. Take advantage of Hands-on Demonstration sessions in using Adobe X, EndNote, and Word.

Bring your biggest editing questions to the conference, where you can get help from an experienced editor. This year’s new “What’s Your Problem? Problem-Solving Discussions” is designed to help you answer that nagging editing-related question (as well as writing, freelancing, and regulatory writing). Jennifer Maybin, a leader in the EFA and AMWA, will help you face your biggest editing challenge! (Other problem-solving discussions are led by experts in writing, freelancing, and regulatory writing).

And if all this is not enough, the 2013 AMWA conference gives a special shout-out to medical editors. This year’s Alvarez Award winner is Gregory D. Curfman, MD, executive editor of the New England Journal of Medicine. In a recent survey of AMWA members, 85% of respondents said they used NEJM as a regular resource, so it is a particularly relevant honor to have Dr. Curfman address the AMWA membership. He will deliver his keynote address on the first day of the conference.

So what are you waiting for? Register now for the AMWA Annual Conference. And be quick: Advance registration ends on Friday, October 18. After that, you’ll need to register on-site, which is more expensive. You can get more details on conference sessions in the registration brochure.
—Keightley Amen, BA, ELS, AMWA Annual Conference Committee

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Field of Opportunities in Medical Writing

Have you thought about being a medical writer but don’t know how to break into the business? Are you already a medical writer but in a job that bores you? If you have a dream of a new career path in medical writing, bring that dream to the 2013 American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Annual Conference and make it a reality! With the theme of Expand Your Horizons, the conference is designed to help new and experienced medical writers learn more about the field of opportunities in medical writing.

From students who want to explore a career in medical writing or editing to scientists who are considering a switch to writing to experienced writers who are thinking about a different type of writing, all can get the kick-start they need at the AMWA Annual Conference. Medical writing is a diverse profession offering a variety of settings and work products, with new opportunities emerging every day.

Discover the Field
Starting a career in medical writing is not always easy. In a recent survey of AMWA members, nearly one-quarter of respondents listed “breaking into the field” as a top challenge. AMWA has created conference programming to address this need. The most important first step you can take to learn about a career in medical writing is the AMWA Annual Conference session, “Scope of Medical Communication,” which covers a range of unique practice settings, including regulatory writing, medical editing, medical communications agency, public relations, medical device writing, and freelancing. Experienced medical communicators from these settings will outline the knowledge, education, and attributes that lead to success in each setting, along with how to advance and what you can expect to earn. This year, “Scope of Medical Communication” is offered on Saturday, as a convenience to students and full-time workers.

Explore New Opportunities
The “Scope” session is also a great place for experienced medical writers to learn about other traditional career paths. Medical writers already in the field can learn about new career paths in “New Opportunities for Medical Writers,” where a panel of experts will describe two emerging areas of medical writing: health technology assessments and consensus manuscripts. In “FDA’s Other Box: Medical Device Regulation for Pharmaceutical Writers,” panelists will inspire regulatory writers to think outside the pharmaceutical industry box and learn more about writing for the medical device industry.

Get the Inside Track
Find out what employers look for in medical writers at “What Employers Are Interested In: How to Progress Your Career.” The speakers in this session include a hiring manager and a recruiter who will give tips on how to structure a resume, discuss common interview questions, and describe what makes a good candidate for a medical writing position. For broader career help, consider the expanded seminar “Create Visibility and Influence to Fast Track Your Career.” Here, John West Hadley, a well-known career search counselor, will show you how to recognize when it’s time to leave a job, how to best search for a new job, and how to make the most of your potential.

Learn to Market Yourself
Two informal small-group discussions can help students and others new to the field, regardless of your educational background, learn how to best present themselves to potential employers. For those who studied English, Communications, or Writing, there’s “Marketing Your Liberal Arts Background to Employers and Clients” and for scientists looking to move to medical writing, there’s “Transitioning from the Benchtop to Medical Writing: Rethinking the Format of Your CV.”

The AMWA Annual Conference offers even more than these outstanding programs. Look through the registration brochure and make the decision to attend the conference—even if only for a day. If you’re a student and concerned about the cost, learn why the conference is a great investment in your future. You need to act fast, though, early registration closes on Friday, October 18. After that, you can register on-site, but it will cost you more. Save by registering now!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Freelances: The P.A.T.H. Is Clear

For those of us who freelance, there are many benefits—not having to go into an office, being able to work in sweats, and having a semblance of control over our schedules (sometimes!). But on the flip side, we also are subject to client whims, can be given unrealistic deadlines, and may not be truly compensated for the value that we bring to projects. That’s why I’m excited for a special seminar that will be offered at this year’s annual AMWA conference: “The P.A.T.H. from Writer to Consultant.” And for those of you who are editors, the principles also apply to you.

In this seminar, Jason Berkowitz, Vice President-Client Services at Seven Step RPO, will share his insight into how freelances can position themselves as consultants rather than project-for-hire contractors. The difference can be significant. A consultant is viewed as an expert who evaluates problems and proposes solutions, which can be translated into higher fees, greater respect, and stronger client loyalty. If you’ve ever grappled with how you can raise your rates, this session is a must-attend for you!

I had the opportunity to get a brief glimpse of Jason’s presentation. He gives a step-by-step approach on how to be a consultant, not “just” a writer or editor. What I love: He provides examples of phrases to use in difficult situations. Do you cringe at pushing back on an overly ambitious deadline? Has one of your clients underestimated the amount of time it will take to complete a project? Jason will tell you how to address these common problems professionally and effectively.

Beyond these very useful tips, Jason will teach you how to shift your approach to client interaction in two key ways: becoming more courageous and learning when (and how) to personalize the client-consultant relationship. Many freelances don’t feel empowered in their client interactions, and some miss opportunities to build client loyalty. If either resonates with you, P.A.T.H. could set you on a course to develop a base of devoted clients that pay you well. (The “A” in P.A.T.H. stands for audacity and the “H” represents heart; learn about the “P” and the “T” in the seminar!)

“The P.A.T.H. from Writer to Consultant” is scheduled for Thursday, November 7, 9:00-11:45 AM. It’s one of three Intensive Seminars being offered for the first time at this year’s AMWA Annual Conference. This new session type is designed to provide an enhanced educational experience through an expanded session time, a limited attendance, and a focus on practical application. The cost for an Intensive Seminar is $40. My thought: If you get just one take-away from the seminar that helps you increase your rates or negotiate more realistic deadlines, $40 is well worth it.

If you haven’t registered for the AMWA Annual Conference yet (what are you waiting for??), be sure to sign up for this Intensive Seminar. If you have already registered for the conference, you can send an e-mail to annual_conference@amwa.org to ask that the seminar be added to your registration; you will receive an electronic invoice that you can pay online with a credit card. Registration closes on Friday, October 18, so be sure to register now, before higher on-site fees kick in. Embrace P.A.T.H. immediately and reserve a spot in what I believe is a unique program on how freelances can transform themselves and their businesses. Hope to see you there!

—Christine Welniak, 2013 AMWA Annual Conference Committee