Book Doctor

Book Doctor: Definitions that make the blood boil.

Okay… Minor confession time. I’ve been working as a freelance editor for the past three years and I’m struggling in a big way to find clients. I have a significant number of followers of my editorial blog, and of my YouTube channel, where I give out hints on working with Scrivener and social media. I’ve been asked to present at various workshops throughout the country. Yet, I’m struggling to turn all these marketing tactics into opportunities to get paid.

Yes, folks, I admit it. I’ve sold out. I write and edit for the money. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. I love sinking my head into characters, sparking emotions that I can’t control. I get a buzz out of helping others achieve their dreams. But I still need to be able to put food on the table and a roof over my head. (There’s only so much patience that the husband will have before his goodwill runs out.)

So to that end, I’ve been looking at my editorial website and trying to work out ways to get better SEO attraction. Website design, social media, and SEO. It’s become my thing. The real trick seems to be to find the right buzz word. Well…

I’ve had to succumb to peer pressure. I’ve had to start using the latest buzz word for developmental editing — and I HATE it.

I’m a BOOK DOCTOR. Now I will go sit in the corner and sulk. Here’s why.

SulkingThere are two things that I hate about being called a book doctor.

  1. Everyone seems to be using it now. Which is why I need to start using it myself — just so I can be found on the Google searches.
  2. The stigma and definitions associated make my blood boil.

According to UrbanDictionary, a Book Doctor is a fraud.

On my editorial blog, I sucked it up and wrote a piece declaring that the Book Doctor was in the house. I wrote about how it was just another buzz term for editor. During my research for that article, I encountered a post from 2008 on UrbanDictionary that defined the term Book Doctor. I’m still gritting my teeth.

According to Joe25674 on UrbanDictionary, a Book Doctor is:

  1. One who has received a Ph.D. in Literature or of a single language of the world. They are usually college professors seeing as there is not other possible practical application for getting a Ph.D. in such disciplines; they also make very small salaries due to their overall lack of need to society.
  2. One who gets his/her Ph.D. for the sole purpose of being called “Doctor.”
  3. Not a REAL doctor.

OMG! How my eyes see nothing but red. Let’s tackle this angry response one point at a time.

PhD in Literature or single language having no value?

Where does one even begin?

Perhaps I should start by pointing out that I have a PhD, but my PhD is in Astronomy. I spent 6 years of my life on that thing (while raising two babies), specializing in astronomical instrumentation. I spent 5 years going down to the Mount John University Observatory every month collecting optical measurements of the air movement above the telescope. Another solid year went into data processing and writing the thesis itself. You have no idea how much blood, sweat and tears went into that PhD. I know how difficult it is to actually get one.

Some will argue that my PhD is in science, which is true, but I personally know several who have PhDs in English or literature. I know of one, a world expert, who has a PhD in French Literature. Just because their PhD is not in science or sociology doesn’t mean that their PhD has no value. They have put just as much effort into their dissertations as I did, if not more so. They have become extremely well read (much more than I am), and they know how language works. They can pull apart a piece of writing to reveal the hidden subtext, and they can piece it back together with such lyrical poise that your jaw drops at the awesome imagery.

Me… I’m an on-the-surface girl. To me and my writing, there is no subtext. There are no hidden messages. Just raw emotion that cuts like a knife. Am I any less of a writer? No! I’m a different kind of writer, but by golly, those PhD earners have every right to be treated with respect!

And they make small salaries because they are doing something that Joe25674 can’t be bothered to appreciate: teaching others.

Getting a PhD for the sole purpose of being call a Doctor?

Sorry, but this one isn’t restricted to just the one discipline. ALL areas of study have these sorts of people in them. Me… I just wanted to be able to graduate wearing a pom-pom hat.

Dr Judy L Mohr (Dec 2009) Taken at the historic Canterbury College buildings. (Notice the pom-pom hat?)

In all seriousness, I elected to go for a PhD because I wanted to be a researcher, and in most fields of science, to be a researcher (and not just a lab assistant), you need to have a PhD. I knew this, so I put in the time and effort. Besides, in the beginning, it gave me the ability to explain the gap in my work history when my husband and I decided to have children.

Eventually, I decided that research wasn’t for me, for reasons that I’ve discussed previously, but I love being able to use the title of Dr. It’s actually had its benefits for my children. My husband has the right to use Ir because of his own qualifications. So, on the applications for our children into high schools, we put Dr and Ir. The assumptions people make when they see those titles… It’s opened doors for our children.

Who cares if people put themselves through the torture and agony of getting a PhD just to call themselves Doctor. They’ve earned that right!

Trust me — only the masochistic put themselves through the agony of getting a PhD.

A PhD not a REAL doctor?


Let me put the REAL situation in front of your eyes.

Within New Zealand, to become a medical doctor, you need to spend 6 years at university (only two universities in the country even teach medicine). After graduation, you can use the title Dr.

If you wish to become more specialized and become a surgeon or other specialist, then you spend another 2 – 3 years and your title reverts to Mr, Mrs or Ms.

Then if you do a PhD, spending another 3 years minimum, you become a Dr again.

If surgeons, who have more training and have more years at college than a general medical practitioner, are not a Dr, but need a PhD to be a Dr again, where in having a PhD are you NOT a REAL doctor?

I’ve tried to deny it, but I’m a book doctor.

I know the above is a circular argument, but I think you can see one of the reasons why I hate the term book doctor. But for better or worse, I’ve given in and have become one of the many that are calling themselves a book doctor. However, in my case, I am a REAL doctor, just not of medicine or literature.

I’m a science doctor with an eye for a good story.

P.S. I’d love to meet you on Twitter or Facebook.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ below. You can read other posts like it here.

© Copyright, Judy L Mohr 2018

Posted in A Writer's Journey, Random, Writing and tagged , , .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.