Becoming Book Launch Party

On October 2nd, the Inspira team had the honor of attending the book launch party for one of our amazing authors—Super Bowl-winning former Seahawk, Clint Gresham. Clint’s first book, Becoming: Loving the Process to Wholeness, was released that same day and is available on Amazon.com.

clint-book-launch-1002The venue for the launch party was a 114-foot yacht—Karina Jean—moored on beautiful Lake Washington near Seattle, which was generously provided by a friend to host all 50 guests. The Cascade Mountains silhouetted against the setting sun were a gorgeous backdrop to the catered event, which provided  delicious hors de ’oeuvres as guests sipped on drinks and enjoyed the view.

At the end of the night, Clint spoke to the gathering about his heart for Becoming, his mission, and his hopes and dreams for the future. It was an absolute delight for our team clint-book-launch-1064to be a part of the evening and hear him speak, as he is definitely gifted with words! We closed the night with a moment of prayer for Clint and his wife, Matti, as they embark on a nation-wide book tour for a couple of months. (Clint and Matti live in Dallas, Texas.)

Clint’s book, Becoming, starts a conversation with the reader about identity, and the parts of ourselves in which we find our greatest worth. The book asks really important questions, such as: Do we matter? If so, why? Who are we becoming? Who do we want to become? Becoming is about learning to love yourself and fully embracing the unique destiny you were made for.

Clint uses his experience as a professional football player to highlight the importance of NOT placing your identity in what you do, but rather in who you are. It’s a powerful and transformational message for people of all ages and walks of life.

clint-book-launch-1083It was a joy to partner with Clint in bringing Becoming to print. He is a passionate man of integrity and his words are bound to change thousands of lives—maybe even yours!

SaveSave

Advertisements

So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?

 Do you have a skill, a story, a memoir, or message burning inside you —but you’re unsure how to get it into print?

Inspira Literary Solutions provides authors with every service necessary along the way to publication, from book idea to book-in-hand. Our a la carte menu includes:

Concept Coaching – before you even start your non-fiction manuscript, concept coaching with Inspira will help you establish:

  • an overall thesis for your book
  • a clearly-defined targeted reader and a strong benefit for that reader
  • a workable structure and chapter outline
  • a sample chapter that contains all key chapter elements (intro, thesis, cohesive sub-sections, transitions, conclusion) that you will use for a template to rework the other chapters

Manuscript Review and Evaluation – many would-be authors want to know, is my manuscript publishable? Our manuscript review of your fiction or non-fiction manuscript will provide you with concrete feedback on the quality of your writing craft, subject/plot organization, character development (if fiction), and logic and flow of your ideas, and will provide specific recommendations for editing and publishing.

Manuscript Development – we can work with you as you write your book—chapter by chapter, every step of the way providing feedback, accountability, and refining to help you complete your manuscript and grow as a writer along the way.

Editingdevelopmental, copy editing, and line editing

Designcover and interior layout, illustrations, and graphics

Self-publishing – from obtaining your ISBN to registering your copyright to getting your book on Amazon and into the databases of major retailers, and everything in between—we provide a complete menu of services to help you get your book “from idea in head to book in hand”!

Print project management – whether you want to print 10 copies of your book or 10,000, we can direct you to the best value printer for your needs. Breathe easy; we can manage the whole process for you—or, if you prefer, we can help you get set up to easily manage the process yourself.

Traditional publishing – for those seeking traditional publishing, we provide traditional editorial services and assistance with book proposal development.

Check out our portfolio to see the dozens of books we’ve helped develop. Then contact Inspira today for a complimentary consultation—and start the journey of bringing your message or story to the world!

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Writing a Non-Fiction Book Proposal

aaron-burden-90144Writing a book proposal (and knowing what to do with it) is an incredibly important process that all authors and aspiring authors should have down pat. A literary agent can receive hundreds if not thousands of proposals each year.  Very few of those make it past the slush pile, even fewer actually get their manuscripts read.  That’s why it’s important to nail down the ability to deliver a powerful proposal for your manuscript.

When writing your proposal, there are six things that are paramount:

  1. Develop a one-sentence summary of your book. Not only will you use this to interest and engage potential publishers, but it will become your “elevator pitch” when others ask you about your book.
  2. You’ll need to convince publishers why your book (or idea) is a marketable product. This is the MOST IMPORTANT aim of the proposal. What is your idea/vision/mission? Why is it unique? How will it help or impact others? In this case, the creativity and prose of your writing matters less than the actual business impact (or marketability) or your book.
  3. Be sure to identify your target audience. Avoid blanket statements like “football fans,” or, “Christians in America.” Those are far too broad. Who specifically will read it, and why do they care about your book? You need to make the market clear for the potential publisher.
  4. Share freely about yourself (author bio). Who are you? Why are you an expert on this topic? Why are you credible, and what is your experience (e.g., you’re a blogger with 2,000 hits a day, you have a degree in metaphysics, you’re a mom of three and an ordained minister, you’ve spent the last four years researching search engine optimization, etc. Share facts that are relevant to your book.). Cite any other previously published work.
  5. Create a table of contents (or chapter outline). Even if your manuscript is not complete, it’s important to have a chapter outline, and a brief synopsis of the contents of each chapter. Demonstrate to publishers that your book is organized, has a cohesive theme, and an obvious beginning, middle, and end.
  6. Research existing competition. What other books out there are similar to your work? Are there any title similarities? How is your book different from what’s already on the market? Why will consumers buy your book over the others?

Here are three excellent sites with good information about developing an effective book proposal; we recommend you read all of them:

 

Start Here: How to Write a Book Proposal

https://janefriedman.com/start-here-how-to-write-a-book-proposal/

 

How to Write a Book Proposal

http://www.rachellegardner.com/how-to-write-a-book-proposal/

 

Write a Book Proposal That Leaves Publishers Begging to Publish You

http://www.michaelhyatt.com/writing-a-winning-book-proposal

 

Remember, the BEST way to learn is by doing. Just reading these posts isn’t going to give you the skills you need to write a concise, well-phrased, and persuasive proposal. You will not be convincing of how important your book’s message is unless you PRACTICE. Also consider having other people in your life (friends, spouses, professors, etc.) read your proposal and share their thoughts. Feedback can be an incredibly constructive part of this process!

How to Develop Your Book’s Purpose Statement

Are you thinking about writing a book? If you’re feeling inspired, motivated, or simply have a message you want to share with the world, then maybe checking “author” off on your resume is in your near future. We couldn’t be more excited for you!

One of the most crucial steps in the book-writing process (potentially even THE most important step) is developing your book’s objective. Every book (except for fiction work) needs a clear and defined objective as it provides direction, organization, and gives readers a “take-away.”

In order to determine the objective of your book, ask yourself these questions: What do I hope people will gain by reading it? What do I have to say that is unique? Why is my mission or message important? Who are my readers? How will my book impact their lives?

At Inspira, we’ve developed a simple formula to help our authors create a purpose statement for their book. Once you’re ready, you can use this formula (as well as the questions listed above) to dial in your point and start writing with definitive purpose:

If. . . (Insert here the kind of people who will be reading your book, or your target audience. What is their gender, age, socioeconomic status? What are their interests? )

Read. . . (Insert your working title here. Read here for tips on naming your book.)

They will overcome. . . (Insert what you see as the readers’ main need or obstacle.)

And ultimately achieve/experience/be able to. . .  (Insert the unique benefit or “take-away” you’re providing.)

Example purpose statement:

“If young millennials (age 18-25) read my book, 10 Steps to Getting Your Perfect Job, they will overcome joblessness, boredom, and anxiety, and achieve the skills they need such as determination, charisma, and flexibility to land their dream job in their ultimate career field.”

Your message is important and deserves to be shared with the world. If you’ve been considering writing a book but aren’t sure where to start, this could be the step you need to take. As always, Inspira Literary Solutions is available for consultations, writing coaching, developmental editing, copy editing, design, and even book production.

Happy writing!

Inspira Abroad

img_4889

Recently we had the incredible opportunity to take our work abroad and we wanted to share the adventure with you all!

In January, (Assistant Editor) Heather and I (Arlyn) traveled to England to work with one of our clients there. Kate Chislett, who owns the Instrumentally Music Studio in Ascot with her husband David, has developed an innovative (and fun!) preschool music curriculum, and we have had the delightful privilege of helping publish it.

       img_4616

Heather and Kate in the Instrumentally Studio in Ascot

For several days we worked with Kate both on and off-site, drawing from the inspiration of the studio (a fabulous place!) and Kate’s passion and creativity for her topic – infusing a love for and foundational knowledge 0f music into young children. Alligator A, Bunny B, Catty C and other characters like Mrs. Crotchet and Miss Minim are springing to life in Carnival Zoo with illustrations by designer Brianna Showalter.

froggy

Meet “Froggy F” on the musical scale!

But a trip abroad wouldn’t be complete without taking time to see the sights, would it?!  We took a few days to see London:

heatherandbeefeater

Heather meets a Beefeater at the Tower of London

img_4757

Art appreciation at the National Gallery 

 … and even squeezed in a quick trip to Paris:

img_4866

The Arc de Triomphe

img_4847

What’s Paris without the cappuccinos and the croissants…?

img_4877

… and pastries and macarons!

img_4870

Shopping on the Champs d’Elysees

img_4819

And a visit to a bookshop cafe … of course!

I also had the privilege of speaking to a group of parents in Ascot, who invited me to come share some parenting tips from our Parenting for the Launch book:

img_4908

At All Souls Church in Ascot, UK

We were certainly a little tired when we came back from our whirlwind trip, but more than that, we came back inspired! It was a tremendous opportunity to work with an amazing client with an inspirational and exciting publishing project, be inspired by incredible sights and people, and have the joy of some inspiring mother-daughter time in London and Paris.

It’s no coincidence that our name is Inspira; it is meaningful to us on so many levels. We love our work!

Arlyn Lawrence is the founder and president of Inspira Literary Solutions. She loves books, travel, people, and books.  And books. 

Providing Background for Your Reader: Keep Exposition Light

bookbalance

We have all likely been in conferences, churches, or classrooms where the speaker felt it necessary to give a 30-minute historic preamble before making his main point. Maybe this has happened to you: as an audience member, you found yourself repeatedly checking your watch. You were sure the point could have been made just as well without the entire history of the Greco-Roman empire. You lost interest because the speaker took too long setting up his premise, and never got to the actual point. Don’t let this happen with your readers!

What we’re talking about here is narrative exposition, which is an important part of every book, whether short or long, fiction or non-fiction. For example, it might include information about the setting, introductory information to your topic, historical context, or a character’s backstory. Exposition sets the stage and builds the foundation for the entire book. Without it, readers would be lost. However, if a book is too exposition heavy, the readers will lose interest. Usually, most of a book’s exposition takes place within the first few chapters of the novel, although there are several alternative narrative structures as well!

As a non-fiction author, you are probably writing a book because you are an expert in your field. You know about your subject. Perhaps you have been in the industry for years or you have spent hours perfecting a hobby about which you are writing. You may want to begin by expounding on the problem before you give your solution. However, unless you are writing a scholarly thesis for a niche audience, you will need to first draw in your reader. Break up the research by providing antidotes or personal thoughts. Once the reader is hooked on your idea, he or she will be willing walk with you as you make your points; just don’t dump them on the reader in the first few chapters.

If you are writing a novel, you have probably gone to great lengths to develop your character and your setting. However, in order to transfer your passion to your reader, you cannot drown them. This is not to say you cannot include all the necessary details, but you must be very aware of how you organize and present your material. For example, don’t introduce a character like this:

John stooped when he walked into the room. He was 6’3″ with broad shoulders and a thick neck. He was 46 and had black hair that swept over his black eyes. John was used to stooping because he had grown up in small village in . . .

This is heavy exposition; it feels like the author is going through a checklist of necessary expeditionary points. It also makes for boring reading! All this information may be important, but it can be spread out and embedded more naturally into the text. Light exposition feels more natural. When we first meet someone, we don’t need to know their exact height and complete childhood background. That can come later.

The bottom line is that overly heavy exposition takes away from a narrative. It bogs down the reader at a critical time when you want to be grabbing his or her interest. If you need expositional information, make sure to only give what is necessary; if there are ways to spread it out throughout the novel, do it.

Be willing to admit that the reader does not need to know all that you know. Your years of preparation and research will help you write, but do not need to be included in your book. Ease of reading and quality of narrative will always trump superfluous information and tangents. (Who knows, perhaps that information would be perfect for book number two!)

This post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor.

Mapping Your Manuscript

“When most people think of an ‘editor,’ they generally think about someone who weeds out all the bad grammar, misspelled words, and typos from a manuscript.  That is only partially true. This is copy editing. A good copy editor knows the rules of grammar and uses them scrupulously to polish your manuscript.

developmental editor, on the other hand, reads a manuscript and asks good questions. She (or he) gets at the heart of your book to make sure it has all the right components, and that it flows seamlessly and logically from start to finish.” (Excerpted from our blog, “Why Your Book Needs a Developmental Editor”

Editors will often begin by mapping out a book in order to see the whole book at a glance. This simply means going through the book and writing the titles of every chapter, heading, and subheading and how many words are in each section. For example:

Chapter 1: Title
Heading 1

200 words
Heading 2
6000 words
Subheading
300 words
Subheading
287 words
Subheading
350 words
Heading 3
3000 words

Chapter 2: Title
4000 words

Chapter 3: Title
500 words
Heading 1
200 words

This shows the editor at a glance, “Wow, Chapter One has multiple headings and subheadings and Chapter Two has none! Why? Could Chapter One be split into more topics? Why is Chapter One so long?”ams-k-m_road_intersections

These kinds of observations can help you, the author, know where you needs to work on consistency and organization. Chapters should be relatively the same length; an extremely long or short chapter must be a purposeful stylistic choice.

However, mapping out a book is not just about evening out the word count. This at-a-glance technique allows you to look at how your ideas build on one another and ensure your thoughts flow smoothly from chapter to chapter.

Putting away the actual words of the story and looking at the novel in this condensed structure allows you to step back and gain a new perspective. When an artist is working on a painting, he or she will often hold the painting up to a mirror. The reversed image allows the painter to gain a new perspective and look at composition rather than details.

As an author, you can map out your own manuscript. Let yourself experiment. What would happen if you shuffled around some chapters? Take away the emotion connected to your writing and allow your manuscript to be malleable. Is this map the fastest route? Does it build the most suspense? Is this detour unnecessary? Mapping out your book allows you to ask the important developmental questions and easily move things around. You’d be surprised at how helpful this tool is!

While you are writing, make sure you are always pulling back to get the big picture. Whether you use this tool or your own method of organization, it is important to take your reader on the best journey possible. Many books have great ideas and compelling story arcs, but they take meandering roads full of detours. Be open to redrawing the map of your book, it might just be the thing that turns a great idea into a great book!

Post written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor

SaveSave

Why Attend a Writing Workshop?

 

Writingworkshop-2

As a writer, or someone who is interested in writing, you have probably seen advertisements (like our own!) for writing workshops. You may be wondering: What is a writing workshop? What do you get out of it? Why go to a writing workshop?

Writing workshops can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and serve to support authors on their journey toward writing and publishing a book. They provide a variety of information, support, consultation, feedback, encouragement, and networking.

This is usually very different from a writing class. A writing class is prescriptive, teaching writing techniques and styles within one or a variety of genres. Generally, the writing exercises are assigned according to the topic. The beauty of writing workshops are they are tailored to YOUR writing. You get to work on your book, at whatever stage it is in. You will received feedback and input from professionals in the writing and publishing industry that will give you the next steps you need to take to get your book where you want it to go.

Writingworkshop-5

There are a number of components to writing a book and getting it published. Many authors who come to Inspira or attend our workshops assume that the right steps to creating a book are A) write the book, B) get feedback, C) make corrections and work towards publication. However, for most people, step B comes WAY too late.

For example, if a novel writer discovers after completing the first draft that a character is not believable, she may have to go back to square one and rewrite the entire book. Or a business writer comes to a workshop and realizes he should have been marketing his book during the entire year he has been writing it. A writing workshop gives you a recipe for writing, tailored to you, so you can know what’s ahead, and make sure your writing process is the most productive and highest quality it can be.

Writing workshops offer a short and inexpensive (when you consider both the cost of editing and hours spent re-working) boost to your writing. They can be invaluable for new and seasoned writers alike. Here are some more reasons why:

Guidance and Information: There is much you can learn from reading books and online sources, but a good facilitator can direct you to areas you need to focus on and answer your specific questions. At Inspira, we are experienced in the worlds of editing and publishing and so we are able to offer advice directing from the field.

Networking: Workshops are an excellent place to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and others. Never underestimate the power of networking.

Motivation and Inspiration: Writing can be a long and lonely progress. And, it’s not only the writing, but the marketing, networking, agent searching, and everything else that comes with it. A good workshop will remind you why you started, encourage you to continues, and give you the know-how to do so. Ideally, you should leave a workshop feeling inspired to finish your book!

If you are a writer, don’t sell yourself short. Get the tools you need (as soon as possible) to make your writing a success. Build community and seek out professionals who can guide you. Workshops are a great way to dip your foot into the water. Perhaps you just have an idea for a book; a workshop is the perfect place to learn how to begin and succeed. Perhaps you are part way through writing and feel in a rut; get encouragement and tips to keep going! Or maybe you have finished a book but want to re-work it yourself before sending it to an editor. We cannot stress this enough: don’t edit in the dark. You don’t want to spend hours and hours reworking your book without knowing the full scope of what the reworking should look like.

If we have convinced you of the importance of writing workshops, and you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming one-day workshop on January 28th!  We think this workshop is the perfect place to kickstart your book. After spending years working with authors and finding ourselves repeating the same information over and over, we decided to condense this information and offer it to aspiring authors to help them in their journeys to writing.

We hope to see you there!

You can register for Inspira’s one-day workshop “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” by accessing our Facebook Event page or emailing Kerry@inspiralit.com.

Alternative Narrative Stuctures

If you have ever watched a crime show or read a mystery novel, you have probably experienced a story that begins in medias res. The phrase literally means “into the middle of things” and in literature refers to a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This plot structure is wonderful for grabbing the reader’s attention and bypassing exposition, and works best with action-heavy narratives.

Many thriller TV shows use this method. The episode begins with action, the crime is taking place! Then the story flashes backward to before the crime, provides background information, and then moves forward as the detective tries to solve the case.

This technique is commonly used in best sellers because it creates an immediate hook. The readers are drawn ‘max. The readers are invested in the climax from the beginning and now must see what led to this point and what happens after.

in-medias-res-final_9697
Photo courtesy of TVtropes.org

Another plus to in medias res is that it forces the author to be creative with exposition. Exposition is necessary, but can often be dull and obvious. When the first few chapters of a book are filled with paragraphs of exposition or unrealistic dialogue for the soul purpose of giving information, the reader is easily bored. Beginning with the climax forces the writer to either use flashbacks, creative dialogue, or nonlinear narrative. This helps liven up necessary exposition, plus, the readers are already hooked!

Create Suspense by Giving Away the Ending

Another way to secure the reader’s interest is to ask the question, “How is this going to happen?” rather than, “What is going to happen?” Often, novels will gear up for a surprise ending such as the death of the main character. However, sometimes it creates more suspense to tell the reader what is going to happen and leave the reader wondering how.

I recently read a book that began with the main character telling the reader that he kills his best friend. However, as I got to know the characters I could not image why he would do such a thing. By giving away the ending, the author created suspense because the whole time I was looking for clues and any indications towards the inevitable ending.

While these two narrative techniques do not work for every novel, they are a good reminder for writers to be creative with their narratives. Plan the novel out linearly—from exposition, to climax, to resolution—then play around with different ways to build suspense and engage the reader. In medias res might not work for your novel, but it may give you some ideas for how to break up exposition and create inciting action. Are there snippets of information you can feed your reader to increase suspense? Could you make use of flashbacks or flash-forwards? Don’t be afraid to try something new; intriguing narratives make for good reading!

This post written by Assistant Editor Kerry Wade.

Protecting Your Work with a Copyright

copyright

Your book is written and in print, hooray! Now you’re done, right? Not so fast. Before you’re off to the races with your marketing and distribution, you want to make sure you protect your work through copyright.

Copyright protects the intellectual rights of both published and unpublished works communicated in any tangible medium of expression (e.g., books, paintings, songs, software programs, etc.) from the moment they are created. It is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and is not dependent on being granted from any authority; it is not necessary to “apply” for a copyright. What you do need to do is register it in order to establish the work as yours and to protect you from others using, appropriating, or profiting from it without your permission. It is not required that you register your copyright; it is completely voluntary. Registration of your copyright is simply a service provided to you by the U.S. Library of Congress. If there were ever a dispute about your rights to your intellectual property, your copyright registration would be on the public record, and proof that you are the creator of that work.

Note that you cannot copyright the title of your book. What you may be interested in, in that case, is a trademark, which can protect words, phrases, symbols, or logos, or designs. (Trademark registration can be a lengthy and expensive process and requires an attorney.)

How to Register Your Copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office, a branch of the Library of Congress, is physically located in the James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, D.C. However, in this wonderful electronic age in which we live you will access it by their online location at http://www.copyright.gov/. This is the least expensive and easiest way to establish your copyright. To register, you will be required to provide:

  • a completed copyright application,
  • a (nonrefundable) filing fee, and
  • a (nonreturnable) copy or copies of your book, usually electronic

Simply set up your account online to get started, and then follow the prompts to register your book and pay by credit card. Generally speaking, most online filers receive their certificate within nine months or earlier.

It is still possible to register your copyright traditionally (manually), although the Copyright Office is starting to phase out this option, and it is more expensive. You can download a copy of the form on the website, fill it out, and send it in with your payment and a hard copy of your book.

Though perhaps tedious, registering your copyright is not a complicated process and shouldn’t be intimidating. If you fail to complete it, your book will still be copyrighted. However, if you don’t file your forms forms and pay your filing fee, your copyright will not be registered. And it’s the registration that counts if there’s ever a dispute about your intellectual rights to your book.

So, once you’ve finished your book, don’t neglect this important step. You worked so hard to create it; it’s definitely worth the extra step to protect it.

Do you have questions about book writing and publishing and live in the Seattle/Tacoma, Washington area? Consider attending our Book Writers’ Workshops … the next one coming up is Saturday, January 28th, 9 am – 3 pm in Gig Harbor … “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” Find more details on the “Workshop” page on our website, or read about our previous workshops, last June and September. Hope you can join us!