New Book Launch: “Am I Loved?”

The Inspira Team is proud to announce the launch of Shawn Petree’s book, Am I Loved? Petree_cover_frontThe Question You Might Not Know You’re Asking.

Shawn is a dynamic writer, speaker, and storyteller—a passionate ministry leader, teacher, husband, and father. In his book, he addresses the question many of us grapple with (and that some of us may not even know we’re asking) internally: am I loved? Shawn shares with readers his deeply personal experience with this question, and his passion for helping others find the answer is abundantly clear.

Shawn wants to help the reader answer other questions as well, such as: Is what the world says about me true? If I can’t love myself, how can others? What do I need to do to be loved? Who am I, anyway? His aim is to help tear down the destructive, self-loathing thoughts that so many of us play on a loop in our head. It’s a warm and provocative invitation to break free of the negative self-talk that tears people down, with detailed instructions on how to do so.

photo-5178553797836800The process in which Shawn’s book came to publication is a perfect example of Inspira’s “idea in head to book in hand” promise. He took advantage of the concept coaching service we offer, where he received coaching from the Inspira team on his book concept, layout and organization, voice, style, and more. From there, we completed a chapter-by-chapter developmental edit, working closely with him to perfect his voice every step of the way.

Since the launch of Am I Loved? on January 9th earlier this month, the book has already been fifth on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list of Spiritual Self-Help books on Kindle! It’s being welcomed with high acclaim by readers of all ages and backgrounds. If you would like to know more about Shawn’s book, his ministry, and his mission, you can ShawnPetree-1visit If you’d like to purchase the book (either paperback or Kindle), you can find it here:

It has been a joy and pleasure to work with Shawn on his project, and we hope you’ll check out his work and read the book.



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!

Be an Active In-Person Networker


“Who me? A networker?” you ask. Yes, you. But don’t let that overwhelm you. It’s not at all complicated to “network”—and it might come even more naturally to you than you think.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways to network online (think social media), and this is really important; however, it is just as important to network offline. Here at Inspira, while we have clients from far off places like Indonesia and England, Arkansas and Arizona, most of our clients are from the Pacific Northwest. And, the majority of our clients heard about our company through our in-person networking or through word of mouth. Many of our authors have found the same to be true. Their biggest book deals or speaking engagements have happened because they were able to meet someone face-to-face and share their passion.

Networking is all about exchanging information and developing contacts with the end goal of furthering your career, gaining clients for your business, or spreading the word about your book. When you are able to shake someone’s hand, you become more than just a name in a contact list; you become a face and a story. You can connect over the fact that your sons go to the same school or you both disliked the last conference speaker. More importantly, they are able to see your passion and better understand where the passion comes from.

When having a personal conversation, you are also able to tailor you message to your audience. You don’t have to speak in generalizations; instead, you can specifically say why your project would be beneficial to them.

Finally, in-person networking makes you memorable. You took up space in someone’s life and left an impression (hopefully a good one!). So, when the time comes and they are looking for a book in your specific subject, they will remember your conversation and buy yours!

  1. Always be prepared. You never know when you’ll meet a good networking connection. It could be at a big conference, but it could also be at the hairdresser or at a local football game. Be ready to talk about your book at any moment. If you haven’t already, memorize a 30-second “elevator pitch.” This can especially help if you are an introvert who gets nervous when you want to impress someone or articulate a concise idea. (Smelling nice and dressing professionally never hurts either!)
  1. Always carry business cards. Don’t make people rely on their memory; give them a tangible reminder of how they can contact you and get more information.
  1. Think local. People are often very willing to support local business and authors. Develop a relationship with your local media, including radio, newspaper, and TV connections. Talk to your local library and offer to host a reading or a workshop.
  1. Be personable. Don’t dismiss the power of a solid handshake and good eye contact. You are your best marketing tool, so don’t sell yourself short. Share your passion, and people will catch hold of your vision.

“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off by the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” ~Sonia Sotomayer

Choosing a Winning Book Cover

To be honest, we all judge books by their covers. This is true today more than ever. While there has been much fear and speculation over the decline in sales of “real” books alongside the rise of e-books, that is not true. Physical books are selling better than ever. This is due to three main reasons:

  • there are more people on the planet than ever (as well as more people in developed nations with equal access to education); therefore, more people buying books than ever
  • the power of social media and globalized networking
  • because so many things are online and intangible, people want to put their money into buying quality physical products. Publishers today are putting increasing amounts of money into design and quality of books. People want to buy beautiful books.

For example, I own a 99-cent copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice on my Kindle. However, when Juniper Books, in collaboration with Penguin Publishing artist Coralie Bickford-Smith, came out with their new Jane Austen book covers, I willingly threw my money at them (see image below). That’s not because it was new content; I wanted to own this beautiful new copy and put the cover on my shelf.


Beautiful, compelling book covers matter tremendously to the success of a book. With that in mind, here are some tips for choosing a winning cover design for yours:

  1. Pick a good title. Read our previous blog about how to pick a book title:
  2. Browse Amazon and search for other books in your genre.Is there a noticeable design pattern? What colors are generally used? What type of typography? Minimalistic or crowded? Be aware of what is selling in your genre and use the marketing research that has already gone into those books.
  3. Hire a trusted designer. Don’t skimp on design. A professional and beautifully designed book will be one of your biggest marketing tools. One of the key signs of badly done self-publishing is bad design, so make sure your designer knows her (or his) stuff!
  4. Don’t try to accomplish too much through intuition. The entire subplot and theme of your book does not need to be hidden in the cover. Don’t try to include secret clues or messages in the cover. Just because you use the imagery of a wave in your book does not mean that is the best for your cover.
  5. If in doubt, go for a classic and professional-looking design. A professional cover is timeless, straightforward, and (hopefully) beautiful. Can’t go wrong there!

If you do decide you want to solicit the opinions of others to help you make a decision on your book cover, get feedback from a qualified focus group composed of prospective readers in your market segment who are interested in your specific topic. They are your target audience. As the author, you are very likely too close to it to be able to make a completely objective assessment. And, your family members and friends are probably too close to YOU to make an objective assessment!

Research shows that bookstore browsers spend an average of eight seconds looking at the front cover of a book and 15 seconds studying the back cover before making the decision to buy it (or not). Online bookstores like Amazon reduce the decision time even further. In mere seconds, your cover compels a reader to buy—or to click through to the next book on the list.

In the world of visual marketing, your cover matters. Your cover will likely correspond with your brand (think website and social media platforms) as well as be the first impression people get of your book. Make it a good one!

This post was written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor. 

Marketing Your Book: The Importance of Building Your Tribe

If you are a regular reader of our blogs, you’ll notice we talk about your “tribe” a lot. We define a tribe—as it relates to an author—as a group of people who look to you for direction, insight, wisdom, authority, or “how to” on a particular topic. Your tribe may be small (e.g., your family). It may be medium size (say, you are a community leader or you own a small business or pastor a congregation, etc.). Or, your tribe may be large (e.g., you are a thought leader in your industry, a well-known professional athlete, or a celebrity in one regard or another).


No matter the size of your tribe, it is your most important marketing and networking tool. In fact, the traditional publishing working is largely funded by people with large tribes (fan-bases). Publishers know that if a celebrity writes a book, it will sell. There are enough people who count themselves as a part of that celebrity’s tribe who will buy the book because they care about the celebrity. You may not be a celebrity, but you have a tribe. These people will not only be the first people to buy your book, but they are also going to be your biggest advocates. (Think of your mom; I bet she will not only buy your book, but also convince eight of her friends to buy it, too!)

This is why you want to start building your tribe early and communicate often.
If you are anything like me, there is a small part of you that wants to go hide in a cave for two years writing a book and then emerge with a perfect, fully finished product to market. Maybe that is how the world once worked, but it is not today’s world. In a world of distraction, relevance, and constant marketing, you cannot go dark for two years. Maybe your mom will remember that you were in a cave writing a book, but you cannot expect the rest of your tribe to keep up the anticipation for that long.

Do you have an idea for a book? Are you still in the writing process? Tell your tribe. Let them go on the journey with you. Let them see your writing days. Let them see the exciting day you sign with an agent and the bad day you had writer’s block. Build their trust, their excitement, and their loyalty. While you spend your two years writing a book, make sure you are always checking in with your tribe. Keep your project in front of them and on their minds. This way, when it comes time to market your book or launch a Kickstarter, they will be there for you.

Where should you start? First, decide on the best way to communicate with your tribe—e.g., Twitter, Instagram, blog updates, Facebook page, or LinkedIn. Then ask, how does your tribe communicate best? Knowing the main demographic of your tribe (i.e., the audience of your book) can help determine this.

Second, decide if you are going to market yourself or your project. How personal will you make your communication? If your tribe is world business leaders, then you will want to keep your updates professional—market your project. If your tribe is moms with toddlers, your communication can be a little messier, and you can be more comfortable with marketing yourself.

Third, build the bridge. Remember, the end game is not about numbers. Of course, it would be nice if your book sold thousands of copies, but, hopefully, that is not your main goal. You have a unique message to share and your tribe is excited to hear it. That is what matters. Build community through authentic communication and trust.

If you need some help building your tribe, brainstorming ways to communicate/market, or editing/self-publishing your book, Inspira is here to help. Let us become a part of your tribe!

This post was written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor. 

Traditional vs. Self-Publishing: What’s Best for Your Book?


If you hang around Inspira long enough, you’ll hear our slogan: “from book-in-head to book-in-hand.” Many of our authors walk into our office with a clear book head, but are unclear about which path to take to actually get the book into their hands.

Part of what we do  is help authors decide what’s best for their book and their book’s target audience: traditional publishing or self publishing. There is no overall best way to publish; there is only the best way to publish your specific book in order to reach your specific audience. Sometimes that means traditional publishing, in which case we will help you shop it out to literary agents. Other times (more often than not) our role is to help you self publish a quality project you can then market.

If you are an author considering publication, two big questions to ask are: How much control do you want over your project? And how much risk do you want to shoulder? Your answers will be important drivers toward either traditional or self publishing.

What Does Traditional Publishing Look Like?

  1. You send out your manuscript or manuscript sample (one to three chapters) and book proposal to literary agents. Once an agent is secured, he or she will be your advocate to help you find and communicate with a publisher.
  2. Your agent will help you secure a publisher and copyright contract as well as negotiate royalties (how much you will be paid).
  3. After that, your book will be in the hands of publisher. The publishing company handles editing, titling, design, printing, marketing, and distribution. You will be paid royalties, and possibly an advance, depending on your contract.

Pros of Traditional Publishing

  • expertise in book editing, production, marketing, and publicity
  • publisher shoulders the risk
  • physical bookstore distribution
  • nearly always assures chance of media coverage and reviews

Cons of Traditional Publishing

  • everything is contract-based (so read it over carefully!)
  • limited control over design and editing (they choose the cover, the title, and may even ask you to rework the book
  • publisher owns the rights to your book
  • unless the book is a big seller (not typical), royalties are generally small
  • process typically takes 18 months to two years

What Does Self Publishing Look Like?

  1. The author retains complete control over the publishing process, hiring outside help for editorial and design work (Inspira), and printing.
  2. If the author utilizes a distributor or print-on-demand printer, those companies will print and ship the books on demand; however, the books will not likely be stocked in stores.
  3. The author is in charge of all marketing, publicizing, distribution, fulfillment, and website management.

Pros of Self Publishing

  • greater control of content and timeline of the project
  • maximum earnings; author gets highest possible percentage of sales
  • author is not bound to a publisher or distributer and retains all rights to his or her work

Cons of Self Publishing

  • author shoulders all risk; there is a possibility the book will have no commercial viability
  • the book may be available through bookstores, but unless well-marketed, is rarely ever physically distributed/stocked
  • author may have more work to do, i.e., managing printing, marketing, and distribution/fulfillment

Over the past decade, self publishing has because a viable and competitive industry with self published books often reaching The New York Times best seller list. While self publishing may sometimes get a bad rap because there is no quality control, you (working alongside companies like Inspira) get to set the quality of your project!

Do You Want to Learn More?
Attend our workshop, “Steps to Publishing Your Manuscript,” happening Sept. 24th, 2016, 9 am to 3 pm in Gig Harbor, Washington.  Learn hands-on from our team how to navigate the publishing process (traditional or self) and walk away with a plan in hand for your manuscript! Includes a delicious lunch and a beautiful waterfront location.

Don’t miss out our BUY ONE GET ONE FREE competition happening THIS WEEK! Winner will be announced Friday, Sept. 16th!

What’s in a Name?

ID-100405887Many aspiring writers assume that coming up with a title is the first step in writing their book. They spend hours and hours (or days and weeks!) agonizing over what the book should be called, before they’ve even started writing!

Titling a book is a big decision, but more often than not, the title doesn’t come until after book is finished. Sometimes, it isn’t until all your thoughts and inspiration are out on paper and your ideas have been strung together in a cohesive and enjoyable format that you’re able to determine a worthy title. Other times, the title appears to be sitting in front of you! Either way, choosing a title can take serious time and energy, and it’s not a decision to take lightly. The title is the very first piece of information your readers will ever gather about your book.

How do you come up with a title that draws attention and begs people to pick up the book? How do you make sure your title encompasses the message of your book? How do you ensure the title is memorable and easy to say? These are all valid questions, and what you should be thinking of as you decide what to name your masterpiece. Here are some other thoughts and ideas to consider:

  1. Click through Amazon and search for other books in your genre. What are they called? What do you like about the titles and what do you dislike about them? Notice what words and phrases stick out to you.
  2. Spend some time “free associating.” In other words, using a whiteboard or a piece of paper, create a list of words associated with your book. What words come to mind when you think about your book’s message? What words capture what you want your reader to feel or think when reading it? What words should be included in the reader’s “takeaway,” or what you want him or her to learn from the book? Would any of these words work as a one-word title? Consider phrases or words that are attention-seeking or memorable. The worst thing you could do is come up with a boring title that doesn’t attract interest.
  3. Role play. Imagine yourself at a social gathering, standing in group of people talking about your book. When you mention the title, are people able to instantly tell what your book is about (with only a sentence of explanation)? Do they seem intrigued and ask to know more, just from you sharing the title? Or, are they confused, bored, or something else? If it’s the latter, you should probably come up with a new title.
  4. Decide if your book needs a subtitle. Most fiction books do not need a subtitle, but many non-fiction ones do. Usually, the main title is the part that is attention-grabbing and memorable. The subtitle is a several-word phrase that gives context—it lends more information and gives the reader a better idea of what’s inside. Here are some good examples of great title/subtitle combinations:

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, written by Brene’ Brown

Moonwalking with Einstein:  The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, written by Joshua Foer

See how the title makes you want to read more, while the subtitle gives you a quick idea of what the book’s about?

We know titling can seem like an overwhelming step in the book writing process. Our goal with this post was to provide you with some practical wisdom that will hopefully help you take a step in the right direction. Don’t forget the importance of following your gut—no one knows your book like you do. Happy titling, writers!

Post written by Heather Sipes, Assistant Editor