As a follow-up to our incredibly successful Influence Women Webinar, How to Publish a Book: What You Need to Know to Write and Launch Your Book Successfully, we are revisiting some questions that we ran out of time to answer!
If you haven’t been joining our monthly Influence Women webinars, you need to! Each month we chat with a leading woman of influence who can inspire and bring clarity to your career path. Beyond the webinars, we also offer 6-week mentorships with many of these professional women to help grow your career and life. We encourage you to keep an eye on our website as new webinars and mentorships are being offered regularly each month. Take advantage of the resources and knowledge these women can give you!
Hope Lyda is an author, writing coach and companion, spiritual director, and senior development editor. She’s worked in faith-based publishing for more than 25 years and has accompanied more than 120 writers through the process of finding their voices and expressing their hearts on the page.
Hope considers it an honor to help writers shape their messages with engaging structure, tone, and pace. She also companions them with spiritual insight and inquiry, so they draw from their experiences and beliefs to deepen those messages. She has authored more than 35 books (combined sales of over 1.5 million copies), including the bestselling One-Minute Prayers® for Women and more than 15 other books in the One-Minute Prayers® series. Hope has penned a few novels as well as several devotionals such as What Do You Need Today? and Life as a Prayer. Her book My Unedited Writing Year—a gathering of 365 prompts—combines her passions for writing and spiritual direction to invite others to explore life, faith, and creativity.
Hope lives in Eugene, Oregon, with her husband, Marc, and dog, Bodie (his breed is Attention Hound). When not writing or guiding another writer, she’s taking walks, going to independent films, brainstorming, listening to podcasts, buying MORE books, or planning her next retreat to the coast or desert. She is delighted and grateful when she can take in the gifts of a landscape to feed her spirit and refresh her creativity.
Kathleen Cooke: Devotionals are everywhere. Will people buy them? What’s the secret to writing one that will be chosen by a publisher and purchased by shoppers?
Hope Lyda: Devotionals are everywhere. Even after having several published, I am pausing as I craft some new proposals because I want to think through a few things:
1. Does the devo topic meet a heart need that might not be addressed in the market right now?
2. I ask myself the same questions I ask writers I companion: Why me and why this book? Follow-up questions for this…Can I bring wisdom and depth and offer the right tone for this particular devotional? And do I, as a reader, see and feel the lack of books embracing and exploring this topic in the marketplace?
3. Is there a special structure, format, and voice that gives this devo concept an edge for a publisher who might be interested in the topic but also unsure about one more devotional? The way a message is presented can become the star quality that shines brighter than other factors and give a publisher a reason to look twice at a concept.
Kathleen: If your manuscript is 35 pages, would you publish it as a short story, novella, or essay?
Hope: A short 35-page fiction manuscript could be a novella. That is probably at the long end for parameters, but doable. If you had an interest in a novella publisher or an online marketplace, or e-zine that publishes them, that could work. If this is a topical exploration…non-fiction, then it could be used as a supplemental resource or an online book offering that you use as part of a course you create, a bonus offering for sign-ups, or simply as a short book you are selling yourself from your site.
Before any of those decisions, however, sit with the material. If fiction, is this actually a story arc you would love to dig into for a full-length book? If non-fiction, is there a lot more you’d have to offer on this topic or aspects of it that could be fleshed out to create a 12+ chapter manuscript of 176 pages or more?
If you keep it as a novella, you might watch for contests or calls for submissions from groups online or publishers that are focusing on this category. See what their word/page count requirements are. This could help you to see what the “norm” is or at least what the most sought-after format is. There are lots of flash fiction contests and challenges. Those are much shorter (typically 300-1000 words!) and are great as writing exercises to work those story creation muscles! You might end up with a concept for a full length novel from doing those.
Kathleen: Lots of books today have quotes in them. Are they needed? Do they help in keeping the readers’ attention? Are they good to have them highlighted in the middle of the pages as a creative insert?
Hope: Quotes! I personally love them. They can be very useful to create a structure/design that has standout appeal. They do draw readers in and help highlight the heart of a message one is presenting in a typical Christian living book or a devotional/prayer book. There are different ways quotes are used.
1. A quote from another resource (other than your own brilliant mind) can be used as an epigraph (kicks off a chapter/section at the top). If you are using quotes in this way, be sure you are accurately quoting the original material and crediting the writer. Also, there are copyright rules to follow. A joke where I work is that for gift books and some other project, we are always looking for great quotes by long-dead people. Material that is in the public domain allows your usage without concern for copyright restrictions. I get way too excited when I find a book of quotes at an estate sale or a fabulous topical read that is based on writings from the 1800s or early 1900s. Anyway, contrary to popular practices on social media…you need to credit the source and do it properly. And if the quote is used in the flow of content and is over a certain length, then permission from the source publisher is also required. Keep in mind, all the writers who have gone before (or who published a great article last week) worked hard to craft the lines we find worth sharing and repeating…they deserve the recognition legally and ethically. This may require endnotes to cite sources, so keep that in mind. I will say that I like the idea of honoring the voices that have impacted my faith and writing journey and promoting those when it serves the book concept as a whole and the end reader.
2. Quotes FROM your genius mind that are IN the flow of your book’s content can be duplicated and echoed in the design. This is a call-out and may be what the webinar inquiry is related to. These are very popular, and I do think they have value. Choose quotes that are easily read and absorbed. Those a-ha thoughts are the best. They also reinforce the message of that particular chapter and can become those stepping stones (or breadcrumbs) I love so much that help to gently guide a reader through the arc of the message.
3. Quotes that come from your amazing mind but are NOT in the flow of content can be designed and placed in the book as enhancements to the message. Some call these sticky statements, I believe. I think of them as a sort of friendly “Hey, get this…” to point the reader to an insight or maybe even a question/prompt that deepens their engagement with the content. It isn’t in the chapter or offering and is only in that set-apart form.
For both of these last two kinds of quotes, there is value on the marketing end. For example, if these are full-page designs or easy to capture, readers will take a pic and post them. You can encourage that in your book’s intro and suggest a hashtag even. The publisher may also want to use them for A+ pages on Amazon (these are publishers paid for more elaborate descriptions and photos for a book) or for their promotional posts. We have even created bonus offerings for a few books using such quotes and printing them on frame-worthy cardstock.
Don’t overuse call-outs or set-apart quotes. They can become a distraction and not an enhancement. Choose wisely. As you write, think about crafting short, powerful lines that could be good for such highlighting.
Connect with Hope:
Facebook: Hope Lyda
Do you have trouble setting boundaries and trusting God with your career choices? With decades of experience in corporate America, Dr. Debra Dean is an expert at integrating faith in every aspect of life. In this INNER VIEW, she candidly shares the lessons she’s learned to become a successful leader who influences others for an eternal difference.
Bio – Dr. Debra Dean is a Christian, first and foremost, wife and mother. She is co-founder of His Kingdom Matters, president and CEO of Dean Business Consulting, and adjunct professor at Regent University. Dr. Dean served in corporate America for 25 years. Her most recent position was Director of Business Transformation nested in the Business Intelligence Department.
Dr. Dean is a published author and public speaker. Her TEDx talk Restorative Justice and Disrupt HR presentation Respectful Pluralism: Including Everyone relates to her faith at work passion. Dr. Dean has received numerous awards, including the Colorado Springs Business Journal 2020 Women of Influence Award and the 2020 Global CEO Excellence Award: Most Influential Business Consultancy CEO. She was nominated in 2019 as an operational excellence leader with OPEX Week: Business Transformation World Summit, and in 2018, she won the Outstanding Reviewer Award for Management, Spirituality, and Religion.
Dr. Dean was born and raised in Kentucky, spent nine years in Iowa, and currently resides in Colorado with her husband Steve and their youngest son Gavin. They have six children and four grandchildren. Her mission statement is to “Inspire each person to identify their human potential and pursue authenticity while living a life of eternal focus.”
Kathleen Cooke: We all think we are smart until things flop. What has God taught you about trusting Him for the unknown and seeing failures as opportunities for what He desires for us and not what we thought we wanted for ourselves.
Debra Dean: God is teaching me to trust him. It is so easy to get distracted with self-doubt about my ability or calling, but God is teaching me to trust that He has a plan, and I need to follow His plan. When I left corporate in 2018, I thought I was following God, but I got off track and started my business instead of God’s business. The past few years have been lessons of listening, praying, trusting, obeying, surrendering, and being willing to let God provide and guide me. I’m a hard-headed woman, so this is hard. But, when I surrender and trust Him, everything else works out much better. In December 2020, I had a call from a woman that worked with the White House Faith & Opportunities Initiative. We had planned an agenda for the call, but she started crying. I could hear how overwhelmed she was with work and life in her voice. She asked me, “Where are all the Christians?” She was fighting a good fight in D.C., but she felt all alone.
This gave me fuel to move from my business to God’s business and launch His Kingdom Matters in June 2021. Wow! When I trust God, BIG things happen. I did not want people to feel alone or unequipped with fighting the Christian battle in our world today. I have prayed and asked God for wisdom and guidance, and I trust that He divinely pre-plans all the content in the ministry. We start with Bold & Courageous and move into Revival. In retrospect, there is no way I could have come up with this content. It is God. Trusting Him is still a struggle I face daily, but when I trust Him with all aspects of life, He delivers miraculous works.
Kathleen: You have worked in leadership positions in the corporate business world for many years. What are some key things you have learned in your career journey? (more…)
Heidi Rasmussen is the co-founder and COO of Freshbenies – a fresh approach to benefits. She is a communicator, strategic planner, customer service advocate, builder, mentor, defender and coffee addict. Mostly, she says she’s a “gettin’ stuff done and make it happen” gal. She worked for over 27 years in the retail industry having started at JCPenney where she worked her way up the ladder to the Divisional VP at Corporate and led the largest brand launch in JCPenney history.
Seeing the need to make company benefits used wisely, she launched Freshbenies to give employers and employees practical tools to control their dime, time and peace of mind. Freshbenies has been named to the INC. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in America for the past four years and the top 100 companies for two years in a row in Dallas, Texas, as well as receiving two Health Value Awards for their innovation and for providing value-based healthcare. She is a passionate believer that people matter and is an advocate for making life simplified so that they can succeed in all God’s called them to be and do. She serves on the board for, 4WordWomen, where she mentors and encourages women in the corporate business space to live out their faith to the fullest.
Kathleen Cooke – Heidi, I love that you call yourself a communicator. We live in a polarized culture today in which just chatting with someone can be challenging. What has God taught you about how to communicate effectively?
Heidi Rasmussen – So far, 2021 has been another crazy year! With all the racial injustice and political discord, the Lord is showing me how to live out His command to “love one another as I have loved you.” The Holy Spirit is working in me to change my thinking which is changing my actions. Specifically, when I’m speaking about someone on the “other side of the aisle,” I no longer use certain words or phrases (like “What an idiot!”) in casual conversation. He reminds me that He loves that person just as much as He loves me, no matter what their background and, He wants to love that person through me. It’s the main reason I’m on this earth – to love Him, love His people and bring glory to Him.
Kathleen – I have found that having great conversation starts with a relationship foundation. Talk to us about why relationship is at the heart of candid conversations and how it affects good leadership.
Heidi – To build strong relationships, I’ve had to learn to have candid conversations. At the core, candid conversations are about love. If we love someone, we’ll have a hard, truthful conversation because it’s a lot easier to avoid those kinds of talks! When I was a young manager, I was very capable and would just come behind those who weren’t doing their job and fix everything. As I grew in my career, I didn’t have the time to do that, so I had to get good at setting clear expectations and having tough conversations when expectations weren’t met. It is harder and takes more courage to tell someone they aren’t meeting expectations and need to improve their performance. As soon as I realized this and started to master the principles around conflict, I experienced more peace in my life.
Kathleen – Business decisions are often places of uncertainty and risk. What has God taught you about how to trust Him and about taking a posture of obedience in challenging situations?
Heidi – You know that saying, “God will never give you more than you can handle?” It’s nowhere in the Bible and it’s not true. How am I, in my own strength, supposed to love another person as Jesus loves me? That is impossible. In Matthew 19, Jesus says, “…with God all things are possible.” I spent many years working hard for God and asking, What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)? Then, I learned the necessity of working with God and asking, What Will Jesus Do” through me? He’s in me and His Spirit is working through me all day every day. I just need to be available and let Him use me to do His work. I ask Him to help and guide me every step of the way. That includes when I don’t feel Him nearby. I often pray, “Lord, please help me to feel Your presence.” When I’m in a bad mood, I pray, “Lord, please lift me from this funk.” And, when I’m mad at Him, I pray, “Lord, please change me.” I can ask Him anything and be confident that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13).
Kathleen – How do you view influence in a culture where many strive endlessly today to be influencers?
Heidi – At the risk of sounding like a broken record (if you remember what one of those is), I’ve learned that influence is about loving people and letting Christ work through me. People are influenced positively by other people they love or like on some level. I’ve learned that if I want to influence the world, I have to be salt and light to others and loving (and lovable) in all circumstances. To do that, I have to ask Christ to do it through me and be available to let him shine through me to others.
Find out more about Freshbenies here or connect with Heidi on LinkedIn here.