The Baby Steps of Forgiveness

Certa blog - Dana Goodrum

We all have at least one person whose name or actions bring out the worst in us. We attempt again and again to forgive, yet find ourselves continually battling this repeated negative reaction to their presence in our lives. Certa author Dana Goodrum has walked this journey and found victory on the other side and gives us a peek into the process in this excerpt of her book Open with Your Broken:

My daughter is nine. She is a beautiful, amazing, brilliant, sassy creation of our King, and I am blessed to call myself her mom. Her dad has been non-existent most of her life after struggling with drug addiction since she was eight months old. I spent two years making a substantial effort to create some type of consistent, safe, and healthy relationship for them but after numerous broken promises, question-filled evenings, and a tear-streaked little girl, I stopped, and thus so did any type of relationship.

The simple thought of him filled me with rage. Over the next three years, I received random inebriated phone calls claiming sobriety or transformation, each one filled with more lies than the one before. I would spew the most hateful, venomous words that even I didn’t know I was capable of saying. I shook with anger and whatever forgiveness I had told myself I had given him since the last phone call was long gone. I would hang up the phone and every time feel defeated. Battle lost, he had won, and not her father, I knew it was the enemy. How do you forgive someone who continues to cause pain? Who is not even sorry? How do you forgive that?

Well, although I had thought I had given it to God before, I think I took it back quite a few times. This time I truly gave it to God; I was exhausted, overly consumed, and tired of being angry. I wanted to forgive Him because I didn’t want to carry it, not because I felt he deserved it. I am blessed to have a great Pastor friend who often helps me navigate through some of the tougher avenues of faith. I reached out to him through this struggle, and his advice through this battle was this… “Forgiveness is not always a one-time shot. There are going to be times that you may have to forgive and wake up tomorrow and forgive again.” 

That was new to me. I guess I hadn’t really ever thought about forgiveness as a process but more as an action. I would love to get to a place where I can simply forgive, and it boom, be an action, done. It’s just this pasty stuff that covers my body. God calls it flesh, and yea, I struggle with it. So, still I was concerned and replied, “But what if I don’t even want to forgive him? I only know that I am supposed to forgive him.” And He said to me, “Then start praying to God to prepare your heart to want to forgive him. Baby steps, Dana, sometimes we have to get there through baby steps, and forgiveness is not exempt from that.” God is so merciful that He knows we are not, well Him. The desire in our hearts should be to reflect Him as closely as possible. God knows you aren’t going to be able to forgive every situation with as much ease as He forgives us when we seek it. If you desire a heart of forgiveness, you know God will transform that in you. It is within His will, that’s an easy one!

So, I started to talk to God about it in the most transparent conversation I think I’ve ever had. I was honest with my feelings, with my anger, with my fears. I knew God knew all of it, He had witnessed everything that had been done, but talking to Him about it was a different release for me. I asked Him to help prepare my heart, so I could eventually want to forgive her dad. Now, I am not going to tell you that I woke up the next morning and wanted to forgive him, because I didn’t. I had to continue praying for this preparation and it took quite a few months. Over time, I started gaining compassion for him, not justifying his actions, but I honestly started seeing her dad through the eyes of Jesus. I saw him as a lost son of Christ, and my anger turned to sadness.

Through the forgiveness process, the journaling, searching my soul, digging up stuff, and working on making a challenged offering a task with more ease, God was preparing my heart. He was conditioning it, helping me to understand in a very small way a sliver of the mercy we are given through Jesus and what He did for us on the Cross.

Do you want to hear more of Dana’s journey to forgiveness? We highly recommend her book, Open With Your Broken, in which she shares about her experiences with unplanned pregnancy, abusive relationships and a rocky childhood.

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Dana Goodrum, a woman of God, published Christian author and bold public speaker, is ever boasting of God’s amazing transformation! After nearly a decade hiatus away from God, she is well versed in the trials, attacks, and tribulations associated with making peace with your past. In Open With Your Broken, she unveils a decade of difficulties, hardships, and struggle—and her eventual triumph over her past.

 

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Open With Your Broken walks readers through a journey of transparency like never before! Unveiling the schemes of the enemy, while explaining how shame and guilt can keep you from fully achieving God’s purpose in your life, Dana Goodrum teaches readers awareness and effective strategies for victorious living.

 

 

 

 

Dana was recently featured on the 700 Club:

Putting Sexual Addiction in a New Light

Certa blog - sexual addiction

For years the church has struggled to adequately address sexual addiction. We are grateful for Certa author Bruce Lengeman’s courage to speak truth into this issue. Today he challenges us to look at sexual addiction in a new light:

So many “Sexual Purity” programs of the past have failed for several reasons. For one, pouring on guilt and shame as a lust-fix will make the problem worse, since a large part of why men struggle with lust is that the brain creates sexual fixes attempting to ease unhealed emotional pain. Guilt and shame exacerbate the problem.

There are two major categories of addictions: substance and process. If you have a substance addiction, as in drugs or alcohol, you must separate yourself from the controlling substance. Historically, misguided counselors have made people who struggle with lust feel as if their sexuality is their enemy. How wrong! God made us sexual. Sexual addiction is a process addiction, meaning you must learn to manage and master a necessary physiological process, so that it remains a healthy process, and that puts it into a totally different category, and summons a different grace.

Can you imagine if we treated food addiction by making transgressors think food is bad? In my book To Kill a Lion, I point out that the process of recovery from sexual dependency begins with a healthy view of sexuality—sex is a God-designed process driving personality, intimacy, creativity, in addition to reproduction and love-making. But the traditional guilt and shame therapies to cure sexual addiction in sincere people drive people to rely on behavior modification instead of finding victory through heart transformation.

So I’ll leave you with a question to meditate on: In light of the difference between a substance addiction and a process addiction, how can one deal with the issue of sexual addition most effectively?

bruce lengeman

Bruce Lengeman is a pastor, counselor, business motivation speaker, and the author of several works. He has a passion for seeing people set free and living to the fullness God has for them. He has worked in ministry for over 30 years and has had the privilege of seeing countless lives changed by the Lord.

Bruce is the author of Kingdom Culture: Uncovering the Heart of What Empowers Teams and To Kill a Lion: Transforming Your Life Through Sexual Freedom.

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The Brevity of Our Days

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The famed revivalist preacher Jonathan Edwards often prayed, “Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.” How many of us, by contrast, rarely consider the life hereafter, much less dwell on it constantly as this quote implies?

Today Certa authors and pastors Wade and Kate McHargue admonish us to turn our eyes upward and forward towards eternity.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. 

Psalm 90:12

Here in Psalm 90 we find the only psalm attributed to Moses, the man of God. It is glaringly apparent what Moses emphasizes in this psalm: the brevity of life. This is demonstrated through his description of our earthly lives as a watch in the night, like grass, and like a sigh.

In light of this truth, the application is made in verse 12. It’s a prayer he prayed—and a prayer we should pray—that God would teach us to number our days. For what reason? In light of remembering the brevity of our lives, we will be less likely to squander our time and more apt to redeem the time and use it wisely. Paul said it this way in Ephesians 5: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (vv. 15–17).

In light of this I would encourage you in two ways. First, make Psalm 90:12 a personal prayer. I testify to you that I made this my prayer years ago, and I have been gripped (not in fear, but in a sobriety of spirit) about the brevity of my life. It has brought a wisdom to my heart, but also a prayer for Father to use me and make my time count for His glory.

I’ve been asked many times by different people, “How is it you’ve seen so much accomplished (for God’s glory) in such a relatively short time?” When I hear this, I know it is Father answering my prayer, this prayer of Psalm 90:12. Few in the Bible can compare with the intimacy in which Moses walked with the Almighty. So, make this your prayer for some days and pray it in faith knowing it is His will. He will truly answer.

The second application of this prayer of Moses is what Paul wrote in Ephesians, to “not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (5:17). This points us to where we know the will of God is, which of course is the Word. Our lives make sense in light of eternity, in the revelation of the brevity of our lives, when we actively seek His will by meditating and memorizing the Word of God.

This was the exhortation given to Joshua (Joshua 1:8–9) and to David (Psalm 1), and it is what Jesus declared would reveal who are truly His disciples (John 8:31). If we want to live wisely, we must make sure we are spending more time reading the Word than reading the news of this world.

As C.S. Lewis stated, “If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.” We must remain wise and ready to give an account to Him as we make His Word our daily bread, our daily meditation.


wade+and+kate+mchargueWade and Katie McHargue have served in ministry for over twenty years in Chicago, Africa, and on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They have worked in the inner city and currently pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

Wade and Katie are the authors of The Elijah Generation and Captured by Love and Raising a Generation Captivated by God.

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Let’s get back to basics

Certa blog - back to basics

As Christians, we like to believe that we are immune to trends. But the truth is that the church rises and falls upon the waves of what is popular and new just like the secular world does. Sometimes these shifts serve to advance us toward that which is new and fresh, but more than often they can distract and delay our spiritual walk.

One trend many have noted, as the church has rapidly modernized in the past 20 years, is a lack of Biblical literacy among congregants. No longer are church-goers expected to bring a Bible to church because all of the scriptures are projected for them. Scripture memorization has faded as an expected practice and expository preaching and Bible studies have become less and less prevalent. A 2015 article in Christianity Today by Ed Stetzer noted:

LifeWay Research found that while 67 percent of Americans believe heaven is a real place, 45 percent believe there are many ways to get there—including 1 in 5 evangelical Christians. More than half of evangelicals (59 percent) believe the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being—in contrast to the orthodox biblical teaching of the Trinity being three Persons in one God.

Thankfully God’s people are people of action and when the pendulum swings too far in one direction, there will always be those brave few who call us all back to the narrow way.

Jen Wilkin is one of these truth-tellers. As the Women’s Ministry Director at The Village Church in Texas for many years, Jen began teaching women in a way that felt new, but was really quite traditional. She taught the women to study the Word for themselves and to value good and true theology. Instead of offering “10 quick tips to being a better mom,” she encouraged moms to go back to the scriptures and mine it for the answers they so desperately needed.

She was recently quoted as saying:

When women grow increasingly lax in their pursuit of Bible literacy, everyone in their circle of influence is affected. Rather than acting as salt and light, we become bland contributions to the environment we inhabit and shape, indistinguishable from those who have never been changed by the gospel. Home, church, community, and country desperately need the influence of women who know why they believe what they believe, grounded in the Word of God. They desperately need the influence of women who love deeply and actively the God proclaimed in the Bible.

Ms. Wilkin is not alone in pushing for a shift back to Biblical literacy.  The Gospel Coalition is a conglomerate of like-minded writers, pastors, and thinkers who are calling us back to the Word and their impact is growing by the day. One of their bestselling resources is the New City Catechism series, which helps churches and parents catechize children from a young age. This is definitely a far cry from Veggie Tales and the fluffy, low-content resources of the past. Another group seeing rapid growth is Risen Motherhood, a podcast and blog aimed at providing Gospel-based resources to moms looking for more than shallow answers to their deep questions.

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Here at Certa Publishing, we are proud to offer our own collection of resources that point us back to Biblical literacy.  In A Remedy for Itching Ears, Dr. Jesse Williams points the younger generations back to the foundational doctrine of the Word. Dr. Williams serves as the Senior Pastor of Convent Avenue Baptist Church in Harlem, New York.

“It is in the midst of a current Christian and cultural crisis that Jesse Wiliams’ book comes as a jolt to the Christian imagination. Williams seeks to birth a new theological future from a familiar doctrinal womb. This book is a must read for those who have deep love for the Christian faith and a passion for the possible.”

—Michael Walrond, Jr., Senior Pastor, First Corinthian Baptist Church, Harlem, New York

Reclaiming-Prophecy_265x400_01Reclaiming Prophecy by author Darin Slack implores the Church to return to a scriptural application of the gift of prophecy. Mr. Slack has served in prophetic ministry for many years with Metro Life Church in Casselberry, Florida.

No matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, no matter which denomination or background, we highly encourage you to devote yourself to Biblical literacy. No sermon, video or podcast will ever replace the living, breathing Word of God, which is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Power of the Personal Story

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In a mid-sized church in middle America, a pastor begins his sermon on the suffering of Christ. He describes the heartache of the garden, the betrayal of the disciples and the ultimate anguish of the crucifixion. Throughout the message the congregation listens politely, throwing up an occasional “amen,” or nodding in agreement. But then a certain phrase catches their ears.

Let me tell you a story.

Intuitively the audience perks up, leans in, and focuses.

The pastor begins to tell about the recent deaths in his family and his wife’s family. He tells of a day where the grief was so great, he sought out a solitary spot near a lake to simply “sit and cry.” But then he recounts how an elderly woman spoke to him and reminded him of God’s love. This brought great encouragement and reminded him that God was near, even in his suffering.

From this personal story, the pastor transitions back into the Gospel story, reminding the audience that their suffering his suffering is not unfamiliar to Christ and that we can find comfort in His ultimate victory and triumph over death. Emboldened by his own experience, the pastor speaks with an extra dose of passion and an increased amount of compassion. He has lived what he is preaching. And the message rings true.

As the service concludes, there is a palpable sense in the air that today was different. Most cannot pin it down exactly, but all know that this was a message they will not soon forget.

So what was the difference?

The pastor’s personal story and willingness to be vulnerable.

You see, with enough training and practice, anyone can stand before a congregation and preach a message. Likewise, with enough training and practice, anyone can write a book.

It is those who are willing to infuse their preaching or writing with their personal story that will really make a difference. Cognitive scientist Roger Schank says, “Humans are not ideally set up to understand logic; they are ideally set up to understand stories.”

Let’s take an honest look at your writing. Let’s look past the extensive research and facts. Past the scriptural interpretation. Past the data-driven information. Does your book include your personal story?

There is a reason you are writing on your topic. You have a personal connection to that topic somehow and so your book should be infused with your stories. Doing so invites the reader to perk up, lean in, and focus, just like our congregation above. And like our pastor’s message, your book will be infused with a certain boldness and effectiveness that would be lacking if written by someone who had not lived your story.

Your readers may not be able to pin it down exactly, but they will know it is a message they will not soon forget. And that is the power of the personal story.

 

 

 

 

The Future of Christian Publishing: According to 4 Agents

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We love when experts dish on the Christian publishing industry. What are they seeing? Where are the trends? Who is driving the industry and who is falling behind? So today we’re sharing this excerpt of Publishers Weekly’s Agents Discuss the New Norms of Christian Publishing by Ann Byle. Enjoy!

With a bird’s eye view of which authors and topics get through publishers’ doors, Christian literary agents remain optimistic about an industry that is experiencing moreconsolidation as bricks-and-mortar stores close.

 “Christian publishing is a viable and growing marketplace,” Steve Laube, president of the Christian Writers Institute and Enclave Publishing, as well as longtime literary agent, tells PW. “The death of publishing has been forecast for 40 years, and it’s never been right.”

Though they are surviving and some even thriving, publishers remain cautious, according to agent Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Management, who says that publishers are more risk-averse now than ever before in her almost 15-year career.

“Advances are tied closely to past sales and we see less inclination to offer advances based on what they believe ‘might’ be possible,” Lawton tells PW, noting that prudence may be the reason for the industry’s viability. “Perhaps this attention to the bottom line is why Christian publishing continues to remain healthy and the future continues to be bright despite hundreds of store closings.”

Publishers continue to brace themselves for the loss of even more Christian retail outlets this year, but the strongest impact of store closings could be leveled at authors in the category. The shrinking footprint of Christian retailers is already leading to a new normal where writers are also expected to have a marketing team behind them, according to Blythe Daniel of her eponymous literary agency.

“Authors are going to have to make up for fewer sales channels,” Daniel says. “The future of publishing does not depend on retail outlets—it’s going to be important for authors to create marketing avenues around themselves that aren’t reliant on publishers.”

It’s not unusual for authors to influence book sales through strong followings on social media, podcasts, blogs, YouTube, etc., but the concept of an author platform continues to be “confusing” for all concerned, says Lawton. “Most publishers understand that numbers [of followers and website visitors] mean little; it’s the level of engagement and the care with which a platform is maintained.”

According to Alex Field, founder of The Bindery, if a publisher sees a connection to potential readers, “they are betting that his or her books will have a similar appeal to readers. Sometimes that bet pays off, especially when the author is deeply engaged in the marketing and launch campaign around the book, and sometimes it doesn’t,” he says.

The key, according to Field, is that authors need to be “active and influential online in some way, because many book purchases these days happen online.”

Yet Laube notes that publishers still look beyond an author’s platform when considering a manuscript. “It’s rarely a cut-and-dried formula of platform=publishable,” he says. “Sometimes the instinct of ‘this is a great book’ can get someone past the publishing gatekeepers.”

In addition to changes to how books are acquired and sold, agents are also noticing several content trends in Christian publishing. Daniel sees more opportunities for agents to bring creative concepts that don’t necessarily fit with the usual Christian living titles. “Publishers are asking me to help create a book that might include DIY guides or recipes, and are looking at four-color or two-color books for, say, family gatherings or teen girls,” she says. “They are also looking at brand development, creative packaging, and concept-driven books.”

Laube sees an uptick in books on social justice issues, sexuality, and racial issues, as well as a wave of books for “disaffected young women—” or women dealing with issues such as the stress of marriage, job, and family. He points to Rachel Hollis’ Girl, Wash Your Face as an example. “I suspect acquisitions of this ‘trend’ will slow down and the best authors in the category will become those who fill this need,” he says.

Field, of The Bindery, says publishers are “chasing after ‘books for the church’ lately,” with some seeking books for leaders while others are looking for devotionals and gift books aimed at churchgoers. Many publishers are also developing new children’s book lines or deepening their lines to appeal to parents as well as grandparents. “Publishers are looking for authors who will appeal to a wide audience generationally and to millennials in particular,” Field says.

Remaining largely unchanged, perennial topics such as prayer, parenting, and marriage continue to be big business in Christian publishing. “It’s either tried and true authors or tried and true subjects presented in a fresh, new way,” Lawton says.

Laube adds, “There continues to be acquisitions of readily consumable and evergreen topics that can be seen as ‘self-help.’”

Fiction’s hottest subgenre at the moment is romantic suspense, but, according to Lawton, “We are beginning to hear calls for straight suspense.” Laube says publishers’ lines are relatively full of romantic suspense, and so interest may wane. He and Lawton both perceive a renewed interest in straight historicals, and agree that Christian fiction on the whole remains a strong category.

“The number of publishers offering fiction has dwindled in recent years, but the readers have not gone away, so we’re seeing growth in the publishers who continue vigorously acquiring novelists,” Lawton says.

Overall, agents are optimistic about the Christian publishing industry. The Steve Laube Agency averages a new contract every two business days, Laube says, while The Blythe Daniel Agency has 95% of its projects picked up, and The Bindery contracts nearly all of its projects.

“Publishers continue to look for new content and new authors,” Laube says. “Is it hard sometimes? Yes.”

We found these insights encouraging! What are your thoughts? Are you feeling the pressure to grow your “platform,” as they mentioned? The good news is that Certa Publishing has years of experience partnering with authors in this area. Need help? We’re just a click away. We would love to hear from you.

How Well Do You Know Your Reader?

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This author just gets me.

How would you like to read that in an email or Amazon review? There would be nothing better! But what does that mean for an author to “get” the reader? How is that achieved?

Let’s think through an example. Brooke is in her mid-thirties and she’s mothered three beautiful girls through the newborn and toddler phases. Through trial and triumph, she has learned the tricks of getting babies to sleep through the night. This must be shared! she thinks. And so the book begins.

At first glance, this seems like a great beginning. Brooke has lived through the ultimate research experiment – her own daughters. She’s seen success – they sleep through the night. And she’s willing to share her story – the book.

And yet, we believe Brooke is still missing a key component: empathy.

Sure, she has her personal experience. But this isn’t an autobiography. It’s a parenting book, which will be read by all types of people. People very different from Brooke. Different in culture, age, upbringing, parenting style, and needs. Before she types the first word, Brooke needs to find a way to empathize with her potential readers. And to do this, she must get to know them.

In her bestselling book Everybody Writes, Ann Handley quotes Johnathon Colman of Facebook:

It’s hard to have real empathy for people’s experiences if we don’t really get to know the people themselves. Not just in aggregate… I mean the real deal: actually talking with them. Or, better still: listening to them.

So how would Brooke go about getting to know the people who need her book? The same way any author on any topic can. Here are a few ideas:

  • Start in your personal life. Who do you know who might need your book? Look within your company, family, church and community groups. Ask if you can grab coffee with these potential readers and be ready to listen to their personal experiences.
  • Go online. Social media groups are an excellent source for finding like-minded individuals. Are you writing about geriatric fitness? There are groups for that! Are you writing about debt-free living? There are groups for that too! Join a few of these and simply observe. What are the common struggles and experiences you see there? What types of resources are most often recommended and requested?
  • Read book reviews. Single out a few successful books similar to yours and read their Amazon reviews. You’ll be amazed at how much personal information is shared there! Try to zero in on why those books meant so much to the readers who love them. Look for common themes.

Here’s the hardest part of this empathy journey. You may find that your book’s core themes aren’t as relevant to potential readers as you thought. Thinking of our fictional writer, Brooke… she may find that it isn’t scientific data about REM cycles that really moves her readers, but instead encouraging testimonials. On the converse, she may discover that new parents are skeptical of testimonials and are instead seeking proven, documented scientific research in this area. Now that she is armed with this knowledge, she would be wise to adjust her writing in order to better serve her audience.

Ms. Handley goes on to quote Nadia Eghbal, co-owner of Feast, an online cooking school:

Your customers don’t buy your product to do your company a favor. They’re doing it because your product makes their lives better. So if you want to sell something, you need to explain how you’re helping them.

And there is the key. Empathizing with the reader and keeping their needs foremost in your mind as you write.

At Certa Publishing, we are confident that our authors have tremendous potential to offer much-needed resources to a world in need. We want nothing more than to partner with you to create a book that shares truth and offers real hope and help to those who need it. Contact us today to see how we can help you make this happen.

 

The Quick & Easy Guide to Writing a Bio

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Write a 40,000-word manuscript?

No problem!

Write a concise Amazon author bio?

Yikes!

Isn’t it funny how authors can struggle with some of the most basic writing tasks while excelling at those others would balk at? No worries. We’re here with a great post from the Grammarly blog titled How to Write an Online Bio — With Short, Professional, and Other Examples.

Enjoy this excerpt:

Which three words would you use to explain your personality to a stranger?

If you could only think of “human with face,” or “professional needs job,” you’ve come to the right place. Learning how to write a bio is not easy; defining yourself in a few words even less so. But never fear—you can do it! Taking a few minutes to think about what you’re about isn’t just a great writing exercise, it’s a clarifying moment of personal development. Here are a few ways you can get started on your professional, website, LinkedIn, or short bio.

What to Include in a Short Bio

When most people think of online bios, they probably can readily name a few common short bio examples first. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest all have space for a short description of who you are and what you do. And you should make the most of the 1-2 lines you’re afforded here. Keep your social media bios short, sweet, and only filled with the most important things a stranger should know about you, such as:

  • Your name
  • Your current role
  • Your ultimate goal
  • Your biggest achievement

What to Include in a Professional Bio

Professional sites like LinkedIn, AngelList, or a speaker bio on an event site all have space for a bio or summary section. For each of these, you’ll probably want to write a mid-length description of both your current role, professional aspirations, and biggest achievements. Professional bios allow you to go into a bit more detail than short social media bios, especially on LinkedIn. It’s generally a good idea to include:

  • Your name
  • Your current role or professional tagline
  • Your company or personal brand
  • Your goals and aspirations
  • Your 2-3 most impressive and relevant achievements
  • One quirky fact about you (if it’s appropriate to the site)
  • What to Include in a Bio at Work
  • Writing a bio for your company’s website, HR system, or Slack instance? Be sure to give your coworkers a sense of both your professional expertise—and your personality!

You should include anything you’d include in a professional bio in a bio for your company, but don’t be afraid to personalize it with a few personal details. Have a hobby you love? A favorite book? A professional hero you look up to? Add them to give your coworkers a sense of who you are before they work with you.

What to Include in a Bio On Your Website

The “About” section of any personal website can be a slog. A drain. A hassle. You’ve already created a whole website about yourself, so it can be difficult to muster the strength to write that final description of who you are and what you’re about.

But never fear! Your website bio doesn’t need to be complicated, it just needs context on who you are and what you’ve done. This is an open, larger space, so you have room to list a few accomplishments and give context on why they’re important. You can also add a short paragraph about who you are outside of your nine-to-five. For this type of bio, you may also want to include a contact form or email, to help prospective clients, employers, or collaborators get in touch. If you do, be sure to include a clear call-to-action for your reader to contact you.

An Easy Bio Template

Even after you understand different types of bios, it can be difficult to get started. The words may not be flowing, you might not fully understand how your professional bio will be used, or you might just be stuck. Never fear! Here’s a bio recipe you can use across most sites.

  • Your first and last name: Start by writing your name. That wasn’t so hard!
  • Your company or brand: If you have a consulting firm, a brand you use for your side hustle, or a company you currently work at, list that next.
  • Your current function: What do you do for work? You can either list your current title or a short, descriptive phrase about your role here.
  • Your north star: People reading your bio will also want to get a sense of who you are. Listing your overall goal, values, or a statement that describes your ethos will help them get to know you, even in short bios.
  • Your top three accomplishments: Especially in professional bios, you’ll need a few accomplishments to show off what you’ve done in your career. Choose the top two or three large milestones from your career (no more), and put them next.
  • Your cute closer (optional): This may not be necessary in a shorter bio for Twitter or Instagram. But for a website or similarly professional bio, you may want to add a sentence describing who you are outside of work.
  • Your contact info (optional): Depending on the site, you may also want to include an email, contact form, or another easy way for readers to reach you. List this information at the end of your bio.

The Polished Professional Bio: Yuriy Timen’s LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn summaries can read like either a list of accomplishments or a list of professional interests. Yuriy’s is neither. Instead, he explains his professional goals and lists his major accomplishment—building Grammarly’s user base.

The Website Bio Whiz: Jamie McKelvie’s Website

One could marvel at the efficiency of Jamie’s professional website bio. Using a descriptive headline about his work and a short list of only his most recognizable accomplishments, Jamie is able to sum up several projects in a relatively small space.

4 Quick Tips on Writing About Yourself

Even with all of this information on how to write a bio, it might still be difficult to write about yourself. Even for the most confident person, self-promotion can be exhausting. But never fear! There are a few ways you can keep your “about me” writing on point—without pulling your hair out.

Tip #1: Don’t Overthink It

Bios are usually formulaic—and that’s okay! For most professional bios, LinkedIn summaries, and speaker bios at events, you won’t need to stray from the norm too much to stand out. Even adding an adjective that shows your personality or an unusual accomplishment can make your bio different from the crowd. You don’t need to create the next Between The World And Me to write a killer bio.

Tip #2: Remember Your Worth

Writing a bio on a site like Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn can be daunting because there are already so many fantastic bios (and people!) out there. But don’t fall prey to bio comparison! Your story is only yours to tell, and it has value. Focus on staying authentic to your truth, and don’t worry about others’.

Tip #3: When In Doubt, Borrow

Bios can be repetitive, sometimes even tedious. So if you find a structure you like and think sounds unique, borrow it! You should never copy a person’s bio—after all, it’s their story, not yours—but you can mimic the structure if you’re feeling stuck.

Tip #4: Get Writing Help

You’re not alone in your quest to create a bio that stands out. Grammarly is here to help you choose powerful adjectives, clean up hedging language, and make your LinkedIn stand out.

Even after this great info, you may find yourself stuck. That’s where Certa Publishing can help. We can help you curate not only your author bios on various platforms, but also a comprehensive marketing strategy. Contact us today to find out how we can partner with you.

The Greatest Story That Almost Wasn’t Told

 

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Many of us have grandfathers and great grandfathers who served in a war. From Korea to Normandy to Hanoi, they lived, fought and struggled on our behalf. Yet far too many of us know far too little of their stories. If someone asked you to recount the details of your forefather’s service, how much could you retell? Sadly in most families, the narrative of these aged warriors are passing away as they do. How terribly sad.

Thankfully our digital age allows us to recover a portion of these stories through online public records and services like Ancestry.com. Most families have an aunt, grandma or cousin who’ve taken on the noble duty of discovering and preserving their history, both recent and ancient. Yet, despite their best efforts, there are precious details that will never be uncovered. Many stories have gone to the grave with our ancestors.

Now think for a moment if the same had happened to the story of the resurrection. What if the Gospel writers had never picked up their pens to describe that glorious morning? It’s easy to imagine that this great narrative might have taken a similar course as that of our families’ histories. Sure, an oral record would have remained for a few generations. Yes, there would have been some faithful members of Jesus’ lineage who would have attempted to preserve a few relics and write down a few meaningful anecdotes. But like the details of your great grandfather’s purple heart or of your grandmother’s service with the Red Cross, much would have faded away with time.

For this reason, we should all be immensely grateful to Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and the others who took the time to created a detailed account of what happened that fateful morning. They certainly had plenty of reasons not to write. Chief among them is the persecution that was occurring during the likely time of the Gospel writing. The infamous Roman emperor Nero was particularly cruel to the emerging church and his reign overlaps the timeframe when most, if not all of the Gospels were being written. History records that a devastating fire broke out in Rome in AD 64, which is now named the Great Fire of Rome. Countless residences, structures, and temples were burned as the fire raged for over a week. Several trusted historians, such as Pliny the Elder, Suetonius, and Cassius Dio blame Nero for intentionally setting the fire. Nero, in turn, blamed the Christians and used the opportunity to maliciously persecute the fledgling religion. In his book Nero, Edward Champlain states that during this time Christians were “being thrown to the beasts, crucified, and being burned alive.”1 Yes, this is the type of environment that many first century writers found themselves in. One can’t help but contrast their writing environment to our own. How many of us have put off our writing because Starbucks was too crowded or we wanted another hour of sleep? Our excuses surely pale in comparison!

With this context in mind, our gratitude to these brave men must surely increase. This Easter morning as we join our congregation to read the story of Jesus’ resurrection, let us take a moment to appreciate the courage and commitment of their authors. It is due to their valiant efforts that the greatest story ever told is still being told. And for this, we must be forever grateful!

As you pursue your writing goals this week, we hope that you will reflect on the stories you want to tell. No, the stories the Lord wants to tell. The ones he wants preserved for generations. These stories matter and your time and sacrifice to write them are worth the effort.


1 Edward Champlin, Nero, (Harvard University Press, 2005), 77.

Social Media Influencers: How to find and utilize them

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Pretend for a moment that you are a new mom trying to decide on a brand of baby wipes. You’ve seen plenty of advertisement by the various brands, but it’s something else that makes up your mind. Not a Huggies ad or a Target mailer. No, it’s an Instagram post by your friend with 7 children. She mentions that she has tried all brands of wipes and settled, surprisingly, on the Walmart store brand as her favorite. You’re sold! And for the next few years, Walmart reaps the benefit of that one, simple word-of-mouth recommendation.

Why did that work? Because even though no one would have called that mother of 7 a “social media influencer,” in that moment, she was. In the mind of her friend, her expertise and credibility in the niche market of baby products trumped anything a Pampers ad could say.

This is nothing new. However, what is new, is that businesses have realized the effectiveness of the “social media influencer” and are intentionally targeting them to provide this valuable word-of-mouth marketing for their products.

And writers should do the same! So, how does it work?

1. Find your social media influencers

If you’re writing a book, hopefully you have spent a good amount of time narrowing down just who your audience is. Perhaps your audience consists of pastors looking to hone their speaking skills, or cancer patients looking for hope, or parents looking for Gospel-centered picture books for their preschoolers.

The next step is to determine who that audience looks to as an “influencer.”

For example, those pastors likely look to other successful, high-profile pastors with fantastic speaking skills. And those cancer patients probably look to oncology experts and well-known cancer survivors. Christian parents of preschoolers may look to mommy bloggers and Christian publishers.

If you’re not sure where to begin in the search for your audience’s influencers, there are some great tools available, both paid and free.

Trendspottr is a tool that will help you spot trends on Instagram, whether it is trending influencers, hashtags or posts. You can use this tool to discover what your target audience is liking and following. For example, if you write about healthy eating, you can use Trendspottr to stay on top of trending diets and ingredients, but also to discover which Instagram accounts within this space are getting the most attention. These are your niche’s “influencers.”

Buzzsumo is a site designed exclusively for finding social media influencers. And once you find them, the site will help you follow them, reach out to them and engage with them.

Followerwonk is designed specifically for Twitter. It will help you discover, follow and organize your niche’s social media influencers on this important platform.

Speaking of Twitter, this site lists all of the Twitter Chats that happen throughout the week, which can be a great way to interact with influencers. For example, if your writing is about post-traumatic stress disorder, there is a Twitter Chat on this subject every Monday night at 8pm, hosted by two influencers in that field.

While these tools are helpful, don’t disregard more traditional forms of online research, such as Reddit, LinkedIn groups, and good, old-fashioned Google.

2. Reach out to influencers

Now that you have a list of influencers within your niche, it’s time to reach out. Here are a few methods:

Comment on their blog and social media posts: Become an active commenter by offering authentic compliments and helpful commentary on their posts. As you do this more and more, the influencer will become more familiar with you. Be sure not to push your own product in the comments. Be patient!

Meet in person: Keep tabs on when influencers might be coming into town. Will they be a speaker at a local conference or hosting a meetup nearby? This is the perfect chance to meet face to face and give them your card. Although it may be a quick interaction, meeting you makes it much more likely that they will respond to follow-up messages from you.

Mention them in your own work: Everyone loves to be quoted and mentioned on blogs and social media (as long as it’s positive!) Look for ways within your content writing to do so, in hopes that the person you mentioned will share what you wrote.

Retweet and share their social media posts: Each time a person’s social media post is shared, they get a notification. This is a great way to keep your name fresh in your influencer’s mind. And be sure to include relevant hashtags and mentions when you share.

Offer to be a guest writer: Most prolific bloggers are happy to turn the reins over to a quality writer for a day. In fact, many post their guest blogger submission requirements right on their blog. This is a great opportunity to get your face in front of the influencer’s audience.

Go ahead and ask: Once you’ve established a relationship with your influencer, it’s time to confidently ask them if they would mention your book or product to their audience. This could be as simple as them retweeting you, or as elaborate as them reading a quote from your book on their podcast. This might seem like a big ask, but remember that all of these influencers were once in your shoes and they know how valuable this type of publicity can be. Plenty of them will decline, but you may be surprised at how many will say yes.

At Certa Publishing, we are working hard to stay on top of the marketing trends so that our authors’ messages can reach as many people as possible. If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, please reach out. We offer comprehensive marketing services and would be glad to take the reigns of your marketing plan or simply help you get started. Contact us today.