Ready to pursue writing a book proposal?

Join Kathi and her guests (everyone at the actual writing retreat) as they discuss all they learned about the important aspects of proposals.

From building chapter titles, to writing your story to marketing, hear from all The Red House guests on their important takeaways about book proposals!

Today’s Episode Takeaways:

  • marketing is not to convince an editor to publish you, but to confirm to yourself that you’re ready to publish
  • to focus in on things that require a higher barrier entry
  • we’re better together
  • your proposal is actually a business plan
  • if we just serve our tribe, God will take care of everything else
  • you’re not building a book, you’re building a ministry
  • your chapter titles should tell a story
  • writing a book is mostly about falling in love with your reader


You can learn more about our guests, their books and work in the links below!

Kathleen Kerr 

Susy Flory

Billie Jauss  Making Room, Doing Less

Jenn Hand    Coming Alive at the Cross

Jenn Bryant     Practical Family

Kendra Burrows

Cheri Gregory

Wendy Doyle

Melinda Patrick

Find out more about Writing at the Red House here!

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Thank you to our friend Susy Flory with Everything Memoir for sponsoring this episode!

Transcript of this Episode

Communicator Academy Podcast # 155

 What I Learned about Proposals at a The Red House Retreat

Listen to the Everything Memoir podcast, and learn how to leave a legacy with your memoir or personal story. Whether it’s still only an idea, or nearing completion, the Everything Memoir podcast is a place to connect, get advice from Susy Flory, memoir expert, and author, or co-author, of twelve memoirs, including two New York Times bestsellers. If you haven’t read Memoir, just know that leaving a legacy for family and friends is one of the most satisfying experience you’ll ever have. It’s not easy, but you’ll be glad you did it.  Go to, or check out the link in our show notes.

<<intro music>>

Kathi – Well, hey friends. Welcome to Communicator Academy, where our heart is to equip and encourage men and women to become the communicators God has created them to be.  This is a very special episode of Communicator Academy. I have never had this many guests on the program. And they’re all videotaping.  


I love it!  So, we are Writing at The Red House, right guys!

Everyone: Whoohoo!

Kathi – But, funny story! We’re not at The Red House. Jake is very upset about it, as you can hear. We got snowed out, so, seven of the most flexible, amazing writers I have ever met, decided that they would do “Writing at the Townhouse”. So, they are all squeezed into our little townhouse in San Jose, California. They’ve all had amazing attitudes about it.  We’ve had a good time, right? 

So, this is the final night, which makes me sad, because you all flew into Sacramento and you’re leaving from Sacramento. It means that you have to get up at crack-of-dawn early tomorrow. So, we don’t get a lot of time to linger and sing Kumbaya and pray and commission you out. So, tonight’s the night, and we said, “Let’s do a podcast!” ’cause that’s about the holiest work you can do, right? 

Okay, so, here’s what I thought I would do with our friends here at Writing at The Red House (Writing at the Townhouse) is, we have done a whole week on proposals and, okay, not only did we get snowed out at The Red House, but, Kathleen Kerr, editor for Harvest House, got snowed out of coming to the townhouse. Like, guys, I can’t even tell you. You’re all like, “I’m never signing up for a Red House again.” Here’s the thing, though. They all signed up for The Red House again. Okay, I won’t commit everybody, but the majority have, who have said, “We are going to do that again.” So, if God can make this good, you know The Red House is going to be good. 

But what I wanted to share with our audience today, was to figure out, because we’ve done a whole week on proposals, I mean, we have done proposals up the wazoo.  This is just real life. Jake is begging for food in there. So, you know it’s going to be super-super fun here. I can already tell. I am not stressed out at all that I have a dog whining in the other room. That’s not stress-y at all. But here’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to ask each of you if you could share one take-away from this week. One take-away about what you learned. I told them they had to keep it under a minute. So, see if you want to book them as a speaker if they can follow directions, okay? So, the first volunteer, I saw you were just volunteered…

Billie Jauss – VolunTOLD.

Kathi – VolunTOLD, that’s right. That’s the new term we’ve learned this week. It’s Billie Jauss, and Billy, you’re the author of…

Billie – “Making Room: Doing Less So God Can Do More”

Kathi – Awesome. And what have you learned about proposals this week?

Billie – I think the one thing that hit me the most was about the marketing. You said that marketing is not to convince an editor that they should publish you, but to confirm to yourself that you’re ready to publish. And really, you know, one of the things you said, “Worse than not getting a contract is actually not selling books.”

Kathi – Right. It is so much worse to get a contract. Now, that’s easy for me to say as a published author, but it really is true. It would break my heart that anybody walked away from here and went and got a contract and wasn’t able to sell their books. So, the marketing section convinces you that, “Yeah, I am ready to be my own marketer. I am ready to sell this book, and I know there’s an audience waiting for it.” I love that’s what you pulled away from it. Okay. Thank you, Billie!  

Okay, next we have Wendy Doyle. Wendy is going to be a new podcaster, so be watching. We have bullied her in to podcasting. We have volunTOLD Wendy. But let me just tell you, Wendy is an amazing, engaging communicator and I just know that podcasting is going to be your jam.

Wendy Doyle – Absolutely. So, stay tuned!

Kathi – Stay tuned! That’s right! Hey, you know what? Here’s what I’ll do. When you launch your podcast, I’m going to put the link up on Communicator Academy and Clutter Free Academy for my people who need to know about being a caretaker.

Wendy – I can’t wait.

Kathi – So, stay tuned. She is lying right now, but you now what? It’s going to be amazing. She’s going to get hooked, because, Cheri, am I wrong? You get addicted to podcasting.

Cheri – It’s the best thing ever.

Kathi – It’s the best thing ever.

Cheri – Podcasting is better than writing.

Kathi – Podcasting is better than writing. Okay, wait. I just signed a book contract. Podcasting is awesome in addition to writing. So, Wendy. Tell me, in a minute or less, what you learned about proposals this week that has changed your life.

Wendy – Well, it actually does focus on podcasting.

Kathi – Oh, yay! I’m so excited.

Wendy – It was very good to connect into that.  It was a take away from Kathleen Kerr that was, “If you’re working on your platform and you have no idea where to focus your efforts, focus in on the things that require a higher barrier entry.

Kathi – Okay, now what does that mean?

Wendy – So, basically what that means is, it will take your people a little bit of extra effort to invest to find you. Things like, spending the time to search out your podcast, look at your vlog, your video blog, versus just scrolling through and following you on Facebook and Instagram.

Kathi – It’s so true, because, a podcast, they’re with you for fifteen minutes every week. They’re engaged. You’re in their car. You’re in their house. We just found out we’re in people’s showers.  

Wendy – Wow.


Kathi – Yeah. It’s a whole new level of intimacy that I will put on my next book proposal.  It’s so true. If you can get people hooked into that medium, then you’ve got them for years to come.

Wendy – Those are the people that are going to want to find out where you’re speaking. Buy your next book. Share you with their tribe. Those are the people you want to connect with.

Kathi – Exactly and when she said, Kathleen Kerr told her, we managed to get Kathleen Zoomed into the retreat, so she was with us by video. Until the power at her house went out.

Wendy – Right when she said, “podcast”.

Kathi – Right when she said “Wendy, you should podcast.” So, I consider that a sign from God, so, yeah. That was excellent.

Wendy – Amen. Amen.

Kathi – Okay. Amen. Amen. Jen Hand! You have a book, I know you have a couple of books, but what’s your most recent book that people should be looking for?  

Jen Hand – Well, the one, right now, that’s coming, that’s been out, but it’s about Lent. It is, “Coming Alive at the Cross”. So, it’s a 40-day journey for the days of Lent.

Kathi – Wonderful. So, now, what’s the best thing that you’ve learned about proposals?

Jen – I learned, what I already knew but needed to remember, “We’re Better Together”. So, what happens is, we sometimes thing we need to hold our ideas precious and so I brought my precious idea…

<<snorts of laughter>>

Jen – …and in the nicest way…

Kathi – I thought it was “What happened at The Red House stays at The Red House”.

Jen – No, it does, but this is what I learned. Some very kind. All of the spoke truth that they would never read that book.

<<snorts of laughter>>

Jen – So when they said, “Maybe we need to change things,” my insecurity wanted to say, “You don’t belong at this table. Push away from it and don’t come back.” But what the Lord says is that if we are really better together, then what everyone has to offer is, when you’re sitting at the table let them pass the meat and potatoes. Take what they have to say and then you all get to feast together. So, I learned, truly, the Body of Christ is better together, and I ended up getting a book idea that is a mixture of a bunch of ideas I had, but became the idea I cannot wait to write.

Kathi – And it’s going to sell. I mean, that’s the beauty of it. We are better together.

Jen – We are.

Kathi – That’s amazing. I’m so glad you saw that there’s one spot left and you decided to come.

Jen – I did! Last minute.

Kathi – I’m thrilled. I love what God has done this week with everybody but, I thought, “Oh man. I crushed her. I crushed her little dream and she’s never going to…” and now you’re leaving more excited that you came.

Jen – I have to say, it’s the best investment I’ve ever made in my ministry.  

Kathi – I’m so glad.

Jen – Red House of Townhouse. Who cares where the house is? It’s the people at the table. And if you come, you get cheese, even if you’re dairy-free.  They give you fancy cheese.

Kathi – ‘Cause cheese is the official food of The Red House. As Michele and I like to say, “Cheesus saves!”

Jen – I like it!

Kathi – Okay, Melinda! Melinda Patrick, you were our house elf this week.

Melinda Patrick – Yes!

Kathi – So that meant, poor thing, she came this week to serve everybody else, which you did beautifully.  And then you started talking to people. 


Kathi – She’s a social elf. Nobody missed a meal while we were here. She did a beautiful job and you have such a gift of encouragement. It was so great to have you.  I’m just glad we didn’t leave you in charge of the tamales. She was going to start eating them with the corn husks on.

Melinda – I was! I’ve never had a tamale before. 

Kathi – You’ve never had a tamale before. You’re obviously not from California, where we buy them out of the back of women’s cars.

Melinda – That’s right. That’s a whole other podcast.

Kathi – That’s a whole other podcast. So Melinda, what did you learn this week about proposals?

Melinda – Okay, first, I also the first returning guest at The Red House Writer Retreat.

Kathi – You are the only person who has been to The Red House and the Townhouse. So, you’ve had the urban experience and the mountain experience.

Melinda – And so far, I have been to 100% all Red House Retreats.

Kathi – This is true! You’re a super-fan! You’re the kind of person that listens to podcasts. That’s amazing.

Melinda – Yes! So, what I learned this week: F irst, that your proposal is actually a business plan, and as you work out the proposal…

Kathi – Cheri Gregory shared that with us. I love it.

Melinda – Yes, Cheri Gregory shared that with us. And as you work out your proposal, your message and the structure and form of your book becomes more clear. So, proposals are so important. And I learned, also, that your platform, people stress about numbers and having to get so many followers, so many emails, but as we just turn and serve our tribe, God will take care of everything else. It’s all about ministering and serving others.

Kathi – When people say, “I want to write a book, but I don’t want to worry about platform,” what I hear is, “I don’t want to care about my audience.” So, no.  Your platform shows a publisher and yourself that you care enough about your audience to invest in multiple ways into the change that they need to experience in their lives. Excellent. Excellent.

Kathi – Okay, Kendra Roros. Hey! How are you doing?

Kendra – I’m doing great!

Kathi – We’re so glad you’re here. You were the first person to sign up for this one and we were so thrilled. There was some whooping and hollering. We do a little thing when someone signs up for either Leverage or The Red House. We go, “Ding! Ding! Ding!” It makes us very happy. Now at one point, I don’t know, something happened. I can’t remember what it was, and Roger went, “Ding! Ding! Ding!” and it was, like, we got a discount on a meal or something. I’m like, “No! You are not allowed to ‘ding’ capriciously.” No! No! No! We save our ‘dings’ only for really exciting things, and you signing up was super-exciting. So, Kendra, what did you learn about proposals?

Kendra – So many things I learned, but one of the key take-aways was, “You’re not building a book, you’re building a ministry” and I thought, we tend to think of, “This is my book and this is my precious and these are the ideas that I want to express,” but the reality is, “These are the people I’m going to have to go find.” The reality is, we should be doing that all along. These are the people we’ve been ministering to, or, we should be working on ministering to, even before we’re working on our book proposal. Even as we’re working on it.

Kathi – Amazing. I love that, because it changes your whole perspective. It’s not about you selling a book, it’s about you ministering to human beings and the book is just one part of that ministry. I love that you called that out, Kendra. Thank you, so much.  Okay, Cheri Gregory. Okay, so, Cheri has eighteen books coming out.

Cheri – So not true.

Kathi – So, what could you possibly have learned about proposals? Right now, you’re not in a place where you’re actually doing a lot of proposals, but you have recently. So, I would love to hear either something you learned here, or something you’ve learned through your own process.

Cheri – Oh, no.  I definitely learned something important here.  Susy Flory spent time with us talking about story, and, I mean, so many take-aways from absolutely everything the whole time here, but, for me, the biggest thing was the idea that my…. No! You built on what Susy said by saying that when you do your outline, that your chapter titles should tell a story to the editor who is looking at your proposal. Is that what you said? Or something like that?

Kathi – Yes, exactly. 

Cheri – And that absolutely solved everything I was struggling with, because it’s just so easy to just get to that point in the proposal and go, “I’m just going to make up chapter titles that sound okay. I can always fix them later.” But I didn’t have a strategy for chapter titles and now that I’m thinking, “I want the editor to look through these chapter titles, whether there is 14 or 16 or twenty, and I want them to feel this story, this sense of progression.” This sense that, from beginning to end, there’s going be a transformation in the life of the reader. I’m now excited to do something I’ve always begrudgingly. Huge.

Kathi – Yeah, and you know, you think about this when you go to a book store and you look at a book and you flip open to chapter titles. Is this something that’s going to speak to my heart, or is it just about a random things that don’t make sense, but you’re like, “Well, maybe they will if I read the book, but that’s not compelling me to buy the book.”  That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Cheri. 

Okay, last and never least, I’m just so excited. We had two Jens here. We had Jen Hand and now we’ve got Jen Bryant, and you’re with Practical Family. Tell us, what is the one thing you learned this week about proposals that is going to change the way you do stuff?

Jen Bryant – Wow. So many things about proposals, Kathi, because writing the proposal, being the business plan for your book, I came in expecting to be taught how to serve up an excellent plan to an editor and everything the ladies said here was amazing, but I found that it was mostly about falling in love with my reader and that that’s the reason I’m writing this book. It’s because I’m in love with my reader, not just because I want to publish a book. You know? It’s everything about the permission to do things. Like, “What are you wiling to do without anyone else’s permission?” Like, “Do you think I can write a book? I don’t know. Do you think I can write a book?” and is God calling me to write a book, is he calling me to speak to a group of women at this point that need the message that he wants to share with them, through me. And just being used by God and that way to do that has blown open my perspective on the whole reason.

Kathi – Whew! I’m so glad we ended with you. Because you know what? It’s so true. We’ve talked about your goals leaving here. And that your goal can’t depend on somebody else’s “yes”. That God has given you a plan and that you’re to walk that out. I’m so thrilled. 

We will be offering the proposal program again, because I’ve just seen such a transformation. How many of you, I’m going to ask you to raise your hands, which is such a great thing to do for podcasting, but how many of you are walking out of here with a different book than you came in with? Okay. We’ve got five raised hands and two half-raised. Okay, things have changed. Your title has changed. Your title has changed, too!

Cheri – But it’s stronger. I understand what the book is now.

Kathi – To write a good proposal and understand what the book is about now? That’s a beautiful thing. You guys, not only did you complete this week, but I’m just going to say, and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to say this at another Red House, but, you guys are all media-ready. I’m super-impressed with all of your answers and your ability. Really. I thought we were going to have to do some heavy editing. It did not turn out that way. I’m not surprised you’re awesome, okay. I knew you were awesome in other ways. I just didn’t know you would be so concise and great. This proves to me all of you can do podcasts. Just saying so, Wendy. 

<<clapping and laughter>>

Kathi – I should have known that guys were all amazing, ’cause you all listen to Communicator Academy. You’ve grabbed the wisdom from Michele, and occasionally from me, and you’re doing the good stuff. 

Friends, I so appreciate you listening to Communicator Academy.  We’re going to offer a link in the notes to come to a future Writing at The Red House. We’ve got some amazing coaches coming. You’re not going to want to miss it.  You’ve been listening to Communicator Academy. I’m Kathi Lipp.  You’ve been given the best message in the world. Now, go live it.


*see show notes in podcast post above for any mentioned items

Meet Your Hosts

Kathi Lipp

Kathi Lipp

Author, Speaker, Communicator Academy Creator and CEO

Communicator Academy founder, Leverage: The Speaker Conference creator and master instructor Kathi Lipp, is a national speaker and author of 17 books including “Clutter Free,” “Overwhelmed,” and “The Husband Project.”

She is a frequent guest on radio and TV, and has been named Focus on the Family radio’s “Best of Broadcast.”

She is the host of the popular podcast “Clutter Free Academy with Kathi Lipp.”

Over the past 10 years, Kathi has helped hundreds of people increase their platform through teaching and coaching. She is a frequent teacher at writer’ s conferences and has helped countless authors and speakers find their audiences.

Kathi’s desire to help fellow speakers and authors avoid the mistakes she made, increase their confidence and be the person God made them to be, inspired her creation of Communicator Academy. Her newest adventure, is The Red House where she offers writer’s retreats and Writers in Residence events. Learn more about the Red House at

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