Understand the Inspirational Market by Marisa Shadrick

Understand the Inspirational Market

by Marisa Shadrick, Writers Forum Member

When writing provokes new thought, motivates change, or awakens an apathetic heart it’s often called inspirational. Aspiring writers need a clear understanding of this competitive market for publication.

On April 13th, Redding Writers Forum welcomed two accomplished authors, Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma and Cathy Elliott, who offered their expertise in Writing for the Inspirational Market. Cindy is a best-selling author with 13 novels and 4 nonfiction books. Cathy has authored 2 cozy mysteries with a quilting mystery to be released in 2014.


Members and guests listened attentively while Cindy and Cathy echoed a consistent theme throughout their presentation—opportunity. They encouraged writers to view inspirational writing as an expanded market for fiction and nonfiction work rather than a single genre. Retailers continue to fill their shelves with inspirational books at supermarkets, drugstores, airports, bookstores and mega outlets like Wal-Mart and Costco.


Nonfiction genres include memoir, caregiving, self-help, creative nonfiction, curriculum, children’s nonfiction, ghostwriting, greeting cards, articles and more. A familiar title would be Chicken Soup for the Soul an international series with short stories and essays.

IMG_7486Romance holds its popularity in fiction but other genres include fantasy, suspense/thriller, cozy mysteries, historical fiction, Amish stories, and more. At first glance, these genres may seem to fit the general market but inspirational writing has its differences.

Cindy and Cathy explained that “inspirational” is a broad term that includes various faiths. For Christian consideration, for example, the writing must align with the publisher’s guidelines and specific denomination. In addition, Christian writing is distinctive for its discretion with sexual content, minimal profanity, and degree of violence. Values are woven throughout each story but with imperfect characters, villains, and realistic scenes. The material is convincing but less graphic and contains a redemptive message of hope.

Writers may choose to research the inspirational market because of its diverse opportunities. To facilitate the process, Cindy and Cathy offered tips:

  • Consider why you want to write for this market.
  • Find your passion and write from the heart.
  • Do the legwork and research the publisher, guidelines, and denomination.
  • Go to a Christian Writers Conference and meet agents, publishers, and other authors. (Be prepared to pitch your book idea.)
  • Take advantage of conference CDs and learn from the experts.
  • Seize writing opportunities—it may lead to other projects.
  • Follow blogs for writing tips and market trends from leading agents and editors.
  • Know where your work fits. Search for similar works online or visit a local bookstore and check the bookbinding for placement information.
  • Write with excellence and offer innovative ideas.

IMG_7488These suggestions were the authors’ stepping-stones to publication. Perhaps your work can find opportunities in this market to inspire others and further your writing career.

Writing for the Inspirational Market Handout contains a list of industry blogs, top publishers, organizations, and annual conferences. To download the PDF file click here.

Note: Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma co-founded Quills of Faith Writers Group in 1997. She co-leads a monthly meetings every 2nd Monday from 7-9 p.m. at Anderson/Cottonwood Neighborhood Church. Visitors are welcome.

Monthly Meeting April, 2013: Writing For the Inspirational Market

At our April Writers Forum meeting, we’ll hear from Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma and Cathy Elliott, two authors who write for the inspirational market.

The inspirational market is no longer a genre—it’s a vast industry that includes every genre imaginable from Amish to thrillers, Christian living to Buddhist teaching and YA to picture books. Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma and Cathy Elliott will give an overview of the inspirational market, the opportunities, the boundaries, and reasons to explore this growing and diverse industry.

Cindy (Martinusen) Coloma is a best-selling author and has written 13 novels including: Beautiful (2010 Christy Award Finalist for YA and 2011 Revolve YA Tour Book of the Year), The Salt Garden (Library Journal’s Best Books 2004), Orchid House (2008 ECPA bestseller), and Winter Passing (2001 Christy Award Finalist and Romantic Times Reader’s Choice Finalist). Her novels have been translated into Afrikaans, Dutch, German and Norwegian. She is also currently ghostwriting a mystery with a Fox News TV personality.

Nonfiction works include: coauthor with former Congresswoman Linda Smith on Renting Lacy: A Story of America’s Prostituted Children (self-published by Smith’s nonprofit organization), and My Life is a Zoo (tentative title) with Bud DeYoung from the Nat Geo Wild show, My Life is a Zoo.

Cindy and her husband live in Northern California. Her four children range in age from 1 year to 22 years old – there’s never a dull moment! She enjoys the outdoors, movies, good food and drink, storytelling and time with family and friends.

Cathy Elliott is the author of two cozy mysteries, including Medals in the Attic, the second book in the Annie’s Attic Mystery Series. She is also a contributor to various anthologies and has written for national publications. In addition, she is the author of ten educational books for children.

Now retired after thirty-one years of service at the Shasta College Library, Cathy is a full-time writer, easily distracted by the joys of grandparenthood. Often she can be found in her Northern California home, sipping tea and spinning tales on her trusty laptop into the wee hours. Currently, she is hard at work on a new quilting mystery for Abingdon Press, to be released in 2014.

We look forward to seeing you at the April meeting!