Have you ever wished you had someone working alongside you as you write your novel?
Do you want not just an editor, but someone who truly understands the different building blocks of a story and has a system to help you write and finish it?
Then I have good news!
All of this is possible through book coaching.
You don’t have to be alone to write anymore, and this article will show the value of hiring a book coach to help with an author’s novel.
What is a Book Coach?
In a nutshell, a book coach is a professional who works closely with writers to provide feedback, guidance, and support at every stage of the writing process, from outlining and drafting, to revising and editing.
I like to think of book coaching as an extension of developmental editing. A book coach is all at once your teacher, mentor, and editor, with one goal in mind: to help you write the best possible version of your story, whether it is fiction, nonfiction, or memoir. Sounds ideal, right?
Other terminologies might include writing coaching or story coaching, though they don’t always mean the same thing. For example, a story coach will often work on story development and conceptual aspects, but not always on all phases of writing and editing a book, while a writing coach will focus on the more technical and literary parts of writing. Again, these definitions vary so it is best to check what the coach offers on their website.
My services encompass both story and book coaching, offering support on storytelling foundations, story development, outlining, scene construction, writing the first draft, and editing.
For the purpose of this article, I’ll focus on what ‘book coaching’ entails.
So, how exactly can a book coach help? Let’s go into the specifics.
The Value of Hiring a Book Coach
1. Editorial Feedback
One of the main benefits of working with a coach is the expert editorial guidance they provide. They help the author improve their storytelling skills, sharpen their vision for the book, and overall give feedback on everything from story structure, plot, characterization, pacing, and more.
All great book coaches are first and foremost an editor. As such, they have the education and tools to find and highlight areas that need improvement and suggest ways to enhance your story.
For example, I personally started out as a developmental editor before expanding my services into story/book coaching.
Writing a novel can be a daunting task, and it can be easy to lose motivation and momentum along the way. Many writers I’ve worked with have spent months or even years on their book, sometimes not even finishing it, and this can be an incredibly frustrating experience.
A professional can help keep authors accountable and on track, providing support and encouragement throughout the writing process.
If you suffer from writer’s block or managing your time effectively, this could be exactly what you need. By setting realistic goals and deadlines, they’ll ensure that progress is being made.
3. Tailored Support
Every writer has different needs, and a book coach provides tailored support to meet those needs. Whether you need help with character development, plot structure, or show and tell, a book coach can provide advice specific to those areas.
They can also help writers identify their strengths and weaknesses, and work on areas that need improvement. In my opinion, this is where the magic of book coaching happens.
4. Access to Industry Knowledge
A book coach often has years of experience in the publishing industry and has valuable insights into the industry.
They can advise authors on querying agents and publishers, preparing manuscripts for submission, and navigating the publishing process.
This knowledge can be especially helpful for new writers who are unfamiliar with the publishing industry.
Writing a novel is a time-consuming process and many beginners give up before finishing their first draft. And that’s sad!
A coach has the resources and systems that can make an author save a huge amount of time and finish their draft.
For example, by suggesting how to avoid common mistakes and by quickly identifying areas that need improvement, I help my clients go faster in the writing and revising process.
Instead of going through many iterations of your draft, sometimes never seeing the end of it, working with a coach will fast-track and streamline your entire writing experience. Sure, you’ll still need to revise, but the work needed will be significantly less than if you did it all alone.
6. Enhanced Creativity
Last but not least, working with a book coach can unleash and boost an author’s creativity.
By providing a fresh perspective on the story, a coach helps writers think outside the box and come up with new solutions to potential plot holes.
In my one-to-one sessions, brainstorming ideas is one of my clients’ preferred activities. Writers have the space to freely explore ideas while getting an expert sounding board. What else could you ask for?
How to Choose a Book Coach
Let’s get down to the practicalities of choosing a book coach. It’s essential to find someone who is a good match for your writing goals and style. Here are some tips to consider when looking for a book coach:
Check the coach’s preferred genres: Every book coach works with specific categories and genres, so make sure the coach is a fit for your book. For example, there’s no point hiring a memoir coach for business nonfiction or a fantasy novel – they wouldn’t understand the genre and market’s expectations.
Look for experience and credentials: While a book coach doesn’t need a professional accreditation, they should have experience in the publishing industry and relevant credentials, such as a degree in creative writing or experience in writing and editing. Often book coaches have (or should have) a developmental editing background. Look for someone who has a proven track record of working with authors and helping them achieve their writing goals.
Check references and testimonials: You’ll get a sense of their portfolio and the clients’ experience working with the coach. Reach out to other writers who have worked with the coach and ask about their experience and the outcomes they achieved.
Consider their style and approach: It’s important to find someone whose method matches your preferences. Some coaches may offer monthly packages providing detailed feedback and support, while others may offer general guidance on storytelling techniques. Some coaches may tailor a plan to your needs and availability, while others may require you submit chapters on fixed deadlines. If you’re not sure, ask if they offer a free discovery session or book a one-off consultation to see if you’re a good fit before enrolling into a long-term program.
Book Coaching vs Editing
While both book coaching and editing involve working with a manuscript, they are two distinct services that offer different types of support to authors.
The main difference is that a coach can work at any point in the writing process, from an idea to an outline, to a first draft and editing. On the other hand, an editor needs a finished draft to be able to work on it.
Furthermore, an editor focuses on the manuscript—whether it is a big-picture edit (developmental editing) or a technical review of a manuscript (line editing, copy editing, and proofreading)—but not on the author and their needs and preferences.
However, while it’s important to understand these are two distinct services, it is worth pointing out that, in my opinion, all great coaches are also editors (as I mentioned before), and that all great editors are also coaches. In a developmental edit, a great editor will not ‘mark’ your manuscript with a red pen, they will explain where there’s an issue and why, and give suggestions on how to fix it, which is an act of teaching.
This is why my services and packages are all-encompassing. You’re not just hiring me for an ‘edit’, or an ‘assessment’—you’re hiring the total value of what I can bring, because in all my services there’s a bit of editing and there’s a bit of coaching.
When Should You Work with a Book Coach?
There are several situations when seeking a book coach can be beneficial:
You’re a new writer: Working with a professional can help you understand the fundamentals of storytelling before you even start writing. Instead of learning the theories and frameworks by yourself, which could take years, a coach provides specific guidance according to your needs and where you’re at in your writing journey.
You’re struggling with writer’s block: I know first-hand that it can be a frustrating and demotivating experience. A book coach will work with you to identify where the block is coming from and strategies for overcoming it. For example, doing a writing sprint, or setting a time each day in your calendar to write.
You suffer from impostor syndrome: Many writers feel invalidated, which can be devastating to their progress and career. A book coach encourages you and identifies areas where you’re doing well. By showing you your strengths, as well as devising an action plan for your writing, a professional makes you feel empowered to continue writing.
You need feedback on your manuscript: If you’ve completed a draft of your manuscript, but you’re unsure about its quality, hiring a book coach can be just what you need. A coach provides objective feedback on your manuscript and identifies areas of concern, similar to a developmental edit, but in smaller chunks at a time, which allows you to make progress as you revise.
You have an idea but you’re unsure of what to do next: A book or story coach can assist you in organizing your ideas, refining your vision, developing your story, and more. They have the tools to help you go from an idea to developing an outline to a complete draft.
You want to improve your writing skills: Even if you’re an experienced writer, there’s always room for improvement. A book or writing coach can suggest ways for you to refine your writing skills and take your craft to the next level.
You’re having trouble with the publishing process: The publishing industry can be complex and intimidating. Someone who’s expert in the field can provide guidance on everything from query letters and submissions to working with agents and publishers.
If you’re looking to write or finish your story, working with a book coach can be beneficial at any stage of the writing process, whether you’re just starting out or you’re a seasoned author.
What to Avoid When Hiring a Book Coach
It’s important to do your research and carefully evaluate potential professionals to ensure you find the right fit for your needs. Here are some aspects to avoid when hiring a book coach:
Lack of experience or credentials: As noted above, although a coach doesn’t need an accreditation, it’s important to check they have the experience, education, and training to provide this service. Look for a coach with a background in writing, editing, or publishing and who has experience working with authors in your genre.
Lack of professionalism: A book coach should be professional, responsive, and communicative. If a coach takes too long to respond to your emails or seems disorganized, it may be a red flag. Check that they have a contract, and that their packages and services are clearly defined so you know exactly what you’ll get.
High fees: While I believe it’s important to invest in your writing career, be cautious of coaches who charge exorbitant fees (for example, where it would cost you more than a publishing deal with a midsize publisher). Look for a coach who offers fair and transparent pricing and who is upfront about the costs involved.
Doesn’t respect your vision: A good book coach should tailor their style to your individual needs and goals. Someone who knows various storytelling approaches and can respect your vision and style is better than someone who will try to force you into a specific method or style of writing.
Lack of chemistry: It’s best to have a good rapport with your coach since you’ll be working closely together for an extended period. If you don’t feel comfortable with someone or if their personality clashes with yours, it may not be the right fit. And that’s okay!
In conclusion, there are so many different ways a book coach can help you write and finish your story. Hiring a book coach can be an incredibly valuable investment for authors at any stage of the writing process. By working with a professional, authors could accelerate their progress, overcome obstacles, and achieve their writing goals more quickly and effectively.
While working with a coach requires an investment of time and money, the benefits are invaluable. By collaborating with someone who’s skilled and experienced, authors can gain the confidence to write their story, put the words “The End” to their manuscript, and better position themselves in the competitive world of writing and publishing.
Writers, what are you waiting for? Your dream coach awaits.