How does book coaching work? Just what do you do?

Book coaches work in a variety of styles, just as writers write in a variety of styles. But all good book coaches help writers identify the kind of help they need and provide that help. When you come to me with a book project, I will help you clarify what it is you want to do, establish a structure for your book, and provide you weekly writing goals. Accountability will help you to maintain your writing pace and complete your book in a timely manner. And if you get stuck, I’m just an email away and I’ll nudge you back into the writing game—either with encouragement or with writing prompts that get you back to putting down the words. But more importantly, I will provide you with professional guidance throughout the project so that the book you are writing is a book that readers will want to read, and hopefully, publishers will want to publish.

In addition to helping you conceptualize your book, I will teach you techniques such as how to capture your own, most compelling “voice.” I will teach you how to craft a narrative arc, create suspense, use humor effectively, write dialogue and develop characters. If you are writing nonfiction, I can help you focus and present the information effectively, clearly and originally.

I will also read and edit what you write. Most book coaches don’t read what their clients write on a weekly basis, but I have found that the best way I can help my clients is to give them feedback on their writing each week so that they become better writers and I can give them the best advice possible. I will provide editorial suggestions and you can decide for yourself if those suggestions work for you—or if they don’t. You are the ultimate decision maker when it comes to your own work.

I will also give you advice on how to secure a literary agent and publisher, or publish your book independently and how to market it. Every step of the way, I will help you to reach your publishing goals by providing professional guidance, encouragement, and advice so that your finished book is truly finished—and polished to perfection.

I’ve already finished my book and just want some advice on how to get it published. Can you help me?

I can indeed help you, but unless you are an experienced writer, chances are the book you’ve finished is a first draft and still needs a lot of work. Many writers come to me with lengthy drafts that they have worked on for months or even years, but one look at the first page and it is clear it is not ready for publication. The problems I’ve encountered in these drafts include poor grammar, no dialogue, a story or nonfiction book that goes all over the place with no clear focus, way too many adjectives and not enough verbs, endless repetitions, and no awareness of the reader. If you want people to read your book, you need to understand the reader and why they will be drawn to your book—and keep on turning the pages.

So, yes, I can help you if you’ve already completed your book. But if you’ve never written one before, and if you haven’t revised it once you reached the end, then it is probably not ready for publication no matter how much work you’ve put into it—which is another way to say, welcome to the life of a writer!

But if it is ready for publishing, then I will be delighted to help you write a proposal and pitch it to an agent or publish it independently and start marketing it to your readers.

Can’t I just join a writers’ group?

Sure, and in many cases, I recommend doing just that. But a writing group alone won’t provide you with the individualized time and professional advice that a book coach can provide. Most writers’ groups are comprised of amateur writers who can give you a good idea of how readers will respond to your book, but they generally won’t have the professional insights to help you understand how a publisher will view your book. In many cases, writing groups can hurt your writing—either from mean-spirited criticisms that end up leaving you feeling discouraged, or from well-meaning flattery that encourages you to continue making mistakes you don’t even know you’re making. Another thing to keep in mind is that most people in writing groups are there for their own writing goals—not yours. A book coach will be focused on your goals and needs, and won’t be afraid to tell you—tactfully—when you’re making mistakes or when and where your writing needs improvement—and how to improve it. Finally, a good book coach will never discourage you—we might not always tell you what you want to hear, but we’ll always encourage you to never give up!

But won’t my agent or publisher edit my book for me?

Not anymore. While there are still a few agents and publishing house editors who will polish your manuscript for you, it’s unlikely to happen. They see thousands of manuscripts every year, so if your book isn’t in top shape when you submit it, chances are they won’t even look at it. And if they do—and accept it—publishing houses are increasingly expecting the author to find their own editors. That’s why book coaches have become more popular—we’re here to help you get your book in top shape before any agents or publishers see it.

I’ve already started my book—is it too late to work with you?

No matter where you are in the writing process, it’s never too late to start work with a book coach. While the most common mistake beginning writers make is waiting too long to work with a book coach—often writing hundreds of pages without any real idea how to structure a book, tell a story or engage the reader—every writer, at any stage, can benefit from the feedback, guidance and encouragement of a book coach. I’m happy to work with you wherever you are in your writing project, and I’ve helped writers who have never written anything before, and writers who have published with top publishers and are on their second, third and even fourth books. I start with you—your needs, your objectives, and your vision.

I don’t want to spend a year writing a book; I know what I want to write and it won’t take me long. Can you still help me?

Sure I can help you, and if it won’t take you long, that’s great. Robert James Waller wrote Bridges of Madison County in 11 days, Anthony Burgess wrote Clockwork Orange in less than a month, and Jack Kerouac wrote On the Road in three weeks. I’ve done it myself, writing books in three to six months. But I’d written several books beforehand, and they would be better books if I had more time to put into them. And let’s face it, few people have the sheer talent to write a bestseller in a week or two—Waller, Burgess and Kerouac are the exceptions, not the rule. The important thing is to write your best possible book and to be prepared to revise it several times until there’s not an unnecessary word to clutter up your prose, and every word captivates the reader and keeps them turning the pages. That’s where I can help you.

What if I sign up for a year of coaching with you and I decide that it just isn’t working? Am I out all that money?

No. If after thirty days of working with me you decide it’s not a good fit, you will only be charged for one month of coaching and any additional funds will be refunded. I want to provide you the help you need, and I want you to feel confident that you have invested wisely with me.

If I work with you, can you guarantee that my book will be published?

No, and any book coach who promises you your book will be published is not telling you the truth. Working with a book coach will certainly improve the quality of your writing and your chances of being published, but in today’s highly competitive publishing industry, there are no guarantees. There are many variables that determine whether a book is published or sold, including the topic you are writing on, the market for that topic, the quality of your writing and storytelling, the timing of your book and even the fickleness of the market. But you can independently publish your book and if you put the time and effort into writing the best possible book, and marketing it aggressively, you are far more likely to write a book that sells—and I can help you to do just that.

I don’t want to write a book—I have other writing projects that I need help with. Can you still coach me?

Absolutely. I’ve helped people to write blogs, magazine articles, peer-reviewed academic articles, grant proposals, theses, dissertations, cover letters and more. Whatever your writing needs, feel free to contact me and we can discuss a range of options to provide you with the services you most need.

Are our discussions and my writing confidential?

Yes. Nothing is discussed with anyone else without your explicit permission. Any writing you send to me is your writing—you own the intellectual property rights and control what happens to it—and I will not share or circulate it with anyone, nor discuss your writing project with anyone.

Why is book coaching so expensive?

Investing in a book coach can indeed be costly, but no more expensive than most any professional service. For every hour I spend with a client, I will spend two to four hours reviewing and editing their work. What’s more, you are also paying for experience and skill—you certainly wouldn’t want someone with little experience to advise you on something so important to you, nor would you expect to pay them less than you pay someone to cut your hair or weed your garden. You are paying for experience and professional quality advice, editing and direction—and if you’re ready to invest in your book writing dream, that’s exactly what you’ll receive—tailored to meet your unique needs and goals.