I recently submitted my practicums for the Advanced Book Coaching Certification Course at Author Accelerator, the business established by world-class book coach, Jennie Nash. This was an in-depth course that took me four months to complete, and the practicums will be evaluated by Jennie’s team to see if I qualify. I sincerely hope I do!
Why, you ask, would I spend the time, effort, and money to gain such a qualification—when I’m already a published author and an experienced editor? There are several reasons for this. Below are three of the most important ones.
A book coach is different from an editor.
In a nutshell, you hire an editor when you have a completed manuscript. The editor gives it a close read, and depending on whether it’s a developmental edit or a line edit, provides an editorial letter detailing all the areas for improvement she sees or marks up the entire manuscript with detailed suggestions. Then it’s up to you, the writer, to assess the comments and suggestions and decide whether you want to accept them.
When you hire an editor, it’s generally a one-time relationship. It’s over when the editor has provided the services you contracted her for. The editor generally never gets to see or necessarily discuss the changes the author chose to make.
A book coach, on the other hand, establishes an ongoing relationship that can last through your entire project—or any part of it during which you decide to work with a book coach. A book coach has all the abilities of a good editor, but adds some important skills and services to that relationship with the author.
You can hire a book coach at any point during your project and get valuable help.
Yes, that’s right. You can hire a book coach:
- At the very beginning of your project—you have an idea for a book but you don’t know where to start, or whether it’s an idea that will work.
- When you’re partway through your manuscript, and you’re stuck, and you need help figuring out what’s wrong and getting back on track.
- When you’ve got a finished manuscript, maybe it’s even been edited and been through beta readers, but it’s getting rejections from agents and editors and you need help figuring out why.
A book coach can help you think through the fundamentals of your story using tools that go beyond editing.
Part of the book coach training is learning how to assess a manuscript from a high level, focusing on the big picture and making recommendations. Book coaches help you answer questions like:
- Does the novel or memoir start in the right place?
- Are the characters believable and do they make the reader care?
- Is the style and length appropriate for the genre?
- Are there red flags concerning the marketability of your book?
And much more.
What exactly does a book coach do that’s different from editing?
In addition to having to be an accomplished editor, a book coach has to have an array of skills that aren’t necessary for an editor, including:
Your book coach will set deadlines and outline deliverables for you, based on your initial consultation with the coach. This often helps writers establish much-needed writing practice discipline, and it can spur you on when you see that there’s an end goal in sight.
Knowledge of the marketplace
A book coach keeps tabs on the requirements of the marketplace for the different genres she coaches, is aware of trends and important news, and can help keep writers on track for meeting the demands of whatever genre they’re working in. Is your manuscript too long? Is the voice appropriate for your age group? What comparable titles show that your book has a chance of being picked up by an agent or editor?
Regular communications and check-ins
You and your book coach will have many interactions—through email, online, face-to-face depending on your location—and the quality of those interactions are a vital piece of a successful book coaching relationship. They’re built into your coaching program, usually every two weeks depending on the package you choose.
Trust and integrity
Your relationship with your book coach is based on trust: trust that the coach will be honest with you; trust that she will celebrate your successes and commiserate with rejections; trust that everything between you will remain confidential, unless you give your coach permission to share your work as examples for other coaching clients.