When should you hire a book coach?

When should you hire a book coach?

Hiring a book coach is a big decision. Whether it’s the right decision for you or not depends on a lot of factors, including where you are on your writing journey, what your goals are, and what kind of book you’re writing or plan to write. For a start, here are two things you should think about before hiring a book coach.

Why are you writing your book?

Writing a book is hard work. It takes a lot of time and effort. It’s frustrating. It’s aggravating. It makes you doubt yourself. It forces you to face the possibility—no, the probability—of rejection. So why do you want to do it?

If your answer is, “I want to make a lot of money and quite my day job,” or “I want to be famous,” or “I’ve got a little extra time and I thought it would be fun,” think again. Very, very few writers actually make enough money to live on, and only a tiny number become household names. And although many aspects of writing a book can be exhilarating and rewarding, fun isn’t an adjective most writers I know would use to describe the process. If this is you, then a book coach probably isn’t the right way to go.

Or if you say, “I just want to collect my blog posts together for posterity,” or “I want to write down the family history for my grandchildren,” you might not really need to hire a book coach. There’s a world of difference between the wonderfully therapeutic act of writing for yourself and those close to you and writing something for strangers who don’t know anything about you.

If your answer is some version of, “because I have to,” or “because I’ve been thinking about this idea for my whole life,” or “because I need to prove that I can,” or “because my message is really important and I need to get it out to a broad audience…” then that’s a different matter.

The bottom line is this: Hiring a book coach means you’re serious about writing a book and you want it to be read by strangers—not just your family and friends. It means you are willing to invest the time, energy, and resources into writing something that’s the best you can make it, to suffer through revisions and rewrites, and keep going until you’ve done your best work.

What kind of help are you looking for?

Although in theory a book coach can help you at any stage of your project, if you’ve never written anything and you have a terrific idea for a book you think could be a bestseller, a book coach is not for you.

If you’re looking for validation and reassurance, someone to tell you your work is fabulous and just encourage you to keep going—that’s not the role of a book coach either. There are many wonderful organizations that provide safe spaces for writing with encouragement and camaraderie in generative workshops—Writers in Progress, for instance.

But a book coach isn’t that person. A book coach is someone who is in your corner, but isn’t afraid to deliver hard truths. A book coach wants you to succeed just as much as you do, and part of ensuring that is not letting you get away with work that’s less than you’re capable of. A book coach will celebrate your achievements, commiserate with your frustrations, and do everything humanly possible to keep you on track to meet your writing goals. If that kind of help seems like what you’re looking for, a book coach might well be for you.

Think you might be ready for book coaching? Contact me and let's start a conversation

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It’s official: I’m an Advanced Certified Book Coach!

It’s official: I’m an Advanced Certified Book Coach!

I’m so happy to announce that I have met all the Author Accelerator requirements and am now entitled to call myself an Author Accelerator Advanced Certified Book Coach!

How did that happen? It took five months of an in-depth course and test clients and submitting practicums. The course—which I can’t recommend highly enough—is through Author Accelerator, the fabulously supportive author coaching business established by the remarkable Jennie Nash.

I’m starting my business by offering a small package of a review/evaluation of 3 chapters (maximum 30 pages, Times New Roman 12pt double spaced) and a half-hour coaching call for just $150. Use the form below to contact me if you’re interested!

 

Find out more about my book coaching services!

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What is book coaching?

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:

  • Project management

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.

Manuscript Formatting for Submission

I’ve seen it over and over again. I get a manuscript to edit, and it’s nearly impossible to work with before doing some major changes just to make it readable on the page. This is especially true when I’m doing interior book layout. It’s sometimes hard to catch all the odd things writers do (manual line breaks, manual hyphenation of words, spacing in to make paragraph indents, etc.). You’ll save your editors and readers lots of time and trouble if you learn how to set it up right in the first place.

And if you’re asked for 10 pages of a manuscript by an agent, that means 10 pages double spaced, Times New Roman 12pt!

So I’ve created a little cheat sheet here that you can download that tells you all the standard formatting expected by people who may review your manuscript. Feel free to download it for your own use!

Useful self-editing tips

Useful self-editing tips

Let’s put it right out there: It’s hard to write a good story. There’s so much to think about, so many elements to corral—character development, plot, pace, dialogue, setting—it’s all important.

And now, you’ve done it! You’ve got a manuscript for your novel, it has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You’ve gotten to know your characters and given them conflict and motivation and all that good stuff. But it’s still really rough. What do you do now?

Of course, you can rush out and hire a developmental editor to help you polish and get it in shape for submission. But you should be your first, best editor. After all, it’s your voice, your imagination, and they’re your ideas. A little time and being honest with yourself can only help you produce the best manuscript possible.

Here are a few quick tips for self-editing that will save you time and probably money down the road:

Analyze your scenes.
One of the ways to get your arms around whatever you’re trying to write is to think in terms of scenes. Find the places where things happen in your manuscript, and see if you’ve created a scene that accomplishes something important. Does your scene:

  1. Introduce a character
  2. Establish a conflict
  3. Mark a turning point
  4. Resolve a conflict

In other words, what do your scenes SHOW? How do they advance the plot? If they do neither of those things, think about either eliminating them altogether or converting them to narration.

Look for your personal “tics”
We all have bad writing habits. Mine is to unconsciously filter a scene for the reader: “she heard,” or “she felt,” or “he noticed.” Do a quick search through your manuscript and make sure you’re not overdoing the, “I’m putting you in my character’s head and I want you to know it” places. Usually, those phrases can simply be eliminated, thereby strengthening your prose.

Other habits I’ve seen:

  • Starting too many sentences with prepositional phrases (As soon as possible, he…)
  • Starting too many sentences with gerund phrases (Turning around, she…)
  • Overuse of passive voice (a mistake was made instead of he made a mistake—although the choice of passive voice in many instances can be a matter of style)
  • Dialogue tags that are overly descriptive or include adverbs (“I love you,” she said breathily; “How wonderful!” he exclaimed). Dialogue tags are best kept to said or asked or eliminated altogether when it’s clear who’s talking. They become invisible to the reader, only acting as quick signposts so the reader can follow a conversation.

Scan your text for white space
What? Yes. You heard me. Make sure you don’t have a paragraph that goes on for pages. Look for variety in sentence and paragraph length. It helps make your text more readable.

Eliminate expositional backstory
Very often inexperienced writers will begin their stories by dumping everything they think the reader needs to know into the beginning of the novel. I know this, because that’s almost always what happens in my own first drafts! LOL! It is probably useful to you as the writer to articulate all that information, but take a good hard look at it and cut, cut, cut to the barest essentials of what the reader needs to know in order to get involved in the story.

And of course, do all this without letting your inner critic destroy your self-confidence!
It’s a bit of a balancing act. Writing involves being extremely confident and overly critical at the same time. Pat yourself on the back for completing a manuscript—not many people can do it. Celebrate what’s good about your story. And then dig back into it with an eye to making it even better.

You can do it!