How a Book Coach Can Help You Finish Your Draft
I mean, if you wanted to get some feedback and guidance on your business, you could hire a business coach to help you out. Or, if you wanted to improve your golf swing, learn to run a mile in a certain amount of time, or lose weight, you could hire a physical trainer to help you with that, too.
today’s post, I’m going to explain exactly what a Book Coach is, how working with a book coach can help your writing, and share some tips on how to find the Book Coach coach for you. So, let’s dive in!
What is a Book Coach?
Unlike a Developmental Editor, a book coach works with a writer throughout the writing process -- usually to help writers complete a first draft, or work through revisions. Book coaches bring the process, structure, and organization to a writer’s creativity -- offering guidance, support, and editorial feedback to the writer as he or she writes.
Let's break down each of those pieces just a bit...
3 Ways a Book Coach Can Help You
1. A book coach can do is provide editorial feedback on your story as you write it.
What this means is that you’ll get real-time feedback on your story as you write it. So whether you’re struggling to write a well-structured scene, or to create a compelling character, or to map out your novel from start to finish, a book coach can help by tailoring their feedback specific to your needs and the needs of your story.
This also means that you’ll end up writing a first draft that gets better in quality as you write it. And that’s because as you learn new skills and get better at writing, your work-in-progress draft will improve, too.
2. A book coach can also help you clarify your vision so that the story you write matches what’s in your head.
For example, when I’m working with a new writer, I ask questions like “What kind of point would you like to make with your story? Or how would you like readers to feel while experiencing your story?” And then I help them craft a story that will deliver their point and make readers feel a certain way.
A lot of writers I work with say that this is one of the best things about working with a book coach -- the fact that they can share their vision with someone and have someone on their team as they execute that vision.
I mean, it makes sense, right? Writing is a pretty solitary endeavor and it’s one of the best feelings ever to talk to someone about your characters and your plot and about what you hope for your story… things like that.
3. A book coach can do is hold you accountable to your writing goals.
Many writers waste years and years trying to scrounge up writing advice from all kinds of books, blogs, courses, and workshops only to wind up feeling hopeless and frustrated. You can certainly learn to write a book this way, and with lots of trial and error, but it can take A LONG time, especially if you’re throwing out page after page or starting over a bunch of times.
A book coach can guide you through writing a book from start to finish. They’re essentially a project manager who can help you set realistic goals and then stay accountable to those goals.
I can’t tell you how many writers I work with who say their absolute favorite thing about the coaching process is that they know someone’s waiting for their next set of pages each week. And I’m kind of the same way with my own work… if I know that someone’s expecting something from me, I will get it done. But if it’s just me waiting on myself… sometimes I get it done and sometimes I don’t.
4. Book coaches are great listeners and excellent cheerleaders.
It’s no joke that writing a book is hard. A lot of book coaches write their own fiction so they know firsthand what it’s like to feel overwhelmed with notes and ideas -- or what it feels like to put in long hours writing and be frustrated with the progress.
When you work with a book coach, they can help support you emotionally as you do the hard (yet rewarding) work of writing a book.
It’s like having someone in your corner, helping you achieve your writing goals, brainstorming with you when you get stuck, cheering you on when exciting things happen, and supporting you all the way to “The End.” It's awesome!
Now, you might be thinking -- all of that sounds great, but WHEN exactly should I work with a book coach?
When is the best time to work with a Book Coach?
Generally speaking, you can work with a book coach any time -- that’s kind of the beauty of book coaches… they’ll dive in and meet you where you’re at. Here are a few different scenarios in which a book coach can help you:
1. Before you start writing the first draft.
A lot of writers have no shortage of ideas, but they don’t know how to turn those ideas into a full-length story that works. In this scenario, a book coach can help the writer build a strong foundation for their story, develop their characters and the world they inhabit, structure their story, and start writing from a place of confidence. Any problems that arise would be much easier to fix because a lot of the hard work (laying a strong foundation) has already been done at the beginning of the process.
2. When you’re stuck or lost in the middle of a draft.
Sometimes writers start strong only to get lost or stuck in the middle of a draft. They have a general sense of where their story is going but don’t know what to do next or how to finish their draft. In this scenario, a book coach can help the writer unwind everything and peel back the layers of their story to figure out exactly where it went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to start over the right way. It’s hard work (and can be kind of frustrating for the writer), but it’s definitely not impossible.
3. After you’ve finished (or nearly finished) a draft.
Some writers have no problem whipping out a first draft. But, when they get to “The End,” they either don’t know what to do next, or they know something’s not quite working in their draft. In this scenario, a book coach can help the writer assess the current state of their manuscript (much like a developmental editor would) and guide them through the revision process step-by-step.
4. You've queried agents and only had rejections.
A book coach can also help you if you’ve queried agents and only gotten back rejections. So, if you have a bunch of rejection letters and you want to understand why your story’s being rejected, a book coach can take a look at your manuscript, your query letter, and your synopsis and help you drill down into what’s working, not working, and why. Then, they can help you make your draft and your query package stronger and more appealing to agents and editors.
So, as I mentioned earlier, there’s no RIGHT time to work with a book coach per se… the best time is any time and that’s really the great thing about book coaches. They can jump in and meet you wherever you’re at and help you accomplish your goals. Now, let's talk about how to find the right book coach for you.
How to find a good Book Coach
Not all book coaches are the same, and it’s important to do your research before picking one to work with. But with all the options out there, how do you choose the best book coach for you? Here are my top 5 tips for choosing someone to work with:
1. Ask yourself what you’re looking for in a coach.
This is super important! When you imagine working with a book coach, what does the experience look like? Do you want a coach who has more of a “tough love” style or one who’s more “laid back”? Do you imagine talking to your coach on the phone or only via e-mail? Does it matter if your coach lives in the same time zone as you or not? Make sure that the coaches you’re considering are open to your preferred coaching style and communication method before you commit to taking the next step. Otherwise, what’s the point?
2. Determine whether expertise in your genre is important.
It’s reasonable to seek out a writing coach who’s got deep experience in your genre. Each genre has its own set of obligatory scenes and conventions that readers will be expecting. And realistically, there are few book coaches who can appropriately master every single genre–or that even prefer to work in every genre. So, look for the right coach who has a passion for, or experience in, your genre unless you feel that an outsider’s perspective on your work might have its own unique value.
3. Review their website thoroughly.
You should be able to learn a lot about the coach you’re considering on their “about page.” Do they have any certifications or special skills that might be relevant to your story? Do they read widely in your genre? Do you share similar values? What do their past clients have to say? Do they offer testimonials as proof that their services are valuable? Are you getting any kind of vibe from what they’re saying or how their website looks? Your goal is to get a sense of their philosophy and style. You want someone you can trust–which can’t always be measured by plain old facts.
4. Get a feel for their personality and coaching philosophy.
If you like that person’s philosophy and get a good vibe from their website, take the next step and contact them. Fill out the contact form on their website, send an email with a few questions, or set up a consulting call if they offer that option. When you get a response, ask: Is it professional? Does it inspire confidence? If you get them on the phone, ask them about their process. Will they insist you follow their routine and route to success? Or will they allow you to meander off their path to forge your own? Just like in real life, you will probably know pretty quickly if you jive with this person or not. Trust your instincts!
5. Ask them if they think they’re the right book coach for you.
After you tell them about your project, ask them if they think they’re the right coach for you. You’d be surprised how many coaches have the foresight and integrity to say, “Maybe not…” This is actually a good thing! They might tell you they don’t feel comfortable working in your genre, or that your timeline doesn’t work with their schedule, or that they aren’t currently taking non-fiction projects, etc. Some will even suggest other book coaches who would be a great fit for you and your project so that you’re not left without options. I do this all the time!
Want to work with me on your story?
If the idea of working with a book coach sounds appealing to you, I’d like to invite you to apply to work with me through one of my 1:1 book coaching programs! Not only can I guide you through writing or editing your novel, but I’ll also teach you how to become a better writer using your own draft as a learning tool. If you’re on the fence, or if you’re not sure that working with a book coach is the right move, schedule a free 30-minute call with me. We can discuss your project, what your goals are, and how I can help!
👉 Let's discuss in the comments: Have you ever worked with a book coach before? What were your favorite parts of the process? Do you have any tips for other writers who are currently vetting a handful of book coaches?