My Journey to Becoming a Book Coach
I’m sharing this book coaching journey for several reasons:
- Owning what we’re doing, naming it, and sharing it, gives it power. My first blog post ever, over ten years ago was called “OMG, I’m Writing a Novel.” It was a powerful post for me to share my voice and my dreams, to claim that not only do I love writing, but that “I am a writer.” Since that post, I’ve published three novels with another forthcoming.
This is my “I still love writing,” so now “I am a Book Coach” post. It is for me, and it’s for you, especially if you are wondering if hiring a book coach might be a path for you.
- Nonfiction book coaching involves much more than focusing on the craft of writing. Book coaching isn’t editing. My roundabout journey has been so incredibly helpful with learning all the other elements of book coaching. As we draft your book proposal, we look at your platform, your target audience, your marketing plan, your online presence. Through the past ten years in the online world, I built a well of knowledge and experience that I bring to my book coaching clients.
- Sometimes following the bread crumbs and taking detours gets us right where we need to be. Writers and entrepreneurs are creative souls. We tend to be idea people, and I want to share this journey because it has had detours and side trips all of which have brought me here with valuable knowledge and skills that I learned along the way. Those detours have ended up being incredibly valuable.
- I believe, deeply, that there is such value in taking the time to reflect on where we’ve been. It gives us insight into how we got here and where we’re going. It gives me courage and confidence to trust the next step, even when I have no idea where it might lead.
A Brief Overview of the Last Decade (or How I got to Book Coaching)
In the spring of 2011, I woke up from a dream and knew that it was time to write my first novel. I had dreamed the whole plot which both excited and freaked me out. I’d been teaching English full-time for years and knew that I was ready to leave but I had no idea what to do next.
I started writing my book, and I also started a blog on a free blog site. After getting over my initial fear of sharing my writing with the world, I discovered that I loved tweaking my little website and sharing my thoughts.
At the time, I had started a Creative writing class and club at the high school where I taught. I had also signed up for a big fancy program on how to start an online business as I was searching for a way to leave the classroom. So, I decided to start a website for teen writers to share their writing and take classes.
My first problem with this project was the website. I hired a designer and the website I got was a disaster. So I signed up for another big program and learned how to design websites myself. I actually loved it! I enjoyed the visual aspects of designing as well as the strategic pieces.
The second problem with my teen writer site was that my fancy program on online business did not teach how to do market research. So, I did exactly ZERO market research other than chatting with my own students. I soon learned that selling online courses to teens was a hard sell, and I didn’t love marketing (at the time). The teens on my site wanted credits toward graduation, and I was not an accredited school! I managed to build my site to several hundred members, but I wasn’t able to make any money. I finally closed it after several years, having learned a TON about running a business online and what it takes – marketing is a huge piece of it and one that I struggled with at that time.
When it came to my writing, I was still plugging away. I think I’d finished two novels by this time and had managed to sign an agent in the fall of 2014, but he didn’t sell that first book. It went into a drawer while I decided if I wanted to query again or self-publish, and I kept writing.
By this time it was 2016. My husband had had a major health crisis. My father was ill. Both my kids had graduated HS and flown the coop. I still wasn’t published. My online venture for teen writers had failed, and I was still in the classroom. I felt so lost. Some days, I cried all the way to work, trying to fire myself up to teach. I loved the kids, but the job itself and the system that treats the kids and teachers as data points was sucking my soul out of my body. The grading also had gotten brutally hard to deal with. I hated it and decided that I would never do anything where I had to evaluate other people’s writing (can you see the universe laughing here?).
I was desperate, and I liked the website stuff, so in the winter of 2017, I reached out to the members of a Facebook group, got two clients who needed websites, said a prayer that there would be a net when I jumped, and I quit teaching. I launched Entwine Web Design, a boutique web design agency for soulful entrepreneurs. Interestingly, I mostly worked with writers and those teaching online.
Like with teaching, I loved working with the clients, loved helping them drill down their messaging and help them feel confident putting themselves out into the world. This time, my business was a success. I felt WAY more comfortable with marketing, but I knew this was a “bridge” business to whatever was next. I knew I wouldn’t ever build a big web design agency, or do branding and websites for the rest of my life.
While I built my business, I self-published my own novels and continued to write. I knew writing would always be part of my life, but I wasn’t sure what was next in terms of my career.
I was still searching when a friend, who worked with writers, told me about a Creativity coaching program she was in. I took it and enjoyed it. I taught a few workshops online and locally, and something started to happen. Friends who knew I wrote and knew that I’d been a English teacher forever started asking me for help with their books, their writing projects, and how to get published.
I said, “Yes” to their requests and found the perfect melding of my teaching experience, my business experience, and my love of working 1:1 with clients and students.
Enter Book Coaching
Then, Jennie Nash’s book Read Books All Day and Get Paid for It randomly popped up as a suggested title on Amazon. Huh? What’s this? I ordered it and read the whole thing in one sitting.
I’d heard of book coaching, and I was actually doing it already!! What?
Had I sort of fallen into the right business? Yep! I had!
I worked on my own, reading everything I could, figuring out processes for clients, and relying on my experience in the online business world when I finally signed up for the Author Accelerator Non-fiction Book Coaching Certification Program at the end of 2021. I’m continuing to work with clients while I work on the certification which is the most challenging, comprehensive, amazing program I’ve ever taken online.
This is work that I’m 100% qualified to do, which I never totally felt in my web design work. But when it comes to books and writing, I am a published author who has experience with both traditional and self-publishing. I have a degree in English and an MA in Literature, which is actually not a degree in writing but in the analysis of writing, exactly what I do as a book coach. I have years and years of teaching writing experience. I’ve given feedback to writers tens of thousands of times. And, I’ve got the business experience to help clients with their platform and audience analysis.
Imposter Syndrome BE GONE!
When I look at the past decade and the fits and starts of my steps forward, the frustrations, failures, and successes, the following and trusting my intuition even when I didn’t know where the hell it was taking me, I can see it has brought me here, to book coaching, with the writing and business experience that I actually need to build this business in a way that I’d like to. That feels really, really, good.
I’m so glad I followed all those random bread crumbs and intuitive hits.
At 52, I finally figured out what I want to do with my life. And yes, I know this too might change, but now, in this moment, I feel settled and steady in a way that I haven’t felt in years and years.
Why the focus on Nonfiction Book Coaching?
I write novels, but I’ve found that I love working with nonfiction clients.
Reading and learning have always been part of who I am. I was the kid in school who always had a novel or memoir with her and stuck her nose in it the second a teacher stopped talking. I’m also the person who takes the community classes at the local college on random things like “Basque Cooking.” I love to learn. I have purchased more online courses than I’d like to admit, and I enjoy them!
I’m a lifelong learner, and I’ve discovered that working with nonfiction writers lights up that learner part of me. I enjoy talking about and helping shape their ideas. I don’t have to become an expert on whatever their topic is – my expertise is in the writing and structure part of their book – but I absolutely enjoy learning about my clients’ topics which (at this moment) range from intuitive eating and the problems with diet culture, to mindful art and drawing, to an American rodeo circuit in post-Vietnam Germany, to connecting with our intuition. It’s so much fun!
This is the first career I’ve had that I feel I can and will be working on for the rest of my life. I’ve never felt that way before about a job or work that I’ve done which feels amazing.
Today, I deleted my web design website. Over the past month, I’ve also revamped this entire blog, cleaned up my email list, and simplified some systems in my business. These have been big scary moves, but these steps were necessary to own this path, to fully step into it, to see where this takes me and where I can take it!
I’ll end this as I did my first ever blog post owning and declaring my path eleven years ago.
I am a writer. I still am a writer (new book, The Fiddler’s Son, is coming out next month).
AND, I am a nonfiction book coach!
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