How do you know if you’re ready for (or even need) a book coach?

Book coaching involves an investment of time, money, and even emotions and personal growth, so you want to be sure that if you make that investment, you’ll get the results you’re looking for, whether that’s clarity on your book ideas, a proposal that’s ready to pitch, or a solid manuscript that’s ready for editing and publishing or submission.

A good coach, whether that’s on a field, in a gym, in a studio or performance hall, or sitting in your office talking about writing, will help you improve and master the thing you’ve chosen to be coached on.

Before you start looking for or hire a book or writing coach, first decide if coaching on your writing is something that you’re open to.

What does a book or writing coach do?

A good coach will:

  • provide honest feedback on the work that you’re doing (which may or may not be easy to hear)
  • guide you forward and provide the next steps for improvement and achievement
  • offer tips for becoming better and teach both basic and advanced skills
  • help hold you accountable to getting the work done and keep you on track

All of this will also include writing and revising and revising again as you practice the craft of writing. Make sure you’re coachable and open to this type of work and feedback.

If you want to write your best book, a book coach can benefit a writer during each phase the creative and/or writing/publishing process. You can use a coach during the whole process or you can use a coach during different phases.

The steps below can help you decide if you’d benefit from working with a coach at each step of the process.

Ideation Phase

This is the beginning of the creative process, where you’ve got an idea (or multiple ideas) for a book. You’re developing them, playing with them, seeing where they could go.

You might need a coach if:

  • You have multiple ideas and aren’t sure which one to focus on or if any of them are even “book worthy.”
  • You need support shaping your idea into a genre that works for both your ideas and your goals. For example, your idea could become a memoir of your experiences or it could be a self-help book that focuses on the reader’s transformation, or it could be a bit of a hybrid. Which direction should you go?
  • You don’t know how to develop your idea or shape it so it makes a solid and worthy read.
  • You’re unsure who your book is for or if it even has an audience and need help figuring that out.
  • The idea of a reader transformation is totally new to you and you aren’t sure how to apply that concept to your idea (trust me when I say that every nonfiction book offers some sort of transformation for their reader).

You probably don’t need a coach at this stage if:

  • You’re super clear on the genre you want to write.
  • Your idea is a “goldilocks” idea – not too big, not too small, but just right.
  • You know your audience and who you’re writing for, what will resonate with them, and how your book can help/impact/serve them.
  • You’ve got a clear idea of the transformation of being, doing, or knowing that you’d like your reader to experience.

If you’re needing support with your idea and figuring it out, I offer Idea Clarity Sessions. Sometimes these are called “Pick My Brain” Sessions. This is a time to explore and expand your ideas, brainstorm possibilities, get feedback, and get clear on how you might move forward. These sessions can help at any stage of the process but are often most helpful at the beginning.

We also do much of this idea work when we go through the Book Foundations process, but if you just want some feedback and someone to bounce ideas around with, an Idea Clarity Session is a great option.

Organizing/Developing Phase

You’ve got your overall idea drilled down but you need support refining it, narrowing it down, or developing it. You’re also working on shaping it into a book at this phase, taking it from that lovely perfect idea and getting messy with it, seeing how it will hold together as you expand it.

You might need a coach if:

  • You’ve got one solid idea but there’s so much that could be included and you’re unsure how to cut or narrow it down. It ALL feels relevant and important! Maybe it is or maybe not. A coach can help you figure it out.
  • You’re struggling to really drill down your main point or argument which means that you can’t tell me what your book is about in one or two concise clear sentences.
  • The idea of creating a Table of Contents or outline freaks you the F-out.
  • You’re unsure what order to best organize your content and arguments to make the biggest impact or how they best fit together.
  • You’re not sure what path to publishing you’d like to take – self, hybrid, or traditional. A coach can help you decide.

You probably don’t need a coach at this stage if:

  • You’re not struggling with the curse of the expert and wanting to include #allthethings you know about your topic.
  • You have a clear argument with one solid throughline upon which all your content hangs.
  • You’re totally comfortable creating a cohesive Table of Contents and outline with each element flowing into the next.
  • You’re confident you’ve not made any lapses in logic or forgotten any key points.
  • You’re incredibly comfortable with your content and know exactly what order to put everything to get your reader the transformation you’d like to give them as you’ve been teaching or working with and refining this content for years.

To support aspiring authors with the foundational pieces of their book, I offer a Book Foundations Package. This is a four-session offering where we dive deep into your ideas and get them outlined and structured. At the end of these sessions, you’ll have a solid outline and will be ready to either start drafting your manuscript or your book proposal. Completing Book Foundations is a pre-requisite for the next two phases of the process.

Book Proposal Phase

Only those writers who are going after a traditional book deal need a polished, pitch-ready book proposal, but I’d argue that creating a draft of one is also helpful for those who are self-publishing because you’ll drill down key marketing elements that will help you sell your book once you do publish it.

You might need a coach if:

  • Book proposal? What’s that?!? You’ve got no experience with drafting, writing, or polishing a book proposal.
  • You may have some experience with them but need feedback on the elements.

You probably don’t need a coach at this stage if:

  • Actually, I’d argue that anyone who wants to submit a high-quality proposal for a traditional book deal would be wise to work with a book coach who specializes in working with nonfiction writers.

If you’re unsure about self, hybrid, or traditional publishing, I’d recommend doing the Proposal to Pitch Package. For those going after a traditional deal, we’ll have more sessions to get your proposal pitch ready. We’ll also figure out an entire pitch plan and package and identify agents and publishers to submit to. For self-publishers, we’ll create a solid draft of a proposal without polishing it for submission or creating a pitch package. To explore the available Proposal coaching options, schedule a discovery call and we can chat.

Manuscript Drafting Phase – for self-publishing or those who’ve sold their proposal

Writing a great book can be done quickly but most often it takes months and months. It can take much longer if you’re going it alone. A book coach can provide invaluable support in getting the book done.

You might need a coach if:

  • You’d like feedback and developmental editing as you go through the drafting process.
  • You do better when you’ve got deadlines and accountability which a coach can provide as you draft.
  • You need support mastering the craft of writing.
  • You’re open to receiving feedback, some of which might be challenging or difficult to hear (though most coaches try to provide feedback in the most loving way possible).
  • You’re willing to rewrite and revise, possibly multiple times until the writing works.
  • You’re struggling to put your butt in the chair and do the work.
  • You need help with deadlines and accountability.

You probably don’t need a coach at this stage if:

  • You’re not open to getting feedback on your work. Sometimes the feedback we give writers is tough. If you’re unwilling to hear critical feedback and improve, don’t hire a coach. We all wish you the best!
  • You’re unwilling to write, rewrite, and revise, and do it again. This is the practice phase of mastery, and you must be open to it.
  • You’ve got a solid writing practice and consistently make forward progress on your drafts.

My Manuscript Mentoring Program is the program I offer for those wanting 1:1 support on their drafting process. This is only open to those who have completed the Book Foundations Package. I do this because getting super clear on those foundational pieces of your book can help immensely with the writing process. It also gives us both an overview of where you are and where you’re going. You can find both of these options on my coaching page.

Should you hire a writing coach?

If you’ve read through this, and you’re still not sure, schedule a discovery call to see if working together would help you.

As an author myself, I know the value of having a supportive team around you as you write, and I recommend it for any writer, whether they’re starting their first book or developing their ideas for their fourth or fifth book.

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