This post originally appeared on Medium in October 2020.
This is a really common question, so let’s take just a moment to explore it.
First, this: it is not one or the other. Writers benefit from both services. In fact, many book coaches (myself included) offer editorial services as part of or in addition to their coaching packages.
What I want to do today is clarify the difference for those of you asking, what is a book coach, anyway?
An edit happens after a manuscript is completed. The editor will look at the entire manuscript and give feedback based on the type of service you hired her for. (There are several different types of editing. Here is a good article about the options. Not an affiliate.)
When I wrote my first draft of Unspoken and then revised it to the best of my ability, I hired a freelance editor to do a developmental edit on my manuscript. After reviewing the book, she wrote me an editorial letter with several pages worth of suggested revisions to specific scenes and chapters. I revised (and revised and revised), sent the book to beta readers for feedback, revised some more, then hired her again to do the same thing. After revising some more (there’s a lot of that) I prepared to take the next step into publication.
A book coach works with a writer throughout the writing process and, depending on the coach and/or the service purchased, into the revision and pitching stages. There is regular communication — weekly or twice-monthly in most cases — deadlines, and regular written and verbal feedback. There is the opportunity for conversation about the writer’s intentions and what is coming across on the page…and how to bring them together.
A book coach serves as your biggest champion, another person who is (almost) as invested in your book as you are. Had I hired a book coach for Unspoken, it probably wouldn’t have taken me three years to complete the first draft. Just saying.
A simple comparison might be this: a gymnast performs in a competition. The editor is the judge who is giving feedback on the performance. The gymnast will take that feedback when she goes back to practice for the next competition.
The book coach is the coach who has worked with the gymnast along the way and now stands on the sidelines at the competition, cheering.
Want to know more? Visit my Book Coaching 101 page!