This post originally appeared on Medium in October 2020.
Book coaching is a lesser-known industry and one that many writers don’t even realize exists. Most of us know about editors (I talk about the difference between coaches and editors here.) We know about agents and publishers. But book coaches?
A book coach can work with writers in a number of different ways and on everything from idea to pitching. The primary characteristic that is common throughout all forms of book coaching is the one-on-one, individualized approach that the coach tailors specifically to your needs and your project. A book coach/client relationship often lasts months, and the coach becomes incredibly invested in your project.
So who needs a book coach, and when do they need one? The answer — anyone, and anytime — is probably unsatisfactory, so instead I’ll offer you these questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if it’s the right time to hire a book coach.
Am I stuck?
If the answer is yes, then get thee to a book coach. Maybe you are stuck because words aren’t coming out the way you want them to. Maybe you are stuck because you have habits that work against productivity. Maybe you are stuck because something is going awry in the story. There are many, many reasons we get stuck, and a book coach is able to take a step back and look at the situation, and the story, objectively.
Do I wonder if my story is any good?
Sometimes our biggest problem is our insecurity. We wonder, is this story good enough? If you are asking yourself this question, then find yourself a book coach. A coach will have you work through the plot, looking at both the external events and the internal drive of the characters, and will be able to assess where there might be holes and, yes, they will be able to tell you if a story is viable.
Do I want an objective opinion on this?
Here’s the thing: if you give the book to your spouse or anyone else who loves you, they are going to tell you it’s great and that they are proud of you. And that is GOOD. But there comes a point where that isn’t useful. What is useful is someone who knows how to analyze a story, who knows what makes stories work in general, and who is able to put those two skills together to work with you to make your story the best it can be.
So regardless of where you are in the writing process, or how much you’ve had published in the past, if you answer yes to any or all of these questions, then a book coach is likely right for you.