What to Expect When You Hire a Book-Writing Coach

You have decided to write your first nonfiction book, but you’re not exactly sure how to go about it. Perhaps you take a class or buy a few books to help you get a handle on the process. Finally, it’s time to begin. If you are like many first-time authors, somewhere early in the project you may run into problems. They could be anything from fear of actually writing the first word to an inability to organize all the words you have written. This is when the idea of a book-writing coach has growing appeal.

What exactly does a book coach do, and how does he or she provide the exact level of help you need? What follows are the areas of expertise a professional coach should bring to your relationship. You may not need all of them, but you should be aware of what to look for when you shop for the right coach for you.

Planning – A professional book coach will …

  • Walk you through the step-by-step process of writing, publishing, and promoting a nonfiction book
  • Help you articulate clearly and concisely what your book is about and determine if you have a saleable idea
  • Guide you through planning and writing a proposal to answer the questions you must be able to answer for any publisher or agent

Writing – A professional book coach will …

  • Explain the structure of a nonfiction book and how the parts fit together
  • Help you organize your ideas, research, main points, and written material
  • Guide you through the many ways to research your topic
  • Help you create a writing plan, set realistic deadlines, and create a schedule for meeting them
  • Work with you to find your unique voice and polish your writing
  • Assist you in making the book accessible, inspirational, entertaining, educational, practical, or whatever you want it to be

Editing – A professional book coach will …

  • Help you develop your book from your original idea through the outline, rough drafts, and revisions to polished manuscript
  • Provide feedback and advice on flow, grammar, substance, and writing style
  • Point out inconsistencies, word repetition, weak vocabulary, and lack of clarity
  • Note particular strengths in organization, writing, expression, and attainment of your purpose

Professional assistance – A professional book coach will …

  • Discuss the kinds of help from other professionals you might need to augment your own efforts
  • Research and recommend experts in all book-related fields, from graphic designers to indexers

Production – A professional book coach will …

  • Explain what the production step is all about, what decisions you will make if you self-publish, and which are the responsibilities of a conventional publisher
  • Brainstorm those choices with you
  • Help you through each of the steps involved in production

Publishing – A professional book coach will …

  • Clarify available publishing options and help you decide which is best for you
  • Determine if you need an agent and help you find one
  • Help you select and contact appropriate publishers for your genre
  • Guide you in dealing with editors assigned by conventional publishers

Promotion – A professional book coach will …

  • Explore with you the many ways to market and promote your book
  • Help you build a platform for your writing topic
  • Evaluate your manuscript

Bonus features – A professional book coach will …

  • Motivate you and keep you focused
  • Become a support system and partner in the book-writing process
  • Be fully committed to helping you write and produce a successful book
  • Be first in line at your book signing

Think of this as a menu of choices from which you can order the whole package or ala carte, depending on where you are in the process and where you are encountering obstacles to moving forward. A good book coach or book shepherd, as they are also called, can make the all the difference between abandoning ship in midstream and sailing through to a successful conclusion.

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