Writing a book is a complex and often frustrating process.

Having a great idea is only the start of the writing process. Turning this idea into a book of a publishable standard can take years of effort, learning, and perseverance.

The reality is that no successful writer can complete a good book without some professional help.

However, there are so many types of editorial feedback, that it can often be hard to know what is right for you and your book.

In this article, you'll discover more about book coaching, find out what you can expect from a book coach, and discover when it would be right for you and your book.

What is Book Coaching?

Book coaching, often known as mentoring, involves working closely with an experienced professional writer, editor, and mentor who will help lift your book to a publishable standard.

In the simplest terms, you will work closely with your mentor to make your book's first draft the best it can be.

One phrase that is often used when discussing a writing coach is 'author accelerator'. The idea is that a book coach will supercharge your writing experience and help lift you to a professional standard as quickly as possible.

The goal of working with a book coach is to develop a long-term professional relationship with someone that has the knowledge and commitment to help you lift your book to the next level.

Not only will your coach provide you with the skill and guidance needed to be a success, but they will also provide you with the knowledge needed to publish with confidence.

What to Expect from a Book Coach

You will quickly discover that most book coaches like to work in a similar, but different way, though all will help you write a better book.

The essence of the coaching is that you, the writer, will receive three things:

  1. Editorial feedback on your writing.
  2. Guidance on how to improve your book and your writing technique.
  3. Feedback on how to fit your book into the publishing landscape.

Editorial Feedback from Book Coaches

While editing provide detailed action-focused feedback, professional book coaches will give you a holistic assessment of what is working, but more importantly, what is not and what needs to be changed.

Whilst other forms of feedback are normally carried out on the completed book, book coaches will provide feedback on a small section of your first draft, often a chapter at a time.

Whilst in the process of writing, the book coach will read one section at a time and provide constant feedback. They will pay close attention to several important elements of your book, but the focus will be on your story’s structure, character development, plot development, pace, setting, consistency etc.

The editor will provide a written report on what’s working and what needs improvement. Though the focus of the detailed report will differ for each novel, the following elements are an essential focus for novels (it's different for non-fiction).

  • Character.
  • Setting.
  • Plot.
  • Voice.
  • Narrative Arc.
  • Dialogue.
  • Tension.
  • Pace.

Guidance from a Writing Coach on how to Improve your Book Writing Technique

One of the biggest advantages of working with a book coach is that you will be given constant feedback on how to improve as a writer and what you need to do to write a better book.

A book coach will see their job as not only improving the book you are currently writing but also giving you the skills and tools you need to be a better author for your next book.

It is great for authors to know when they are making technical errors, but it is even more helpful to receive professional feedback on how these can be improved within the context of your own book.

For example, you may discover that you are telling, rather than showing, in a particular scene from your latest chapter.

The advantage of a book coach is that they will highlight the 'tell problem', explain what you need to do to fix the problem, and then potentially re-edit the rewritten chapter.

This will make writing easier since you will quickly become a better writer.

Feedback on how to fit your Book into the Commercial Publishing Landscape

Fixing the technical aspects of the writing process is only part of the jigsaw.

If a book is to be a success it must also fit into the existing publishing landscape.

A book coach will provide guidance on correctly selecting your book's genre and then ensuring the book meets a reader's expectations. This is in addition to helping you write.

Each book genre brings with it certain story elements that a reader is hoping to find in that book. These are sometimes called tropes.

For example, imagine you are writing a fantasy novel and you want to include magic. The question is how much magic and what should it look like. You might find that fans of 'gritty fantasy' want 'low magic', where the magical elements are subdued and based on a realistic 'system'. Whereas a 'Harry Potter' style fantasy novel has much more freedom, with writers expecting magic to play an important and often flamboyant part in the plot.

A book coach will help you to accurately identify your genre and ensure that you are providing plot elements that match the reader's expectations.

In addition, the book coach will also be able to provide guidance about the book publishing process. They will understand the publishing industry, be that self-publishing or traditional publishing, and will be able to ensure that you are moving in the right direction with realistic goals and expectations.

When is Book Coaching Right for you?

When you set out to write a book, editorial support is often the last thing on your mind. But at some point, all writers need some help if they are to produce a good book.

There are three types of professional editing that will help a writer prepare their book for publication.

  1. Book coaching.
  2. Developmental editing.
  3. Manuscript assessment.

These are each best used in specific circumstances.

A developmental editor is great if you have completed a book and you are submitting it to an agent or are preparing the book for self-publishing.

Manuscript assessment is ideal for writers who have written a significant amount of their book, if not all of it, and need a big picture overview before they embark on their final draft. In this case, an editor will be able to provide the kind of feedback that an author needs.

Book coaching is best suited for writers who are at the start of their writing journey. They will often have nothing more than a good idea or a couple of first-draft chapters.

Below is a list of the times when a book coach is a perfect solution for you and your book.

Just Started Writing and Feeling Lost and Overwhelmed

It is very common for someone to want to write a book, but quickly become overwhelmed.

A writer will come up with a great idea, and full of enthusiasm will start writing. However, without sufficient planning or forethought, it is all too easy for the writer to quickly become overwhelmed but the complex process of writing a book.

This is the perfect moment to hire a writing coach.

The book coach will be able to take what you have written, find solutions to the problems, and provide you with the guidance you need to kick start your writing.

Started but Stuck

How many times have you heard writers say that they have become stuck whilst writing a book?

It is very common to hear from writers that has become lost in the act of writing, with the plot and character development grinding to a halt.

Some writers like to plan their story from the start, whilst others like to let the 'characters tell the story', but no matter what approach you take it is still essential to apply established storytelling techniques to your book.

A book coach will be able to unstick a stuck book.

They will be able to provide the guidance you need to not only become a better author but to find the plot development that will get your book back on track.

You Have an Idea but Don't Know Where to Start

It is easy to think that all books are written by established and experienced writers, but this is just not the case.

We all had to start somewhere. We all have a 'first book'.

In fact, we all start in the same place, and that's with a good idea.

This might be a scene you can't get out of your head or a character that will not leave you alone, demanding to have their story told.

If you are a person that has a great idea but limited writing experience, then a book coach is the perfect solution.

A writing coach will be able to work with you from the very outset of your book. They will be able to help you to create a structure, refine a plot and develop your writing skills.

Switching Genre and Need Some Early Feedback

This is less common than the other scenarios above but it happens more than you would think.

If you are already an author of a certain genre but feel that your next book needs to move away from your established genre, then a book coach is the perfect solution.

Hiring a writing coach from the outset will help you to avoid the mistakes writers often make when switching genres. Though writing techniques don't change between genres, readers' expectations do.

A book coach will help you to create a novel that meets these expectations and eases your transition between genres.

Final Thoughts

Working with a book coach can be a rewarding and highly beneficial experience. In fact, it can often be the key to writing a good book.

This said, hiring a book coach, might not be the perfect solution for you and your current book.

Coaching works best at the start of the writing journey. It is perfect for authors looking for additional support for a project, who need to kickstart a stalled book, or just need some help making a good idea into a great book.

If you have already written your book, then a manuscript assessment or developmental editing may be a better solution.

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