• Kathryn Dodson

So...what exactly is a book coach?

A few years ago, I was talking on the phone with one of my best friends. We are both writers, and we were discussing our current writing projects. When it was my turn to share, I had to confess that my current writing project wasn’t even my own! I’d been willingly sucked into helping a different writing friend with her phenomenal fantasy story. As she finished pages, she gave them to me. I read them, told her what I loved to pieces, and offered her feedback on what I thought wasn’t working. She loved having the feedback, and I got to watch her succeed in writing an even better story because she had someone in it with her to catch things that could be improved.

When I expressed my guilt over helping my friend instead of choosing my own writing, I got a great response. My friend said, “Let me send you an article that Jennie Nash wrote. It’s about book coaching.” This sounded intriguing. The rest is history. A few years later, I am now an Author Accelerator Advanced Certified book coach, and I have found my dream job. You might be thinking the same thing that I was at the end of that phone call… “So...what exactly is a book coach?” I have encountered this question many times over the past few years as I’ve gone through Author Accelerator’s book coach training program, and I’m sure the other coaches in the Book Coach Collective have as well. At first I stumbled to explain it, but now I have answered this question so many times I’ve had a chance to hone the answer. A book coach is so many things! One of my favorite descriptions of a book coach is a "project manager with a story heart.” Writing a book is a big deal. Like a big, complex, sometimes scary, difficult deal. There are some rare people out there who sit down and can just write a novel without any help. I have yet to meet one of those rare people. (Maybe they don’t even exist. They might be authorial unicorns.)

One of my favorite descriptions of a book coach

is a “project manager with a story heart."

Most writers need help with their writing process!! If you write casually with no intent to publish or finish a story, then you don’t need a book coach. A friendly writing group or a family member/friend can be your sounding board for your story. They will undoubtedly “oooh” and “ahhhh” over whatever you write. And if this sounds like your type of writing, that is OKAY!!! It just means that you probably don’t need a book coach. If, on the other hand, you’ve already had your mom or best friend read the finished draft of your story, and their gushing praise irritates you because you know something is off in your story and you’re just not sure what...then YOU, my friend, might be a great candidate for a book coach. A book coach will meet you where you are at in the writing process. We are trained to help with everything from initial outlining and planning all the way to searching for agents/publication issues. More importantly, we are also trained to help with the emotions that come with writing a book. No, we aren’t therapists, but we understand how hard it can be when your character falls flat. Or you’ve stared at the computer for a week and haven’t written more than a handful of words. Coaches are meant to support you and cheer you on. We will give you the push to get through the ruts.

A book coach will meet you where you are

in the writing process.

A story is a highly personal thing. To share that story with someone else opens you up to possible criticism and hurt feelings. A book coach’s job is to make sure that you feel SAFE in sharing your writing at every stage. Your coach will tell you what is going well and praise you for it, but she also won’t shy away from letting you know what’s not working. Here’s the really important piece though: that is not where a book coach stops. We will never tell you about a problem without also giving you a way to work through and solve that issue!! There are few things more frustrating than sharing a problem, and then having that person walk away. Book coaches don’t walk away. We are in the whole messy, glorious story writing process with you. When you get stuck- which will happen because you are a human and a writer- we will get you unstuck! We will commiserate with you in the mess of it, and cheer and happy dance with you when the problem is solved. Consider a book coach not just an expert, but your own personal cheerleader. If you have a story idea but no idea how to start writing, a book coach can help you! She will guide you through the outlining and brainstorming process, reflect your thinking back to you and point out holes that need to be filled...BEFORE the writing begins. Who wouldn’t want a solid foundation from which to build their story? If you have started your story, or even have a finished draft, but aren’t sure where to go from there...we can help. We have deep level knowledge of story structure, character arcs, plot, dialogue, and all of the other things that go into making a book that deserves reading. So here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you care enough about your writing to make an investment?

  • Are you looking for one-on-one support from a story-minded professional that can guide you through the writing process?

  • Does it feel lonely to be on your own, like no one else knows your story as well as you do?

If you answered “Yes!” to any or all of those questions, then let us help you! Here at the Book Coach Collective, we are a group of 6 book coaches who all work independently with clients to bring their stories to life. The added bonus of working with one of us is that we use our “collective genius” to help one another out, whether that’s being a sounding board for a sticky plot problem or recommending a comp title that poses a solution to a problem. If you’re interested in hiring a book coach, read through our web sites and find the coach that sounds like a good fit for you! Happy writing! We wish you the best in your writing career!

Sarah Krosschell, Book Coach at www.sarahkrosschell.com

Working with Sarah is like having a story expert, cheerleader, and mentor on hand for all of a writer's needs. As a former middle school teacher, her expertise is middle grade and YA fiction. She can help with any part of the writing process, from story development to creating a polished draft ready for pitching.

www.BookCoachCollective.com - Click here for a list of our coaches and more information.