How to Choose a Book Coach
The short, sweet, and comprehensive guide to choosing a book coach who understands how to get your Big Book Idea out of your magical brain and onto paper
This is where the manuscripts lie; not dead… but asleep. Abandoned.
Languishing in a drawer (or on a hard drive), started but never finished. Not fulfilling their destiny.
We can hear them whispering to us in the dead of night: come back to us! Please! Finish us off. Put us out into the world. Don’t leave us aloooooooooone…
This, I fear, is the fate that awaits most book projects. The ones that start with excitement, enthusiasm, joy — the ones that’ll change somebody’s life (let alone the author’s).
But then, something happens.
They fizzle out.
The writer just… stops. Even if the writer has taken a course, or a workshop, or read a book about how to do it.
Because writing a book is bloody hard work. Starting one is hard enough; finishing it is even tougher. And when the voices in our heads start bellowing that we’re not good enough, that nobody will want to read it, that we can’t do this, it’s difficult to shut them up.
At least, it’s difficult to shut them up on our own.
Which is where a great book coach is worth their weight in gold.
Often, writers have taken steps already to get their book written, but they haven’t got what they wanted out of it — usually because they weren’t quite sure what they wanted. Their book written, yes… but how?
It’s not just about getting that book written (although that is, of course, the obvious and tangible goal). It’s also about beating back fear, imposter syndrome, and lack of confidence.
Quite often, my coaching calls with my clients start with a statement like, “I’m not sure about this chapter. This idea isn’t clear and I don’t think it’s going to work. I think people will hate it. I’m stuck and I’m not sure what to do.”
You get the idea.
But by the time our hour is up, they’re bouncing up and down in their seats, raring to go, declaring, “That was great! I know exactly what I need to do next, and I know how to write this so it works.”
Then they go onto say how much more confident they feel about their writing in general — about writing articles and social media posts, about putting themselves out there and risking the possibility that someone — gasp — won’t like them. And they do it anyway.
At which point I wipe a little tear away and grin manically. Because book coaching can be about so much more than the book, awesome though the book is.
But how does one find a book coach who’ll do all that (and more)?
Step 1: Cast Your Net Wide
If you’ve never encountered a book coach before and don’t know where to start looking, start by asking questions.
What genre are you writing in? A book coach who specialises in authors who write romantic fiction may not be the best fit if you want to write a self-help book or a memoir. That’s not to say they wouldn’t be able to help you, but it’s a good idea to find a coach who has experience in your area.
For example, I wouldn’t agree to coach someone who’s writing romantic fiction; I don’t know anything about writing romantic fiction and I don’t really enjoy reading it, so it wouldn’t hold my interest.
Give me a unique take on a great idea and a problem to solve, though, and I’m all over it!
Do you know someone who’s worked with a book coach before? Were they happy with their experience and their outcome? Ask for an introduction.
Find out more about how authors wrote the books you love. Contact them and ask how they wrote it. Many authors will happily spend a little time to do this — and if they worked with a coach and were happy with the results, will probably refer you.
When you start to stumble across book coaches, as you will if you go looking for them, check out what they’re saying.
Are they making promises that seem too good to be true? Are they setting unrealistic expectations (your first draft in a week, for example)?
Do they have client testimonials on their website and lists of books they’ve helped with?
It shouldn’t take you too long to find someone you like the look of: check out their website and see if they seem like someone you could get along with.
Step 2: Become a Private Investigator
When you’ve found someone you like the look of, get busy following them around online. Hopefully you’ve already wandered around their website and read their blog posts and articles.
Now go and find their social media accounts to get an idea of their personality.
If they’ve written a book — buy it and read it! Read their clients’ books.
Get on their email list if they have one.
Listen to their podcasts, interviews, and YouTube appearances.
Pay particular attention to what they say and think about:
- Writing and writers
- Marketing books
Step 3: Get Out Your Magnifying Glass
If you’ve spent time and energy reading and listening to everything a book coach says, you’ll know whether or not you want to spend time (and money) working with them one-to-one.
So the next step is to get in touch and have a conversation.
This is crucial: it’s likely to be a long-term intimate relationship. For example, my Creative Book Coaching Programme is a 6-month arrangement and we talk on the phone for an hour every week. We have to get on.
When you talk to them, consider the following:
- Do you trust them with your secrets and your wellbeing? People have told me things they’ve never told anyone else, and they have to know they can trust me with that information.
- Do they make you feel safe and supported? Can you go to them with any writing or mindset-related problem, and know they’ll listen and help?
- Do they want to help you write the best Right Book for you — not the book they want you to write?
- Will they tell you the truth, even if it’s difficult to say and difficult to hear? Will you be able to hear the truth, knowing that ultimately it’ll help you write a better book?
- Do they have a clear coaching process and contract that makes sense for you, so you’re both protected?
- Is it flexible enough to work with your individual personality — or does it feel like they’re trying to fit you into a box and a blueprint that doesn’t suit you?
- Do you think they’ll make the process fun, so you feel motivated even when it gets really tough?
- Are they honest about what’s required from you to write an amazing book?
- Are they as excited about your Big Book Idea as you are?
All these bullet points are important but I think the most important one is the last one: how excited are they? How enthusiastic about your idea?
If they’re not excited about it, how can they help you inject personality and feeling into your book?
Go Forth and Search
How do you feel about finding a book coach now? If you go through these 3 steps, you’ll definitely be able to find the book coach who’s right for you.
Next step: writing that masterpiece!
And if you have any questions about book coaching, writing, creativity, and indie-publishing, drop into my comments and ask, or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer within a couple of days.