Some of the best books in the world already exist, pretty much fully formed, inside the author’s head. And there they stay, keeping you up at night while you think of more ways to explain your concept, rewriting it all inside your head. At some point, you realize that it’s been quite a long time and nothing has actually come out. You have so many ideas but you don’t know where to start with writing them all down.
Or, you have written and written and written, and you have notebooks full of everything you know or hundreds of pages tapped out on the keyboard in a frenzy of excitement. And then, nothing. You realize that a lot of writing is not actually a book. It’s a valuable brain dump. It’s golden research. It’s many things, but it isn’t actually a book.
What is a Book Coach?
A book coach is the person you call in when your family and friends are sick of hearing about your book that never seems quite finished. Make sure you find one who gets you, who works in your genre, and has good feedback from other authors. It’s quite an intense relationship, so find a coach you definitely like.
Your book coach could never know as much about your subject as you do. That’s what makes you a good team. You are the expert on what you are writing about and your book coach knows how to write books in your genre. They are there to make sure you get it written in a timely and well-structured way.
Your book coach will work alongside you. That might be weekly calls via Zoom or even physical meetings if you are located close to each other. Coaching is about you, the author, and helping you get over those speed bumps. It’s an ongoing process, human to human. It’s not just working on your manuscript, so it’s very different from working with an editor. It focuses on getting you and your manuscript to the point where you are ready for an editor.
Cheerleading, Hand-Holding and Butt-Kicking
This is the unspoken job description of a book coach. How they are applied depends on what you need. Most people need a little of each.
A little cheerleading is invaluable to keep you motivated and to remind you why you are doing this book-writing gig. If you have ever suffered from imposter syndrome, having someone on your team who knows your material and your big ‘why’ can certainly help.
Your book coach will get to know you, your book, and your target market very well. They see your vision, so your book coach can more authentically provide cheerleading services than most other people, including your mum. They know how your book will help people and can remind you of this whenever you need it.
Your book coach will hold your hand and walk you through the decisions you need to make to end up where you want to go.
That might include making decisions on planning the book out, support while writing it, helping you decide how it should look, making sure it gets designed with that vision and getting it printed and distributed in the way that best suits you and your goals.
Having someone on your team who knows the self-publishing industry and whom you can ask questions of along the way is invaluable. Writing a book is a steep learning curve and having your own book coach makes all the difference.
Unfortunately, writers have an incredibly finely tuned ability to procrastinate. They love to do things like reading blogs about writing instead of actually writing. Cleaning the house is another popular activity, and there are plenty of others. I’m sure most have favorites. If you need tips, google ‘ways to procrastinate’. There’s another hour or two gone.
Sometimes, though, you really will need time out from the book to get on with work, family, and life. At other times, you need a kick in the butt to get back on track. Book coaches “have the magical ability to know the difference between when life is too crazy to take even a small step forward on the project, and when you are procrastinating and indulging in self-doubt.”
Your book coach is your accountability partner. Together you will create a realistic schedule for your research and writing so you can get your book completed. This is incredibly empowering. A book that has been ‘partly written’ or ‘almost finished’ for years can be finished in a manageable timeframe if someone is helping you stay on track. It’s so liberating for the author in a way they often don’t expect. That structure is liberating because the spirals of rethinking and rewriting are replaced by achievement. And the celebration when the book is finished is so well-deserved because what you want to share with the world can finally get out there and do what it was meant to do.
What about my book?
Start by looking at what you want to achieve (for your business or for you personally), then look at what your readers want to know (which is not always what you want to tell them). From there you can decide what to keep in the book and what to leave for other avenues like your blog or website.
Then you are left with the gold, which you and your book coach will chunk down into chapter-sized pieces. Finally, you add all the bits around the edges like exercises, tips, and images, and lay the chapters out into a path toward a goal.
When should I start with a book coach?
When you first meet with your book coach, you’ll work out where you are in the writing process and what you will need to move forward. You may still be in the planning phase or you might have lots of material written that needs to be sorted through and then laid out into a book shape.
If you are looking ahead at writing a book, starting with a book coach in the planning phase of your book is ideal. Then you can get the book written on an efficient timeline that suits you. This is the quickest way and can really help with book launch planning and business goal setting.
However, if you have already started your book and find you are stuck, then that’s the perfect time to start. Yes, it’s that simple. It’s a very individual service, so whether your book is a bunch of notes or a half-written manuscript, your book coach starts there and helps you finish the best book possible with the least stress possible.
If you suspect that you might be the thing keeping your book inside you, and it is time to let it out, perhaps a book coach is what you need. Watching an author blossom as they see their ideas come to life on the page is a beautiful thing. Sometimes all it takes to start your book or to self-publish a book is asking for a helping hand.