I’ll assume you’ve read my posts What is a Book Coach? and Should You Hire a Book Coach? or that you feel you already know enough to move on to the meaty question—how do I actually go about hiring a book coach? And not just any book coach, but the right book coach for me?
Not All Book Coaches Are The Same
Writing or book coaches come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. They charge different fees. Some are nicer than others. Some coach fiction only, some nonfiction only, some both. Some only do memoirs. Some only work with life coaches. Some only work with Fortune 500 executives. Some speak English, some speak Mandarin, some speak Spanish. Some will travel to meet with you, some won’t. Some are noisy about politics and assume you agree with them, some are private.
Not All Authors Are The Same
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you’re the only one of you in the world. That means there is no one right book coach for every author out there, because every author needs something different than every other author. If someone says, “I worked with a great coach, they were the best!” that doesn’t mean they’ll be the best book coach for you. A great personal referral is a great way to find a great book coach, but if you hire them without anything else you may find out your opinion differs greatly from that of your friend.
Nine Steps To Find The Right Coach For You
Let’s skip the formalities and get to it. I don’t guarantee that if you follow these steps you’ll find the best writing coach in the world for you. What I promise is that you’ll greatly improve your chances of finding a book coach you love working with who will help you achieve what you want to achieve as an author.
1. List details about your book and what you want to achieve as an author
You may not know what book you want to write, or what book you should write. You may change your mind later. That’s ok.
You may not know what results are possible with your book. Will it sell 250 copies, or 250,000? Will anyone care? If you have questions, that’s ok.
Make a list. Start with details about your book, as many as you can. Title, subtitle, audience, chapters, etc. Don’t worry if you need to change these details later, and don’t get stuck on any one part. Whatever comes to mind, write it down, and if you get stuck, skip that part and move on. Don’t spend more than ten minutes on this exercise.
Write down what you want to achieve with your book. Write down how many copies you want to sell, who you hope reads it, and what you want them to do when they read it.
2. Make a list of what you’re looking for in a book coach
Get specific. Would you rather work with a book coach who is:
- A fiction or nonfiction coach?
- A diplomatic cheerleader, or frank, no-nonsense type?
- Focused on your area of expertise and the topic of your book, or not necessary?
- Affordable and good enough, or the best of the best at any cost?
- Male or female?
- American, British, Chinese, Mexican, or other?
- English-speaking or other native language?
- Local to you or doesn’t matter?
- Available in-person, Zoom, phone, or email?
- Available whenever I need them, at regular times (like twice a month for scheduled calls), or other?
- Responsive, answering calls and emails immediately, or am I ok if they take a few days?
- All-in-one (or at least can manage doing everything, even if they don’t do it all themselves), or focuses on just coaching, or coaching and just a few other specific things?
This is not an exhaustive list. Think about other types of people you’ve worked with in the past, and what you want from your book coach, and write down as many things as possible so that you can screen out coaches who don’t match.
3. Get referrals from people you trust
Once you’ve got a decent idea what kind of book you want to write, what you want the book to do for you, and what type of book coach you’re looking for, write up a summary in a single paragraph. You might start it with, “I’m looking to hire a nonfiction book coach to help me write a book on…”
Then, email that paragraph to friends and associates, post it on social media, and do whatever you can to get referrals from people you trust.
4. Search on Google
Even if you’re satisfied with the responses you get from individuals you trust, it’s worth a few seconds to search Google for book coaches and see if anyone catches your eye. You may learn something in the process that helps you make a better selection from the personal referrals you received, or you may find an entirely new candidate you like better than any of the referrals.
Note: Just because someone ranks high on Google for “book coach” doesn’t mean they’re a good book coach. They may have had a past life as an SEO expert and may simply know a few tricks about how to rank well in search engines for key terms related to book coaching 🙂
5. Choose your top three
Narrow the book coaches you’ve found to your top three.
6. Talk to them
Reach out to your top three coaches and ask if you can get some time to talk with them and find out more about what they do.
I would never hire a book coach I hadn’t spoken with.
If I were hiring a book coach, I would prefer to work with one I had talked to in person or via video call (like Zoom) for at least an hour, and who I had several emails back and forth with. Part of this is to test whether they know what they’re talking about, part to see if I think I would like working with them, and partly to see how responsive they are and how they communicate.
If you see red flags when you communicate with them, before paying them anything, chances are you’ll experience those same problems and more once you start working with them.
While it’s personal preference, I would recommend you find a coach with the heart of a teacher, someone who doesn’t hold back, but tell you whatever you want to know. That said, they should also be perceptive enough to know if you don’t want to know everything, and just want them to get everything done for you without having to explain every detail.
If you talk to your top three book coaches and you’re not sure you’ve found the one you want to work with, return to step 3 or 4.
7. Get references
Don’t leave out this step! The best way to know if you’re going to have a good experience working with a book coach is if you can talk to someone they’ve worked with, who is similar to you, and wrote a book similar to yours, and used similar services from this book coach.
Five minutes on the phone with a past client of a potential book coach can mean the difference between success and disaster.
8. Get it in writing
If you’re hiring a coach for $50/mo as part of a book coaching group, that’s one thing, but if you’re paying $10,000 per month for a year of book coaching services, make sure you and the coach sign a written agreement. You may trust them, and they may trust you, but contracts do wonders to prevent misunderstandings between trustworthy people.
9. Trust your coach
The time to vet your coach is before you hire them. Once you hire them, if they fail to live up to your expectations, that may be as much your fault as it is theirs.
Clients fire book coaches when they mess up on at least one of the following:
- Expectations – It’s the coach’s responsibility to communicate realistic expectations. It’s the client’s responsibility to listen to what the coach is saying.
- Execution – The coach should do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it. When the execution seems to fall short, a good client will also look at how their actions may have impacted the coach’s ability to deliver.
- Relationship – The coach needs to communicate effectively. So does the client. Both coach and client need to recognize good relationships are a two-way street. Either party can ruin the relationship, but only together can the coach and client make it successful.
If things aren’t working out with your coach, address the issues immediately. If they aren’t resolved within a reasonable amount of time, fire your coach sooner rather than later. The longer you work with them, the more you’ll become invested and try to make it work, and the more bitter you’ll be when you finally part ways and have to start over with a different book coach.
My Approach to Potential Book Coaching Clients
When a potential book coaching client reaches out to me, I offer to answer any questions they have, whether about me or the book authoring process.
I don’t put any limits on the time I’ll spend speaking to a potential client. If they want to send me ten emails full of questions, I’ll answer them. If they want to have a two-hour Zoom call, I’ll set aside the time, for free. I’ll do this even if I’m pretty sure they’re not a match for me, although for both our sakes I try to help them find the right book coach for them as quickly as possible.
I provide references and highly encourage my potential clients to contact them. My past clients are the best sales tool I have, so why wouldn’t I?
I’m always upfront about what I charge and what clients can expect to get, and I sign a written agreement with every client, containing full details on the services to be provided in clear language.
If you find a book coach you like but they only offer a half hour call for free, and after that you have to pay, or they hem and haw about giving you references, or they don’t have an agreement to sign will all the details, then you’re not talking to the right book coach.
I hope you’ve found these three blog posts to be helpful. Got any questions? Leave them in the comments below!
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