This is the first in a series of posts about hiring and working with a book coach. See Should I Hire a Book Coach? and How to Hire a Book Coach to learn more or, if you’re ready to hire one right now, check out my book coaching options.
This post focuses on just one question—what is a book coach or writing coach?
Note: Since I work as a book coach to entrepreneurs and executives authoring non-fiction, how-to, business books, I’m excluding details that are particular to book coaching within the realm of fiction.
“Google, define ‘book coach’.”
There is no official definition of what a book coach is, or what a book coach does, so everyone has their own ideas of what the role entails. Masterclass.com, which offers various types of online courses, says:
Specialized writing coaches called book coaches guide authors through the book writing process, helping them stay organized, brainstorm ideas, and get their books published. Working with a book coach can help make intimidating parts of the publishing process simpler and more accessible.
Writing for Book Riot, Enobong Essien says:
…a book coach helps you move your novel along from the quicksand in which it is stuck or sinking to a literary agent’s or acquisitions editor’s acceptance pile—if you’re going the traditional route. If you’re pursuing the self-publishing route, then a book coach could be the difference between a book that never makes it off the shelves to a breakaway Amazon bestseller.
Book coach and editor Jyssica Schwartz says on her blog that a book coach is, “a writing partner in all aspects except for actually writing.” This is effectively what Tucker Max of Scribe Media says, stating, “A writing coach is NOT an editor or a ghostwriter. They don’t do line-by-line editing, and they won’t write the copy for you (though they can overlap and do both jobs, remember that they are different jobs).” So…a book coach can be your ghostwriter, but then they’re no longer your book coach…until they are again. 🤔
Jennie Nash, who runs a book coach training program and whom I interviewed on the Published Author Podcast about book coaching, says that, “A book coach (or writing coach) is a professional editor, mentor, and cheerleader for writers at any stage of the writing process – whether starting from scratch or preparing to pitch or publish.” She goes on to say that they:
- Act as a sounding board for creative ideas
- Guide the writer to reach their writing goals
- Are invested in the writer’s project but also in their writing journey
- Often work with a writer for months or years
- Usually freelance or work for themselves
- Coach writers full-time or as a side gig to another career
Sharon Brandwein writes that, “A book coach guides the writer through the book writing process,” but then follows up, “That being said it is important to note that every book coach is different. Some book coaches can and will get into the weeds of grammar, syntax, and sentence structure while other book coaches will never take a red pen to your page. You may also find that some book coaches focus more on the design and marketing of a book…”.
Kate Sullivan says that a book coach, “…helps you write the best book you can under your specific circumstances, like an athletic coach helps you perform to the top of your ability given your physical and mental circumstances.”
The Simplest Definition of Book Coach
If I may throw in my own definition of what a book coach is, I’d say a book coach helps you get done whatever needs to be done to create the book you want, as well as the results you want from your book.
That means a book coach may help you do what needs to be done, they may do what needs to be done, or they may work on your behalf to enlist others to do what needs to be done. Or…they may do all three.
What a Book Coach is Not
A book coach may go by different names, like:
- Writing coach
- Book consultant
- Book sherpa
- Book shepherd
- Publishing coach
- Publishing consultant
- Book guide
- Writing guide
- Publishing guide
A book coach may be one or more other things, like a:
- PR expert
There is only one thing a book coach is not and cannot ever be, and that is you. Just as a coach cannot fill in for an Olympic athlete, your book coach cannot fill in for you. Okay, maybe they can a little, because they can ghostwrite or hire a ghostwriter for you, but even a ghostwriter has to talk with you in order to get your ideas onto paper.
There are parts of the book-writing process which nobody else can do for you, the point being no matter how rich you are or how much you can pay, you’re going to have to put in some time and effort to make your book reality. Chances are, it’s going to be a minimum of forty hours on your part, if not a few times that, by the time you add up speaking to a ghostwriter, reviewing manuscripts, answering follow up questions, providing feedback on cover design, and choosing a title.
Now that you know what a book coach is, let’s talk about whether you should hire a book coach.
Or, if you’re ready to hire one right now, check out my book coaching options.Liked it? Share it!