Guest Blog by Sarah from Plume Editorial
Writing a novel can be a significant, and sometimes overwhelming, endeavor. It requires hard work, persistence, dedication, and imagination. It is not for the faint of heart!
The process is both exhilarating—when the rush of creativity hits, and you, the writer, feel on top of the world—and daunting—if writer’s block or impostor syndrome ever creep their way in, making you doubt your skills, talent, and ability to achieve your writing and publishing goals.
Many writers, I’m sure, can relate to that. We’ve all been there. Like all journeys, writing has its ups and downs. And while some writers have the skills and experience to write a novel on their own, others may need someone’s help to bring their vision to life.
If you've ever dreamt of having someone to walk you through the process of writing and cheer you on, then you may be interested in what book coaching has to offer.
This article presents three ways a book coach can be a huge asset to your writing and publishing journey. Let’s dive in!
What Does a Book Coach Do?
A book coach is a trained professional who offers editorial feedback and support throughout the writing journey. They’re like a mentor or teacher, but they focus specifically on book-length projects.
They have in-depth knowledge of the writing and publishing process, and help authors develop their vision for the book, improve their writing skills, and meet the goals they set out for themselves. They can advise on all aspects of writing a novel, including plot, characterization, world-building, voice, pacing, and overall structure.
They may also help the author navigate the publishing process by providing advice on how to prepare a manuscript for submission, query agents and publishers, and self-publishing.
These professionals are especially helpful for new writers who are just starting out. However, they can also be an asset to experienced writers who are looking to take their skills to the next level or who are struggling with a particular aspect of their writing or story.
Some book coaches offer one-on-one coaching sessions and others may provide group coaching or online courses. Most coaches offer a range of services, including manuscript assessment, editing, and coaching packages, that may include ongoing assistance throughout the writing process.
Let’s now delve into three main ways a book coach can be an asset to your writing career.
How Can Book Coaching Help You Write and Finish Your Draft?
1. Enhancing Your Storytelling Skills
The first benefit of working with a book coach is to improve your storytelling skills.
Coaches help authors develop their ideas, refine their writing style, and create a compelling story. Their job is to provide honest and constructive feedback on the story, pointing out its strengths and weaknesses, and offering suggestions on how it could be enhanced.
So, how does this feedback differ from developmental editing? Good question!
A developmental editor requires a finished draft to do their job. On the other hand, a book coach can work at all stages of a manuscript, from just an idea to an outline, to a first, then a finished draft.
Also, instead of receiving one round of feedback in the form of an editorial letter and an annotated manuscript with a developmental edit, coaching involves getting regular and constant feedback.
By taking onboard the feedback they receive, writers can significantly improve their writing as they go. In the long run, it considerably helps reduce the amount of self-edit writers have to do on their novel.
In addition, coaches have a range of tools at their disposal to suggest what would best suit the author’s needs, and to move swiftly from one process to another if something isn’t working. For example, while one of my preferred methodologies is ‘Save the Cat!’, which I typically recommend to any writer I work with, I also have knowledge and experience of other tools and frameworks such as ‘Story Grid’, ‘The Hero’s Journey’, ‘Story Engineering’, and more.
2. Setting up a Support System
Writing a novel can be a challenging task, and many writers will experience discouragement and frustration at some point in their journey. This is unfortunately part of the process, and no writer should feel alone in experiencing these highs and lows.
Like with any complicated task, when people are left by themselves, only the most resilient ones will see a project through to completion. Many of my clients had done numerous drafts before seeking the help of a coach, and some had never managed to finish their manuscript.
Working with a coach could completely flip this around.
A coach has the resources and systems to take your project from point A to point Z. A professional can help you break down your project into smaller chunks, making it more manageable, and give you deadlines so you stay on course. For example, your coach could set up weekly or bi-weekly deadlines for you to send chapters with editorial guidance as you go.
In short, book coaching provides support and accountability that can make all the difference between one writer giving up and another crossing the finish line.
3. Brainstorming and Organizing Ideas
Last, but not least, a book coach is an invaluable resource for thinking through and arranging ideas and concepts.
As mentioned earlier, a coach doesn't just intervene on finished drafts, they’re a true partner and mentor who can help you flesh out your vision and bring your story to life. If you have a pile of notes resting on your desk or in a drawer which you don’t know what to do with, then a book coach can assist you sort through the chaos of your mind.
If you're new to writing, a coach can explain storytelling foundations to get you started, and then help further with story development, planning and mapping, and a scene-by-scene outline.
Another benefit of working with a book coach is the ability to discuss the feedback. With a developmental edit, writers are left to apply the suggestions and edits alone. What if they don’t like the editor’s solutions and would like to brainstorm others? The scope to do this is limited with an editing service but is endless with coaching. In fact, idea generation is at the heart of what book coaching entails.
In conclusion, by helping you develop your storytelling skills, making sure you stay on track and focused on your objectives, as well as giving you a space to brainstorm and organize ideas, a book coach is an essential partner to your writing journey.
If you’ve been feeling lost or stuck for a while, unsure of what to do next, hiring this kind of professional may just be what you need.
About the Author
Plume Editorial provides developmental editing, editorial assessment, and book coaching services. Sarah specializes in young adult (YA) and adult fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and mystery. She has a decade of experience in content creation, writing, and publishing, and is also an editor on the highly selective platform Reedsy.