Writing a book is wonderful and magical and difficult. Here are some real questions from real authors:
- “I wrote some chapters, but I’m not sure if they are any good.”
- “My partner and my mom and my sister all read my book, and they said it was fine, but I don’t know if they meant it.”
- “This is a romance. But without a happy ending, and with time travel, so… I’m not sure what kind of book I’m writing or who is going to want to read it.”
- “Is it true that nobody buys books from debut authors over forty? And that I need an agent?”
These are common questions, and all of these authors could benefit from hiring a book coach.
Book coaching, sometimes called book consulting, is an emerging specialty in the publishing world. A book coach provides tailored support and publishing industry knowledge to their authors at every step of the writing process. Depending on what an author needs, a book coach might be a writing teacher, an accountability partner, a supportive listener, a developmental editor, a marketing advisor, a publishing professional—and might play all of those roles to support an author in the long road of writing a book.
Why are book coaches becoming popular? While there’s no way to know exactly how many books are written each year, we do know that book publishing is a thriving business and more authors than ever are competing for publication.
For both fiction and nonfiction books, a traditional path to publication looks something like this: an author writes a book or a book proposal. They send a query to an agent. If the agent is interested, they request the full manuscript. The agent may work with the author to refine the manuscript, or suggest hiring a freelance editor. When the agent is satisfied with the book, they agree to represent the author, and sell the book to a publisher. The publisher provides additional editing and marketing support and publishes the book.
This flow works very well for many authors—if they start with a completed draft that is high quality and marketable. Until a book is the best it can be, the author may struggle to get their book seen by an agent or acquisitions editor. A book coach knows what other publishing professionals are looking for, so they can help with expert feedback on ideas, planning, and proofreading. (The same goes for self-publishing; a book coach can suggest changes that move a self-published book from just a handful of sales to one that does very well.)
Agents and editors are still linchpins of the publishing process, and a book coach doesn’t replace either role. But since it’s harder than ever to get to the top of submission piles, a book coach might be the right professional to help some authors get from page one to published.