Writing a captivating novel (one that grabs readers like a new episode of Stranger Things) is perhaps the most challenging personal project you’ll willingly embark on.
Why? Because it demands a unique blend of creativity, craftsmanship, storytelling finesse, resilience, and the unwavering belief that you’re a literary genius, even when your words feel as lackluster as a soggy sandwich.
It requires you to juggle plot, character arcs, and prose, all while navigating your own rollercoaster of emotions.
It calls for unwavering motivation (potentially spanning years) in the face of exhaustion and burnout. It entails countless hours of writing, rewriting, and polishing until the words are etched into your brain, transforming into something unrecognizable.
That’s precisely why so few people actually complete and publish a novel, despite a whopping 81% of Americans believing they have a book within them, as revealed in the 2022 New York Times survey. But is there a way to make this arduous process more manageable?
Truth be told, there is: hire a book coach.
What Is a Book Coach?
If the term “book coach” is new to you, let me shed some light on who they are and what they do.
You know how the world’s top athletes, like the legendary Serena Williams, work with personal coaches to enhance their skills in a particular sport? Well, a book coach fulfills a similar role, but for writers. They assist writers in developing the necessary skills, confidence, and mindset to navigate the chaos and frustration of novel writing. In essence, they keep writers invested in their projects, preventing them from throwing in the towel prematurely.
How do I know all this? Simple—I am a book coach myself, and I spend my days guiding writers through the treacherous pitfalls of novel writing.
Also, I’m in the middle of writing my debut novel, and I wisely invested the time and money to work with a brilliant book coach who keeps me motivated and moving in the right direction every day. I have been working with her for several years now, and she is the only reason I finished the first draft of my novel and confidently began chugging through the second draft a few months ago. She also made me a far, far better writer.
So, as you can see, I eat, sleep, and breathe book coaching, and I 100% believe in its power.
But for anyone who is still curious about how (exactly) a book coach can help a writer, let’s dig in.
Five Reasons You Should Hire a Book Coach
1. A book coach is an experienced writing mentor who can help you improve your prose and storytelling abilities.
Book coaches are the superheroes of the writing world, equipped with the ability to spot exceptional writing and storytelling. They possess the expertise to help writers shape their narratives, ensuring the perfect blend of structure, logic, and cause-and-effect flow. And let’s not forget their mystical power to unlock the elusive Voice that mesmerizes readers and keeps them glued to the pages of a novel.
The best part? A book coach is like your personal story physician, armed with x-ray vision to peer into the depths of your tale and diagnose any lurking issues. They have the knack for identifying what’s not working in your novel and, most importantly, they provide precise guidance on how to fix it. No more wasting endless weeks, months, or years wrestling with small uncertainties and stumbling blocks.
During my weekly readings of my clients’ pages, I’m always on the hunt for opportunities to make their writing shine in my comments and editorial letters.
Believe me, a book coach is an unparalleled champion of your work. No one will ever scrutinize your writing with such precision and dedication. With their focused attention, you have the power to elevate your craft and create a novel that will enthrall readers from start to finish.
2. A book coach is a project manager & accountability partner who can help you stay focused, motivated, and moving in a productive direction.
I have the pleasure of working with writers at various stages of their journey, ranging from those who haven’t written a story in 20 years to bestselling authors in the traditional publishing world. And you know what? When it comes to taming their stubborn novels (at least in the initial stages), the process is pretty much the same across experience levels. Writers need assistance in organizing their ideas, shaping their plot, constructing their world building, developing their protagonist’s character arc, and establishing their priorities.
But here’s the secret sauce: They also need a solid deadline. They thrive when there’s someone eagerly awaiting the delivery of their pages on a specific date and time. Without that gentle push, the dreaded monster of procrastination can easily sabotage their chances of ever completing a novel.
By managing a client’s project, assisting them in prioritizing tasks, and gently holding them accountable for producing pages to be edited, a book coach becomes the driving force behind the transformation from a forgotten 30k document buried in a folder to a polished, completed novel.
3. A book coach is a brainstorming partner who can help you overcome plot and character challenges.
One of the best things about having a book coach is having a brainstorming partner. Fiction writers often face obstacles when developing their stories or characters, and a coach can help them overcome those creative blocks.
For example, I’m currently working with a (very successful) author who sought my help because she’s writing a fantasy novel and knew she would struggle with the intricate world building. She knew that if she tried to do it alone, she would probably give up before she got very far.
But guess what? After just a few months of working together, she completed the crucial first stage of world building and character arc development, and had plunged into the exciting realm of crafting the opening scene of her novel.
And let me tell you, she wrote an impressive scene. It had depth and resonance. And, best of all, she felt totally confident writing it!
Why? Because she understood the importance of brainstorming in the process of creating a novel, and she made the wise decision to find an experienced book coach to assist her in completing the task.
4. A book coach is a relentless cheerleader and a support system who can help you stay motivated and see the greatness in your own work.
Some days, the story flows through you like an electric current, sparking creativity onto the page. Other days, you’re convinced your novel is pure swill, questioning your skills as a writer and contemplating abandoning the whole vocation (for the sake of your mental health and readers’ innocent eyes).
That rollercoaster of emotions is all a part of the writer’s journey. Those feelings, unfortunately, are perfectly normal. However, they can tempt writers to give up on their novel.
Let’s face it, writing a novel is incredibly tough. It can be a lonely endeavor. Friends promise to read your work and provide feedback, but somehow they never quite get around to it. Or worse, they read it and only offer a noncommittal “it was great” without any constructive input.
But fear not, because a book coach is there to say, “I know this is hard. I truly understand. But you’re doing an amazing job!”
They say, “Page 38 had me laughing so hard…”
And they ask, “Did you celebrate finishing that first draft? That’s a tremendous accomplishment!”
They assure you, “Your future readers will adore this novel and be grateful you stuck with it!”
Speaking from personal experience, I look forward to every single session with my brilliant book coach. She understands the challenges, provides honest feedback, and helps me gain clarity when I’m ready to give up. Her encouragement keeps me motivated, knowing that when she praises a scene, she genuinely means it. Knowing that with her help, I will write the best novel I am capable of.
5. A book coach is an industry expert who can help you navigate pitching, publishing, and building an author platform.
After pouring your heart and soul into your novel, it’s undeniably reassuring to have a support system in place, particularly if you’re a first-time author navigating uncharted territory.
By working with a book coach, you’ll benefit from expert guidance in establishing an author platform. They’ll help you navigate the intricate decision of whether to pursue traditional publishing, hybrid publishing, or self-publishing, ensuring the best path for you and your novel.
And, if you decide on traditional publishing, they’ll help you select comp titles and provide you with invaluable resources on crafting a captivating query letter and synopsis. They’ll even assist you in editing and revising those crucial documents.
Finally, your book coach will offer valuable insights on determining the most suitable literary agents for your work.
Yes, finding a book coach that is a perfect fit for you might be challenging. And, yes, book coaching can be expensive. And, no, there is no guarantee that your novel will be picked up by a literary agent, published by one of the big five publishing houses, or make any bestseller list.
All those things might happen… or none of them might happen.
But I’m not convinced those are the most important things to writers, anyway. The real benefits of working with a book coach are much more profound and personal: you will learn how to be a better storyteller, and you will finish a manuscript you’re really proud of.
And to me, that’s what genuine success is all about, regardless of any accolades that may or may not come your way.
Dr. Heather Davis is a storyteller, Author Accelerator certified book coach, developmental editor, author platform expert, the founder of The Kreative Authorpreneur. She helps aspiring diversity authors from all over the world develop the skills and confidence they need to write powerful novels that turn casual readers into loyal fans.
Heather has studied under story experts Lisa Cron, Jennie Nash, and Ben Frahm. She is a contributor to Jane Friedman’s and DIY MFA’s popular writing blogs and has been featured on podcasts such as Editing Writing and Turning Readers into Writers.
Heather lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she loves slow trail running, sipping iced mocha lattes with too much whipped cream, and binging audiobooks like some people binge Netflix.
Click here for Heather’s free 7-Step Guide to an Unputdownable First Chapter!
You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.