When I first started my career in publishing back in 2009, I had zero sense that it would lead me to where I am today, coaching authors globally, helping shepherd their books into the world.
Like most people, I didn’t even know a book coach was a thing. Sure, I’d had a volleyball coach during my junior high and varsity days. Yes, I’d hired a business coach to support me as I grew and scaled my business. But a book coach?
Back then, I didn’t understand the highly emotional and behavioral aspect of book writing. And actually, of all success. Because writing a book is about more than writing skill and talent. Actually, it turns out that innate talent plays a relatively small role in one’s success. Discipline, consistency, follow-through—those are the qualities a future author needs in order to be successful.
Today, I offer 1:1 book coaching and also have a team of book coaches and ghostwriters, as well as a group book coaching program. While I offer my book-writing education in a self-study format, many future authors need the accountability and support of a coach.
So if you’re considering book coaching, let’s start by defining what it is, what to consider when hiring, how the relationship works, and what you can expect to pay.
What is book coaching?
In short, a book coach is someone who guides you through the writing process. It’s important to know your coach’s scope. Our team, for example, focuses on the idea-to-draft process, with a core focus on writing a great book, and advises as you select the right publishing path. Some coaches stay with you from idea to publication, helping guide your book all the way to your readers’ hands. Some specialize in marketing too and can help you develop a launch plan.
As a master coach and expert in book writing, I hesitate to suggest kitchen-sink coaches. Just like a specialist doctor is best at what she does because she specializes, my experience shows that a coach who offers everything doesn’t have the deep expertise to help you be excellent in every single area. That’s why I’ve chosen to focus on the writing stage, because I’ve spent my entire life—as has my team—honing this one specific skill. For me, that’s included writing since the age of seven all the way through a master’s degree in professional writing and editing.
One thing to note is that book coaching is not a regulated industry, so coaches vary in their definition of coaching. Our team provides a system for outlining, creating a plan, and writing; ongoing support and accountability via bimonthly calls; review of writing to provide forward-moving feedback; and as-needed support if you get stuck along the way.
Some coaches come in as more of a cowriting/editorial role, and we offer that too. However, I find that a lot of authors need to get the first draft done—to go heads down and finish it—before involving another writer. That said, if you know yourself well enough to know you need additional writing support, you can seek a cowriter or ghostwriter.
Questions to ask when hiring a book coach
Experience matters. As I mentioned earlier, publishing is a largely unregulated industry. This means that anyone can hang up a digital sign and proclaim themselves a book coach. So what should you look for? Here are some questions to ask.
Have you written any books? Tell me about them. If not, what is your background in writing and coaching?
Here, you’re looking for demonstrated expertise in the actual writing process. I do find that highly experienced editors can be great coaches, even if they haven’t written books themselves, but a coach will never fully understand the process if they haven’t undergone the trenches and reached the summit of authorhood.
What is your educational background?
Here, you’re looking for at least a bachelor’s degree in English, ideally writing. If they don’t have a degree in English, they should have a bachelor’s degree plus additional training in the field of writing and editing.
What is your process?
Your potential coach should be able to describe the process, step-by-step, she’ll guide you through. There should be a tracking system for you of some kind, a call schedule, and a pedagogical philosophy for her coaching. For example, our team considers not just the system we use to teach but also study neuroscience and philosophy to understand human behavior and adapt our coaching to support your success. (Can you tell I’m a former classroom teacher?)
They should also have a defined, proven container within which they coach authors. Ours, for example, is six months.
What have your clients accomplished?
Your coach should be able to detail examples of clients who have written their books successfully and talk through what they were able to accomplish post-publishing. Listen not just for accolades but how the book-writing process has influenced the individual or business.
What genres do you specialize in?
Again, in my experience, “everything” is not a great answer. For example, we specialize in business, leadership, personal development, science and wellness, and social equity. Your coach should have clarity over her best genres and be able to speak to why she works within those niches.
What do you look for in a client?
Great coaches are selective with their clients—partially because they can be and partially because they know that coaching is a relationship. You don’t want to get into a relationship with a bad egg! She should be able to detail the qualities that make you a great (or not) fit and explain why she looks for those qualities.
For example, outside of those niches, when I meet with a potential client, the number-one thing I’m looking for is that their book puts good into the world in some way. This is a top vetting criteria, and I won’t even move into a phone call if this doesn’t align. From there, I’m looking for a good connection, a track record of follow-through, a passion for the topic, and a vision beyond the book. Our authors write shelf-stable business sustainability tools, not business card books.
What it costs to work with a book coach
Ah, here’s the point everyone wants an answer to. But bear with me for a moment, because the answer is not so straightforward.
I’ve seen coaches charge anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month. There are a few factors that determine how much a coach can charge: experience, calendar availability, process, and success rate.
First, let me set the stage for you. We work with authors for six months using an effective idea-organizing and book-outlining system. We help you finalize the book outline—usually fifteen-plus pages, providing a detailed road map for writing—create a writing schedule, and execute that schedule consistently. Along the way, we serve as your biggest fan, tough-love accountability partner, and objective observer, all to help you achieve your goal of authorhood. Our team uses a project management plan to track the writing progress, as well as remains available between calls to help you through any stuck points.
So now on to the investment. Over the many years we’ve been coaching, we’ve found that the right rate for hands-on, engaged, 1:1 coaching is around $3,500 per month as of this writing. I also offer a high-touch group coaching program that starts at $1,500 per month and a self-study program available for a one-time purchase of $1,095. I also offer a number of low-cost products for people at different price points, as well as lots of free content on the website you’re reading now and on my podcast, Beyond Better. You can find all of these on my website by clicking around in the navigation at the top of this window.
While you can absolutely find cheaper (and more expensive) coaches, we hold a strong line with our investment because we know the end product is more than a finished book. It’s a transformative journey to step into the vision you hold for yourself—whether that’s launching a business, scaling a brand, or making an impact on the world via your story.
So there you have it: what a book coach is, what questions to ask, what to look for, and what it might cost to work with a book coach.
What other questions do you have? Ask in the comments—I’m happy to answer them.
I’m cheering you on as you embark on the powerful journey of authorhood!