July 30


What is an Author Coach and Why Do You Need One?

By Boni Wagner-Stafford

July 30, 2018

author skills, indie authors, writing skills

There are nutrition coaches. Leadership coaches. Career coaches. Life coaches. Have you noticed how the people who tend to work with coaches always seem so… together? And you wonder why they, of all people, think they need a coach? They appear at the top of their game precisely because they have a coach. Working with an author coach is no different. 

What is an Author Coach?

A professional author coach will guide you through the writing process, from the first seeds of an idea to the finished manuscript and beyond. 

Imagine a talented tennis player who wants to win Wimbledon. The player will have a tennis coach who will practise with them, work on technique, and correct little problems before they become big habits. They’ll set a schedule, provide nutrition advice, and help to keep the player mentally focussed. The tennis coach may become a confidante, shoulder to cry on, and cheerleader.

Helping you achieve your writing goals is the goal of the author coach too. They will guide you every step of the way as you transform your idea into a book. Depending on where you are on your author journey, their assistance may include:

  • Helping you define your ideal reader
  • Working up an outline and providing advice on the structure of your book
  • Identifying story or logic gaps you’ll want to fill
  • Feedback on your writing style
  • Creating a project plan for your book
  • Helping you make decisions about things like distribution options or editors, proofreaders, or designers.

When Do You Need an Author Coach?

If you’re a new or aspiring author, you need an author coach. Think of the tennis coach who teaches a novice player all the basics, from how to hold the racquet to different ways of hitting the ball.

If you’ve already published one or more books, but know you’ve got room to improve, you need an author coach. In our tennis analogy, the coach may point out that you have a habit of stepping too far forward with your left foot, throwing you just a little off balance and sending your shots astray. 

If you’re a seasoned author, with multiple credits and healthy sales, it’s still a great time to work with an author coach. Here your coach will focus on fine-tuning your craft along with the subtler aspects of your game: attitude, body language, visioning of success.

You and an Author Coach

What you look for in an author coach depends first on your own assessment of what you want and what you need.

  • Know where you’re at with your writing skills and where you think you want to improve.
  • Know what your book needs.    
  • Know your personal preferences. Are you more comfortable working with a man? A woman? Will Internet calls via Skype or Zoom work for you, or will you need to meet in person? 
  • What’s your budget? No sense aiming for Wimbledon when your budget demands you spend more time at the public courts down the street.

Finding Your Author Coach

Finding potential author coaches to interview starts with a simple Google search. It’s easy. The ALLi Facebook Group and their approved partner lists are also great places to look. There is actually lots of choice for you out there. Here are a few things to watch for.

  • Experience: look for someone with a proven track record. You’ll want to be able to check references, so ask for contact information and permission to reach out to past clients.
  • Genre: find author coaches who have worked with your genre before. For example, we only offer nonfiction author coaching services. We read lots of fiction (as well as nonfiction of course) but our professional specialty is nonfiction. Look for specialization and be sure it matches you and your book.
  • Personality and energy alignment: ask questions, engage in conversation, and see if the author coach feels like a fit. Your work together could last several months to a year. And, your author coach will likely deliver feedback that might feel like a fiery 80-mile-per-hour serve that blows past your waiting racket like an F16 fighter jet. You want to be sure your author coach can give you objective advice and criticism without crushing your soul. Don’t make it harder on yourself than it has to be and choose someone you’re immediately comfortable with.

What Should You Expect?

Once you’ve chosen an author coach, you and your coach will work together to come up with a strategy tailor-made for your book project. The work plan might look something like this.

Meeting #1:

  • Content strategy and book focus.
  • Your ideas for the book, why you want to write it, what you hope to accomplish.
  • You may begin to carve out the broad strokes of a book outline.
  • You might receive your first writing assignment (related to the book).

Meeting #2:

  • Discussion leading to reader identification (a key element most indie authors miss!)
  • A deeper dig into the content to include in your book.
  • Feedback and assessment of your writing assignment from meeting #1.
  • Your second writing assignment.

Meeting #3:

  • How to set a purpose for each section and chapter.
  • Feedback on writing assignment #2.
  • And more. You get the idea. 

Your first few sessions with your author coach might look a little different. 

Whatever the frequency, you’ll have regular sessions with your author coach – once every two weeks, for instance – while you’re writing your book. During these sessions, you’ll discuss what you’re doing right and what needs to change.

Experienced and Skilled? Hire a Coach

If the Wimbledon-bound tennis player retains her coach to ensure she’s at the top of her game, why would it be any different for an author? ​

As an author, every new book you start will be different. It will have its own unique challenges and opportunities. Your skill and competence will shift and grow, opening up new gaps through which learning can stride. An author coach will help you reach new levels of skill and competence faster than you might get there on your own.

What your coach won’t do is write your book for you. That’s your job!
Want to talk to us about our author coaching? Click here to join our author coaching waitlist.

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