What does a book publishing coach do?

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Book coaching | 0 comments

book publishing coach

Can a book coach help you? 

There are many people hanging out their shingle as book publishing coaches these days, even people who have never actually written a book themselves. (Reddit is full of entertaining complaints about book coaches.) 

I coach aspiring nonfiction authors who are professionals of some kind, seeking to develop their career and credibility through writing and publishing a nonfiction book. While I have reservations about the claims of some self-proclaimed coaches on LinkedIn and elsewhere, my own work with clients is proof that the right book coach can not only provide expert guidance to support you during the work of actually writing a book, but help you get a literary agent and a book deal.  

I’ve written elsewhere about how to identify what your priorities are when searching for a book coach and thereby make your search more efficient. Here I summarise seven types of services an experienced book publishing coach should be able to offer you.

Seven elements of book publishing coaching

Aspiring authors should expect support and guidance from their book coach with the following mix of strategic, commercial, editorial, and marketing activities:

1. Book concept development

How well does your book idea stand up to scrutiny from a commercial publishing perspective? A book coach who has industry experience can help professionals sharpen their point of difference and clarify their key idea in a way that differentiates your proposed book from what already exists in the marketplace for books. The coach should be able to offer some combination of comparison title research, current market intelligence, and a mixture of paid and freely available tools to dig into the competitive environment for your proposed book and make informed recommendations. 

2. Structuring and chapter outlining

Aspiring authors tend to underestimate the importance of the title, the subtitle, and the detailed chapter outline. The title and subtitle have a huge impact on how a book is structured. There needs to be a clear relationship between the internal structure of your book and how you pitch it in the title and subtitle. Much of my work as a nonfiction book coach lies in assisting writers to shape their chapter outline such that the potted descriptions of each chapter logically and clearly demonstrate how the book proves its central message, which is reflected in the title and subtitle.

3. Platform development

How does your book fit with other marketing activities that you do or are planning to do to strengthen your visibility and authority among potential readers? What does your current platform look like from a publishing decision-maker’s point of view? Creating a plan to address areas for development, and to integrate your key messages into your marketing activities outside of the book, are essential to maximising your appeal to agents and acquiring editors. A good book coach thinks about the bigger picture of how the book fits within the larger ecosystem of your professional visibility—which is not limited to social media—and helps you plan and possibly execute it.

4. Constructive editorial feedback

The world is full of aspiring authors with great ideas, but execution is everything. Clarity and concision, tone and style are essential to the development of a publishable manuscript. A book coach must have experience as a developmental editor (shaping a book’s structure) as well as be able to help an author craft their voice on the page (paying close attention to every sentence)—in a constructive way that guides and inspires you to do your best work.
Note: At this point in the writing process, spotting typos and grammatical errors (basic copyediting) should be the least of your concerns.

5. Book proposal development

Book proposals consist of several important parts, which need to work together to present a strong business case for why a traditional publisher should make the financial investment in your proposed work. They are a tricky combination of art and business, and if there were a magic formula to guarantee a successful outcome, all book coaches would be out of business tomorrow. That said, your book coach should be able to demonstrate experience in putting together successful proposals—in other words, that as a result of working with a particular client, that client’s book was published. 

6. Publishing strategy and industry knowledge 

Mostly I work with clients aspiring to traditional publication. Part of my work typically involves agent and publisher research. In my opinion, it’s essential that your book coach have in-house experience at a traditional book publishing company or literary agency so that they can help their clients with informed insights into the ways agents and editors think, the way that books are produced, marketed, and distributed; and of course the curly questions about book publishing contracts, royalty payments and subsidiary rights. 

Sometimes an author aspiring to traditional publication decides to consider the pros and cons of self-publishing. There is a ton of information available to compare the different paths to publishing, but a good book coach should be able to help their client make an informed decision. Whether you decide to self-publish or commit to working towards a literary agent and a traditional book deal, your larger goals are best served by making your book the best it can possibly be. 

7. Accountability

We all respond well to an external deadline. Meetings scheduled in advance with your book coach, and a detailed program of work agreed in advance, help busy professionals to stay focused and provide a clear accounting of time spent and results achieved. Often goals can shift, and writing or revising can take longer than anticipated, but with the consistent support of the right coach you can get closer to your publishing goal more quickly than you might by yourself (or in a group situation that provides encouragement but insufficient personalised feedback).  

Curious about working with me? 

The most important thing about finding the right book publishing coach for you is that you feel confident in their expertise and comfortable with their style and approach. I’m known for my constructive feedback, deep experience, and the results I get for my clients. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about the way I work as a book coach, please schedule a time for a no-obligation discovery call here

I look forward to talking with you and learning more about your project!


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