Should You Hire a Writing Coach, a Book Coach, or an Editor?
I am constantly amused at self-published authors who want to have a phone conversation with me about editing their book manuscripts. My rates and services are pretty clearly explained on the site where I sell them. And if they still have questions, they can easily message me. A phone call is completely unnecessary.
I decline these requests simply because they can easily turn into brain-picking sessions. Without the manuscript in front of me, I can’t really discuss anything, and I don’t look at manuscripts for free. Plus, if they need to “explain” their manuscript to me, it’s already doomed to fail since it isn’t ready to stand the scrutiny of strangers.
So my guess is that their need for some one-to-one contact stems from one of the following issues:
- They don’t know exactly what an editor does.
- They really haven’t finished writing their book and need some motivation or justification to keep going.
- They want to know if their book will be successful.
- They’re unsure of their skills.
- They want me to buy into their mission or vision.
At the root of their requests is that they don’t understand what they need. And it’s likely they don’t truly need me for book editing . . . at least right now. Some really need a book or writing coach. So, how can you decide what you need? Let me break it down for you.
What Is a Writing Coach?
A writing coach will assist you in the actual writing of your book. These folks may have you write a certain number of words, chapters, etc. and then will review what you’ve written. Depending on what you’ve accomplished, they may tell you to move on or do a rewrite to make it right.
Writing coaches can be hired by authors for their entire book-development project from initial idea to final manuscript draft. Or, if authors are having difficulty with various passages or some writing technique, they can hire a writing coach to help get clarity, build skill, and get encouragement.
After the manuscript's first draft is complete, it would likely go to beta readers first and later to editors for pre-production review.
What Is a Book Coach?
Book coaching is a much more fuzzy service. Some book coaches are actually writing coaches. Others strictly help authors with non-writing book-publishing tasks such as production, design, and marketing. Some handle both the writing and non-writing sides of the equation. It’s important for you to determine what expertise you need and confirm that the book coach you’re considering can deliver.
Non-writing book coaches function more like business coaches, treating your work as a marketable commodity. Your book manuscript must be complete by the time you start working with them. Their input can be especially helpful as you go through the editing process. Expect to get some “tough love” from them if they think your work could struggle with sales. Informing your editors of your book coach’s concerns can help them suggest appropriate edits to make it market-ready.
What Is a Book Editor?
When you start working with editors, your book manuscript must be in a complete state. While editors may suggest substantial edits to improve the work, they will not help you with the actual writing. Their mission is to provide you with an objective analysis of your entire book and evaluate whether it meets language standards for your intended audience. It’s important to clarify what type of editing you want done.
4 Types of Editing
- Critique. This is not a book review! A book critique is an overall evaluation of a manuscript for a number of aspects that could include organization, structure, mechanics, writing style, etc. It is merely a professional opinion of the manuscript's readiness for publishing.
- Beta reading. Similar to a critique, a beta reading provides an overall impression of a manuscript. However, the perspective is from the viewpoint of a potential reader.
- Editing. Sometimes referred to a line editing, a full-scale edit will evaluate a manuscript in detail and make page-by-page recommendations and changes. This is the most detailed evaluation of the content and message of the work.
- Proofreading. Sometimes referred to as copy editing, proofreading is the final stage of review prior to publishing and production. It evaluates the mechanics of the manuscript to include spelling, word use, grammar, punctuation, etc.
How Much Do Writing Coaches, Book Coaches, and Editors Charge?
Prices vary widely among all three professions, ranging from the low hundreds to the thousands in terms of total investment. Writing and book coaches will often offer packages, although some offer hourly rates as a consultant. Editors will usually charge by the number of words in your manuscript or, more rarely these days, by the hour.
Do You Need All Three . . . or None of Them?
No. In fact, if you’re self publishing, none of these services are technically required. But seeking outside help and perspective can help improve the quality of your work.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2018 Heidi Thorne