Whether you’re working on a book-length project or want to improve your writing skills, a private writing coach can transform your writing journey. The best writing coaches have an excitement for language, expertise in the writing world, and compassion for your work as a budding writer.
That said, there are plenty of book writing coaches that aren’t worth your time and money. Additionally, every writer has their own needs, and it’s important to address those needs as you try to find a writing coach.
What does a writing coach do? Let’s answer this question and look at 9 things to know so you can find the best private writing coach for your work.
What Does a Writing Coach Do?
A private writing coach works to improve both your writing and your writing journey, and the best writing coaches wear many different hats to make this possible.
A private writing coach is more than just an editor. The best writing coaches also nurture your literary career, giving you books to read, communities to join, and advice on the publishing world at large.
First and foremost, a writing coach works as an editor for your writing. They will give you different types of feedback, including global feedback and in-line feedback. “Global feedback” is commentary on the work as a whole: is it convincing, well-written, compelling, unique, and enjoyable? “In-line feedback,” by contrast, is feedback line-by-line, looking at the specifics of grammar, word choice, structure, and style.
At the same time, a private writing coach is more than just an editor. The best writing coaches also nurture your literary career, giving you books to read, communities to join, and advice on the publishing world at large.
Finally, your book writing coach is also your friend. Writing can be a solitary journey, unearthing powerful emotions and personal struggles. A great writing coach will be there for you through whatever writing challenges you face, guiding you through the toughest parts of becoming a writer.
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Tales From The Memory Palace: 6 to 250 Word Memoirs
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December 1st, 2021
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December 8th, 2021
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(Live Workshop) Dream Writing
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Fundamentals of Travel Writing
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December 22nd, 2021
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9 Tips for Finding the Right Private Writing Coach
Now that we’ve answered the question “what does a writing coach do?”, here are 9 tips for finding the right coach that will transform your writing journey.
1. Know Where to Find a Writing Coach
Knowing where to find a writing coach is essential. You want to know that your coach is a well-respected member of their literary community and that they have the professional credentials to give you expert coaching.
Do some research on professional associations for your specific writing genre, and you may find coaching and mentorship opportunities.
So, where can you find a writing coach? For starters, you may be interested in coaching at Writers.com. Our instructors have the experience, degrees, and qualities that make for the best writing coaches, and they’re excited about offering their expertise to fuel your writing journey. If you’re interested in one-to-one coaching with us, or you want to learn more about an instructor and their writing coach rates, send us an email!
That said, there are plenty of other professional organizations and websites dedicated to connecting writers with coaches. Here are a handful of websites you can peruse to find a writing coach:
- Gotham Writers
- Author Accelerator
- New York Writing Room
- National Association of Memoir Writers
Additionally, do some research on professional associations for your specific writing genre, and you may find coaching and mentorship opportunities. You can also search for coaches using sites like Facebook, Craigslist, and Meetup, though always be cautious about the people you meet from those sites, and do careful research about the potential coaches you meet from there. Check if they have a personal website, and make sure they have the below qualifications.
2. Research the Writing Coach’s Credentials and Experience
Who is your potential writing coach? What degrees did they earn, what books have they published, and what prior teaching experience do they have? For your private writing coach to help you, it’s best that they have the credentials and experience to back up their teaching.
Having a terminal degree ensures that your coach knows how to properly teach creative writing.
Generally, it’s best if your coach has a terminal degree in English or Creative Writing. This means they have an M.A., M.F.A., Ph.D., or some other post-baccalaureate diploma.
Now, not all coaches need terminal degrees, and some of the best writing coaches have published bestselling books without ever studying English! That said, most Masters and Doctorate programs require their students to take courses on teaching English, so having a terminal degree ensures that your coach knows how to properly teach creative writing.
Additionally, your coach should definitely have a strong publication history. Naturally, a book writing coach will have published books themselves, but it also helps if they’ve published work in literary journals or magazines. You, too, might try to publish in those same journals!
3. Know Your Budget and the Writing Coach Rates
Writing coach rates are rarely lower than $50/hr.
A private writing coach can cost a lot of money, but that shouldn’t surprise you. If you take a look at any other industry, you’ll find that private advisors and personal coaches always charge high hourly rates—after all, they provide high-level expertise in a field they’ve been studying for years.
If you’re considering a book writing coach, be sure to budget accordingly. Writing coach rates vary, but most coaches won’t charge an hourly rate that’s below $50. If an author has a lot of publications and high-level credentials, their writing coach rates might scale as high as $200 an hour or more.
At Writers.com, our writing coach rates vary between $55 and $240, depending on the instructor and the type of work the student looks for.
With enough research, you are sure to find a coach that fits within your budget, just be aware how much you’re willing to spend, and how much work you want your coach to do for you each week.
4. Look For Examples of the Writing Coach’s Work
Before you agree to work with a private writing coach, spend some time researching their writing and getting to know their work. You want to know that this potential coach is the right match for your work, and reading their own writing will help you gauge if they’re a good fit.
To put it simply: if you vibe with their work, you’ll likely vibe with their coaching.
Some things to ask yourself as you read the work of a potential coach:
- Do they write in a similar genre as me?
- Do they write about similar topics as me?
- Does their writing demonstrate techniques like storytelling or literary devices?
- Do I like their writing style?
- Does their work interest and inspire me? Does it compel me to read more?
You can learn a lot about an author simply by paying attention to the work they write, the words they use, and the overall style of their writing. To put it simply: if you vibe with their work, you’ll likely vibe with their coaching.
5. Work With a Writing Coach Experienced in Your Genre
You wouldn’t train for a soccer match with a football coach, and you shouldn’t write your memoir alongside a novel writing coach, either. It’s essential that you work with a coach who has extensive experience in the genre of your own work.
It’s essential that you work with a coach who has extensive experience in the genre of your own work.
You might see a private writing coach say that they work with authors of all genres—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and even copywriting or journalism. While they can likely help in any genre, they won’t be the best fit for you if they haven’t written extensively in your genre.
Every genre has its own conventions, rules, archetypes, and dos and don’ts. Just look at the wide diversity between literary fiction and genre fiction, and how there’s so much difference between two types of genre fiction as well.
If you write fantasy, a sci-fi coach might not be the best fit. If you need a nonfiction writing coach, you shouldn’t work with someone who hasn’t even published an essay. Make sure you know the publication history of your coach before you commit to working with them.
6. Know the Help You’re Looking For
Having a sense of direction and purpose will help guide your relationship with your coach.
To make the most of your relationship with a private writing coach, think about the goals you want to accomplish with them. Having a sense of direction and purpose will help guide your relationship with your coach.
What are some things you can seek help with? It depends on what form of literature you’re writing, but consider the following topics as starting points:
- Making your writing compelling and engaging.
- Honing your style as a poet or storyteller.
- Developing convincing characters, plots, or settings.
- Perfecting the structure of your story or poem.
- Expanding your vocabulary and word choice.
- Practicing different literary devices.
- Finding the right literary journals, book publishers, or agents.
- Refining your query letter or book pitch.
Of course, you might not know what exactly you need help with, you just know you want to write and get better at it. That’s okay too! The best writing coaches will be flexible to your needs, working with you to figure out the best trajectory for your work.
As a writer, you are your own best advocate for your writing. Any work you do considering the help you need as a writer will be time well spent.
7. Make Sure Your Schedules are Compatible
How often do you want to meet with your coach? Do you want a Zoom or phone call with them once a week or two? When are you available for meetings? These are questions you should think about and address with your coach before you get to work.
Have a clear sense of your schedule and your needs, and make sure those needs will be met when you first consult with a potential coach.
The best writing coaches will have flexible schedules, though of course, nobody’s calendar is easy to work with. What matters is that your coach makes the time to work with your calendar and is flexible with your scheduling needs.
For example, if you know you need a lot of accountability and encouragement, your private writing coach should be available to meet more frequently and help keep you inspired. Or, if you have a contest you want to submit your writing to and the deadline is fast approaching, you want to know your coach can give you generous feedback with enough time to edit your work.
Bottom line: have a clear sense of your schedule and your needs, and make sure those needs will be met when you first consult with a potential coach.
8. Don’t Just Seek Professional Help
The best writing coaches are more than just professional editors—they’re also your advisor, your guide through the literary world, and your friend.
In other words, don’t just seek a private writing coach who publishes good books. You also want your coach to inspire and motivate you, as well as teach you about the publishing industry and the writing world at large.
The best writing coaches are more than just professional editors—they’re also your advisor, your guide through the literary world, and your friend.
If you were to hire a personal trainer, you wouldn’t choose one based on who has the largest biceps or the most athletic awards. Those things are valuable, but you want someone who will motivate you to go to the gym, understand your body’s needs, and work with you to achieve your desired fitness.
A book writing coach is the same way. It doesn’t matter how big their literary biceps are or how many awards they’ve received, it matters that they care about your needs and are actively invested in your growth.
When you first start meeting with a potential coach, gauge how well the two of you will get along. You’re not just seeking professional help, you’re fostering a relationship, so foster one that works for you!
9. Remember: The Best Writing Coaches Meet You Halfway
Your writing coach will offer you books to read, advice to inspire, edits to make, and journals to publish in, but it’s your job to actually improve as a writer.
Lastly, remember that the best writing coaches will meet you in the middle. They’ll offer you books to read, advice to inspire, edits to make, and journals to publish in, but it’s your job to actually improve as a writer.
Your private writing coach will do a lot of work to help you grow as a writer. In addition to giving thoughtful and constructive feedback on your work, your coach might also find great journals to submit your work to, recommend helpful books and authors, and perhaps even connect you with other writers in your community.
That said, you can’t just receive this help and not do anything with it. Don’t just passively absorb the coach’s instruction or input: read the books they recommend, follow their advice, consider all of their edits, and submit to the journals they send you. Be prepared for all of these opportunities—a successful literary career requires a lot of work!
Qualities of the Best Writing Coaches
Every writer will have different needs that they want their private writing coach to meet. But regardless of experience, degrees, or writing genre, the best writing coaches share these same qualities:
- Accommodating: Our day-to-day lives are busy, and it’s rarely easy to develop a consistent writing habit with all our daily responsibilities. While you should try to be as committed to your writing as you can, sometimes you’ll need to reschedule meetings or push back on due dates. Your coach should be understanding of this, while also pushing you back on the right writing track.
- Communicative: A good private writing coach will be easy to talk to. You should feel comfortable talking about your work with them, and they should make it easy for you to ask questions and seek the help you need.
- Empathetic: Your coach should work to understand your needs, your writing, and your experiences. The best teachers understand exactly where their students are coming from.
- Encouraging: As you explore the possibilities of creative writing, new doorways will open. You might discover a new form you want to try or a writing technique you haven’t heard of before—your coach should encourage you to explore those doorways, as all creative work will help you grow as a writer.
- Invested: The best writing coaches are interested in your work and invested in your success. When you do well, the writing community at large should celebrate!
Find a Writing Coach at Writers.com!
Are you looking for a private writing coach to edit your work, teach you new skills, and help you get published? The instructors at Writers.com can help! Learn more about coaching with us here, and let’s set up your first session with your new writing coach.
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