Kemlo Aki

Kemlo Aki.jpeg

I strive to be kind and encouraging, but I don't offer false praise. If I tell you I'm impressed, it's because I am!

I'M A COACH

What is your favorite part of the coaching process?

My favorite part of the coaching process is sort of in the middle, after the writer and I have had a chance to get to know each other well enough to feel comfortable working together, but before any major milestones have been celebrated. I've noticed that's the point at which the writing often starts to take off and progress at an exciting pace!

What's your coaching style like?

I depend on my writers to let me know what works best for them. I tend to be thorough with my edits, but I can scale back for a writer who prefers a lighter touch. I believe in Jennie's "tough love" philosophy: I strive to be kind and encouraging, but I don't offer false praise. If I tell you I'm impressed, it's because I am!

What genres do you love to edit?

Fiction, nonfiction – I'm happy editing most genres. (A writer's overall attitude and reason for writing matter to me more than the genre.)

What do you love most about editing?

I love working with writers one-on-one, getting to know them, finding out why they care about the stories they're writing. I also enjoy the "lightbulb moments," those times when a writer who has been feeling stuck or discouraged finally sees a way to move forward.

Who's your ideal writer match? What are you looking for in a coaching client?

I'm looking for clients who are genuinely curious and open-minded, willing to explore new ideas and strategies for becoming better writers. My ideal clients have a sense of humor and enough maturity to realize that a willingness to make (and admit to) mistakes is a normal and necessary part of learning. (Because I'm human and will be making my share of mistakes, too!)

What was the moment when you felt like a real book coach?

I got that feeling when my first writer, who had been struggling for a very long time with her story, finally finished it. I had worked with her for many months, and during that time she had struggled with doubt and frustration and despair. I saw big improvements in her writing over time, and that was exciting for me, but I knew what she wanted more than anything was to get to the end. The week she submitted her final set of pages, she wrote in her email, "I am thrilled to have finally written a rough draft. I absolutely could not have done it without all of you. I know that—I tried!" In that moment, I felt like a real book coach because I had coached a writer from start to finish. I'd believed in her and helped her muddle through the rough patches. I knew she'd accomplished something she hadn't been able to do on her own. Such a good feeling for both of us!

What do you believe the most prominent difference between an editor and a coach is?

An editor edits, pointing out what needs to be improved upon in a manuscript. A coach coaches, providing encouragement and support as well as constructive criticism. An editor focuses on the pages; a coach focuses on the person.

What's been your greatest achievement in coaching so far?

One of my writers was recently recognized as a finalist for the Rising Star Award by the Women's Fiction Writers Association!

How did you hear about Author Accelerator?

A friend.


IN MY DOWNTIME...

What's your favorite word?

Perspicacious.

What genres do you love to read?

Humor, literary fiction, memoir, narrative nonfiction, philosophy, political satire, realistic fiction, science fiction, self-help, women's fiction.

What are some of your favorite books?

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
  • A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  • Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
  • The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal 
  • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yōko Ogawa
  • Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error by Kathryn Schultz
  • Take Joy: A Book for Writers by Jane Yolen

Who are five of your favorite authors?

  • Atul Gawande
  • Malcolm Gladwell
  • Celeste Ng
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Jane Yolen

If you could meet any author, who would it be and why?

William Shakespeare. I'd like to put to rest the rumors about who really wrote his plays. Plus, who wouldn't want to meet a romantic poet with a sense of humor?

What are you most excited about right now?

Right now, I'm excited about my job! Working for Author Accelerator, I've been introduced to interesting people with compelling stories, and all from the comfort of my own home. From the Blueprint workshop to Story Genius to pitch materials, there's always something more to learn, plenty of room to grow. Plus I get to work with other talented coaches who offer each other encouragement and advice. It's a sweet job, flexible enough to allow me to spend time with friends and family, but demanding enough to keep me busy.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A veterinarian.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I'm a morning person, up with the sun, practicing yoga, then taking in some news with my breakfast before heading to work on editing or writing.