Ashly Hilst

Ashly Hilst.JPG

The process itself – of sitting and wrestling through the story, the details, the finer points, and the major pieces – is my playground.


What is your favorite part of the coaching process?

My favorite part of the coaching process is watching a writer grow. The other day I worked with a client on some tricky dialogue and she came back with a revised draft that was so much better. To see how she was able to take the feedback and the new approach to dialogue and just transform her writing was so rewarding.

What's your coaching style like?

I coach with respect, encouragement, and honesty. I like to make sure the writer sees what they are doing well and what they need to work on. I look at coaching as a way of teaching. I want all the writers I work with to come away from the experience with improved writing skills that they can take into their next project.

What genres do you love to edit?

Memoir, fantasy, and middle grade/YA

What do you love most about editing?

I love the process of taking an idea, a sentence, or a book from good to great. The process itself, of sitting and wrestling through the story, the details, the finer points, and the major pieces, is my playground. And I love getting to run around on that playground with the writer, working together and having fun wrangling words until they communicate what the author wants them to.

When was the moment you felt like a real book coach?

I was working on the manuscript of my second client. I had gone into that project so afraid I wouldn't know what to say--but I did know. I knew exactly what to tell my client and how she could bring her book to the next level. In that moment I knew that I had something good to offer writers.

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

My ideal coaching client is ready to grow as a writer. S/he doesn't believe that her first draft is perfect or that it should be perfect. S/he is ready to work hard, but have lots of fun while doing it. S/he doesn't take herself too seriously (because I make it a point to never take myself too seriously).

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

A coach builds a relationship with the writer and encourages them. An editor focuses on completing a transaction – editing a specific chapter or book, say – and then sort of washes their hands of the end result.

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

Helping a writer go from "I have a few essays that might be a book" to a completed first draft. So amazing to see the transformation of the book as she wrote it.

How did you hear about Author Accelerator?

I found it through Lisa Cron's website. (I'm a huge Story Genius fan!)


What's your favorite word?


What genres do you love to read?

Fantasy, classics, and nonfiction

If you could fast-forward a year from now, what would your writing life look like?

I'd be knee-deep in revising my MG fantasy novel and looking forward to starting the process of looking for an agent.

What about five years from now?

My fantasy novel would be published or in the process of being published and I'd be working on my next novel.

Who are five of your favorite authors?

  • L.M. Montgomery

  • C.S. Lewis

  • Jane Austen

  • Charles Dickens

  • G.K. Chesterton

If you could meet any author (living or dead), who would it be and why?

G.K. Chesterton because he is incredibly smart, funny, and has a way of hitting on truths in his writing without ever being cliche. I think having dinner with him would be the most educational and entertaining meal of my whole life.

What are five of your favorite books?

  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

  • The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

  • It's Not Fair by Melanie Dale

  • Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton

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

A writer. I wrote books on notepads and lined paper and stapled them together with homemade covers.

What does a typical day look like for you?

A typical day for me involves a lot of play doh and hide-and-seek right now. When my daughter is at preschool, I spend time in my office writing my novel, dreaming up helpful resources for writers, and coaching clients. In the evenings I enjoy sipping a glass of red wine and reading, chatting with my husband, or watching TV (current favorite is Castle).

What are you most excited about right now?

I'm thrilled to be on the Author Accelerator team. I wholeheartedly support the Author Accelerator mission and believe that they are setting the standard for the book coaching industry. It's exciting to be a part of that.