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Book Coach Certification Program

Turn your talent for helping writers into a side hustle or a full-time job

There's a new job in the gig economy.

It's perfect for people who love to read, who love the challenge of capturing ideas on the page, and who feel they can inspire writers to do their best work.

It's called book coaching – and we're going to teach you everything you need to know to learn how to do it and build a book-coaching business.

 
 
 

Jennie Nash – book coach, founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator

 

Book Coach Basic Training

Fiction

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Book Coach Basic Training introduces you to the fundamental principles of book coaching. In this course, you’ll learn:

  • The history of book coaching and why now is a great time to get in the game

  • The key skills you need to be an effective book coach

  • The 7 essential questions to ask in every coaching interaction

  • The 3 must-read books for every book coach

  • How to evaluate a new client’s goals and objectives, their fledgling book idea, and their sample pages

  • How to give feedback in a way that nurtures a client's work

  • How to deal with doubt – the writer's doubt and your own

  • How to handle problems you might encounter during the client intake process

  • Interview with special guest Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit and master coaching trainer

Price: $499

Includes 22 lessons; sample client Q&As, emails, and story ideas so you can practice your skills; and more than 2 hours of video instruction from Author Accelerator founder, Jennie Nash.

Once you complete the Book Coach Basic Training course, join Jennie Nash in a live Q&A to ask her anything about the coursework, the work of book coaching, or the certification program.

Book Coach Basic Training is a prerequisite for the certification program.

Book Coach Basic Training Curriculum

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Your completion of the Basic Training course allows you to begin working toward Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification. Scroll down to learn more about this path.


The Path to Certification

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Advanced Book Coach Certification in Fiction

 
 

Jennie Nash – book coach, founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator

Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of Book Coach Basic Training and application.

NEXT LAUNCH DATE: March 25, 2019
APPLICATION OPENS: March 1 - 15, 2019

Price: $2,250 introductory rate

Go deeper into all the elements of book coaching, from managing a project to developing story structure to understanding the primary paths to publication. Learn step-by-step how to coach  a story from zero and how to analyze a complete rough draft. Gain experience with live clients, participate in small mentoring groups, and get feedback on your coaching so you feel confident about your skills. 

Curriculum

  • Guiding a Project Forward from Zero

  • Developing the Story Structure

  • Developing Scenes

  • The Big 5 Story Editing Skills

  • Designing a Project Framework

  • Handling the Writer's Emotions – and Yours

  • When Things Go Wrong in the Coaching Process

  • Understanding the Publishing Landscape

  • Full Manuscript Evaluation

  • Expert interviews with a psychotherapist, a book marketer, a writer's block guru, and more

  • Practicum: Engage your own clients, get feedback on your work from an Author Accelerator book coach, and participate in mentoring calls with Author Accelerator coaches and 6-figure book coach Jennie Nash.

 

Completion of this course will allow you to move on to the Pro Book Coach Certification Course and use the Advanced Certification logo on your website. Your Advanced Certification is good for two years – you must renew it and pay a renewal fee to retain certification. 

Note: This course is focused on fiction only. To learn to coach memoir, you will need to complete the Memoir master class (see below).


Pro Book Coach Certification in Fiction

Prerequisite: Satisfactory completion of Book Coach Basic Training and Advanced Book Coach Certification in Fiction

LAUNCH DATE : Fall 2019

Price: $2250 introductory rate

Get pro-level training on coaching full manuscript revisions, developing an agent pitch strategy, curating an agent pitch list, and editing pitch materials. Learn specialized skills such as conducting a Rejection Audit and the Basics of Self-Publishing. Learn the steps you need to take to open and run your own successful book-coaching business, including tips on contracts, payment processing, and marketing.

Curriculum

  • Coaching a Full Manuscript Revision

  • Coaching the Agent Pitch

  • The Nuts and Bolts of Launching a Book-Coaching Business

  • Expert interviews with agents, book production vendors, and other entrepreneurs

  • Practicum: Engage your own clients, get feedback on your work from professional book coaches, and participate in mentoring calls with Author Accelerator book coaches and 6-figure book coach Jennie Nash.

  • 15 Master Class credits (see below)

Completion of this course will allow you to use the Author Accelerator Pro Book Coach Certification logo on your website. Your Pro Certification is good for two years – you must renew it and pay a renewal fee to retain certification. 

Pro-Certified coaches will be featured in an online database of Author Accelerator Certified Book Coaches.

Note: This course is focused on fiction only. To learn to coach memoir, you will need to add on the Memoir master class (see below).


Author Accelerator Master Classes

LAUNCH DATES: 2019

These master classes will give you credit toward your certification and can help you narrow the focus of your book coaching business.

Coaching the Romance Writer: 5 credits – $199

Coaching the Young-Adult Writer: 5 credits – $199

Coaching the Middle-Grade Writer: 5 credits – $199

Writing Through Trauma: 10 credits – $299

The Basics of Self-Publishing: 15 credits – $699

Memoir: 15 credits – $699

Other courses to be added.

What Our Students Have To Say

“Overall, I was really pleased with this course!”
— Sarah Krosschell
“I loved this course, it was rich with information.”
— Kathryn Dodson on Book Coach Basic Training
This course was excellent value for money. I was surprised, and delighted, at the quality (and quantity) of material made available. In addition the assignments made me think, learn and I got lost in the work - which is a good thing. It was more work than I had anticipated, but that is not a complaint but rather a compliment that the course is real work, and not padded with any fluff.”
— Elissa Mackintosh

Your Book Coach Certification Instructors:

Jennie Nash is the founder and chief creative officer of Author Accelerator, a program that brings professional book coaching to writers in all genres. She is a private book coach whose authors regularly land top New York agents and book deals with publishers including Scribner, Simon & Schuster, Hazeldon, Norton and Random House. Several of her writers have also recently won national self-publishing awards. For the last six years, Jennie has made six figures  in her private book-coaching business.

 

 

Jennie is the author of four novels, three memoirs, and counting. These are some of her books:

“I love being a book coach. Every day, I get to work with writers to help them bring their ideas to life. I work with a wide range of wildly talented people on a wide range of incredible topics, and my days are filled with work that is challenging and satisfying. I work with many of my clients for many years, through many books, and they have become my tribe.”
— Jennie Nash

 

Laura Franzini has trained under Author Accelerator Chief Creative Officer Jennie Nash for 4 years, working with writers to bring their stories alive on the page and their books on the shelf.  She currently oversees Author Accelerator’s stellar team of book coaches, matching them with their writers and cultivating each coaching relationship. She has a background in journalism and marketing communications.

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“My favorite part of my job is seeing the relationship develop between writers and coaches. Not only are we helping writers pursue their dreams, we are actively engaging in their creative process, we are guiding them, and we are collaborating with them to bring their words to life. I find just as much fulfillment and satisfaction in the experience as the writers we work with.”
— Laura Franzini

Ready to become a book coach?

Training and Certification Options:

Frequently Asked Questions

+ Is there a refund policy?

Book Coach Basic Training
Due to the nature of this self-paced course, there is a three-day money-back guarantee. After this three-day period, no refunds will be given.

Author Accelerator Book Coach Certification Program
We offer a 14-day refund policy on our Advanced and Pro Certification courses. You may request a refund up to 14 days after the course begins.

To be eligible for a refund, you must submit your request to contact@authoraccelerator.com along with your completed work for the first two modules before your 14th day in the course.

We will also check to see that you have watched the available course videos.

No refunds will be provided after 14 days following the start of the course. All refunds are discretionary, and eligibility is determined only after all requested items are submitted to our support team.

If you opted for a payment plan (when applicable) and you do not request a refund by the end of the 14th day, you are required to complete the remaining payments of your payment plan according to our one-payment-per-month schedule.

Deciding after you purchase the course that you cannot afford the payments, or deem the program too intense, or just don't want to do the course anymore, does NOT qualify you for a refund. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE make sure you are 100% ready to take our courses before signing up.

This refund policy is designed to give you 14 days to try our system, get acquainted, and learn. If you do the work, put in your best effort, and feel that we haven’t delivered on our promise, we will issue a refund.

We ask for the above evidence as we only want students who are willing to be present in the course and actually do the work. We are giving our 100% effort to provide the best and most effective learning environment possible, and want our students to have the same high standard. You owe it to yourself to give it your best shot!

+ What is the certification process?

The Certification Program includes three courses:

Book Coach Basic Training, which includes curriculum in four areas of book coaching and is a prerequisite for the Advanced Book Coach Certification course. Your acceptance to the Advanced Book Coach Certification course depends on your satisfactory completion of the Book Coach Basic Training course, your commitment to pay the full course fee, and your ability to complete the course requirements.
Advanced Book Coach Certification, which includes curriculum in nine areas of book coaching and a practicum to grow your skills. The practicum includes feedback on your work from Author Accelerator. This course is a prerequisite for the Pro Book Coach Certification course. Your acceptance to the Pro Book Coach Certification course depends on your satisfactory completion of the Advanced Book Coach Certification course, your commitment to pay the full course fee, and your ability to complete the course requirements.
Pro Book Coach Certification, which includes curriculum in three areas of book coaching, a practicum to grow your skills, and master classes to expand your knowledge. The practicum includes feedback on your work from Author Accelerator.
Additional master classes are optional and available a la carte.

+ How long does it take to get certified?

The full Certification Program is designed to be flexible based on your particular schedule and capacity to do the work. We do not yet have data on the average length of time it takes someone to through the full Certification Program and earn Pro Certificiation. We believe that 9-12 months is a good estimate.

+ Does this program cover nonfiction as well?

The Book Coach Certification program is focused only on fiction. However, each course in the program covers foundational elements of book coaching that can be applied when working with writers in any genre. We call say that the program is focused on fiction because there are two or three lessons in each course where we use fiction examples, and in a proper nonfiction course, those samples would be nonfiction. The Advanced and Pro Certification courses contain full lessons applicable only when working with fiction writers, and so are slightly less transitive than the Basic Training course, however, many of the skills covered are applicable to all writers in all genres. Until we have a nonfiction program completed (scheduled for late 2019), we encourage you to take the current Basic Training and Advanced Certification courses – with the understanding that there is a bias toward fiction.

And all that being said, Jennie's strong belief is that story is story is story. Every book is a narrative – even if it's a self-help or how-to book. Understanding the elements of fictional design will help make you a better coach, even if you are primarily coaching nonfiction.

+ What if I'm interested in coaching memoir writers? Will the certification program help me?

The Book Coach Certification program is technically focused on coaching fiction; however, as we say above, we believe that every book is a narrative, and understanding the elements of fictional design is applicable to coaching any genre.

For coaches interested in coaching memoir, the Basic Training and Advanced Certification courses will offer an excellent foundation. Memoir writers need to learn the same narrative principles as fiction writers: how to make a point, how to structure a story, how to create narrative drive, how to hold a reader's attention, when to leave things out, how to show the reader why they should care, and how to know who the reader is. The nuances that memoir coaches should be aware of (e.g., legal ramifications of publishing nonfiction, dealing with the real-life people the writer is writing about, etc.) will be covered in a future master class that will build on the Advanced Certification course.

+ Would taking the Story Genius workshop that Accelerator offers help me be a better coach?

Story Genius is a writing method and a tool for thinking about and developing a story from scratch. It's a complimentary alternative to our Blueprint for a Book program, which is covered extensively in the Advanced Certification course. Taking the Story Genius workshop would add another tool to the toolbox a coach uses to help writers. We'll be offering a Story Genius master class, focused on how to coach a writer through the method, that will be available to Pro Certified coaches.

+ What kind of focus on the publishing world and market does the program have?

Insight on the market and publishing world is woven through each course in the certification program. Our philsophy at Author Accelerator is extremely market-focused, because we believe that every writer wants to be read. The writing process does not come full circle until a reader gets involved. However, we make no guarantees or promises of a writer's success. We are not teaching people how to write best-sellers, but we're always focused on the market and what it's demanding, because we think that helps writers seek excellence.

We also believe that this focus on the market gives coaches and writers a language to be able to talk about audience, and to think of the book they are working on as being in the marketplace one day. Based on the notion that each writer wants a reader, they therefore need to know who that reader is and write for that reader. Our approach does the hard work of starting to balance the story that is in the writers' heart with what the market, and their reader, will demand.

For a specific example, in the Advanced course, we walk students through client-intaking (asking the writer what their goals are; what they want; whether they're looking at publishing or self-publishing; whether they have an agent, want an agent, or have tried to get an agent, etc.). These questions are all about the marketplace – any time a coach talks with a writer about their goals, they must consider the marketplace.

+ What kind of technical support do you offer?

We'll be honest. We are not technical support experts. As a result, we are able to provide minimal technical support to resolve any issues you might have accessing our courses and our materials. Beyond the areas covered below, we are unable to help you troubleshoot your specific issue. If you are having problems that extend beyond those covered below, we encourage you to contact support for the specific program or device you are using.

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Problems Opening Files
• How to resolve the problem: "Word experienced an error trying to open the file" when opening a Word 2007/2010 file
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Support For the Programs We Often Use
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Book Coach Basic Training

+ Is there anything I need to do prior to starting the Basic Training course?

No. If you are interested in getting a head start, the books you'll need to read for this training are:
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull
The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
You do not have to read them all before you start! They are equally effective if you read them during the course or when you are finished with the course.

These books are not provided as part of the course, so you may check them out from your local library, or otherwise borrow or purchase them.

+ When is the Q&A call with Jennie Nash?

Jennie will periodically host a 90-minute Q&A call available to all students in the Book Coach Basic Training course. Details about the date and time of the call and how to join will be included in the course materials. If you can't make it at the scheduled time, you will be able to access a recording of the live session on the online learning site within 48 hours.

Continuing education calls will be scheduled when the full certification program launches.

+ How long will it take me to complete the Book Coach Basic Training course?

There are 22 lessons in the Book Coach Basic Training course and each lesson is designed to take somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 60 minutes. If you end up going out to the internet to check out authors, websites, or books we mention, it could take more time – and we hope that it occasionally does, because curiosity makes for good coaching. You will also need to set aside time to read the three assigned books.

We estimate that it will take between 5 and 6 weeks to complete the Book Coach Basic Training course. Enroll in Book Coach Basic Training Training now.

+ What will I learn in the Book Coach Basic Training course?

What Book Coach Basic Training will allow you to do:
• Understand why book coaching has bubbled up in the new gig economy
• Learn what book coaches do that is different from what editors or critique partners do
• Learn what skills you bring to the work that will be additive
• Learn which parts of the coaching process make you nervous and how to overcome your doubt
• Understand what to look for when evaluating a writer
• Understand what to look for when evaluating a book project
• Begin to develop a sense of what kind of writers you would most like to work with
• Learn principles of the creative process that help you understand how to nurture a writer and guide a project
• Learn how to ask good questions
• Learn how to get out of the advice-giving game
• Apply to participate in the Author Accelerator Certification Program

What this course will NOT teach:
• This is not an editing class, although you will learn many things about editing in it.
• This is not a publishing class, although you will learn many things about the publishing landscape.
• This is not a course in how to land an agent and we will not be teaching pitch strategy or pitching skills. How to guide writers to land an agent is a specialized coaching skill that we will teach in a separate master class (coming 2019).
• You will not learn how to run your own coaching business. This is a specialized skill that we will teach in a separate master class (coming 2019).
• We cannot guarantee that you will get any coaching clients. We are teaching you a marketable skill, but we offer no guarantees.
• We will not give you coaching clients. Author Accelerator only works with coaches whom we hire in a process that is separate from this course.
• We cannot guarantee that you will make a certain level of income from book coaching. While Jennie Nash makes a 6-figure income as a book coach, you have to apply yourself if you want to grow your business. Our goal is to help you cut down the learning curve in order to correctly position yourself, build effective programs, and attract the right customers to grow your business.

Advanced Book Coach Certification

+ When will the next Advanced Book Coach Certification course be held?

The debut run of the Advanced Book Coach Certifciation course will begin on Oct. 9, 2018. To see the schedule for future courses, check this page.

+ Do I need to apply for the Advanced Book Coach Certification course? If so, how do I apply?

Yes, all students need to submit an application to enroll in the Advanced Book Coach Certification course. The application will be available to all eligible students via our online course platform. Note that students must submit completed work from the Book Coach Basic Training course as part of the application, so be sure to complete that course before applying.

+ How do I get access to the application for the Advanced Book Coach Certification course?

Once you complete the prerequisite Book Coach Basic Training course, you will gain access to the Advanced Certification course application via our online course platform. Until you complete the prerequisite course, you will not be able to complete the application and move on to the next level of certification.

+ Is there anything I need to do prior to starting the Advanced Book Coach Certification course?

You must complete the Book Coach Basic Training course and apply to enroll in the Advanced Book Coach Certification course.

Once you have been accepted and enrolled in the Advanced Certification course, if you are interested in getting a head start, the books you'll need to read for this training can be found here. You do not have to read them all before you start! They are equally effective if you read them during the course or when you are finished with the course.

These books are not provided as part of the course, so you may check them out from your local library, or otherwise borrow or purchase them.

+ How long will it take me to complete the Advanced Book Coach Certification course?

We estimate that it will take the average student 6 months to complete the Advanced Book Coach Certification course and earn certification. That said, the course could be completed in a minimum of 5 months, and students are welcome to take as much time as they need to complete the practicum portion of the course, so it could take much longer. The exact timing will depend on each student and their schedule.

+ What will I learn in the Advanced Book Coach Certification course?

What Advanced Certification will allow you to do:

  • Understand the 12 fundamental elements of a story and learn how to coach a writer through the development of these elements for a story they are starting from scratch
  • Understand how to envision the whole sweep and flow of a story and learn how to coach a writer through the development of a Two-Tier Outline
  • Understand the structure of a scene and learn how to coach a writer through the development of the first and last scenes of their story
  • Learn the Big 5 Story Editing Skills that will help you address the most common mistakes writers make
  • Learn the Four Perspectives method of evaluating a scene, chapter, or book
  • Practicum 1: Work with two practice clients on their story fundamentals, both on the page and on a call, and receive one-on-one feedback on your coaching
  • Learn the project-management skills needed for coaching a book project all the way through from start to finish
  • Learn the time-management, energy-management, and document-management skills you need to manage your client work
  • Determine your Editorial EQ (efficiency quotient) and how to increase your efficiency while maintaining excellence
  • Learn the Hierarchy of Editorial Needs so you know how to quickly evaluate a writer's submission
  • Understand the emotional components of book coaching – both a writer’s emotions and yours
  • Know the difference between being a book coach and being a therapist and make sure you don't cross the line
  • Learn the 7 Kinds of Problem Writers and how to deal with them
  • Understand how things can go wrong in the coaching process and what course of action to take when they do
  • Learn how to evaluate a full manuscript and give a writer feedback on what is working and what is not
  • Practicum 2: Work with a practice client on their complete manuscript, both on the page and on a call, and receive one-on-one feedback on your coaching
  • Apply to participate in the Author Accelerator Pro Book Coach Certification Course
  • Join our community of book coaches and gain access to Author Accelerator course materials, onboarding materials, and other documents
  • Be prepared to apply to become an Author Accelerator book coach

The course also includes:

  • 60 instructional videos from Jennie Nash, totaling approximately 25 hours
  • Feature-length interviews with:
    1. Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit and owner of a company that teaches coaching to managers of Fortune 500 companies
    2. Tracey Cleantis, LMFT and author of The Next Happy and An Invitation to Self-Care
    3. Dave Ursillo, a spiritual guide who works with people who have writer’s block
    4. Lisa Cron, author of Wired for Story and Story Genius
  • Short audio interviews with 8 Author Accelerator book coaches
  • 5 small-group calls with your Author Accelerator mentor
  • 4 live working sessions with Author Accelerator founder and Chief Creative Officer Jennie Nash and Managing Editor Laura Franzini

What this course will NOT teach:

  • This is not an editing class, although you will learn quite a lot about editing in it.
  • This is not a course in how to help a writer land an agent and you will not learn how to coach a writer through the pitch process. How to guide writers to land an agent is a specialized coaching skill that we will teach in a separate master class (coming in 2019).
  • You will not learn how to run your own coaching business or how to make money as a book coach. Being a successful entrepreneur is a specialized skill that we will teach in a separate master class (coming in 2019).
  • We cannot guarantee that you will get any coaching clients. We are teaching you a highly marketable skill, but we offer no guarantees.
  • We will not give you coaching clients. Author Accelerator only works with coaches whom we hire in a process that is separate from this course. You are welcome to apply to work for us at any time.

+ Who are the mentors?

Our team of mentors is comprised of Author Accelerator's most seasoned book coaches, who do this work every day and know the ins and outs of the business. They have each been personally trained by Jennie Nash and Laura Franzini, and have guided numerous clients to success in our coaching programs. They will be on hand to answer questions, offer advice, and support each of their mentees through the course. They will also be the ones reviewing student practicums and will be involved in determining whether a student has earned Advanced Certification.

+ When are the mentor group calls held?

There are five group calls led by our mentors throughout the course. Students will be assigned to their mentor group based on location and availability once they are enrolled in the course. Mentors will then schedule the calls for their group based on the group's availability. The mentors will do their best to accommodate everyone's schedule, but if you are unable to attend a live session, the recording will be made available on the online learning site within 48 hours.

+ When are the working sessions with Jennie Nash and Laura Franzini held?

There are four working sessions with Jennie and Laura throughout the course. The exact dates and times will be posted on the online learning site when they are determined. If you are unable to attend a live session, the recording will be available on the online learning site within 48 hours.

+ What does the practicum entail?

To earn Advanced Certification, students must complete a practicum. The practicum entails working with 2 practice clients on three chapters, and working with 1 practice client on a full manuscript. Students will be required to find these practice clients, provide written feedback on their work, host a call with them to go over the feedback, and submit all of their work to their mentor for review. We will support you in each step of this process, so don't let it stress you out! This is the real work of book coaching, and we want you to get as much experience as possible before you go out on your own.

Pro Book Coach Certification

+ When will the Pro Certification course become available?

We are planning to have the Pro Certification course ready to launch in 2019. We will update this page and our interest list as more details become available.

+ How do I get access to the application for the Pro Certification course?

Once you complete the prerequisite Book Coach Basic Training and Advanced Book Coach Certification courses, you will gain access to the Pro Certification course application via our online course platform. Until you complete the prerequisite courses, you will not be able to complete the Pro application and move on to the next level of certification.

+ Is there anything I need to do prior to starting the Pro Certification course?

You must complete the Book Coach Basic Training course and the Advanced Book Coach Certification course and apply to enroll in the Pro Book Coach Certification course.

Once you have been accepted and enrolled in the Pro Certification course, we will provide a list of required reading for the course that you can get a head start on if you wish.

Coaching in Real Life

+ Will completing the program help me get a job at Author Accelerator?

We will welcome certified coaches to apply to work at Author Accelerator, and will be looking to certified coaches to fill roles as appropriate. That being said, there is no guarantee that completing our Certification Program will lead to a job with us.

+ Will you help me find book-coaching clients?

We do not offer client acquisition or referrals, except in cases where clients come to us looking for a service that we do not offer. In those cases, we will refer them to our Coach Referrals page, which is a list of contact information for Advanced and Pro Certified coaches. The writers are welcome to independently reach out to anyone on that list. Author Accelerator takes no other part in any sequential coaching relationship.

With that said, we cannot guarantee that you will get any coaching clients. We are teaching you a marketable skill, but we offer no guarantees. Author Accelerator only works with coaches whom we hire in a process that is separate from this program.

+How challenging is it to get clients independently? Is there any guidance in the program for helping a coach secure clients?

We made a conscious decision to require students in Advanced Certification course to bring in their own clients for the two required practicums. This practice builds the skill of talking about being a coach, running a business, and building a brand. We guide students on how to do secure clients and what to say, we provide scripts and templates to use, and we talk about how to approach friends and family, writers groups, and followers on social media. Students may also help each other find the writers they need for their practicums.

We will be offering a master class on running a business, which will get into nuts and bolts of finding and working with clients: contracts, terms and conditions, refunds, protecting yourself, taxes, determining your niche, designing messaging, branding and marketing yourself, and networking. The master class will be available to Pro Certified coaches.

+ How long does the coaching relationship generally last?

We've found that writers stay with us for a very long time, through multiple book projects. We believe this is because book coaching is, at its heart, relationship-based. It's about much more than just editorial feedback. It's about writers' doubts, motivations, the habits of their writing life – and their coach becomes a valued resource of expertise and support. Many of our coaches have become deeply involved with their writers and their process, which is a beautiful thing to witness and experience.

+ Do you find that writers have an expectation that their coach will help them find an agent or publisher?

Some writers do, and so we try to manage their expectations. Part of doing that comes from establishing the speciality or niche you will have as a book coach. Will you focus on helping writers get started? Helping writers rescue a book? Helping writers get their book ready to pitch? You can detemine your focus by undersatnding your own strengths, understanding where you can help writers, and understanding what you want your focus to be as a coach. We talk about all of that throughout the certification program.

The other part of managing expectations is understanding that the publishing industry cannot be controlled. While there are many writer-centered businesses that are set up with the best-seller mentality – "Here's how to crack the best-seller list." or "Here's how to sell a million copies of your book in one month." – that is a very metric-based approach that is focused solely on outcome, and we don't believe that's a fair approach to take. Not every book is going to be publishable, and the stars are not always going to align, and we feel it's our duty to be honest with writers about that reality. We (and everyone else) can't guarantee they will write a book that ends up being a best-seller, and so we do not promise that.

The truth is that the deep satisfaction that comes with writing doesn't come from making the best-seller list or selling a million copies. It comes from finishing. What most writers really want is to just do it – they don't want to be someone who simply talks about writing but doesn't actually do it; they want to be a writer who actually writes and actually finishes their book. Often, our writers have tried a million other things (workshops, conferences, classes with famous writers, writing groups) but haven't been able to produce a book. They come to us with a certain level of desperation, of wanting to make it happen.

So we focus on that – on helping them write the best book they can and actually finish it – which is often the most gratifying thing in the entire process, for both the writer and their coach.

+ What type of backgrounds make good book coaches? Any specific experience?

When we consider hiring a new coach, we look for five main elements:

  1. Mechanical editing skills: A good coach must have a basic understanding of the English language, or the language they are coaching in. This doesn't mean knowing exactly why a writer's grammar or syntax or style is wrong, but you need to be able to identify mechnical issues in a writer's pages so you can flag it for them to fix.
  2. Project-management skills: A good coach must have the ability to inspire and motivate a writer, and to evaluate and work within the writer's goals. A coach must understand how to move a project forward on a timeline, and be able to adapt to any shifts or roadblocks that crop up.
  3. Understanding of structural narrative design: A good coach must understand how narrative works and how it's designed. Many people have an instinct toward this, but may need to learn the language behind it, to be able to articulate and explain what might be working or not working in a writer's pages.
  4. A sense of the marketplace: A good coach must understanding what the publishing marketplace looks like, how books are bought and sold, why people buy books, why certain authors are popular and other aren't, and how the marketplace ebbs and flows. Publishing is changing at lightning speed right now, and it's impossible to keep up with it all, but a coach must have some sense of what is happening.*
  5. Compassion: A good coach must understand what it's truly like to try to write. Writing is never just about writing – people don't spend years of their life writing just for the sake of putting words on a page. The little idea they have for their story is speaking to something important, deep within them, that they have to say, and they're probably fighting a lot of barries (internal and external) in trying to say it. If a coach cannot help a writer confront these barriers to raising their voice, and how compassion for how hard, and often slow, it is, they're not going to be an excellent book coach. This does not mean that you have to be a writer a coach; just that you have to understand what it's like to work through something very difficult and persevere, because you know that the work is worth doing.

*If the marketplace does not interest you, you CAN run a book-coaching business that is not market-focused. The certification program can help you make this decision based on your strengths and interest.

We truly believe that No. 5 is the most important element, mostly because it's the hardest one to learn. Someone new to the writing world can absolutely learn mechanics, project management, narrative design, and the realities of the marketplace. But the compassion piece often has to come inherently. So if you have a desire to help people raise their voice, speak out, and share their stories with whoever they want their audience to be, you will make a great book coach.

For a beautiful explanation of what a book coach does, and what makes a good book coach, read this blog post from our veteran coach Kemlo Aki: Seeing What's Missing.

+ Do you find that writers expect their coach to have completed novels or published books themselves?

We do, but we strongly believe that that expectation is erroneous. Being an exceptional book coach has nothing to do with one's ability to write – it's very much like the cliche that sometimes the best athletes don't make very good sports coaches. We are constantly trying to educate writers about this fact, and it was one of the drivers behind creating the certification program. You can be good at book coaching without going through the publishing experience.

That said, writers do often care about their coach's experience, so it's a question you should be prepared to answer.

+ Do you have a sense of how coaches who are writers themselves divide their time between coaching and writing?

We have always conceived of book coaching as a part-time gig, one that can ebb and flow as your other responsibilities in life change. We believe it can be very satisfying part-time work that someone can do from home, regardless of what those other responsibilities might be. Some of the coaches on our team do coach full-time, but not all of them. Ultimately, how you balance your own time is completely up to you. In the certification courses, we do talk a lot about setting boundaries – personal and professional. We ask students to explore how they want to prioritize and protect their time; and we talk about how to be more efficient – the things a coach needs to consider when running their own business.