Building self-esteem, a writing mindset, and the cost: What's it like to work with a book coach?
Today’s newsletter features a podcast with a fellow colleague, friend, and author, Alyssa Jarrett. She shares her experience in working with a book coach for the last three years.
Alyssa Jarrett and I met at a tech conference many years ago in San Francisco. She and I have very similar professional backgrounds in marketing and content within the tech space.
We had an incredibly insightful podcast conversation about her experience with a book coach. (Technically, her coach is an editor but also does coaching. To lessen the confusion, I’ll call it coaching.) Alyssa is a wealth of information and my chat with her totally inspired me to get my manuscript in a better place.
If you’ve ever wanted to hire a book coach, you won’t want to miss our conversation. We talked about:
Finding a legit book coach
How a coach helps with developmental issues
How is a coach different than an accountability partner from your writing group?
Is it crazy expensive to hire a coach and are the costs worth it?
Listen to the podcast to learn about how Alyssa’s coach helped her push through negative self-talk and get her books ready for publishing.
A year ago, I thought I needed a book coach. I was nowhere near getting my book done so I just wanted a professional to guide me through the structure and just help me understand everything. I was like, just give me the answers.
I did a fair amount of research and even paid $25 to get matched with a coach on Author Accelerator. I met three different coaches on Zoom and began to understand their packages and what they offer.
From helping with edits to providing a writing routine and accountability program, the coaches I spoke with charged a monthly subscription fee. The average cost was about $500 a month and out of my budget, so I decided to hold off and instead, enrolled in a few memoir classes.
Finding a community of writers and maybe a few accountability partners felt like the right move for me. I stopped thinking about book coaches until I had the opportunity to catch up with Alyssa.
Alyssa’s backstory: Why she needed a coach
I caught up with Alyssa on Zoom and was so impressed by everything she had accomplished since we last met. She quit her tech job to consult (she helps companies with their content marketing needs) and completed four books. Holy hell. Her romcoms are inspired by her time in tech and her love of romance.
Alyssa has experienced the highs and lows of the querying process and during our conversation, I truly felt her energy and drive to land an agent and get her books published! I admit I also felt envious of how far along she was in the process.
But before working with a coach, she hit a wall. At this point, she was self-editing and knew something was missing from her stories but didn’t know what it was. That’s when she decided to look for a coach.
How to find a reputable coach
When Alyssa searched for a coach, she was wary of scams or skeptical of coaches/editors who weren’t as qualified as they claimed to be. Rather than using sites like Upwork or Fiverr, she used the Editorial Freelancers Association.
It’s not to say you wouldn’t be able to find a qualified coach on either platform, but Alyssa wanted a business partner who understood her goals and vision for a career in book writing.
Eventually, she ended up working with Kristen Tate at The Blue Garret. Kristen holds a Ph.D. in English and is the founder of the San Francisco chapter of the EFA, so to Alyssa, there was no doubt that she was legit.
Alyssa worked with Kristen, who helped her with the following:
Developmental edit. This is big-picture feedback stuff and addresses things like plot holes, pacing, and does your story make sense. Alyssa noted this was the most expensive of all the edits.
Copy edit. Line-by-line stuff that goes over sentence structure, repetition, and in Alyssa’s case, the overuse of adverbs. (For me, it’s adjectives.)
Proofreading. This tackles spelling and grammatical errors.
How is a book coach different than an accountability partner?
In my hunt for a book coach last year, I spoke with a woman who said her main goal was to keep her writers accountable. I couldn’t help but wonder how this was different than a writing partner. I should have probably asked but I didn’t because… in a weird way I thought the question would be offensive.
I asked Alyssa, and her response totally made sense—a coach understands your needs and is invested in you. A coach would be able to help you reach important decisions within your story and career, such as:
What do you want your future to look like?
What does your author brand look like?
A writing partner just isn’t qualified to take on this kind of responsibility. They’re likely grappling with the same issues as you!
How much does a coach cost?
For packages and developmental edits, Alyssa paid $3,000. This helped her prepare her manuscript to be submitted to literary agents.
I was surprised to learn she doesn’t pay a subscription fee with Kristen. She pays per hour. This is because, over time, Alyssa has learned a thing or two while working with Kristen and now, doesn't require such intense edits.
I love that Alyssa was open about how much she paid for a coach. (Read her blog post about The Best Money I’ve Spent on My Writing (So Far))
Over the last three years, Alyssa tracked her spending for editing her manuscripts.
Jump to ~ 19:52 of the podcast to get the details and Alyssa’s mindset when it comes to these costs.
The coach-y stuff
Today, Alyssa taps into Kristen’s coaching services (rather than using her editing services) at an hourly rate. This includes:
Working in a joint Trello board
Check-ins for things like word count
Alyssa believes coaching has served her both professionally and personally, building her self-esteem and her mindset as a writer. It makes me feel like every writer who is working on a book needs a coach. I definitely want a Kristen on my side…
Do you work with a coach or have you ever worked with one? Would love to hear about your experience.
Learn more about Alyssa:
Read more about improving as a writer…