Book coaches help fiction and nonfiction writers structure their book, define their point, get the words out of their head and onto the page, revise and polish their work, and find the right path to publication. They are like shepherds and guides, project managers and cheerleaders. Instead of doing the work, they encourage the work.
I am the founder and CEO of Author Accelerator, a book coaching company on a mission to help writers write books worth reading. Over the past 5 years, I have trained more than 50 coaches — so I know what it takes to be an effective coach, and ghostwriters definitely have what it takes. Here are 6 reasons why book coaching is such a great side hustle for ghostwriters:
• You already have the three most important skills you need to succeed — the ability to structure a narrative; the ability to manage a project; and the ability to handle passionate, demanding, nervous and prickly writers. At Author Accelerator, we have found that these skills are far more important than the more writerly or editorial skills. It is these skills that we tend to spend the most time teaching and honing as we train our coaches. You may not have thought much about these skills, but you are already practicing them all the time, and they are critical to coaching success.
• You can learn the rest of the key skills you need — including market awareness and how to give feedback. In order to help your writers meet their goals, you need to understand how books are bought and sold, and understand the different paths to publishing. As a ghostwriter, you may not have to think much about the marketplace, but you can learn how to hold this perspective in your work. It’s a matter or knowing when in a project to consider the marketplace, how much weight to give these considerations, and how to help your writers understand and connect with their target audience. You can also learn what you need to know about giving feedback that is tough and exacting while also being encouraging. So much of the feedback writers get from writing groups and short-term workshops is unfortunately, ineffective. It can be mean, opinion-based, and simplistic. A good book coach gives professional, evidence-based feedback that helps the writer craft their vision and build their confidence. You are probably already managing your writers with this kind of mindset, and it’s a short step to giving feedback based on this kind of thinking.
• It opens up a vast market of people who want to do their own writing. Ghostwriters serve one part of the market — people who have something to say but don’t have the time/talent/energy/desire to write it themselves. Book coaches serve an entirely different part of the market — people who have something to say and who want to learn how to say it themselves. This part of the market is enormous. Some experts estimate that more than 80% of adults want to write a book. They have harbored the dream for their entire lives, and it tends to be a powerful desire. It also tends to be overwhelming for people to figure out on their own. If you can help them achieve their dream, you will have people lined up at your door.
• It takes less energy to encourage and inspire than it does to write. A book coach doesn’t craft the sentences and choose the best words to use to convey an idea. We help the writer find their own voice by reflecting back what is working and what needs to be shored up. You can move through pages more quickly when you are analyzing them — especially when you utilize processes and systems that improve your editorial efficiency. Writers usually become better writers under the tutelage of a book coach — they build skills as they go — so the deeper into a project you get, the less work you have to do to keep a project on track. What all this means is that you can serve more people.
• You don’t have to work through an entire book. Writers need help at every stage of the book writing process — from shaping their idea to revising it, from evaluating it to pitching and/or publishing it. Rather than always taking a project from zero to finished, you can offer short term, high value coaching services and packages. This allows greater flexibility and, in many cases, the chance to increase revenue. The current publishing landscape is changing all the time, and it’s confusing — even to those of us who are in it! Being able to help people navigate the various steps on the path to publishing is a valuable service that will be rewarded.
• You get all the same satisfactions. Helping writers bring their vision to life is good, satisfying work. There is nothing better than helping your writers raise their voice and meet their goals. And you get to work from your own home or office, on your own schedule, which makes it the perfect gig!