Lots of people want to write a book. In fact, upwards of 90% of Americans say that they want to write a book which is mildly bananas, but still true. It’s hard to imagine that there are that many millions of dynamic, interesting ideas out there that actually belong in a book.
But nevertheless, people still want to write.
Some clients tell us that the motivation is professional freedom, leaving a legacy or even the financial upside. All of which is still possible. Other people share that they want to create a TEDTalk or even start their own movement. Both are lofty, yet for a few, obtainable goals.
So how can you figure out if the idea in your head is worth its salt? You need feedback. Educated feedback.
The truth is, most books don’t really have what it takes to become the next Harry Potter, Mating in Captivity or Tipping Point. How can you know if your idea is “good enough” to make the cut? That’s where a book proposal coach comes along.
Here is our step-by-step guide to finding a great book proposal coach:
Step 1: Prepare your research to prove to a book coach that you have a solid idea that they should want to partner with you on.
The heart of a great book is the idea. Some ideas seem to fall out of the sky and beg to be written about. Others, leave whispers begging the writer to draw them out of their hiding spots. A great writer, someone who is passionate about the topic at hand, entice the idea out of its hidey-hole and bring it to life. But, just because something feels compelling to you, or draws you into its ether, doesn’t mean that it’s a great idea.
To figure this out, you need to vet your idea for its potential and its reach before you share it with (or hire) a book proposal coach. You can do this by investigating who is writing about your idea now. Put the idea in its various forms into Google or Bing and see what comes up. Then take it to Amazon and LinkedIn, what shows there?
Ideas are rarely original. Finding out who else is talking about your topic will give you insight into how contemporary the idea is, if it’s already done and what is missing from the field of research/writing that you could add.
Your contribution is your angle. As a writer and to gain the respect and trust of your coach, you need a compelling reason why your idea needs to come to life today.
Look for anything you can find that sheds light on why your idea matters NOW.
The formula for success usually looks like this:
An original point of view on your idea (not covered by another writer) +
Timely reason for talking about the idea (as referenced by media, social equity or other common-place conversations you have witnessed in your everyday life) +
Interest in the idea shown in different areas (the broader the interest, the stronger your argument that you have a BIG book idea) +
Showing data other than your opinion to prove the points above (as referenced in professional journals, newspapers, magazines, etc.)
= Interest from a book coach in taking your call/project on.
By preparing your idea in this way, you have an incredible carrot to dangle in front of a coach to help motivate him/her to work hard to make your book a success.
Step 2: Ask for recommendations from your colleagues and friends.
Always ask for recommendations from people you trust who have written a book. (You would be surprised to know just how many writers use services like ghostwriting.) By asking around for a recommendation, you’ll soon learn that some book coaches are better than others.
Also, ask the questions your colleague or friend wishes they had asked their book coach before agreeing to work together. This will give you some insight into what parts of the relationship were challenging and how it could be improved from the start.
Lots of book coaching relationships start off awkwardly. First, you’re the idea person and you’re hiring someone to consider how good (or not so good) your idea is. Can you trust that person? Is their opinion valid? Is it motivated by the right things or is it just motivated by money?
When you think ahead about what you want to know about your coach before you hire them, you put yourself in the driver’s seat. You can decide what feels right or wrong to you and you can determine what you require in order for the relationship to flow smoothly.
This step is very important because even though you may feel comfortable now when you begin opening up to your coach about your idea, it can feel very vulnerable. You’re essentially asking someone to tell you if this creative project you care so much about has value. Hearing that it’s worthless or not great can be hurtful even if it’s accurate.
By creating a list of what you need from a conversation, you move into the power seat to ensure that the coach you hire is the right one for you.
Step 3: Reach out for a phone call to explore working together.
Either through recommendations or by finding book coaches on Google, the next step is to inquire about a phone call. Here you want to make sure a few things happen.
One, the call should be free. You are not hiring someone to help you at this time, but to speak with you about the process and how you get started. This consultation call should be free to you and have no obligation attached to it.
Two, the call should be confidential. You need to be able to share your idea in private without the fear your coach will share it with others or write it themselves. Make sure to say the words, “can we have a confidential call?” and if you’re worried, put that in an email before having the call. This will reassure you and your potential coach of the seriousness of your meeting and the professional conduct you expect.
Three, ask for specific information about pricing, timeline, deliverables, and guarantees. A good coach knows his or her limits and the proposal process does not include the relationship with an agent or publishing house. Ideally, your coach has connections to good people you can speak with, but it’s not guaranteed as part of most book coaching agreements.
Pricing should be clear and related to what you get for your investment. Ask for this in writing so you have a backup copy; it’s hard for most people to remember everything said in a consultation call, so this is just smart to do.
The pricing should also include clear information on the timeline for meetings (how often and how long), what is included in terms of feedback, editing, and a clear understanding of who is doing what work.
Ask to take the information away to review it off the call and create your list of questions. Often there are specifics included in the conversation or the written agreement that need to be clarified. You can either email your coach back with your questions or schedule another call.
Step 4: Find the right time in your schedule to hire your book proposal coach – don’t do it before you’re ready.
If you plan for another call, be prepared for your coach to ask you what your timing is for the project. Most coaches can only manage a handful of projects at a time and they may have limitations on their schedule that are truly legitimate. Don’t assume that if they pressure you to buy now that it is merely because of a sale.
A good book coach will fall in love with your idea and some of the urgency you feel will be their enthusiasm to work on your book with you. For the most part, that will be genuine. That said, it’s never wise to give into pressure if you’re not ready or are having doubts.
Listen to your gut. If it’s telling you that the timing is wrong or this is the wrong coach, feel free to either hold your questions until you’re ready or keep shopping around to find a coach who fits your personality and style better.
The other point here is that a book proposal takes time. You have 10 elements that have to be covered in your document along with sample chapters (assuming this isn’t a novel you’re working on). If your life is super busy, you’re stressed in a way that is tamping down your creativity, or you’re not really committed to the project, it may be the wrong time to invest in this kind of coaching.
Your coach should have an outline for a timeline that will give you a sense of what is expected of you and how long it will take so you can account for it in your planning.
Step 5: Find out what’s NOT covered by the book coaching so you can plan for extra expenses along the way.
Often there are hidden costs found when working on a book. These can include editing services, ghostwriting services, and research assistance. You may not need all of these things, but knowing what part of the writing you like and are committed to doing yourself vs contracting out to others will help you assess what other expenses may come up along the way.
Your coach will often have people he or she trusts to help in these ways.
Step 6: Set time aside in your schedule to do the work.
Very few people simply “find the time” to write. Most successful writers create on a schedule that’s mirrored to their most creative times of the day. Looking ahead, can you make time to write? Is it possible to schedule that time into your day in such a way that you are your most creative? There’s nothing worse than trying to fit creative writing in at the end of the day (unless you’re a night owl) or forcing yourself to get up at 4 am to meet a deadline.
Find a way to be creative when you ARE creative.
When it comes to hiring a book coach, understanding the common challenges can often help you circumnavigate challenging communication or timing. If your goal is to become a published author, a great book coach can be the key to getting a great agent, contract, and publisher versus self-publishing a half-baked idea. By doing your work at the beginning, you have the chance to create a team of support that will guide your journey so that you make it to the finish line with your newly published book in hand.
If you’re looking for a book proposal coach, please consider doing a free, confidential consultation with our team. We have a wonderful proven track record helping writers get published at places like Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster and more.