I coach the author, not the book.
Okay, yes, I help authors create great books — award-worthy books, in fact. But my focus is first and foremost on the author. That’s why I’m an author coach, not a book coach. Semantics, perhaps, but that’s my way of seeing things.
At any rate, my focus on the author offers a wide range of possibilities far beyond getting to THE END of the book, uploading it to Amazon, and shipping books off to excited readers or a few libraries. If that’s what your book coach helps (or helped) you do, fantastic.
But there’s so much more to the author journey than that.
To be truly successful at this author thing, you — and your coach — need to see the big picture. You might have hired a book coach to help you create an outline, fix your content, or help you get your book on the shelves of some local community bookstores. Cool.
If you’re just starting your author journey, or if you’re still in the midst of writing your book — or even if you’re in the publishing phase — here are a few things that might make you rethink your production plans, or at least slow them down for a bit. Because, after reading this, you’ll probably want to go back over that little manuscript of yours to make some changes, and maybe even have a nice, long talk with your “book” coach.
Here’s what your coach should have told you, but didn’t:
- You can’t put it all in there. No one wants to read about everything you know, every lesson you’ve learned in life, or every experience you’ve ever had. Period. Relevance is key in writing great content for your nonfiction book. Stick with what’s relevant to the theme or topic you’ve decided on, and leave the rest for another book.
- Your first draft is going to suck. Everyone’s does, so just accept it. As author and writing genius Anne Lamott puts it — you, like every other author, will write a “shitty first draft.” That’s just how it goes. So just write. And rely on your coach, beta readers, and copy editor to help make your final draft excellent.
- Editing is non-negotiable. This is for the independent publishers out there (which probably includes you). Just because you have an English degree, or you’re an attorney, or you got through your PhD thesis process with fewer hiccups than most, does not mean your writing doesn’t need professional copy editing. Don’t skip, or skimp on, this. Hire a professional book copy editor, or expect your readers to realize you didn’t bother to, and suffer as they decide to never buy anything else from you, ever again!
- Your book is a service to others. Or, at least it should be. Yes, you’re writing for yourself first — to get the book out of your head, once and for all. Geez, you’ve been thinking about it for years! Now that it’s out, your book needs to serve readers in some way. How will your book impact your ideal readers? It should change them in some way. Figure that out early, and let that be your motivation for creating content your readers will gobble up.
- Publishing is more than printing. What does it mean to “publish” a book? In the world of independent book publishing (also known as self-publishing), the author is most often also the publisher, owning the rights and having final control of every aspect of the book. The publishing process includes writing the manuscript, copy editing, cover design, interior layout/formatting, registration, pricing, proofreading, printing, distribution, marketing, and royalty payments. Whew! That’s a lot. And that’s why smart authors hire an author coach.
- Marketing happens the whole way through. Waiting until you have your pretty little book in your hands before you take one step in the direction of marketing it is a surefire way to fail. Your book marketing should happen from the time you finally commit to writing that book you’ve been thinking about for a decade. Tell your social media followers. Drop a note in your newsletter. Mention it to your clients and prospects. Get your tribe on board to support you (and hold you accountable) so you’ll have a ready group of buyers hungry for your book once it’s released.
- It’s bigger than the book. Your book is not just a product; it’s a tool, a resource to influence your readers. As author of a business nonfiction book, you want to lead readers to work more closely with you. That could mean they hire you to speak, bring you on as a coach, bump you up to a leadership position at work, double your salary, or invite you as a guest on their show. Whatever the goal, your book should make it obvious to the reader what their next step with you should be.
- You’re the boss. As I mentioned in #5, as an independent published author, you have full ownership and final say-so of every aspect of your book’s production. At least my clients do. A good coach is a guide, an usher, a knowledgeable expert who serves your best interest and helps you make the absolute most of the book publishing process. The entire project begins and ends with you.
No matter where you are on your author journey, you can benefit from knowing these 8 critical things. If you missed one or two with your first book, be sure to incorporate them into the journey with your next.
And be smart, hire an author coach next time!
Anita R. Henderson is president of The Write Image, LLC and creator of Write Your Life. Her work with professionals and entrepreneurs has resulted in multiple award-winning books and has helped authors grow their media and online visibility, speaker platforms, industry credibility, and overall confidence in their ability to write a compelling, high-quality book and leverage it in their business or career. Be a smart author by asking Anita’s 14 Smart Questions to Ask Yourself BEFORE You Write Your Book.