Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Writing Coaches Do

Professional book coaches told a recent St. Louis Publishers Association meeting all about "book shepherding," which is one name for what they do: consult with aspiring authors about their goals, keep them on a writing schedule if needed, and walk authors partway or all the way through the steps following manuscript completion. The panelists were Linda Senn, Lynne Klippel, and Christine Frank. It was a good meeting, and am I ever glad I don't need a writing coach. Having a coach is a very serious business. It will make you work. It will make you finish. Emphatically not for dilettantes or pub-crawlers.

Ms. Senn works with writers of nonfiction or business-related books, family histories, autobiographies and memoirs -- meeting in person (emphatically not by phone) with them weekly, semimonthly, or monthly, to follow up. At the first meeting she asks a list of questions that should and will make dabblers quake in their boots, such as "Why do you want to write a book?" and "Who will read your book?" Ms. Klippel specializes in working with "coaches, speakers, and entrepreneurs who want a write a nonfiction book to showcase their expertise and build their business." Ms. Frank's firm creates and packages books issued by, or related to, industries or associations: technical, agribusiness, and so on.

The reason that I don't require a writing coach is that around age 45 I became sharply aware of my mortality. "The clock is ticking -- and I've got a lot of stuff I want to write!" sends me running to the computer like nothing else in life.

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