Your writing is yours, not mine. I’ll help you deliver your message better,
in YOUR words. The specifics differ with each writer
and type of writing, but here are some FAQ’s.
How is a coach different from an editor?
Good editors can also be good coaches. But editors employed by publishers must balance encouragement with enforcement and a million other tasks. As their numbers have dwindled, their time for coaching has shrunk. Thus, some writers hire an independent coach who can offer encouraging feedback and specific suggestions on how to revise. Though writing coaches haven’t been on the scene as long as sports coaches, they play a similar role. Check out this New Yorker piece by Atule Guwande, who found himself a surgery coach (!) and believes that people in every profession can benefit from coaching.
How much of my book or article should I write before asking for help?
Some writers seek coaching at the idea stage, needing a clear map of the steps ahead in order to stay motivated. Some draft one or more chapters before seeking reassurance that they’re on the right track. Some draft the whole manuscript and look for coaching only when they’re ready to write a proposal to an agent. As a coach, I’m happy to weigh in at any of these stages. Together we’ll set goals and map out how you can meet them. We can keep sending your writing back and forth as long as you wish.
Are you going to tell me what to do?
My two basic questions as I read: What works? What needs work? I’ll always identify the good stuff so you can do more of that. For the things that work less well, I’ll ask about your goals and say, essentially, “How about trying this part this way? Or this way?” I’ll flag anything that seems incomplete or confusing, suggest areas that need reorganizing, and make recommendations in such areas as pacing and tone. You’re free to take or reject my suggestions, or to incorporate the ideas in any way you choose. Again, it’s your writing, not mine. I’m just a First Reader with experience in what’s worked for other authors and for readers.
What about sentence-level editing?
Coaching is an early stage of the writing process. Checking for GASPS -- Grammar, Accuracy, Spelling, Punctuation, Style -- is copy editing, the final stage. I’ve been a copy editor, and as I read I’ll certainly point out any grammar or style quirks you should address. For a book manuscript, however, I’d do detailed line editing only if asked. Lots of people can do that. Finding someone to help you figure out exactly what you want a piece of writing to do, and how you can get there, is much harder. And the process is way more fun.