THE WRITER'S PLAYBOOK
Please fill everything out on the form, below, and send it my way.
I'll look over your answers and your sample pages. If I think I can have a big impact on your work, I will email you with some times when we can chat about next steps. If I don't think I can have a big impact on your work, I will email you with some suggestions for some programs that might be more appropriate.
What am I looking for?
Commercial Viability: I want to help writers who want to reach the maximum possible number of readers and there are some projects that are more likely to do that than others. I have a pretty good nose for that, by this point -- although that doesn't mean there are any guarantees in publishing. There are not.
That being said, I do something elect to work on projects that have a more modest external goal. I have been working for a year with a client, for example, who is retired after a long and distinguished career in Washington. She wanted to learn how to play the cello and how to write a novel. I admired her resolve, her seriousness of purpose, her intention, and her passion for the inner working of politics (which is what her story is about) and accepted her as a client on those strengths. It has been one of the most satisfying coaching relationships I have had. At the start, I would have put the odds of her being traditionally published at about zero. Now, however, they might be over 50%.
I am not the coach for clients who want to write simply because it feels good, or because they enjoy it, or because their friends tell them they have such interesting stories to tell. There is nothing wrong with those intentions, but I can't have a significant enough impact on those projects to make it worth it.
Coach-ability: Is the writer coachable? Are they ready, willing and able to accept guidance? Can they take what I have to offer? Are they going to listen when I suggest starting over, throwing out pages, doing another revision of their 300 page book? This may be the most important criteria.
Fire in the Belly: Do they have a fire in their belly? Writing a book is a long, hard, complex and emotionally difficult undertaking and everyone has demands on their time, doubt in their mind, and any number of other potential roadblocks to success. Persistence is far more important than talent, so I try to get a sense of why they are doing this, what they hope to get from it, and whether or not they have the resolve to see it through. This may be the most important criteria -- side by side with #2.
Can they afford my fees? Publishing is a gamble. Working with a book coach is an investment that may or may not pay off. I couldn't work with someone who didn't understand that, or who was demanding some kind of monetary ROI.
Will they make me a better writer, person or coach? I am absolutely made better by working with my clients and I look forward to opening their submission emails every day. I love my work and I have many clients who have worked with me for many years -- we are now on second books and third books. I have become a better editor, a better coach, a better writer and a better person by my association with these people. I look for that possibility.