Joey Robert Parks - Wordsmith LLC (hedader)
 

Writing Coach & Mentor

What to Look For in a Great Writing Coach?

I've never hired a writing coach.

I've also never had writer's block. I started writing in grade school and loved it so much, I just kept doing it. I wrote a lot and I wrote often. I devoured books, books about writing books, and books about writing screenplays...

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How to Know if You Need a Writing Coach?

You've yet to start your writing your book, even though you've been planning to for years.
 

You've started a few times, maybe many times, but you struggle to write every day.

 

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What are my Fees to be Your Writing Coach?

If you recall what I said in my prior post ("What to Look for in a Great Writing Coach") about the logic behind the wide range of fees that various writing coaches charge, you'll understand the kind of writing coach you want, specifically what you're looking to achieve...

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My Fees to be Your Writing Coach

 

If you recall what I said in my prior post ("What to Look for in a Great Writing Coach") about the logic behind the wide range of fees that various writing coaches charge, you'll understand the kind of writing coach you want, specifically what you're looking to achieve, and how you plan to get there.

 

I offer three plans of completion to get your story on the tracks for a smooth and enjoyably ride that ends in a better destination then you first thought possible. Fees are due once a month, in advance of the coaching, through credit card, debit, or PayPal billing. Electronic invoices will be emailed a week prior to their due date (whatever day each month is best for you). I don't take checks. 

 

The plan you decide on will depend largely on how much trouble you're having, how effective you think I am at coaching and mentoring you, and how much professional writing input, constructive criticism, and enjoyment time your budget allows room for.

 

Prior to getting started on any path, we'll have scheduled specific days and times for our sessions, as well as how many months are desired. A minimum of two is highly recommended, but not required. A prior 24-hour notice is required to change an appointment once set up. Missed sessions do not rollover to the next month and must be made up the same month it will be missed. Everything will be agreed in writing between us before starting.

 

 

READING RAILROAD

 

  • One 45-minute phone or Google Hangout Video session per week

  • Includes creation of custom assignments, constructive criticism of assigned work,
    improvement strategies

  • Unlimited correspondence

  • $950/month


 

PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD
 

  • One 45 minute phone or Google Hangout Video session every other week.

  • Includes creation of custom assignments, constructive criticism of assigned work,
    improvement strategies

  • Unlimited correspondence

  • $525

 

SHORT LINE
 

  • One 45 minute phone or Google Hangout Video session just one time.

  • Includes creation of custom assignments, constructive criticism of assigned work,
    improvement strategies

  • One 30-minute follow up session

  • Client may start and stop sessions as needed.

  • $350 per session



Suggested post to read next:

 

What to Look for in a Great Writing Coach

 

My Fees to be Your Writing Coach
 

Questions? Contact Joey

How to Know if You Need a Writing Coach or Mentor

Do any of these scenarios sound like you?

 

  • You've yet to start your writing your book, even though you've been planning to for years.
     

  • You've started a few times, maybe many times, but you struggle to write every day. Or, even, every other day. Now you write once every few weeks.
     

  • Or like most people, maybe you wrote 10 pages a year ago, then life got in the way and you wrote another few pages, but in the last year you've only written a few more pages. At this pace, you'll never finish.
     

  • You're overwhelmed by all the story pieces you have and you don't know how to organize them.
     

  • You can't seem to get past a certain spot in your story without getting distracted by the urge to do more research or rewrite what you've written.
     

  • You've finally gotten past that sticky spot in your story that drove you crazy for so long, but now you've lost the momentum you once had and you're starting to doubt that your premise is really as great as you once thought.
     

  • You've written a first draft, but aren't sure where to start editing, or you have the urge to start a new story, or you want more family and friends to read it first...but you're getting conflicting opinions and you don't know who you should be listening to, if anyone.
     

  • Or you've written your first draft and you struggle to share it with anyone. You may not even know what you're afraid of, but it's keeping you from sharing it to get any outside opinion.
     

  • You've written and edited as much of your book as you can, but you struggle to elevate it to where it sounds like it's written by someone who really knows what they're talking about. This frustrates you because you know what you're talking about.
     

  • You may have built your career around your expertise, but you know you need a professional eye to pinpoint what needs to be done to make your book as exceptional as you are.



Suggested post to read next:

 

What to Look for in a Great Writing Coach

 

How to Know if You Need a Writing Coach

 

 

Questions? Contact Joey

 

What to Look for in a Great Writing Coach or Mentor

To be quite honest, I've never hired a writing coach.

 

I've also never had writer's block. I started writing in grade school and loved it so much, I just kept doing it. I wrote a lot and I wrote often. I devoured books about writing books and writing screenplays. I read a lot. I wrote in the margins of all the books that inspired me: text books, fiction books, movie scripts. What I liked. What I would do better. New ideas inspired by good writing and bad writing alike. I reverse-engineered movies I liked, books I liked, as well as those I didn't (to figure out where it went wrong and how I would fix it). I told stories to my friends as much as I wrote stories. I judged reactions and what kind of storytelling styles caused my listeners or readers to respond the way I wanted. I didn't do very well in grade school, junior high, or high school. I got A's in classes I loved, and failed those I didn't like. Writing was about the only thing that made me feel comfortable with who I was.

 

When I got to college, that passion and drive persisted. I've always had a voracious appetite for learning and for learning all the different ways I could communicate with people. One day early in the American History class I hated, I applied this craving for learning to my writing, and then applied that writing to my class. I still wrote in my text book margins, filling my History book with my story ideas inspired by what I was learning in class and what the teacher told me was important in the books he had us read.

 

I stopped reviewing my history notes and books to study for tests. I would consume my margin notes; rewriting them and organizing them into whatever made up story I was writing at the time. When I did this  the result was a 100% on American History final exam. When I applied this to all the other classes I didn't like, I started getting A's, resulting in a 4.0 GPA that was a blast, fun, and very easy with no stress for me, because it was just a result of combining my passion for writing with learning. When I started getting writing jobs in college, I began to look for a writing coach, but I didn't know where to look for one. I asked around, but everyone suggested to me, I didn't think were all that great. Mostly because they coached writing, but they made their living as an English or Creative Writing teacher. If they're such a great writer, then where are all their books?

 

My thirst to improve my writing and my hunger for learning has never subsided. Not ever having had an expert to help guide me and keep me on track the last 20 years, forced me to come up with my own solutions to all of the hurdles I ran into when learning to write long-form stories (books, plays, screenplays, novels, memoirs, etc.) I've completed plenty of those since and I can tell share with you what I would look for in a writing coach if I were going to hire one. As I came across them, I'd look for evidence of their expertise and abilities to coach (not just educate; coaching is more akin to mentoring then teaching).

 

Before you start your quest for a writing coach, ask yourself: What is my greatest problem with my book, that if a writing coach could show you me how to overcome it, I would be overjoyed and feel I'd gotten far more than what I expected?

 

1. Their website
 

Look at the writing on their website. They wrote it, right? Is it compelling? Do I like how they think? Do I like how their logic flows? Do they capture my emotions? Do they get me thinking? Do they come across as an expert about what they're writing about? Is there any evidence that they really know from experience what they're talking about or does it just sound like regurgitated information I've read elsewhere on the Internet? Do I feel like they're trying to sell me? If they're great at what they do and successful at it, then they don't need to sell me on hiring them. They'll just tell me about what they do and I'll automatically want to know more.
 

2. Their Books

Have they been published by a traditional New York Trade Publisher or are they only self-published? You probably see right through my meta-talk. You may be asking yourself, Where are Joey's books? Great question. They're "out there" -- self-published by most of my clients but traditionally published by about 20% of them. I've coached three clients to successful find a literary agent and a publisher. Prior to this writing, all of my ghostwritten books are under NDA & Secrecy Agreements and so my name appears nowhere on those books. As of January 2017, all of my ghostwritten books have my name on the cover, regardless of if they are traditionally or self-published.

 

3. Their Process

If the coach isn't in your city, you'll be working with them through emails and/or phone calls. You've seen evidence of their writing expertise on their website and/or from their book writing success, but that's promoting themselves. What is their communication style like? Not, what do they say it's like. What IS it like? The only way to know the answer is to exchange emails with them or talk on the phone. My advise?

Get them on the phone for 30 minutes (free. Don't let them charge you for a first chat). Ask about their process of working with you. I don't explain my process on my website, because I modify it to fit the style of communication that is best for the client. That's discovered during a phone call. You can do a Skype call, I suppose, by why? It's writing direction you need and visuals aren't needed for that. Plus, if your coach sticks to emails, file-sharing (I use Dropbox), and phone calls, you've always got something in writing you can refer to later, when your coach isn't there on the phone consultation. You'll be able to access pretty quickly in that phone call how adept the coach is at tracking with your way of thinking and modifying his unique vocabulary language to most effectively align with yours. (These are ghostwriting skills which bear fruit in coaching and I don' t know that I'd expect them from non-ghostwriting trained writing coaches). Any great writing coach should be able to quickly ascertain if you're someone who needs a to-the-point answer, an analogous story, or a creative exploration with Q & A to uncover your needs and desires. 

 

At the core of my process is my innate ability to make connections between diverse and seemingly unrelated content and to easily expand small ideas or content into large, expansive ones that generate greater influence in the reader, especially through logic and emotion. I love to brainstorm with clients by asking them questions that get the fastest answers, efficiently, effectively, and expertly. That's all well and good in writing, but I had time to come back to this several times to get it just right. When you're on a "live" phone or in-person consultation, how effective is your potential coach then when you mention the problem you're having? Does their answer not just make you think "interesting", but actually give you something you could go apply right away? Those are the things I would look for in a coach.

 

4. Their Fees

 

I've seen writing coaches charge between $30/hour and $200/hour. I'm sure some charge more. What's a good and fair fee to pay a writing coach? Answer this question and you'll know the answer: What's a good amount to pay for a car? Exactly. It depends on what kind of car you want. If you just want to get from point A to point B and not have to pay for lot of expensive repairs, then you'll expect to pay a certain range for that car. If you want a car that gets noticed or goes from 0-60mph in a speed that blows that Point A-Point B car away, you can expect to pay much more. 

Same logic applies. Note that paying less or paying more doesn't guarantee a better car, nor a better writing coach. How perceptive is this coach to your needs? How quickly can the coach asses your problem (the real problem, not the one you think it might be) and provide a solution? Does this coach have ideas to help you focus, be self-accountable in a way that will work on you? How accessible is the coach? If she's charging a flat monthly fee for 4 hours of phone consultation time and 4 hours for manuscript reading, writing a critique, developmental editing and email exchanges, does she charge extra for text messages, FB Messenger messages, an occasional single question phone call? Find out.

 

5. Their Next Steps

 

After I get off the first phone call with a potential writing client (to be their coach, their ghostwriter, editor, whatever), the first thing I do is write an email recapping my understanding of our conversation. Odds are they weren't writing notes during our phone call and it's a great next step for them to see in writing what we just talked about, so they can process it better and decide if I'm a good fit for them or now. It's also a great next step for me to get crystal clear on what we talked about so I don't leave things out when I turn my attention after the phone call to my other clients. I've never had a writing coach so I don't know how other coaches do for next steps after an initial phone call. I also email a signed NDA & Secrecy Agreement to them so they're assured that I won't be sharing anything I learned form them with anyone else that isn't already public knowledge. Yes, even if they don't hire me.

 

85% of the reason someone hires me as a writing coach or ghostwriter is because they trust me. It's about the same for me: do I trust them? Do you have a sense from the phone call, the email, their actions as a whole, that they are supremely trustworthy?

 

6. Their Game Plan

 

This is your potential coach's plan to get you from wherever you are to a completed manuscript. Somewhere in the phone call, she should have given you a short list of steps to get you from A to B. If your phone call to that point has left you with the impression that she'll be driving a Point A-Point B jalopy to take you on that journey, then you'll be expecting to be confused, uncertain, or overwhelmed by her many steps plan. If she's got you thinking and feeling that the transportation of choice is to be a very nice ride that is thoroughly enjoyable, scenic, an dotted with interesting tour-like insights to the publishing landscape into which your manuscript will eventually head, then you'll be expecting an easy and instant understanding of her long-range game plan.

You'll also want to listen for insights into the current state of the publishing industry and not just factoids, but personal examples from his own experiences in working in that industry. That's where you want your book to go. It's not enough to write a great manuscript. Your goal is to publish a great manuscript as a book. Beware writing coaches who seem to know a lot about writing a book but next to nothing about getting a book published. Might as well buy a nice car that gets noticed and look forward to driving it, but never get a license or even learn how to drive.
 

 

Suggested posts to read next:

How to Know if You Need a Writing Coach

My Fees to be Your Writing Coach

 

 

Questions? Contact Joey

 

I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!

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