A friend and I sat down for coffee the other day and were discussing coaching. She’s been studying how to become a leadership coach and studying a program called Immunity to Change, which is an amazing way to help people change what is holding them back from achieving their goals. But what we were discussing was the difference between a book coach and a writing coach.

There is a subtle difference.

Last summer when I decided to move into coaching, what I did was actually become a writing coach. I worked with writers on helping them overcome imposter syndrome and assisted them to organize themselves and prioritize their life. I worked with a few clients and I’m rather proud to say that I had some great results.

In order to help these clients I read wonderful books like Valerie Young’s The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and When by Daniel Pink. These all helped me and guided me in how to coach these clients, these writers with emotional and time-management problems.

In the past month, I’ve been studying how to become a book coach. I’ve been reviewing outlining and writing craft, editing and the creative process. I’ve had two book coaching clients so far where I’ve worked with the authors on specific books they’re trying to write and revise.

So what’s the difference? Well, being a writing coach involves working with the writer to help them do their work. Being a book coach is working with a writer on a specific project. My coaching is directed at the book, not the person writing it.

My friend pointed this difference out to me and I found the concept fascinating. It made me wonder whether I wanted to do one more than the other. The funny thing is that the answer is no. I’m very happy doing either one or both.

I love working with writers. I love helping them to achieve their dreams and if this means helping them get to writing or helping them with a specific piece of writing it makes no difference to me.

Another interesting piece of this coaching business is that when you become a coach you need to decide where your focus will be. It could be on a genre or genres, it could be on writers who want to become traditionally published and need help querying agents, or it could be on writers in a particular stage of their writing journey (new writers vs established writers who just need a little guidance with their current work).

I’ve decided that I’m going to be focusing on genre rather than any other criteria. My expertise and interests lie in romance (naturally), mystery, fantasy, science fiction, and I’d like to learn more about memoir. I’ll also happily work with writers on YA and Middle-Grade fiction. What I couldn’t ever see myself working on would be genres that scare me: horror and psychological thrillers. And I also don’t think I could work with non-fiction writers or children’s book authors simply because I don’t know enough about those genres to do so.

I don’t believe limiting myself to certain genres is bad. In fact, I think it’s good to know where I can help and when I should refer a client to a different coach. Defining myself as a coach is an important step on this journey that I’ve embarked upon.

Have you ever considered working with a coach or are you a coach yourself? I’d love to learn more about it!