This warning needs to be plastered high and low, all over the Internet.
I admit it: I’m angry. So this post will be strong. If you don’t mind it, read on.
There’s no way to say this nicely, but there are people everywhere calling themselves qualified writing coaches — who simply aren’t. These days, anyone can call themselves anything. Aspiring writers, beware!
Just saying you’re a coach simply doesn’t make you qualified.
As a professional writer who has spent years and money perfecting the craft, the idea that someone is telling others what to do when they themselves truly don’t know but a surface knowledge — it creates more than an ew feeling — it leads to wha…? and oy! and argh! and grrr.
Yes, I get upset over the arrogance and thievery. Leading others into falsity and lacking the moral integrity by doing so is just wrong. (And I hate it when unsuspecting people are “taken.”)
Please. Don’t be taken.
News flash: Writing a blog does not make you a book-writing (or article writing) coach. Writing basics — punctuation, grammar, sentence and paragraph structure — can be likely lacking…big time. Focus, style, and so on are VERY different from professional, published writing. And the know-how to write books that are publishable (keywords, are publishable) is special and learned over time and experience with education and training.
Blog writers calling themselves book writing coaches aren’t qualified and are wrongfully taking your money.
And another news flash: Writing or publishing one book does not make you a book-writing coach. Far from it. Qualified professional editors have coached that so-called coach/writer’s often bad writing into good text, and the manuscript has gone through significant editing multiple times — making the meandering, unfocused text into something linear and believable. The “coach” with the first-time published book had help. TONS of it. They do not know what they do not know. And now they THINK they know. They don’t. Again, this “coach” is wrongfully taking your money and most likely giving “advice” that’s off — simply trying to copy-cat the real coaching and professional skills that he/she has received (but lacks the experience to wield correctly).
There are basic guidelines in EVERY field for EVERY kind of coaching and consulting. And writing is one of them.
So to help us all become grounded in reality (said with tongue in cheek) — and to be able to find a real, accomplished, capable, competent, equipped, knowledgeable, experienced, proficient, talented writing coach — here are eight critical questions and tips for choosing that QUALIFIED writing coach:
1. How many books or articles are published by the “coach” — books or articles that have been commissioned/hired out/they’ve been paid for the writing? (Note, again: We’re not talking about writing a personal blog.) Does this person have more than one…or two…seven or eight books published? Now it’s time to hire that coach.
2. Assuming the person has a number of published books, how are their sales? A couple hundred books sold does not make for a credible coach. And the sales should be stretched over time…as in years. Is he/she published with many years of sales? Hire that coach.
3. Is this person published by others or only self-published? Self-publishing is fine for those with a large professional platform — people who have been speaking or working in the professional realm and have a ready audience to buy the book (and has sold thousands of books at their speaking engagements). And those who have sold self-published books are approached by paying audiences for more. Note: If someone isn’t a seasoned speaker or educator with a ready audience, and they’re not selling their books at speaking engagements regularly, the self-publishing doesn’t count. Look for the coach who has had multiple books published by a reputable publishing company and has regular speaking engagements on how to write.
4. How long has this person been writing professionally — actually being paid for their work in professional environments? True, people can write for years (and call themselves a writer), but to be paid to write, hired by others to write, is another matter. I’m not talking about being paid as a coach because you call yourself a coach and people may believe it and, unfortunately for the unsuspecting young writer, pay as an innocent, unknowing, trusting — but duped — “client.” Qualifications include being hired professionally as someone who knows and can wield the craft of writing. Has this coach been paid for his/her writing for years? Yep. Hire that coach.
5. Who has this person coached over the years (operative word, years), and has his/her coached clients’ results been noted publicly? Those with credible coaching experience have clients with paid-product results. Those under the tutelage of a credible coach have successes for all to see.
6. What is the person’s education — with the how-to’s of writing? Does he/she have any degrees or high-level training in the craft? Does he/she regularly travel and engage in professional how-to-write activities for writers (conferences, training). Is he/she a member of professional writing organizations? In writing, degrees, professional training, and being plugged into credible professionals counts. Does he/she have four years in English (or a related field such as education or literature), a master’s degree, or a terminal degree in writing? Hire that coach.
7. Does he/she professionally edit others’ work, and if so, how long has he/she done so? Editing is another skill set that takes years of training for excellence. If hired by reputable companies, institutions of higher learning, and high-level professionals for editing services — and they recommend the coach — then hire that coach.
8. Has this person designed or taught courses in the craft of writing (again, professionally, as in actually being paid for their teaching of writing)? Better yet, has a professional company or educational institution hired him/her to share the skills of writing with others? If reputable companies and educational institutions put their faith in — and money toward — that person, then hire that coach.
If you can’t answer more than one or two of these questions with multiple experiences as a paid professional writer, steer clear of the “coach.” Please. Check qualifications carefully. Don’t be taken. Save your money for those who really know what they’re doing — and have the experience, pay, and backing to prove it.
I care about you getting the BEST coaching — the TRUE coaching — that can actually help you become the writer you want to be.
Always my best,
(Yes, this is my real coffee cup today. I don’t allow my coffee cup to pose as something it’s not. )
P.S. And to those of you reading this who are calling yourself a coach and you’re not qualified (you know who you are). . . Please. Embrace integrity. Stop stealing people’s money and (if giving away “free coaching” deals) leading people astray. If you want to be a true, qualified coach, then keep writing, build your skills, and get the qualifications listed here. But don’t pass yourself off as something you’re not. Bad form.
P.P.S. This is not an advertisement for my coaching — although, I have to admit, the issue of unqualified “coaches” lying to the public about their abilities and taking people’s money drives me to want to get REAL information out there. I don’t care which qualified coach you use — simply (please) do the homework and avoid those newbies posing as qualified coaches. That’ll help me sleep well at night. Thanks, friend.