October 22, 2019

Literary Agents and Literary Coaches (Interview, part 2)

This blog is the second part of an interview with Tim Staveteig.Writing coach interview

Interviewer: Earlier you mentioned your two careers in counseling and publishing; how does counseling differ from coaching?

Tim: I need to add a third term: Therapy, which may be court-ordered, is conducted by licensed therapists and focuses on mental and nervous-system disorders.

Both counseling and coaching are “client-centered” activities, meaning that the client initiates the relationship and, to a large extent, directs the process.

Counseling usually delves into relationships, intimate feelings and fantasies, and struggles.

Coaching, in contrast, focuses on an author, his or her writing project, and any resistances or confusions in the process of getting published (or finished).

Coaching is far less probative than counseling.

Interviewer: What’s the difference between a literary agent and a literary coach?

Tim: Well, I suppose the smart-aleck response is that an agent is harder to find; so many authors, especially new ones, complain that they cannot get an agent.

Then, I think it important to discuss what is common among them. The author pays both the agent and coach.

One difference is that the author pays the coach up front whereas the agent deducts his or her fee from the advance and royalty payments.

A second difference is that the coach’s fees are controlled by the author whereas the agent’s fees go on for all sales in all media.
Beyond fees, agents work only with authors whose proposals agents think they can sell to their editor-contacts.

Coaches work with all authors, giving them an honest window into the publishing process.

Like agents, coaches will tell authors when the coach can no longer provide benefit to the author.

Interviewer: Can you tell me more about academic trade books?

Tim: Academic trade books are written by persons with academic credentials (Ph.D., for example) who are asking questions that interest general bookstore readers.

John Milton Cooper’s biography of Woodrow Wilson, the first U.S. president with a Ph.D., seeks the reasons that this avant-garde president hasn’t become one of the signal presidents such as Washington, Lincoln, or even Teddy Roosevelt or Ronald Reagan.
(Quick answer: His overt racism is despicable and doesn’t fit our times. But Cooper is much more nuanced and interesting in his reply.)

Interviewer: Do other editors do some of this work?

Tim: Yes. I’ve developed a network of editors whom I trust and with whom I share work.

I turn to them for copy editing on large projects; I review it before returning it to the client.

I also confer with peers before sending major proposals to clients.
All costs for these services are covered by My Literary Coach.

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