October 20, 2019

Writing Coach Phone Calls, What Are These Like?

Timothy Staveteig

Timothy Staveteig

[This is a typescript of a  portion of an interview Tim Staveteig gave.]

Interviewer: What does a phone session sound like?

Tim: A coaching session is something like a counseling session in that I (and all good coaches) focus on the client’s goals. I ask questions and listen, rather than tell or advise.

Each session can go by quickly, so I use two techniques: first, I prepare for each session beforehand, reviewing notes, manuscript elements—all the relationship up to this phone call.

Second, I email my list of focus questions to my client beforehand; I’m trying to avoid surprises, and I’m also inviting my client to think about responses.

The client replies to my questions by pointing out the focus that she or he wants; the client directs the session to include none, some, or all of the questions—or a different set.

The conversation, of course, may take other turns according to the client’s needs, but the client knows my perspective and has offered his or her own.

Notice: MyLiteraryCoach.com asks clients to phone in on our 888-line, and MLC pays for the call.

Interviewer: Is a telephone session worthwhile? I mean, wouldn’t a face-to-face meeting be much better?

Tim: A face-to-face meeting, I suppose, would be optimal. But, I believe that the telephone does the following:

  1. It provides a confidential means of communication; clients can phone from wherever they’re comfortable.
  2. We focus on listening; writing for the eye is different than for the ear, but all good literature sounds in our minds.
  3. And, neither of us has a commute.

Interviewer: Well, how does your preliminary coaching consultation reflect this process?

Tim: Many authors take a portion of the time telling me where they’re stuck or what they need. But if they wait for me to lead, then I usually cover five elements in this order

  1. Connection: “Give me a quick sketch of who you are.”
  2. Motivation: “What’s the biggest change you would like to make right now?”
  3. Presentation: “Here’s how I work with that kind of goal…” or “Here’s what you can expect if you work with me …”
  4. Information: How often we would meet and for how long; call procedure; fees; and so forth.
  5. Decision: “What else do you need to know before making a decision?” No pressure is applied to persons; for this process to work, it’s important that each client has full buy-in.

Interviewer: What prompted you to become a writing coach?

Timothy Staveteig

Timothy Staveteig

Tim: My career in the 1980s was as a counselor: personal, marriage, and career. I went into publishing because I thought that I could help more persons by being part of the publishing process—by offering books on various subjects.

Then I spent 25 years as an acquisitions editor for 3 different publishing houses.

When I started, I needed to produce 14 new titles each year, and I could help authors reshape their proposals.

In my last position, I needed to bring in one title per week in the office (about 36 books per year); proposals (and manuscripts) needed to arrive in excellent shape so that I could share with the acquisitions committee.

Hundreds of proposals had good ideas, but were poorly crafted proposals. I didn’t have time to help authors fashion better ones.

I’ve become a writing coach to help authors construct the best proposals and book plans.

This allows me to bring together my two great interests, namely, helping persons help others.

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