Diana Renn Coaching and Editorial Services

MYSTERY WRITER, EDITOR, BOOK COACH

Coaching and Editing FAQ’s

What if I don’t use all my allotted pages on a deadline – can I use them later?

Sorry, no. They don’t roll over into subsequent deadlines or months. Meaning, if you are on a program where you’re invited to send up to 15 pages, and you only send 10 pages one week, you cannot send 20 the next time. This system works well to keep people moving forward. Otherwise, both coach and writer waste time keeping accounts of pages “owed”, the writer doesn’t progress, and the coach can end up with a huge pile of pages arriving out of the blue. It’s not productive for either party. Steady momentum and pushing to hit those page counts on deadline will get you across the finish line.

Will I be able to finish a novel from start to finish on a 12-deadline coaching package?

Maybe. Mathematically speaking, if you are just writing forward at 25 pages a week in the intensive program – taking full advantage of my page count offer – you’ll cross page 300 after that 12th deadline. So yes, it’s possible. But in reality, most of us don’t work that way. The writing process is iterative. You may be taking two steps forward and one step back, revising a little as you go, or going back to early chapters and reworking something that in turn impacts your new pages. The deadline system is flexible in that you could hand in a mix of revised and fresh pages – like a reworked chapter two and a new chapter three. Or some reworked scenes and then fresh pages, totaling 25. So in that iterative process, 12 deadlines would probably get you pretty close to completion of a draft or revision. Some people may need to sign up for a second package. Purchase a half-package option (after completion of the full package) is also possible if you just need a few more deadlines to finish.

When and how often are coaching deadlines, and what’s your turnaround time?

Deadlines are always on Sundays. All clients must hand in work by 11:59 PM EST on Sunday. You will receive feedback on those pages by Wednesday of the same week, 5:00 pm EST.  (That way if you’re aiming to submit pages weekly, you’ll have my feedback before you send the next batch). You’ll commit to your deadlines using a Calendly link that I send you. When we first set up your program, we’ll determine a pace that works for you. Most writers schedule a deadline every other week, two per month, and get through their program in about six months. It’s possible to move faster by scheduling weekly deadlines – that would have you through 12 deadlines in about three months. If you or I anticipate needing to take a week off (vacation, holidays, etc.), we can determine that in advance and work around those times.

What if I want to work more slowly or take a break?

My coaching programs are on the model developed by Jennie Nash and Author Accelerator. These systems do get people across the finish lines of their drafts and revisions. Momentum is critically important to progress and to the coach / writer dynamic. If you have a major life event or emergency, of course we can pause your program or push back some deadlines. But if you’re just feeling stuck and not handing in pages, my job as a coach is to help you to figure out WHY, and to get you unstuck! I will encourage you to keep going, even if it means using a deadline to do some exercises or look at comp books or craft books instead. Or we can always use one of your allotted phone calls – which can be scheduled any time – to make a plan to get you back on track. If you’re having trouble meeting deadlines, the best thing to do is communicate that with me, and we’ll come up with a plan.

Deadlines expire one year from purchase date.

I do not recommend scheduling only one deadline per month and taking a year to get through a coaching package. You will lose momentum and energy. At the same time, I will have difficulty keeping your story fresh in my mind. I’m all for slow and thoughtful writing (hey, I wrote a book about turtles!), but I’m also about forward progress. Energy creates more energy. Onward!

What’s your turnaround time for standalone editorial services?

For manuscript evaluations and edits, turnaround time varies depending on length, stage of edits, and other factors, but you can generally expect around 3 weeks turnaround time for a manuscript under 60,000 words, and 4-5 weeks for a manuscript over 60,000 words. If you have a strict timeline and need something faster, I may be able to expedite turnaround time for an additional fee.

What if I sign up for a coaching package, but miss a deadline?

Sometimes things do happen to impede progress and best intentions. We get sick, we have a work emergency at the day job, a family member needs our help. If you anticipate not being able to hit a deadline, please let me know with as much notice as possible, and I’ll send you a new link to reschedule for a different Sunday. Pages may only be submitted on Sundays. This lets me manage my workflow and provide the best possible feedback to all clients. If you have a pattern of missing / rescheduling deadlines, we may need to discuss whether a coaching program is right for you at this time. And as mentioned before, if you’re not handing in work because you’re stuck, let’s talk and work together to get you unstuck!

What is the purpose of the calls in your coaching packages?

The calls are your chance to ask questions and to go over the written feedback in more detail. You can also use the time for brainstorming / problem solving with me; I’m happy to be a sounding board for ideas and help get you unstuck by thinking though problems out loud. Sometimes people use them to do generative writing exercises together to help with a craft or story issue. Sometimes we screen share and look closely at pages together. Sometimes I open up a Google doc and take notes (“scribe”) while you think out loud. Sometimes we might work on outline / structure issues on a Google doc at the same time. There are lots of options for productive use of call time! The call time is your time. You get to help set the agenda.

What if I don’t like phone / zoom calls?

I know a lot of us are zoomed out these days, and some people just plain don’t like to be in the hot seat on a call. I totally get it. I’d encourage you to give it a try though, before deciding phone / zoom coaching isn’t for you. Keep in mind we don’t have to use video – the call can be audio only. If you feel you have a significant barrier or aversion to working on phone / Zoom, we can discuss other options.

What if I miss a scheduled phone call?

You may reschedule a call with 24 hours notice using my Calendly system. If you are late for a call, I’ll wait for ten minutes and attempt to reach you. If we do not connect, unless there is a tech problem or some cataclysmic event, the call cannot be rescheduled and you will lose the time.

Can I email you in between deadlines?

I’m happy to answer quick questions, especially if you need to clarify something I’ve written in my feedback. Or if you’re feeling low energy and need a cheerleading boost, I will respond. If you’re on the Intensive Coaching package, you’ll also get a friendly check-in email from me once a week to make sure you’re actually writing and not just bingeing on Netflix or whatever. (And to prevent you from feeling stuck, if you’re starting to head that way). If your email questions can’t be answered fairly quickly or concisely, or the email questions start to add up, I may have us discuss them on our next scheduled call or incorporate answers into the written feedback on your next deadline.

Can I text you questions?

I don’t communicate with clients by text. This is mostly because I find phones distracting in my own writing and editing process, so I usually have my phone off and locked in an iron box in a vault deep under the earth when I work. (Well, okay, my ringer’s off, but you get the idea). If you are someone who (like most of us) struggles with accountability and productivity, texting your book coach as questions come to mind is honestly going to be another distraction and not very helpful. Also there’s a tendency we can all have to fire off texts at the first sign of self-doubt and start writing “by committee.” I want you to hear your own voice and trust yourself while you’re actively drafting and revising. So, email and scheduled phone / Zoom only, please.

What format should my work be in, and can I work in Google Docs or Pages?

All work must be double spaced with standard one-inch margins, in 12-point font, sent as a Word document. I work in Track Changes for line edits, and I leave (digital) in-line comments in the margins of the manuscript. This format and this method of editorial commenting is standard in the publishing industry. I cannot accept work in Pages, Scrivener files, PDFs, or Google docs. If you are unfamiliar with Track Changes, I’m happy to refer you to free tutorials. Following this protocol is good practice for communicating with publishing professionals who still do work in this way. It also is too time-consuming for me to develop different feedback and workflow processes for different clients.

Do you review queries and synopses, or do agent research and other pitch support?

I don’t do standalone query and synopsis review or agent research. I know many coaches who will offer those services and are great at it. That said, writing a query or synopsis at any stage is a very useful endeavor, and can help to identify problems in your manuscript. I will review a query or synopsis for my coaching clients in that context. Such materials would count toward the overall page allotment for a deadline within a coaching package. I do not review these materials as a standalone service for writers whose work I don’t know. For current clients or writers signing on for an ongoing coaching package or an editorial review, I’m also happy to offer advice and perspective on paths to publication.

Do you work with self-publishing authors?

Absolutely! I think there are more viable paths to publication than ever, and I totally support self-publishing writers. I will help you to write the best possible book and give you professional editorial support. That said, I do not work with self-publishing writers at the stage of uploading to Amazon or other platforms, book design, or marketing. I may have referrals for you if you are at that stage.

How do I pay?

I use an invoicing system that allows you to use a credit or debit card or a bank withdrawal. If you are outside of the United States, you may use PayPal. I do not accept cash or checks. Once we decide to work together, I will email you the payment links along with my Terms of Agreement.

Unless you are on a payment plan (see below), payment is due prior to starting work.

Do you offer payment plans?

For services and packages under $1,000, no. For services and packages over $1,000, that can be arranged, but payment installments for any program must be completed within three months time. (For example, my $4,200 coaching program can be spread across three payments of $1,400 / month).

What is your refund policy?

No refunds are available once work has begun (e.g., once the first planning call has taken place, and /or once the first pages have been submitted for feedback). For this reason, I strongly encourage that we schedule a free phone call before beginning work to make sure we both feel it’s a good fit and our goals and expectations are aligned.

Will your coaching / editing land me an agent or publishing deal?

I am not able to guarantee that. I know it’s a big deal to invest in your book in this way and not to be taken lightly. But publishing is a tough, tricky, even fickle business. I do have industry experience, a good understanding of the mystery market, and a commercial eye, meaning I think I know what will help make a manuscript appeal to agents and editors, and what things might get in the way of that. I will be rooting for you all the way when you send it out into the world, and if I think it’s not yet ready to pitch, I will be honest with you and tell you why. But I can’t predict what any individual agent or editor will take on. My job as a coach is to help you to tell the best story you can, to make your writing as strong as it can be.

Book coaching sounds interesting. How do I become a book coach?

Please visit the Author Accelerator website for more information about the fiction and nonfiction book coach certification programs, including a free video series to help you determine if this might be a good professional path or side hustle for you: bookcoaches.com

Why do you have so many FAQ’s?

I’ve worked with many clients, done intake processes for Author Accelerator and elsewhere, and spoken to lots of writers on the phone as they prepared to work with coaches. These truly are frequently asked questions. I respect them because you’re considering making a considerable investment of time and money in your book and your writing career. Plus, if you take the time to read through these FAQ’s, not only are you awesome and very informed, we can now use our time on an initial intake call to focus more on your work, and how I can best help you!

Diana Renn, author and certified book coach

So, uh, what’s with the owl? I see owls on your website and in your logo.

Owls are mysterious to me – the very emblem of mystery. But they also represent clarity, so they make a good symbol for my coaching and editing process. Owls fly high, getting an aerial view of the landscape, the big picture, but they also see details, like a mouse on the ground, a vole beneath the dirt, and they swoop in for the kill. Almost nothing escapes their attention.

I find owls a comforting presence. I live near a forest filled with owls. I love hearing their hoots at night and early in the morning. As your coach and editor, I won’t hoot (I promise), but I will be holding your story in my head, making space for it, protecting it, even when you are at rest.

Also, when I was little, I played an owl named “Professor Polly” in a school play. I still keep a picture of Little Me on my desk because it was at that age I began to develop my obsession with storytelling. I distinctly remember at that age deciding that the only thing better than reading stories and pretending to be in them (as an actor) was actually writing the stories. That’s exactly what I grew up to do – and it’s my life’s work to help others who share this calling.

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