Recommend Me A Non Fiction Book Writing Coach. Does Such A Thing Exists?
October 9, 2020 9:50 AM   Subscribe

I have landscaping company with a very specialized focus (mostly native plants, very low maintenance, low water needs plants). My dream is to write a DIY book about it for the general public. Need help!

Happy weekend Metafilter friends!

I have it all in my head and already found a great photographer for the pictures.
The problem is I never wrote anything like that and don't even know where to start.
Every time I start doing a rough draft on Word I get immediately overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to figure out, such as sensible subject order, how should I structure it, should I even try to find a publisher, should I find an editor.
I would like to find a person/service/consultant that I can pay to coach me on a weekly/monthly basis and create a road map.

Like, hey first lets try to figure out the chapters, then lets try to figure out a reasonable amount of plant selections, then advice on picture arrangement and what type, then a sensible writing schedule for review, someone that will regularly review it and provide feedback and encouragement, and honestly just mostly someone to keep me both motivated and accountable to this endeavor. I know its going to take 1+ year to finish and need a paid alley to help me finish through.

I will most likely self publish on Amazon (unless someone has better suggestions).
I'm not trying to make money from this, just super passionate about the subject and really think this type of landscaping has a ton of merit (lower water bills, native plants for pollinators and wildlife, low maintenance for the busy homeowner)

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you may have and hope y'all have a wonderful weekend!
posted by Sentus to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
So, this is role of an editor, and you could probably find one on whatever Elance is calling itself these days. But... could I make a more out-of-the-box suggestion? What if, instead of a book, you write a blog? It sounds like a big part of your problem is the enormity of the task and the seemingly infinite number of subtasks. If you approach it as a regular series of subtasks, maybe it won't seem so daunting? With a blog, you don't need to worry about chapters or what plants to include or whatever. All you really need to do is post regularly. If you draw some readers, they'll provide the motivation to stay regular. And with regular posting, the little stuff gets easier. You just write what you're thinking about that day, without worrying about how it fits in the big picture. Then tomorrow, you write what you're thinking about then, and so on. After you get a bunch of small daily posts, you can do some organization, and some other ideas will probably present themselves.

More importantly, though, I just think a web resource is more useful than a self-published book. The likelihood of someone coming across your book on their own and deciding to buy it is, quite frankly, pretty low. You seem to realize this by not expecting to make money. If your goal is just to put the information out there, it's a lot easier for people to find it on the web. They can come across it via Google, Twitter, Reddit, specialist fora, etc.

There are innumerable bloggers who have published books that are just collections of their blog posts, lightly edited. And it's much easier to market such a book to a traditional publisher, since you have proof that an audience exists.

Just a thought. I'm speaking for myself here. I think your business is kind of comparable to cooking, and I pretty much never use cookbooks. I Google recipes all the time, though, and generally, when I do purchase a cookbook, it's because I've found the same person's recipes over and over online. Likewise, I'd probably never seek out a DIY landscaping book, but if I had a question about something, or if I saw something here on Metafilter or in an email newsletter or something, I would definitely look at a DIY landscaping website.

But otherwise, yeah, look for an editor. Not a copyeditor, which is primarily spelling and grammar checking, but a full-on editor.
posted by kevinbelt at 10:26 AM on October 9, 2020 [5 favorites]

Reedsy is a pretty decent platform for finding the kind of editor you seek. You can also check out an organization called the Editorial Freelancers of America (EFA).
posted by toomuchkatherine at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm not sure if location matters to you, or if you're happy to work with someone online. Someone local to me that does editing and coaching for writers is Zoey Duncan.

I've not used her services, just know her tangentially in the community and have read some of her writing (she used to be a journalist).
posted by My Kryptonite is Worry at 11:00 AM on October 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm a psychologist, not an editor, but I can probably help you. I wrote and self-published a book called Finishing School: overcoming work blocks to get your projects done and into the world. In this book I cover a lot of what you're struggling with. And here is the website that I made to explain and market my book.

I could help you at a very reasonable fee that we could agree upon, because it would be FUN for me to help you with this project. One thing that appeals to me is that I love gardening and am always reading about it, and buying plants, etc. for my little garden.

Boy, do I know what it feels like to get lost in publishing fantasies and go off-track in a million ways. I did that every day WHILE writing a book about how NOT to do that! (yet, I finished the damned book)

I have to disagree with the person above who says write a blog instead. I think you want to write a book because you want to present a body of information in an organized fashion from start to finish. After you finish your book you could start a blog for your additional thoughts and, of course, for marketing purposes.

If you're interesting in hiring more of a writing/editing person than a psychologist, I can understand that and I can recommend a GREAT writer/editor who can help you. His name is Howard Mittelmark. You can look him up on Amazon. His books include novels and non-fiction (he co-wrote HOW NOT TO WRITE A NOVEL) with his wife, but his main job is to get other people's books written and edited. He has over 25 years experience doing this.

So please Memail me if you're interested in either possibility.
posted by DMelanogaster at 11:52 AM on October 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

Have you looked at what other resources your book would be “competing” with? I get that it’s not about the money, but if you want to create something useful, then it’s helpful to identify an audience that isn’t well-served currently. What you’ve described isn’t that niche where I live and has been a topic of DIY books for over a decade, but your area/specifics will vary. There may be a particular angle for the book that could help you build out your plan.

Is there a soil and water conservation district or nonprofit that would be interested in working with you to create something? They would likely have a communications person who could help you, but you’d give up some creative control. Working with an established group would also help ensure your work gets out and potentially bring you business from your name being more recognizable.
posted by momus_window at 11:54 AM on October 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Book coaches are definitely a thing. I haven't used one myself, so I can't offer a first-hand recommendation. But one of my favorite writing podcasts is #AmWriting, and they have recommended (and are sometimes sponsored by) Author Accelerator. So, that's... what, a third-hand recommendation?
posted by yankeefog at 1:25 AM on October 10, 2020

Every time I start doing a rough draft on Word I get immediately overwhelmed by the amount of things I need to figure out, such as sensible subject order, how should I structure it, should I even try to find a publisher, should I find an editor.

I'm in the middle of the second round of editing my non-fiction book. I can relate to your difficulty.

For a little different direction, take a look at The Scribe Book School. You can simply take the video course (it is free) and it also provides a free PDF of a book a memoir author wrote called The Scribe Method. Tucker Max has a $$$ consultancy to get people to write memoirs and even ghost write stuff for them, but everything you need is in the videos and the book.

The big take-home lesson is something he calls the 'Vomit Draft', where you just do not stop writing.

Yes you could find a coach to hand-hold you through its development but that's going to cost $, hard to say who is good at it or not, and you may or may not be happy with the result.
posted by scooterdog at 4:56 PM on October 10, 2020

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