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Coaching KidLit Podcast-Episode 10: Book Coaching Case Study

Book Coaching Case Study: How a Multi-Published Author Uses a Book Coach with Returning Guest Cindy L. Rodriguez


Cindy L. Rodriguez returns to chat with Christy and Sharon about the value of hiring a book coach whether you’re just starting out, still aspiring, or a multi-published author.



[24:36] Working with a Coach When You Already Have a Contract

[26:58] Why We Love “Why?”

[30:29] Book Coaching as an Investment in You

[32:20] Actionable Items

**If you click through the book links and make a purchase,a small commission may be received by  an Amazon Associate.

Action Item

Think about what it is that you might need help with.

  • What do you think your strengths are?

  • What do you think needs improvement?

  • How can you best get that help?

  • What level and type of feedback are you comfortable handling?

Maybe that is working with a book coach, or getting a manuscript evaluation, or getting a developmental edit.

But understanding what you need before you try to hire somebody will serve you in the long run because we’re all different. We all focus on different things. As book coaches, as editors, we all have different strengths and different ways of doing things.

So really do your research on what’s out there.

Coaching KidLit Transcript

[00:00:41] Christy Yaros: Okay, Sharon, you know, I think we had such a fantastic time talking to our guest, Cindy Rodriguez, back in episode seven. And since we probably could’ve gone on for hours and hours. Let’s do a part two.

[00:00:55] Sharon Skinner: So let’s do this.

[00:00:57] Christy Yaros: Okay. So let me give you a little bit of background about Cindy and I, so 2015 at an SCBWI conference in New York. I was lamenting to the now RA Stacy Moser that I didn’t know anybody who lived near me that wrote, and I was sad and she literally turned around and was like, are you kidding me? And just grabbed five people and was like, this person lives in your town.

This person lives in your town. This person lives in the next town over. And this person lives like pretty close to you. And we just were like, okay, none of us. Well, two of us knew each other, but the rest of us didn’t know each other. And it was six of us and we just were thrown together and it was like, okay, you guys are a critique group now. And here we are, seven years later going strong. And so we’ve been through a lot of the stuff. Your book was already coming out.

So we were able to celebrate that with you actually, that came up in my memories somewhat recently.

[00:02:00] Cindy Rodriguez: February of 2015.

[00:02:02] Christy Yaros: Yeah. So, through those years we’ve done a lot of critiquing each other.

We’ve done a lot of just being friends, feeding each other, things like that. So, It’s only been a couple of years that I started switching my gears to book coaching. And you have been so super supportive and even let me practice on you. For our listeners, for the (Author Accelerator) certification program that we went through, we had to do a practicum.

We had to work with an actual real life person. Record it and submit it to show that we, know what we’re doing. And so you were brave kind generous enough to work with me on a full manuscript evaluation for a story that we had in general, as critique partners been working on for quite a few years, because it went through a lot of iterations.

The Backstory of the Story

[00:03:00] Christy Yaros: Do you want to talk about how your story started?

[00:03:04] Cindy Rodriguez: Yeah. So thanks for having me back. So I love to talk about writing all day with you girls. So what happened was when my first novel When Reason Breaks came out in 2015, I had a one book deal. And the publisher, Bloomsbury, had an option, meaning they would consider another project or they would consider another idea.

But there were no guarantees. So at the time I was, it was. A blessing and a curse. Like I think a lot of people who’ve had two book deals, struggle with having to produce the second book quickly. So I was relieved that it was like, okay, I can just pitch ideas and we’ll see if one sticks.

But then it got to be to a point where it was just like, it just didn’t work. Like we just, unfortunately, while I loved my editor who worked with me on my first novel, we just couldn’t come up with something together that was gonna take me into the next book with her. This particular story.

It was one of the ideas. So I had pitched her a few things. One of them was this idea of a boy. And at the time it was a completely different story. It was a story about a boy who discovers that he is the reincarnation of Aesop, the fable teller, because she said we want to keep at this like literary idea because Emily Dickinson is heavily featured in my first novel.

Okay, this could work, I can weave in the fables and in different ways into the chapters. And if he is having to fix something that happened in the past I like this idea of multiple lives. So I was researching all that anyway for other things, and it just didn’t come together.

 There are parts of it that I still loved about the book, but she was at that point: “You’re going from a very serious contemporary, realistic fiction to what’s feels more like a middle grade fantasy. And , as a writer, who’s just starting, that doesn’t make sense.”

So there were a lot of things that I was like, okay, you’re right. So I pitched some other ideas to her and they just didn’t stick. And, I had to move on. So I started writing this particular story. I got pretty far into it. And then I was like, yeah, I’m just going to go ahead and finish the draft as is.

And we’ll see. So I finished the draft and my agent also. was not thrilled about she liked it, but there were definitely parts to it. We revised it to the point that we felt was it was ready. And then I was having issues with her as our inner relationship. Just like I would email, she would have emailed me back.

It was like a love story that was on his last legs. We ended up breaking up. So then I was left with this full manuscript of a middle grade book, but no agent, and these things happen. So now I have the story, but nowhere to go with it now, because of all the feedback I had gotten about, it’s tough.

Right now cause you have Rick Riordan, in the fantasy world. Is this going to compete? Could we really sell this? Probably not. The other big thing was the boy was entering ninth grade and a lot of people were saying that’s kind of no man’s land. You either have to be older YA or younger middle grade at that time. Now we have a lot of people, who are actually asking for stories about younger YA. Trends come and go. At that time, they said he was trapped in this no man’s land. So then I made a big shift, to saying, okay, I teach middle grade, I understand middle grade, I’m going to make him a seventh grader.

So that was one of the things that changed. And then I decided if this fantasy element isn’t working, I’m going to try to now revamp it completely as a contemporary realistic fiction.

So now fast forward I’ve been doing work-for-hire projects and this story got really set aside. I felt like I was ready to come back to it and I was ready to start looking for a new agent but it clearly needed work. It’s been sitting on my computer for a couple of years now without me actively working on it.

So that’s where with Christy going through her certification process, I thought this is a perfect opportunity , she needs to have someone to practice on and I desperately need an expert’s opinion about how to get back into the story, how to tackle it. What’s working what isn’t working before I go through another full revision and then hopefully use it to get an agent.

So how it started and how it ended up are two completely different things. I would say the thread that’s remained the same is that, the main character and who he is has been pretty consistent, but in terms of the age and the genre, like everything has changed.

And whenever you make a major change like that, it takes work to revise. I definitely want to see it through because I love these characters, but it’s been a long road.

Christy’s work is now propelling it, honestly is now helping me to love it again, to feel like I can do this and I will finish it this summer is my goal. And to get it into the hands of my brand new agent, who I did find an agent and I love her and she’s already read the first 50 pages and loves it.

So all that work along the way, I think will pay off. And the work Christy did as the book coach was crucial, honestly, to me getting to where it’s gonna end up.

Book Coaching vs. Critique Group

[00:08:02] Sharon Skinner: I’d like to hear you talk a little bit about the difference between working on it in a critique group setting because you’ve clearly done this with Christy and other people, both you’ve worked in that setting, but you’ve also then worked on that book in a coaching setting.

And I’d love to hear you talk a little bit about the difference of, the approach and how that work happens in those different settings.

[00:08:28] Cindy Rodriguez: Sure. So I actually have two different groups of writing friends, which Christy always jokes that like I’m cheating on her when I go to see my girls in Glastonbury.

[00:08:39] Christy Yaros: Totally.

[00:08:39] Cindy Rodriguez: I had this other writing group before I met all the other girls that live closer by and they worked much more like a traditional critique group. Pre pandemic we’d meet. I want to say it was once a month.

We had a certain Tuesday, we would meet at the Barnes and Noble in Glastonbury. We’d all have something to share. If it was a picture book you could read the full text. If it was a middle grade or young adult novel, we’d have a chapter we’d make copies for everybody. We’d explain briefly what are our hopes are in terms of like, I really need to look at, theme or characterization for this particular chapter.

I’d read it aloud. They’d be writing on it. And, the person being critiqued, you’re not supposed to defend, or anything. You just, listen, you take your notes, you take it back with you and super helpful. Like that is kind of the traditional how you do a critique session. And those sessions were super helpful. Cause they’re entirely focused on just this one scene or this one chapter, and some people would literally line edit as they’re reading. So anything was helpful.

The bigger issue, and that’s why having a book coach filled what I needed was that, you get that feedback for that one chapter. But of course, as you know, when you’re writing a novel, anything you do to chapter three is going to affect chapter six is going to affect chapter nine. Like there, those threads that run through and my critique group in Glastonbury definitely read, I think, enough chapters that they understood the story and knew where it was going.

But it’s a whole different experience when you give the entire thing to a reader and they’re able to read it from beginning to end and they know exactly where the story is going to end up. They see all of it and are able to then give you advice that they know is going to affect the entire story. So, you know, sometimes, like I said, having the detailed feedback on a single chapter helps and then will help me to figure out what I need to do next, but that’s a little more fragmented because you’re just getting a piece of your story critiqued and you have to sort of then figure out, okay, how does this affect the rest of it or wait till the next month to show them the next chapter, or you bring back the same chapter and say, does this sound better now?

So you kind of are always getting pieces of advice. Whereas, when you work with a book the way that Christy did, you get the entire story read and you get these detailed notes for everything, whether it’s little things, big things, and the way she broke it down.

The Manuscript Evaluation

[00:11:08] Cindy Rodriguez: If you want to talk a little Christy about the Greenlight things, red light, yellow light, I thought that was brilliant because these are little things that you may want to consider, but these are the major things. And that has to do with plot and characterization and the big ticket items. So at that point of the project, that’s exactly what I needed. I needed someone to not just give me advice on let’s say chapter five, I needed someone to give me advice on the entire thing before I went back into it.

[00:11:36] Christy Yaros: Also, part of what we did before I even looked at it was we talked about what you were trying to say, what you were trying to accomplish with it, and what your goals were for it. So when reading it wasn’t just reading what was on the page but considering this is the story that you’re trying to tell. This is where you want to go with it. So it was not only does this book work as a book, but is it doing what you wanted it to do. I don’t know that when we’re critiquing, we’re necessarily asking each other, what is your overall thing that you’re trying to accomplish here?

And then saying yes, you’ve done this or no, you haven’t done that. But, the interesting thing with yours, besides the fact that. Knowing you so well, it was still, I will say absolutely terrifying. You know, I was 100% honest with you, as I am with any of my clients, but then writing you the letter and sending it to you and waiting.

I don’t know Sharon, if you go through this too, but even though I know I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and it’s in service of the story and in service of the author, it’s terrifying that you’re breaking them. It’s like, this is going to be too much, she’ll put this manuscript away and she’s never going to talk to me again.

[00:12:49] Cindy Rodriguez: You sent me text messages. You’re still going to be my friend, right. And I’m like, yes, of course I am.

[00:12:56] Christy Yaros: No, no.

[00:12:56] Cindy Rodriguez: Eventually I said, of course I am, but to feed her anxiety, which is horrible, of course I’d say things to her, like, if you’ve criticized my story in any way I don’t agree with, we’re done. I would joke with her, but I get where you’re coming from because obviously writing is personal and people can get their feelings hurt when you’re giving them feedback.

Book Coaching and Editorial Feedback

[00:13:16] Cindy Rodriguez: But I think like you said, we know each other well enough and I trust you. And I know the wealth of knowledge that you’re bringing to what you do. Anyone who I think wants to have a career as a writer, you have to have a little bit of a tough skin, right? And I think you have to be able to accept criticism one way or the other.

Now, if they’re just being mean about it, like on GoodReads or like this person should never write another word again, that’s not helpful, but I knew that you were going to be, if you had a critique, it was going to be constructive like, this isn’t working. Here’s why it’s not working. Here’s what I think you can do to fix it.

That is what I was looking for. And that’s what we need as writers. Right. So I think the critiques that people often feel broken by is almost like when it’s too late, like a book is published and then someone’s like, this is the worst thing I’ve ever read. You know, you really needed an editor and you’re like, I had multiple editors. It’s just hurtful. You know, it’s not helpful. Well constructive in any way.

[00:14:14] Sharon Skinner: And I think as book coaches, we know that and we walk in the door. My tagline for my services is that I give you feedback with honesty and heart, because it’s heartfelt. It’s honest. It’s not mean it’s direct and that’s, I think another reason why Christy and I get along so well is because we are very direct, but we’re honest. We’re good about making sure that you understand that the reason we’re here with you holding your hand in the trenches as book coaches, is we want the work to be better. We want to help you accomplish what you are setting out to accomplish. And that goes back to that thing that we were talking about offline.

I have these little phrases and, I get teased all the time by the other coaches that I should make t-shirts. But one of my phrases is Writer’s voice, writer’s choice. When we coach and when we edit we’re not trying to tell you how we would have written it. We’re not trying to tell you how it should be written so much as what’s working and not working from an educated reader’s perspective so that you can take a look and make that determination.

And that’s a big part of how we coach. So it’s nice to hear you say that, you keep the notes up, but it’s not every single thing. I had a writer. I did a developmental/line edit on his book. And he said he changed 99.9% of the things that I recommended or that I pinged on.

He said he changed probably probably closer to 98%, you know? But he ended up getting a starred Kirkus for the book , a part of me is like, I helped him do that. You know, it’s so exciting from our side of it to help an author get out in the world with their best work.

Writers voice, writer’s choice is one of my taglines because the bottom line is that probably there are going to be a few things that I ping on as a coach that are being set up. Or being brought to my attention for one reason or another, that you may have intentionally done, or you may not want to change as a writer because it suits the narrative that you’re working on.

But what we’re looking for is those areas of opportunity that we can point out where you, as a writer, look at it and go, oh yeah, you’re so right. Or yes, that needs attention. Maybe not exactly the solution or the attention that you might be suggesting as a coach. But I have the answer now because I am looking at it with fresh eyes and that’s that editorial gaze that we help put on the manuscript and on the writing and on the overall story that we all need, I have an editor. I actually was one of Chrisy’s book coaching certification clients. I did a blueprint with her because I use the tools that I teach. I use the tools that I coach with, and I know Christy does too because they’re useful and we’re not out here saying, oh, well we know it all, but we have the ability to bring that attention and that editorial gaze to the work that can provide a deeper view of the work, especially when you’re, like you said earlier, it’s a big, big work. We’re not just focusing on this one little piece of it. We’re able to actually bring our attention to the whole work for you and with you.

[00:17:52] Cindy Rodriguez: Right. And if you think about the term book coach, any good coach is going to encourage and be supportive.

But they want to make you better. Right. So if it’s, even if it’s a baseball coach, they’re going to have to be honest with you and say, you need to get to the base quicker, or you need to work on that slide. So, yeah, you’re not the book assassins, you’re the book coaches. You’re trying to not tear us down or as Christy says, break us, you’re saying, okay, this is working, this here’s a little confusing or you drop your theme thread here. Like you said, as the writer, so close to the project that you need someone else with their expert eyes to give you their objective and educated, like you said, I think you call it like an educated reader. You know, someone who. Very well versed in story structure and all that to look at it. And I don’t know any writer who doesn’t have that, whether it’s, just because they’re friends and they have writer friends who do it for them, or they hire someone as like a book coach.

I think it’s super important. Right now, publishing is so competitive in terms of the number of people who are writing. There’s lots of people who’ve left the industry. It’s like fewer editors, more projects coming in, it’s a whole different landscape than it was even 10 years ago that I personally want my work to be as good as it can be going to my agent and then going on submission so that its chances of getting acquired are much higher. You need it to be as good as possible going down this path if you’re hoping to be acquired.

The Story You Think You’re Telling vs What’s on the Page

[00:19:29] Christy Yaros: One of the interesting things that came out of going through your story, even having read, all the previous iterations of it when it was a fantasy kind of magical realism when it was young adult, it was Middle Grade. First of all, as a writer, trying to keep which version am I writing right now and what is from this story and what is a holdover from the other things that I was telling was one thing to keep in mind.

But I found very interesting was that the story that you said that you were telling was not necessarily the story that I saw on the page, but you were telling a story that was clearly, there subconsciously.

[00:20:10] Cindy Rodriguez: Yes, and again, it’s so interesting and it was such a light bulb moment, getting that feedback from you, because again, I was so close to the story when people would ask me, well, what’s this about? I would say it’s about a boy who is a lifelong underachiever, adorable, but underachiever. And again, pulling from my experience as a teacher, you know, I see these kids all the time.

They’re great kids, but they’re just kind of cruising under the radar and they don’t want to make too many waves. They get Cs, they’re happy with that. However, this boy then finds out that his mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer and it is a shock to him and he thinks to himself, I haven’t done a single thing to make my parents proud of me.

And I need to do that, like now, because I don’t know what’s going to happen with mom and I have to kick into high gear and do something. He feels this panic about, facing his mother’s mortality and thinking I have to do something to make her proud.

 That was the beginning of the story. And to me, for the longest time, I was like, that’s the point of the story was this idea of the parent child relationship and how you just want to please your parent. You want to know that they proud of you. And I thought it was this theme that, I could really build upon and it’s there, but then Christy in her wisdom and looking at my story said to me, That’s not really the story. It’s part of the story, but what’s really at stake here because mom is clearly doing what she needs to do to get better. She’s going to be okay.

So then what’s really driving him at this point, and we talked about a Rocky moment. The goal for Rocky was to beat Apollo and then he realizes he can’t beat Apollo. So then he has to have a secondary goal, which is to go to the distance.

I love that shift. So I thought, okay. She’s cause she said, you don’t have to eliminate mom. You don’t have to , get rid of that whole thread, but there comes a point where you realize this isn’t the heart of story . And I’m like, oh my God, well then what? And she’s but you have it.

It’s here. Don’t you realize that the heart of the story is really his relationship with his best friend, Dani. And that’s what he’s most worried about. He’s most worried about after all of this, whether they’re still going to be friends or not friends, because Dani is a super high achiever.

And she’s doing all these things with all these new people and if he just stays in a safe pocket, they won’t be friends anymore. And that would devastate him and I’m like, oh my God she just put this light on a part of the story that was already there and she’s right, because ultimately mom and dad are adults and they’re going to take care of this adult situation. And her health is in her hands. And, for the most part in her doctors, he’s doing what he can be supportive and be like, Hey, look, I’m being a good son and I’m trying to do better in school. I’m getting better grades.

And I’m part of this club, but there was some kind of a disconnect and she’s like the thing that he really has the most control over that will absolutely devastate him is this relationship with Dani. And I was like, oh my God, you’re so right. So we still have the family issue.

Cause I think that it was important and it does show that kids are motivated by for different reasons and that there is a very real fear. Obviously, if your parent, the person you think is bulletproof is sick, there’s that, and I’ve seen kids having to deal with that, but at that age, especially, he’s in seventh grade, his friends are just as important as family and Dani has been with them since they were kids.

So this whole relationship with Dani is like the Rocky Apollo creed thing, okay, mom’s going to be okay. That’s not really, the goal is that’s not really the point of the story . And the point of the story shifts at some point to, I have to really make sure that I’m doing what I can do to not ruin this relationship that is so vital to me as a person. And that entirely came about because of the work that Christy did with the book. I’m so excited by this revelation, because like she said, it was there. I just couldn’t see it. And that’s one of the things that I’m working on as I go back into it and revise it.

[00:24:16] Sharon Skinner: Nice.

[00:24:17] Christy Yaros: Yeah. Well, literally, the mom stated the theme in, chapter two and then you did it you proved it. You went through and you did the whole thing.

So it is really fascinating. And even having been through all of those versions with you, it still was new to me to see that there. And that’s just something you can’t get, unless you’re seeing the whole thing.

Working with a Book Coach When You Already Have a Contract

[00:24:36] Christy Yaros: But there’s other ways that we’ve worked together. Do you want to talk about some of the other things that we’ve done?

[00:24:43] Cindy Rodriguez: Yeah. So Another project that hasn’t been announced yet, I was working on a it’s another a work for hire project, but as a full middle grade project, and I had to have about 75 pages plus a synopsis written in order for, for that project to go forward. And I was stuck, it was a completely different, it was a middle grade with a fantasy element. And again, I feel like contemporary was really my lane. And this was more high fantasy. So I felt like it was doable, but I think it does come down to those things.

Like, what are the stakes? How is this important? And Christy is famous for asking the question why, which I dunno if that’s like a whole book, coach thing, whether it’s a Christy thing or both it’s like the two year old where you’re like, why is the sky blue? It just is, but why, but why, but why, but why?

And so I would say, okay, here’s the story? Here’s this girl, this is what’s happening. And she’s like, but why is she doing that? And then so what if that happens, that totally gets to like the plot holes. So there were moments with that story, even though it was a work for hire and I couldn’t reveal everything to everyone, I trusted Christy, and I asked the woman that I’m working with , I really need to talk this out with a friend and she’s a book coach, and she really knows what she’s doing. I just need to get some feedback from someone. And we did, we talked through different plot points of it, and were given the green light to veer from the original plot summary that they had given me to work off .

And again, it was just an outsider’s viewpoint, an educated viewpoint. To be like, but how is that going to come back to you later? How is that going to matter later? Why is she doing this now? What’s going to be the result of that three chapters from now. And by asking me questions and getting me to talk about it, like a really good therapist, honestly .

Once I was saying it out loud, I was oh, okay. Yeah, that won’t work. Or, that’s not a high enough stake for her. I have to up the stakes there. There was one issue where her mom was working at the school and they were like, well, what would be a thing at the school that would be important for mom.

I’m like open house. So I created a scene at open house where all the shenanigans go on. So it was just asking the right questions to help me flesh out the story and make sure that it remained interesting, the momentum kept moving forward as opposed to getting stuck, especially in that middle section.

Why We Love “Why?”

[00:26:58] Sharon Skinner: That’s great. We do ask why and what’s your point a lot. The other things that I find myself pinging on with clients is your character’s acting out of character here. Why, why are they doing this? I need to understand why they’re behaving like this, or they can’t behave like this.

Right? So again, it comes back to why, why is your character doing that? Why are they saying that now? I need to understand. So yeah, we ask that question a lot.

[00:27:26] Christy Yaros: I think this is why this is the perfect job for me, because I was that kid that asked why all the time only now I get to do it and people actually answer my questions and I get paid for it. Perfect. And our stories get better. Perfect world.

[00:27:40] Sharon Skinner: So one of the things. I’ve realized as a book coach is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the process of your story. We can help. If you’ve got a draft and you need a developmental edit. If you’ve got a almost completed story, but you need something that’s a little closer to a line edit to help you with voice and characterization and emotion on the page and things like that. We can help with that. We can also help drafting and getting the story down in the first place. I have clients that I am doing that kind of coaching with. It’s work that we love doing.

And we’re coming to the work from a place where we’ve not only written, but we are voracious readers. Typically, coaches, we take in so much of whatever is being written and whatever’s being published out there. We’re just in love with the word and we want our clients to do better so we can help pretty much wherever you are in process, which I think is really cool because we can help you from idea to pitch all the way through.

I think that that’s one of the really glorious parts of what we do and whether you have an agent or not. I had a client recently, she’s got 20 books under her belt, but she had one that was a mess and she was struggling with it and she just needed somebody to help her get out of the weeds and untangle the knots and figure out how to make it work and finish saying what she started out saying. So I’m all in as a book coach, you can tell. And I’m so glad to hear that you’ve had such a good experience with book coaching because that’s what we do and why we do it.

[00:29:27] Cindy Rodriguez: Yeah. And I’ll just add there too, that I found the work so valuable that when I’m revising this particular story, I split my screen and I have Christy’s notes up on one side of my screen, and then I have to draft up on the other side of the screen so that I’m constantly reminding myself of the big picture of things, in addition to some of the smaller things.

So I treasure it. I have it right up there on my screen as I’m writing. And, we talked about how, as a writer, of course you have the power of veto, you can say yeah, that doesn’t work. Or she really would say that, I’ll just tweak it a little. So you may not be doing like every single thing that the book coach suggests just like in a critique group, you may not agree with everything, but if something keeps coming up or, something really resonates with you then of course you make that change, and I would also say too, obviously like hiring a book coach, I was lucky enough that Christy was doing mine as part of her certification. And now that she’s in the business, of course, like it costs money. Right. So I would, I just wanted to bring up this idea of maybe some people would say well, I can’t afford to do that, but here’s the thing.

Book Coaching as an Investment in You

[00:30:29] Cindy Rodriguez: I look at it again as a long-term career issue. So I would say, okay, how much is it going to cost me to have a book coach for this particular project? And then, how much would it cost to maybe sign up for this conference or to take this class or to do whatever. And I know a lot of people would say just like someone who, I don’t know, their hobby is golfing. Like they spend a certain amount of money on that every year. I spend a certain amount of money. I’m not wealthy. I’m a public school teacher, but I spend a certain amount of money every year on my craft. So I will make decisions like, am I going to sign up for this conference?

Or am I going to, maybe hire Christy for this month’s project? And maybe sometimes it has to be either or. On a good year, maybe I could do both. But if I say to myself, this is important for me, this is a long-term goal for me. And I want to keep improving my craft. Instead of going to DSW and going on a binge, I will use that money for a class, or instead of doing something else, I might use that money to hire a book coach.

So yes, it costs money, but everything costs money and even a virtual conference is going to cost you money. So if you’re in it for the long haul, I would say, think about making an investment, or you’re going to make an investment one way or the other, you’re going to buy books.

You’re going to go to conferences. You’re going to take classes, adding the book coach in there when you need it. Yes. Will cost you some money, but I think would be well worth it. And you just have to sort of factor that into your professional goals. And for me personally, like I said, it’s important for me to have my work as clean as possible before I send it to my agent.

And then she sends it off to someone else. Just knowing how competitive the field is.

[00:32:11] Sharon Skinner: Thank you. That’s nice to hear. That validation of what we do is really, it’s nice for us to hear it. So thank you so much.

Actionable Items

[00:32:20] Sharon Skinner: Well, I know we’ve gone a little long but again, we like to do an actionable item, so I’m going to jump in and say that based on the conversation that we’re having, my actionable item would be go out and look at what kind of service might serve you from a book coach like myself or Christy. Christy does kidlit. I do speculative fiction, including kidlit. There are other book coaches out there.

We’re not the only ones, but take a look at our services and consider that we can compress your learning and your craft leveling up if you will, into a tighter space, but also with the focus on your specific project, which, as much as I think conferences are great, they can’t do that for you because they’re not going to focus on just your project. So that is my actionable item for our listeners today.

[00:33:16] Christy Yaros: Okay I guess I need to have one then. So to that end with what Sharon said, I would say you need to really think about what it is that you need help with. What do you think your strengths are? What do you think needs improvement and how you can best get that. Maybe that is working with a book coach, maybe that is getting a manuscript evaluation.

Maybe that’s getting a developmental edit. But understanding what you need before you try to hire, somebody will serve you in the long run because. We’re all different. We all focus on different things. As book coaches, as editors, we all have different strengths and different ways of doing things.

Sharon and I are kind of tough straight shooters, but if that’s not maybe something that you’re ready for, there are coaches who will be, I wouldn’t say nicer, but maybe gentler than we might be. So really do your research on what’s out there. And what would best serve you because the more, you know, going into it, the more you’re going to get out of it.

What about you, Cindy? Do you have any actionable item?

[00:34:22] Cindy Rodriguez: I think just piggybacking on this idea of investment I think maybe take a look at your past year. How much have you spent on books? Did you join a group? SCBWI or 12 by 12, because I do sometimes think that people will say I can’t afford to do that, or I don’t have that kind of money. How much have you already spent, and then think to yourself, okay, if next year, thinking ahead or in the next six months, I want to have this book in good shape to be queried or whatever, instead of buying those 25 books, which maybe you don’t need anymore, can you take that money and invest it in a different way? I think the economics of it sometimes we just feel like it’s impossible. I used to think I can’t do this unless I quit my job and have my husband support me. And I can just write for seven hours a day. I used to have these ideas of how I can be successful. And now I really look at, in the time that I do have free, how am I spending that time?

Right. And making time to write. I think it’s the same thing with the money. I don’t have endless money to spend on building my craft, but I do have some and I’m just like the golfer would spend on new golf clubs. I’m going to spend whatever money I have to continually make myself better. So if you thinking I could never afford a book coach, I could never afford this class, take a little time, do a little inventory of what you already spent and maybe how can you, I guess, Shift those funds in a new way, that would better serve you.

[00:35:54] Sharon Skinner: I agree. We’re looking for the return on investment, but the return on investment is not always financial and if we can get the emotional support that we need and we can level up our craft game through whatever channels that we’re choosing to spend our time and energy and resources on, I think there’s value there.

And that’s really it. We have to look at what’s the value to us. And it comes back to what we talked about. I think we, back when we were talking in part one of this discussion, what’s your, why? Why are you doing this? What’s your purpose in writing? So thank you so much, Cindy, it’s been great hanging out with you and learning more about you and your process and having this conversation.

And thank you listeners for showing up again and again and again. We’re so joyful that you continue to want to hang out with us.

[00:36:46] Cindy Rodriguez: I’m so glad to be here anytime.

[00:36:48] Christy Yaros: Okay. At this point where this episode is airing, your book did come out. So be sure to check out Three Pockets Full if you have not yet, but since they listened to our last episode, they’ve already bought it. So that’s probably not a problem. Thank you everybody for joining us and Cindy, maybe we will have to have you come back later down the line when that next project comes out and we will see everybody else soon thank you so much for joining us.

[00:37:16] Sharon Skinner: Bye

[00:37:17] Christy Yaros: Bye.

Published inBook CoachingCoaching Kidlit Podcast Episodes