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Friday, May 27, 2016

How Should Authors Be Coached?



My two children allowed me the pleasure of coaching their athletic teams this spring.  My eight-year-old daughter played softball and my 11 year-old son played baseball.  Neither are the stars nor weak-links of their teams and both most assuredly won’t play sports professionally.  But they have fun playing a game, learning some skills, and competing on a field. But I noticed that so many parents and coaches say things to the child-players that really don’t help them. They are too simple, yet quite hard to actually do.  Maybe this holds true for experts who advise authors on getting published, promoted, and marketed.

For instance, we tell the kids who are pitching to “just throw strikes” or “it’s okay to let them hit it ,just get it over the plate.”  Obviously if they could, they would, but kids’ arms don’t always move in the same direction as that of their brains.

“Wait for your pitch,” we tell the batter. “If it’s good, swing.”  These kids are still figuring out what they can physically hit and then have the added layer of processing a lot of information quickly.  What coaches need to do is show the hitter how to actually hit, not just encourage them to swing at pitches they should know are hittable.

I realize now that the advice I give in this blog and to my paying clients at work may make perfect sense to me, but perhaps others hear me the way these kids hear adults telling them what to do on the ball field without really showing them how to do something.

On the other hand, some of this advice really does seem to make sense.  If only others could fully understand it and act upon it!  But it’s easier said than done.  Still, sometimes we try to simplify the hardest things in hopes that it will allow others to execute and not get overwhelmed with overthinking or excessive preparation or strategizing.

The simple advice to authors is usually this:

·         Authors must build a platform.  Start early and use social media to launch your brand.
·         Promote often and keep at it.
·         Examine the marketplace and fill in the voids.
·         Build a network and then ask for favors.
·         Give things away in hopes of earning book sales.
·         Keep writing and if you’re really good, you’ll get discovered.

All of these things are potentially true but what makes them so depends in large part on you and your abilities, connections, luck, and ability to execute upon these simple mantras.

Coaches advise the child-ballplayer on how to play the game, knowing that some of them are just not capable – physically or mentally – to live out the advice they are receiving.  Professional publish experts – like me – need to realize that some writers just lack the capability – incentive – mindset to actually carry out the things we tell them to do.

This may be true of the advice industry.  Self-help books, diet books, addiction recovery books, and all the books that tell us to fix our money, relationships, or parenting may just not be for everyone.  Either we acknowledge that some people can’t do what they are coached on or we take a closer look at the coaches and demand they show us rather than tell us what to do.

Advice is a tricky thing.  The information is out there – whether it be how to play baseball, market a book, or lose weight – and yet the majority of people fail at such things.  Perhaps it’s not anyone’s fault, but I know now that to coach others requires more than just encouragement or stating the obvious.  The experts need to get advice on how to share their expertise in a way that it gets utilized by those seeking to learn how to be someone they may never fully be.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2016

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