What’s the Difference Between a Book Coach and a Developmental Editor?

Sophie Playle

It’s true: there’s some crossover in what book coaches and developmental editors do.

Authors can hire either a book coach or a developmental editor to help them get the foundations of their novel in place, but these aren’t interchangeable services.

There are a few key differences:

Book coaches …

  • Help authors work on their mindset
  • Help authors develop writing habits
  • Provide encouragement and support
  • Act as a creative sounding board

In essence, book coaches work with an author (often long-term) to turn them into the kind of writer they want to be.

Developmental editors …

  • Work on a specific writing project
  • Help authors improve what they have
  • Provide an objective perspective
  • Act as a critical reader

In essence, developmental editors work with an author’s manuscript to help them increase its chances of being successfully published.

The crossover

Both book coaches and developmental editors can help writers improve their skills and knowledge, but this is usually a secondary consideration.

Both professionals are able to spot gaps in a writer’s knowledge or aspects of their craft that need attention and improvement.

But learning the craft of writing should always largely be the responsibility of the writer.

Taking writing courses, reading books about writing craft, attending workshops, and obtaining self-discovery through practice are the best ways to learn how to write. Book coaches and developmental editors cover other areas an author might need a helping hand.

Sophie Playleis a professional fiction editor. She specialises in developmental editing, critiquing and copy-editing, and loves working with authors and publishers who are passionate about high-quality storytelling. Speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and literary fiction are her genres of choice. She's an Advanced Professional Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading and has a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway, University of London. Find out more: liminalpages.com

Sign up to Liminal Letters

Insights into the world of fiction, from the desk of an editor

Editorial considerations, creative revelations and the occasional existential lamentation – sharing my experiences and personal recommendations exclusively with you.