Book COACHING

You are a smart, talented, ambitious writer with a killer concept for a book. You have notebooks full of ideas and a Word doc on your desktop called ShittyFirstDraft.docx. Maybe you stay up late Googling “how to write a query letter” or you’ve stalked the shelf at your local bookstore where someday a paperback with your name on the spine will appear. Maybe your characters visit you in your dreams. You feel a little bit haunted. Impatient. Itchy.

You take a writing workshop. And then another. You Google “low-res MFA.” You watch the Joan Didion documentary and think it isn’t fair—you were born in the wrong decade. Maybe you should buy a typewriter, or go back into therapy.

That itch you feel is a question that plagues you.

Why haven’t I finished my book yet?

You may think you need tough love, a stern taskmaster to look over your shoulder and make you finish that draft, or a $30,000 MFA program that will hold you hostage until you’ve written your thesis (and then put you on the fast track to a book deal).

But there’s another way.

As a book coach, I work one-on-one with writers to help them overcome the hurdles standing between them and a finished manuscript. Then I walk them through the publication process and help them query literary agents. Most writers come to me with previous writing experience (in academia, freelance journalism, writing workshops), but they feel overwhelmed and uncertain about the best next steps to take.

I’m not a therapist, but my process is therapeutic. I’m a deep listener, an empathic ally. Clients tell me, “This is like therapy but…more fun.” 

Writing is a solitary process and it’s hard to know when you’ve taken a right (or wrong) turn without a collaborator to bounce ideas off of. Writing workshops can be a big help but they're a short-term fix. 

You need someone in your corner who’s been where you want to go, and I have ten years of experience in media and publishing (beginning at The New Yorker), and three published books under my belt, in three genres. I understand indie and Big Five publishing and have contacts throughout the industry. 

When I first came to Leigh, I was frozen in a glacier of writer’s block. I never wanted to look at my book again. She not only got me motivated to see my work with new eyes, but inspired me to remember why I was writing my book in the first place. In a short time with Leigh, I accomplished my goal of passing the halfway mark in my book, something that didn’t seem possible. Leigh is great because she’s wicked smart, funny, and tolerant when all you want to do is complain for an hour about how much you suck. She gives sage advice, and most importantly, she puts you back on the path. She’s an even-keeled listener, a practical coach, and she wants to see you succeed. If you’re looking to really truly finish your book, Leigh will help you get there.
— A.G.

What I do

I specialize in memoir and literary fiction. I offer:

  • Private coaching by phone or Skype: I listen to where you're at and help you troubleshoot. I am sensitive to the unique challenges faced by memoirists writing about painful material. Writers who have been putting off finishing their book for years (yes, years!) tell me how hugely helpful it is to have someone they can rely on to hold them accountable to their own writing goals.

  • Manuscript critique: I give both micro- and macro-level suggestions. You'll get comments and edits from me on every page, plus big-picture feedback on structure, plot, voice, point of view and narrative distance, themes, language, scenes and dialogue, characters, and pacing. I will tell you what I love about your work and I will also give my suggestions for next steps.

  • Book proposal development: Many non-fiction titles are sold on proposal (rather than a complete manuscript). We’ll discuss what makes the most sense for your project.

  • Platform building: Literary agents love discovering writers who have taken the time to build their platforms, whether that’s through freelance writing, public speaking, or social media. I help writers pitch articles to gain credibility and grow their audience.

  • Publishing consultation: I critique query letters and book proposals. I can help with market analysis and comp titles. I can research the best agents to query for your project. I can also review rejection letters as a diagnostic tool for next revision.

What I don’t do: I’m not your girl if you’re working on historical fiction, commercial fiction, or YA/middle grade, or if you plan to self-publish.

Leigh is a gifted coach who combines the psychological insight of a skilled therapist with expertise about the process and craft of writing. From the moment our phone calls begin, she’s listening intently and able to handle whatever I throw her way—confusion, despair, frustration. She responds with smart, practical suggestions for process and content, as well as relevant reading suggestions. Oh, and talking to her is also really fun.

As a reader, Leigh is a dream. Her line notes and end comments are among the most comprehensive and incisive that I’ve ever received (and this from someone who has an MFA and has taken numerous workshops).

If you’re looking for someone to help you identify and reach your writing goals, Leigh Stein delivers.
— Maggie Levine

like what you’ve read?

Let’s talk! If you’re interested in experiencing what I’m like as a coach and editor, fill out the form below and I’ll schedule a time with you for an initial consultation. My fee for a consultation is $300, which includes written feedback and edits from me on 10 pages (double-spaced, 12pt font) of your book, plus a 1-hour phone or Skype call to get advice on where you’re stuck. One writer recently told me that talking to me for a single hour was “magical” and I unlocked a problem with the structure of her book that had been stumping her for years.

After our call, if you decide you’d like to work together, my rate is $150 an hour. Each project I take on is unique and I will provide a custom estimate based on where you’re at in your drafting process and your publishing goals.

Here’s the form to fill out if you’d like to schedule a call:

Name *
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What challenges are you facing right now with your writing process? *