I love helping other writers bring their stories to life. Writers I’ve worked with have gone on to land top-tier agents and contracts with the Big Five publishing houses. Here’s an example: Three weeks after my engagement with Elizabeth Wafler ended, she landed one of her dream agents.
I’m proud to be a book coach both at Author Accelerator and via my own private book coaching and editing service.
Yes, you can request to work with me if you decide to go through Author Accelerator. That does not, however, guarantee that we’ll be able to work together. There are many factors that go into their writer/coach matching process, so it’s very possible you could be assigned to another coach. Whether you request me or not, if you get in touch with them, please let them know I sent you!
To work directly with me via my private book coaching/editing practice, please take a look below at the services I offer.
I would love to help you bring out the magic of your story.
I’m particularly well-versed in women’s fiction, romance, book club fiction, Southern fiction and mainstream fiction.
I’m well aware that any money you pay toward my services could otherwise be spent on your child’s baseball uniform, your electric bill or that big-deal writing conference you’re dying to attend. For that reason, I do my best to provide honest and straight-forward feedback. I’ll tell you what you’re doing right, but won’t sugarcoat those areas that need improvement. You want me to help your writing and storytelling get better. I do my best to honor that fact.
I’ve been studying the craft of writing for years. I’m an alumni of multi-day programs such as Robert McKee’s Story seminar and Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel workshop. Through my work at Author Accelerator, I coach other writers using Lisa Cron’s Story Genius method. I’ve delivered writing workshops on the regional and national level. In addition to being a traditionally published author, my stories have reached the finals and won several writing contests. I’m a member of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the former chair of their Agent Pitch Events. I was a member of Romance Writers of America for years and attended several of their highly-educational national conferences. My debut novel was a finalist for their prestigious Golden Heart award.
In addition to being a book coach for Author Accelerator, I was also asked to mentor students in the first cohort of their Advanced Book Coach Certification program. As such, I’m also certified in this highly-regarded course.
My three-decade career as a corporate trainer, executive coach and vice president of human resources gave me teaching and coaching chops that dovetail nicely into my role as a book coach and developmental editor. In other words, I’m ready to teach, coach, develop, prod and hold you accountable to produce your best work.
Here are my standard editing packages. I also offer custom packages if there’s something different you’d like to discuss.
“Sheila is Waiting for My Pages”
Twelve submissions plus phone calls – (3) monthly invoices of $299 each
My clients on this package love knowing that I’m waiting on the other end for their pages. This accountability spurs them to get their work done. Submit up to ten pages per submission and receive in-line edits, plus a recap note that addresses big picture items such as character development, increasing obstacles, maintaining the reader’s interest and narrative drive. We would have a twenty-five minute project management call before we get started and another twenty-five minute phone call after every two submissions. This package requires a minimum commitment of twelve submissions, though this works so well for most clients that they keep going until their manuscript is complete.
This is a great program if your productivity increases when you know you’ve got a deadline looming, but there’s also flexibility to accommodate the other parts of your life. Because you’ll book your submission days via my online calendar, you can schedule around times when you’ll be traveling, have a big family event or are otherwise unavailable.
The initial twelve-deadline package means you would receive an invoice for $299 for three months in a row. Submissions must be used within six months of the date of the first invoice. Please note that ten pages per submission x twelve submissions equals 120 pages of feedback, which would cover approximately one-third of an adult length novel. The vast majority of my writing clients continue to work with me beyond the initial twelve submission engagement package.
Interested in turning in twenty pages per submission instead of ten? I welcome that, too. Just double the price above. Also, go you!
Build the Foundation of Your Story
A house will lean, crumble or topple over if its foundation isn’t strong. The same is true for story. With this package, we’ll work together to make sure the foundation of your story–the premise, the point, the story logic, the narrative drive–are sound before you write those 300 or 400 pages. This package includes a review of your first fifty pages and an outline of up to ten pages. I’ll provide the format for your outline when you decide this is the package for you. Hint: It involves Excel
Once you’ve received my feedback, you’ll go back to revise the first fifty pages and the outline so as to ensure the foundation of your story is solid. You’ll resubmit your revisions to me for a second round of my feedback.
This package includes two fifty-minute phone calls, one after each time I review your work. Our goal is to arm you with the right blueprints to build that house . . . er, story.
“Give Coaching a Try” Package with Editorial Letter PLUS Inline Comments
This package includes a two-page editorial letter and inline comments on the first fifty pages of your manuscript. I’ll provide feedback on big picture topics, such as how well you’ve drawn the reader into the story and how quickly and clearly you introduce the problem that will drive the story forward. The inline comments will provide specific feedback on where and how you can improve your work.
Full Manuscript Editorial Letter
After a complete reading of the manuscript, my deliverable to you would be a four to six-page WORD document recapping what I see as its strengths and weaknesses, as well as an analysis of big picture topics such as character development, narrative drive, voice, increasing obstacles and other aspects of storytelling. This pricing assumes a manuscript up to 325 pages. Pricing is also available for longer manuscripts.
Full Manuscript Edits
$5 per page
My deliverable to you would be in-line edits, plus a WORD document as described in the Full Manuscript Editorial Letter section above. I leave a lot of comments–both positive and to show areas of improvement–so this is a way to get the most robust feedback.
Interested in one of these packages?
Looking for a different kind of help?
I’m happy to chat.
Please email me at SheilaAthensBooks@gmail.com if you’re interested in working with me. I’ll send you a questionnaire to complete about your project. Assuming we think we’re potentially a good fit for each other, the next step after that would be for us to get on the phone for a (free) consultation call.
All manuscripts should be in Microsoft WORD and in standard industry format, which means one-inch margins all the way around, double-spaced and Times New Roman, 12 point font. Each new chapter should start one-third of the way down on a new manuscript page.
Phone calls: The work outlined above does not include phone consultations except as described in the “Sheila is Waiting for My Pages” and “Build the Foundation of Your Story” packages. Phone consultations are available with other work at a rate of $50 per half hour or $100 per hour.
Payment in full is due in advance and should be paid via PayPal. All payments are nonrefundable.
Please understand that I will sometimes flag typos, misused words and grammar errors, but the services I provide are not copy editing or proofreading services. When there is an ongoing pattern throughout the manuscript, I will flag it the first few times and leave it to you to identify the remaining instances. My primary mission is not to fix these small errors. My primary mission is to help you make your story stronger.
Photo of file folder courtesy of Elizabeth Wafler.