Beth Miller

Writing and tea

Your submission to agents/publishers

Is your book ready to go?

If you're about to plunge your book into the exciting but shark-infested waters of agents and publishers, you might want an objective eye on your submission package before you cast it adrift. Don't be like those poor people* whose query letters to agents get roasted on SlushPile Hell.

I can advise on your letter, synopsis and opening paragraph. This useful service costs £100 (up to a maximum of 1500 words).

* some of them are clearly poor crazed people

"Ah, you were great!"

"Pitching a manuscript is kind of like playing bowls, except you’re blindfolded, and can only infer that you’ve missed when you don’t hear otherwise within six to eight weeks. And even then, you don’t know how much you’ve missed by. 

I played this demoralizing game for a while before contacting Beth. Her knowledge of the industry, and the large number of minor things which you have to get right to stay out of the slush pile, was invaluable. After one coaching session, I was able to send out a significantly improved pitch, with increased confidence – and, this time around, an excellent outcome. My book is being published by Biteback. Thank you, Beth!"

Steve Ramsey, author of Something Has Gone Wrong, published by Biteback in January 2018

"Writers who work with Beth get results. It’s thanks to Beth that my 30 years of promising to write this book and that book have turned into, erm, an actual published book. I went on a ‘formal’ Get Going course. She made me text her my word count daily during an extended write.
And she gave the best advice of all: “If you’re going to write, write!” There. The secret’s out."

Sam Knowles, author of Narrative by Numbers, published by Routledge in March 2018

"Beth worked with me on honing my book proposal in preparation for going out on submission. She was insightful, perceptive and hugely helpful, offering a
new perspective on my book and lots of useful advice.
She has just the right combination of kindness and honesty, and working with her was a real pleasure.
Can't recommend Beth enough if you need some help with a writing project."

Lulah Ellender, author of the memoir Elisabeth's Lists, published by Granta in March 2018

"Beth was incredibly insightful as to what my proposal needed and hugely helpful in pointing me in the direction I needed to go to make it land with publishers.
I will be forever grateful for the way she encouraged and energised me in one short meeting."

Andy Last, author of Business on a Mission, published by Greenleaf Publishing in November 2016

Beth's unique mix of writing and counselling experience was exactly what I needed when I got stumped on my second novel. She gave practical advice and helped me to take a step back and work out what it was that was causing me to fail. If you're suffering with your writing – whether due to time constraints or plot/characterisation problems or even (especially!) if you're facing the dreaded block, then you should consider mentoring sessions with Beth. The time I spent with her was invaluable and I have her to thank for kick-starting me again after a period of many painful years. Her warm, intuitive and humorous approach really was a blessing.
Debra Laine - writer and proof-reader

What is a book coach? And other FAQs

What is a book coach?

It's a coach in the football coaching sense, rather than the bus sense. As your coach, I can help you improve your book, whatever stage it's at. You might just have a rough plan, or an outline. You might be stuck half-way through. Or you might have a finished draft that simply isn't working.

Here's a piece about being a book coach that I wrote for the Books By Women website.

Won't it take ages?

A lot of people only need one session.This isn't psychotherapy. Together, we will look at where you're at, where you want to be at, and see how we can narrow that gap between the two.

How is it different from mentoring?

A mentor usually works with a writer for several sessions, over a long stretch of time. A coach is more like someone who swiftly gets you into match shape, then sends you back out there, revived and ready for the writing job ahead. However, if you want more than one session I'm happy to oblige.

Will you need to read my writing in advance?

Yes. The fee includes some advance reading, usually up to 1000 words. If you would like me to read 5000 or 10,000 words, or even the whole thing, we can negotiate a higher price for that.

How much?

The first session costs £60. This lasts one hour, and includes me reading up to 1000 words of your work in advance. Subsequent sessions are £50 per hour unless more reading is required. Discounts are available for block-bookings of three or more sessions.

Will it be useful for me?

If any of the following apply, then you might benefit from a coaching session:

- Do you have a great idea but are struggling to work it into something book-shaped?

- Have you got stuck with your synopsis or outline?

- Have you sent off your manuscript to agents or publishers only to stack up the rejection letters?

- Are the characters OK but the dialogue flat? Or the dialogue sparkly but the characters one-dimensional?

- Are you half-way through and losing faith?

- Are you on your second re-write and losing faith?

- Is there just something not working but you're not sure what?

What's your experience?

I have been through this stuff myself. For years. Loads of rewrites, tons of rejections, a synopsis that ran to 14 drafts, not knowing whether I was writing the best or worst thing ever...

I've learned to see quickly what works - and what doesn't - in a story. I can see the wood for the trees, which is hard to do yourself when you're close to a piece of work. Since being published I have a better understanding of what 'they' are looking for. I am honest, fair, kind-but-firm. I will listen to what you want and try to help you get there. I will tell you if your goal is unrealistic. I will boost you up and give you confidence if the project is good. I will leave you with a game-plan for the next phase of your work. I am quite nice.

"Beth helped me find the confidence and clarity in my writing to spur me on to complete my novel."

Martin Nathan, author of the novel A Place of Safety, published by Salt in June 2018

 I once paid (a lot of money) to have a 20 minute session with an agent at Bloomsbury Publishers. I got very brief feedback but nothing constructive, no hint as to what might help my submission.

Beth, on the other hand, was totally different, was totally on the ball. I got a full hour plus written feedback to take away. The feedback was what constructive criticism should be. It was honest, but it was also based on an empathy with what I was trying to achieve... She also gave me some advice, based again partly on her good, current knowledge of the market and what the gatekeepers are looking for but also on an understanding of what I was doing. One suggestion in particular was a game-changer.

I came away with a sense of realism but also some optimism in terms of what I might be able to do to improve my pitch. Highly recommended.
Beth is also an effective, down to earth communicator which is important.
Mick Scruton - writer and teacher
I send my manuscript to you when I can't think
straight any more and can't bear to look at it.
I am amazed at how, in two hours, you can hone in
on the unnecessary verbiage, repetitious use of words,
spare commas all over the place and point out
inconsistencies that relate to different sections of the book. I feel safe knowing your beady eye is closely monitoring my work.
Diana Hadlow - writer