Coaching and editing

If you have an idea for a writing project, but you don’t know where to start, or if you have a manuscript that you’d like to take to the next level, I’d love to help you reach those goals.

I specialize in literary memoir and other personal writing. Some of my clients are working on book-length projects. Others hire me to boost their personal statements for graduate school applications.

As a coach, I can help you:

  • Design a plan to guide you through your first draft.

  • Locate the core of the story you want to tell.

  • Define your ideal audience and reach that audience more effectively.

  • Level up your writing with advanced tools, such as defamiliarization, extended metaphor, and lyricism.

  • Craft a persuasive query letter for agents or a proposal for small presses.

I offer a discounted hourly rate for clients who book five or more appointments in advance.

As an editor, I offer three packages:

  • Á la carte editing: I charge by the word for smaller projects. Let’s talk about your goals and a package that fits your needs.

  • Standard reading: A big-picture assessment of your completed manuscript, including transcribed voice notes on my impressions while reading and a 2-3 page summary report.

  • In-depth edit: I devote every writing tool I've honed over 20 years to sharpening your story through line-by-line feedback on everything from sentence structure to scene development, as well as a 3-5 page summary report.

There’s no risk in reaching out. If you have a smaller project in mind, I’m happy to offer an estimate over email. If you need help with a book project, let’s set up a free consultation to see if we’d be a good fit!

Book a consultation

Why work with me?

My friend Nigel Beale asked me pointedly during an interview for his “Biblio File” podcast what qualifies me to be a book coach. “Can’t anyone hang out a shingle and call themselves a coach?” Nigel asked. I do my best to answer in the episode below.

Nigel Beale's Biblio File podcast
Joshua Doležal on being a 'Book Coach.'
Joshua Doležal is a writer and award-winning teacher with 20 years of experience in publishing and editing. His mentor was Ted Kooser, former Poet Laureate of the United States and Pulitzer Prize winner. Josh's work has appeared in more than 30 magazines including The Kenyon Review and The Chronicle of Higher Education. His memoir…
Listen now

I could tell you that I taught writing for 20 years as a college professor, that I studied under Ted Kooser (U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer winner), that I have published a memoir with an acclaimed university press, and that many of my essays have appeared in magazines with a < 1% acceptance rate, such as those in the illustration below.

But if you have an idea for a memoir, novel, or trade manuscript, I suspect that you’d be more interested in what my clients have to say about me than any list on my resume. Only if you felt that others had thrived under my care would you want to talk to me, and even then you’d be listening more to what your gut was saying about our chemistry than to any promises I might make about outcomes.

So let’s start with the testimonials.

"I can’t thank enough Josh for the transformational experience I had working with him as a writing coach. Josh has an uncanny ability to help writers tap into their inner power. During our time working together on my memoir, Josh generously offered extensive feedback on my manuscript. His keen eye for detail and constructive criticism helped shape the memoir in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. What sets Josh apart is his commitment to fostering authenticity in every writer he works with. Josh's approach to coaching is not just about teaching writing techniques (though he offers plenty of that, too); it's about nurturing the writer as a whole. He encouraged me to embrace my unique voice and style, empowering me to write with confidence and conviction."

DJ Lee, author of Remote: Finding a Home in the Bitterroots

"As an emerging writer, I took a class with Josh to focus on specific techniques on writing for audience. I am so glad I did! He really paid attention to our projects and went above and beyond to offer additional material sources for each writer to carry us forward. But it was his feedback that blew me away. His feedback has unquestionably strengthened my WIP and I am excited to now be working with Josh as my book coach!"

Beth M., current client

“Josh is a dear friend and one of the best writers and teachers I know. He's been informally coaching me for years, and my work is so much better for it. He doesn't just teach, he presents some of the best, most analytical, thoughtful pieces of his own for inspiration. He's been there, done that, in authentic spaces. Take him on as a mentor, you won't regret it. Maybe the best part of it is he leads with the beauty of his own work.”

, author of

"Josh is an excellent mentor—he listens to and respects your vision, but he also brings in new perspectives and expertise. He has supported me through several high-stakes writing projects. He has a great sense for audience; he seems to intuitively know what will make a piece more effective with its intended readership. He is one of the rare people I would trust to bring any writing project to the next level."

Kate Nesbit, Assistant Professor of English

"Josh recognizes what is done well in a draft while always asking questions that provide a new perspective. I saw so much growth in my writing during the time I was working with Josh, and that is something I will always be grateful for."

Lauren B., former student

If you like what you see here, let’s talk. If I can’t help you, I’ll be happy to refer you to someone who can.

Book a consultation