Coaching and Editing for Fiction Writers

Welcome!

I’m Tina Alberino, also known by my fiction-focused pen name, Alin Walker. I’m a certified copyeditor with fifteen years of writing and publishing experience. In addition to the work I do here, I am the executive editor of The Dread Machine.

A lot of writers struggle with discipline and stamina. They set out with enough enthusiasm to finish a story outline or a few chapters of a novel, but then the initial passion fades. The writer realizes writing is hard. It’s actual work, and it’s more complicated than they initially realized. Soon, they’re avoiding their manuscript, finding excuses to be “too busy.” The draft sits in a drawer, gathering dust, never to be completed.

Sound familiar?

Many writers need structure, support, encouragement, and maybe a bit of mentorship. They need an educated project manager who can keep them organized, on-task, and moving forward, someone to hold them accountable to their dreams while helping them navigate the publishing industry.

That’s where I come in.

In addition to managing your projects, a great editor can help you recognize the obstacles standing in your way and teach you how to overcome them, accelerating your professional and technical education and advancing your career at a must faster pace than you’d likely be capable of achieving on your own. 

If this is something you’re interested in, keep reading.

I am your coach if:

1. You want to get things done. I leverage my strengths as a project manager, so you can expect to receive a plan and for me to hold you accountable for sticking to it.

2. You are willing to do the work. This can mean trashing pages, killing darlings, rewriting entire chapters, and overhauling characters.

3. You want to improve. As a certified copyeditor, I can help you refine your writing skills so you can start composing polished sentences. I will send you resources, assign exercises, and track your progress.

4. You need more than empty platitudes. I’m a supportive motivator and a problem solver, not a cheerleader. You will never have to wonder if I’m yet another person taking your cash and telling you what you want to hear. I take my job seriously, and I respect my paying clients too much be anything other than truthful.

5. You are an experienced writer. Meaningful progress can only occur when the writer has separated their emotions from their work. Gaining this objectivity can be a long, emotionally challenging process that can overwhelm or discourage new writers who are still finding their voice, so I don’t accept coaching requests from beginners or hobbyists. A solid foundational understanding of grammar, syntax, mechanics, style, and literary technique is required.

What I Do

Support

Create and foster a supportive environment where writers can  explore new ideas and techniques.

Challenge

Provide loving challenge that inspires writers to think deeply and write with intent and authenticity.

Manage

Ensure projects progress to publication by creating a strategy and holding writers accountable.

Encourage

Encourage professional growth with integrity and compassionate honesty.

How it Works

Monday: Kickstart

Every Monday morning, you’ll receive the Kickstart email containing information about the upcoming week, relevant industry news, interesting calls, market alerts, recommended reading, and the scheduling link.

Tuesday: Write

You’ll begin working on your weekly project each Friday. By Tuesday, your submission should be nearing completion. Invoices expire by 5 p.m., so make your payment before you lose your spot!

Wednesday: Update

Submit your work and an update by Wednesday evening. How are you feeling about this project and about your progress? Include any questions or issues you may want to discuss during our meeting on Friday.

Thursday: Edit

On Thursday, I complete two full passes on your submission. You are welcome to observe but not to interrupt. Review your edited document on Thursday evening. Resolve the changes you agree with, comment on the rest.

Friday: Meet

During our Friday meeting, we’ll review (and resolve, if necessary) the submission together. I’ll answer any questions you have, and we’ll determine whether to start a new project next week or continue working on the current one.

Weekend: Progress

Over the weekend, you will work on your current project and read a contemporary title. You’re encouraged to research markets, search for interesting calls, brainstorm new ideas, and complete writing exercises.

Q&A

The word “editor” could mean a number of things, depending on who you ask.

If you ask the general public, they’ll tell you an editor is a Grammar Tactician who corrects and/or enhances a written work. (They’re correct.)

If you ask a publishing insider, they’ll agree, but they’ll also remind you not to forget about the acquiring editors, the people who evaluate incoming submissions for a publisher or literary agency but who may never actually manipulate text. (They’re correct also.)

If you ask Maxwell Perkins, Gordon Lish, or Robert Gottlieb, an editor is an experienced publishing professional who supports and guides selected writers. This is the type of support offered to coaching clients.

The coaching process often unfolds over a long period of time (anywhere from six months to several years), and editors are not one-size-fits-all.

It’s important that I believe in the projects I work on and that we are compatible.

If your project doesn’t resonate with me and I’m not invested in it, I won’t be able to serve or support you the way you need and deserve. If your methods don’t mesh with mine, or if our personalities aren’t a natural fit, neither of us will be happy.

Don’t hire someone just because they’re willing to take your money; hire someone who loves your work as much as you do, preferably someone you feel comfortable talking to and whose company you enjoy. If that person isn’t me, I will happily provide you with recommendations for colleagues who I know and trust.

To put it simply: ensuring your success becomes my job.

As your editor, I do the following:

  • expand your skills and industry knowledge by providing advice and insight, 
  • help you brainstorm, outline, schedule, prioritize, and complete projects,
  • create strategies to ensure every project has a purpose,
  • hold you accountable by establishing deadlines,
  • refine your drafts by challenging and enhancing your work,
  • keep you focused and productive, and
  • monitor submission calls for potential opportunities.

 

You can expect deadlines, exercises, required reading, and weekly meetings. (You can also expect me to ask “Why?” a lot and to leave reaction GIFs in my comments.)

I do work with beginners, but I do not offer every service to everyone.

If you’re new to writing and publishing, start with our critique and weekly check-in services, attend some workshops, take some courses, read a ton of books on craft, and master short fiction by securing a few pro-rate placements. (Learn how to collaborate with editors by getting published by a few literary magazines first!)

Beginners are not eligible for coaching. Frankly: this program is not suitable or beneficial for beginners.

  • Writers in the coaching program are required to do a considerable deal of work on tight deadlines. Maintaining this pace requires them to have several projects in development simultaneously.
  • To ensure meetings and projects progress efficiently, participants must be capable of seeing their words, sentences, plots, and characters as objectively as cogs in a machine.
  • Writers must also demonstrate that they have already attained the foundational skills and education necessary to comprehend and implement most editorial observations, queries, and suggestions with minimal clarification or additional instruction.


Beginners are also not eligible for book coaching.
Creating a book is a complex intellectual (and often very emotional) endeavor. It is hard, slow work. Taking on a manuscript as your first serious writing project is like trying to scale Mount Everest without any prior training or education. Can people successfully do it? Sure, but they’re the extreme exception to the rule. I’m unwilling to embark on that particular endeavor, but thanks for thinking of me!

Far less than it should but enough that my partners take their participation seriously. I charge an affordable, flat weekly fee. I only disclose the fee to accepted applicants. (It’s far less than we should be charging.)

I expect writers to keep me informed by sending me an email each Thursday. I want to know how your writing went this week. Did you have any interesting new ideas? Learn anything new? Read anything compelling? Are you enjoying this project? What aren’t you loving? How are you feeling about your experience in general? Don’t overthink it, just let me know what’s going on.

Brevity is the soul of wit (and pleases your editor): limit this email to 800 words, max.

My time is carefully budgeted and managed, so I cannot be perpetually available. I reply to emails on weekday mornings, but I do ask that emails be brief, to-the-point, and infrequent. I prefer if participants type all their questions into a single draft email throughout the week and send it to me by Thusday afternoon so I can review it and gather any resources you may find helpful before our Friday meeting.

There’s a popular saying in the publishing industry:

When an editor tells you what’s wrong with your book, they’re probably right. When an editor tells you how to fix your book, they’re probably wrong.

A lot of writers do not appreciate unsolicited plot advice, so I will keep my ideas to myself unless you specifically ask me to share them. Instead, I will identify the manuscript’s problems and help you figure out the best solution yourself.

Reading current fiction is the best way to absorb new skills, expand your vocabulary, get familiar with the market, and learn how to implement literary techniques in your own writing. Reading like a writer—closely analyzing the text to see how it works—accelerates your growth considerably, so I do expect coaching clients to read at least two titles a month. 

Wait List Application

Thank you for your interest! The coaching program is currently at capacity, but applications will continue to be processed. Applicants can expect a response in 1-2 weeks.