Monday 11 September 2017

Would You Use a Book Doula?

We're probably familiar with the word 'doula' being associated with pregnancy and birth, but until I read this Guardian article (courtesy of a writer in a Facebook group I belong to- thank you PR) 'Book doulas: the new way to push your writing into the world', I'd not heard of it in connection with books...

My first reaction was good grief!

It sounds a great idea, having that support and one to one contact, but there is a cost involved and you'd still need to research the person to assess their experience to take on the role- and how do you decide whether they're good enough?

We know the writing world has changed so much in the past 10 years.

Self-publishing has lost most of the taint of vanity publishing, and serious writers going this route know they need to write the best story they can, produce a good manuscript and get an editor who knows what they're doing- and can prove it; along with a book cover designer-among the numerous items to tick off the self-publisher's list.

Numerous services for writers have emerged, and only the individual writer can decide what they think they might benefit from.

But consider the following first (and I'm referring to the UK here):

We already have: mentoring, critique groups, regional writing organisations (offering lots of choices for developing your writing skills and bringing your book to life), genre specific organisations (with conferences, local groups and numerous opportunities to network, even take part in agent 1 to 1's etc), podcasts, book festivals...

reading together...
Even mainstream publishers have got involved: The Faber Academy, and Penguin Random House with The Writers Academy are just the two that come to mind.

Then there's universities offering creative writing courses, and degrees.

Writing Magazine has been running their writing courses for many years.

Yes, even writers' groups and clubs; choose wisely and you'll find published writers who belong to them and will pass on advice, encouragement and help writers develop. Often, those writers were gifted with the generosity of their peers when they were first experiencing those qualms.

You can learn from any of these, with support and advice to develop the skills and resilience you need to produce that book, or other writing.

Of course there's a cost to all these things too, but you can mix and match as your needs - change.

Doulas may find their way into the vast world of writing services and opportunities, but when there's already so much available, are they really needed?

Do you have any thoughts on this topic?


Wendy's Writing said...

Gone are the days when you 'just wrote a book' - the help out there is overwhelming.

Teresa Ashby said...

My reaction was just the same as yours, Carol! Good grief!

Carolb said...

Yes it is Wendy. But the writer is still the one who has to sit at the keyboard writing and editing it, and coming up with the ideas to start with. :-)

Teresa- I'm still not sure what to think about it now.

Julia- at least if you ever meet one, you will know what they do. :-)

Patsy said...

Would this doula be able to help with the writing, the editing, the proofreading, the formatting, the cover, the promotion and everything else involved? It's very rare to find a person who is good at it all. I'd rather get help from several people who're great in just one or two areas, than one person with limited talents over a wider field.

Carolb said...

That's a good point Patsy.

It seems that the doula has a variety of skills, but it doesn't mean they'd have all the skills the writer might need, or the depth of experience required.