James Watkins: Coach

Does your writing need some CPR?

I love teaching and coaching writers. It’s been a joy to work with hundreds of individual authors in titling, organizing and marketing their articles, self-help books, technical manuals and several Bible commentaries from first-time authors to New York Times best-selling authors.

It’s a necessary evil to share your resume to prove you’re qualified to be of assistance, so reluctantly . . .

• I’m the author of over 20 traditionally published books and over 2,500 articles. Four of my books have won national industry awards such as Christian Retailers Choice award and an award of merit in Christianity Today‘s book of the year contest. The best comment, however, was from a CT judge who wrote, “Jim is no author. No, it’s like he’s sitting across from you at McDonalds sharing Diet Cokes.” (Okay, I can live with being “no author.”)

• I’ve also worked full-time at Wesleyan Publishing House as a book, magazine and curriculum editor, then as editorial director over the denomination’s curriculum products. While there, I earned four Evangelical Press Association awards for most-improved and best periodicals internationally. I also served as content editor for the American Bible Society. I recently won my fifth EPA for reporting on race relations for a national magazine.

• I’ve taught writing across the United States and around the world in conferences as well as 15 years at Taylor University teaching Freelance Writing, Online Communications and graphic design. I’ve written to text books used in colleges: Communicate to Change Lives and Writing with Banana Peels (writing with humor).

• I have an undergraduate degree in theology and graduate work in communications.

Okay, I may be qualified to help you.

What others are saying

    I cannot adequately express what a blessing it was for Jim Watkins to serve as the content editor for my manuscript. Jim excels, not only in delivering a quality final product, but he goes above and beyond to ensure that the process from beginning to end is achieved with timeliness and professionalism. For Jim, the goal is to serve the Lord and the writer to the best of his ability. Although my task was challenging, it was truly a joy to be shepherded by an individual who encouraged me and made me feel like my work was his greatest priority.
    Jay Mills, author of Game On! A Coach’s Game Plan for Discipleship

I ghosted an autobiography for a New York Times best-selling author. I organized her life story and wrote virtually every word, so it was nice to read “her” reviews:

    “[She] is a fabulous author. It’s written as if she is sitting at the kitchen table sharing parts of her life.”

    “Beautifully written with the same spunk she portrayed in her first book. As good as the first one.”

    “I’m having a hard time putting it down. She is such a great writer!”

    “She was born to write. Her life was so very interesting and she described it so well.”


I’ve been in the publishing business for over forty years—I started as a teen magazine editor my sophomore year in college. I’ve offered help in:

Deciding if a book is the right medium for your message Here’s a free guide.

Book titling (I love brainstorming with authors!)

Establishing your brand with logo, tag line and other elements of your writing identity

Assistance in designing your website and social media presence

Developing your book proposal

Books are chosen by publishing houses through book proposals. Here’s a free guide. I’ve had 18 books traditionally published, so I’d love to help you with your proposal.

I charge $60 per hour with a half-hour minimum. Email me for a free initial discussion of your project. jim@jameswatkins.com

• I also offer a whole ream of free writing resources for finding a reputable agent and ethical self-publisher (There are hundreds of piranhas out there preying on wannabe writers). Plus posts on the writing craft as well as the writing life!

P-ublishing assistance

Critiquing book manuscripts and proposals
This includes analyzing the manuscript as a whole for logical flow, consistency in tone and voice, readability and relatability, as well as title and marketability.

I charge 1 cent per word for critiques which include a written report identifying work areas and suggestions for possible markets.

Developmental editing

I’ll partner with you in implementing the changes needed to make your book powerful and publishable. Think of your book as a statue. A critique looks at the massive block of marble as whole and what is the best way to transform it into an intricate work of art. And there are basically three stages in the process.

Developmental editing, which I specialize in, is the jackhammer stage as the rough shape of the book emerges. A developmental editor works on creating a strong title and theme, developing a focus and tone that will appeal to the intended audience and makes sure the entire book smoothly and logically flows from idea to idea with appropriate transitions. This is the shaping process and includes a limited amount of rewriting for the client.

I charge 7 cents per word for developmental editing.

And while I don’t do the following two phases of editing, here’s a quick tutorial on the editing process:

Content editing requires more delicate work with a chisel to make sure the actual writing is strong with good word choice, paragraph structure and transitions within chapters. The industry standard is 2-4 cents per word.

Finally, proofreading is the sandpaper and polish stage addressing spelling, grammar, punctuation and rules of style (and there are thousands of them!). The industry standard is 1-2 cents per word.

Each is a necessary but very different stage in the process of creating a beautiful statue—and book. .

R-ewriting, researching

Many people have a story, but don’t want to go through what Malcolm Gladwell claims are the 10,000 hours to become proficient in a craft. So they turn to co-authors or ghostwriters.

I’m not limited to books, but have written promotional materials for Indiana Wesleyan University, World Hope, the Wesleyan Church Corporation and more as well as other nonprofits such as chambers of commerce, arts councils and philharmonic orchestras.

I’m also a certified nerd who, while on summer break in junior high, read the entire World Book Encyclopedia. I love to help writers and speakers research historical data, find word meanings in Hebrew and Greek and find appropriate anecdotes.

I can help you with . . .

Writing letters, promotional material for individuals and organizations

Rewriting current materials

I charge 10 cents per word for writing and rewriting ($100 minimum) for any kind of promotional writing, books, articles, etc. (And, no, I won’t write your term paper.)

Let’s bring your writing to life with some CPR!

I’ll be happy to provide references if you wish.

I require one half of written cost upfront and then the second half only after you’re completely satisfied. You can pay by check or PayPal.

I’d love to work with you!


Author and speaker

3 thoughts on “James Watkins: Coach

  • September 11, 2022 at 8:16 am

    Shalom Jim,

    We met at BRMCWC. I took your class about using Scripture in my writing. During my fifteen minute appointment we discussed a family devotional book I have written that models a lifestyle for parents to talk with their children about spiritual growth.

    You requested the manuscript. However, since then I had a stroke with lingering medical issues and my daughter has been treated for cancer.

    I feel stuck, semi paralyzed. I need a boost to get up and going again. Please advise.

    Thank you for your prayers and encouragement through your Facebook page. Some days your posts were exactly what I needed at the time.

    Shalom rav!
    Jean Holland

  • April 23, 2023 at 10:06 am

    Hi James
    One of your former students recommended you regarding a critique. I am working on a full re-write of a dark comedy novel. I was hoping to get some feedback on the first three chapters. Would you be interested? Or do you know of an editor who is really good with dark comedy? I am a big Gogol and Nabokov fan. Hoping for someone with the same interests.

    • April 25, 2023 at 10:41 am

      Hey Michael, I’m afraid I only edit nonfiction. I can highly recommend, however, my good friend, Lissa Halls Johnson, who is a well-published novelist and fiction editor. She would do an amazing job. (And she didn’t even pay me to write that! (Although she should!)


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