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Book Coaching Case Study: Femi Kayode’s Gaslight

You start the week with a prayer, hoping it will be better than the previous one. The day was August 8, 2022. A Monday. A fellow editor was in my DM with a request: Femi Kayode, the author of Lightseekers needs an editor. Are you available?

I smiled. Of course. I’d heard and read about Lightseekers, his debut. Anyway, introductions were done, and work started.

The brief: Copy editing and book coaching with a touch of sensitivity reading. A mouthful so, let me explain. The author had to complete his third full draft within a month. See, this writing thing is a long journey and is not for the faint-hearted.  Sometimes, you need some help. And that’s where I come in, as a book coach 😊

Considering his day job, and life lifing—Nigerian slang for when life happens—he still had to write. So, if the book had to get done, he needed an accountability partner who would not only receive chapters as he wrote them but would edit and send them back to him. It was like a game of tennis—author’s words, not mine—he’d serve me the 3, 000 – 5,000 words daily; I’d edit them and serve him back while he continued working on the next serve. Looks simple, right?

So what does it all mean?

Wearing Multiple Hats: It was a rollercoaster, yes. It was not my usual editing style where you’d receive the full manuscript and edit away in silence. This put me in continuous touch with the writer. I was a plot wrangler, sensitivity reader, editor, and cheerleader. On some days, my messages were like this:

Good afternoon. It is 3.46 pm. Nigeria time. I should have received something from you. Are you at your desk or watching Premier League? I said I should greet you. My email awaits.

Many times, his response was the next instalment waiting in my email. No doubt, there were hard days, when the drafts took longer to drop in my email. On such days, I received messages like this:

It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that my spirit is quite low today and I will not be able to deliver a set. I will do my best to go the extra mile tonight and see if I can deliver double the word count.

Finding Balance: While juggling these multiple hats, it was important to find balance and not keep your eyes off the goal: a complete book within a timeframe. Of course, sometimes, it is knowing that there will be those days—you know them right, those days when fatigue clamps you to the bed and your ideas are like slushy in your brain. It is important to accept it and move on quickly hoping the next day would be better. Sometimes, all you need is someone to ‘crack a scene with you.’ Again, with a book coach, it is easier to crack that scene and not remain stuck there for too long. It is the scene, not you. 😆

Working with a book coach helps writers in several ways. First, to complete their work on time. Second, to get someone to gain clarity to move beyond some knotty scenes. And this sometimes involves going back to parts of the book that were already otherwise edited. It also helped me as a book coach. Well, depends on how you see it. Let’s start with the fact that I got to see the behind-the-scenes of the story.

Reader, Editor, or both: I won’t even lie. Beyond working with the writer to complete the work, it was not easy being on the other side, waiting for the next instalment. Sometimes, the suspense was killing me. At such moments, I’d send long emails requesting for the next instalment. Sometimes when I couldn’t hold my ‘suspense’ I began to figure out where I felt the story was going. Typical reader behaviour. However, the author, the characters, and the story had other plans. You’ve to read Gaslight to find out, sorry!

A Therapist, but for Writers: I was at a networking event recently and I spoke with a prospective client who had a book idea stuck in her head. I told her “I am a therapist but for writers.” By that, it did not mean that I gave writers therapy, no. It just means that I will provide the writing support they need to get their book done. So, working as a book coach means going through it all with the writers. Sometimes, you may send reminders about their batch and if they do not get back, you do not stop believing in the work. As long as it is still within your project timeline, you continue to try to understand what’s going on and how you can make the writing process easier. Again, there are times when you need to be firm. So, finding that balance is crucial.

Now, we have a Book Launch to Plan: Once my work was done, the book continued in its gestation, moving to the publishers. Anyway, after spending some time there, the baby has been born. It is called Gaslight, the second of the Lightseekers series aka the second Phillip Taiwo investigation. Welcome to the world, child. The reviews are already coming and boy are they good? Gaslight is currently on the Waterstones Best Books of 2023 (Crime and Thrillers).


A short synopsis here:

‘We know you know. Talk and you’re next.’

Bishop Jeremiah Dawodu, pastor of a Nigerian megachurch, has been arrested and charged with the murder of his wife, Folasade, the ‘First Lady’ of the church. The arrest was public, humiliating and sensational – sending shockwaves through Lagos – but throughout it all, Bishop Dawodu maintains his innocence. Philip Taiwo, an acclaimed investigative psychologist, is asked by his sister, a member of the church’s congregation, to clear the pastor’s name. With no actual body, it looks to be a simple case and despite Philip’s dislike of organised religion, he agrees to take it on as a favour to his sister. Then the First Lady’s body is found in a nearby lake just as Philip’s beloved family come under attack from someone warning him off the case, and he realises that nothing to do with this investigation will be straightforward. Was it murder or suicide? Is someone framing the Bishop or the First Lady?

The tough part is done, welcome the fun times. Yes, we have a book launch to plan, and in typical Nigerian fashion, I am sourcing for aso-ebi, ensuring that all the guests are well catered to. No, we do not look at your clothes to serve you. Everyone is welcome. So, if you are in London or environs, make it a date. Let us make this baby naming a communal thing okay? It takes a village to raise a child, doesn’t it? Also, I want you all to experience what I went through while working on this book as a book coach. And yes, the midwifing of the book never ends, until it gets into readers’ hands. Launch details are below. 

Gaslight by Femi Kayode, London invitation


Date: Thursday, September 9, 2023

Time: 6-8pm

Venue:  Goldsboro Books, 23-27 Cecil Ct, London WC2N 4EZ



Can’t attend? Order the book online. Buy Gaslight everywhere you buy books. Buy for your friends for Christmas, New Year, and any other reason you desire. Books are perfect gifts. 😊

In a hurry? Here are some purchase links: Bloomsbury, Waterstones, Barnes & Noble

PS. Messages were used with the author’s permission.

PPS. I love seeing my writers succeed. Got word problems?  Send an email.

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