Evolution of the WriteMentor Summer Mentoring Programme
the act or process of helping and giving advice to a younger or less experienced person
It’s time for a change.
I guess in the early days of WriteMentor, I wanted to follow what other successful programmes had been doing, and much of the way it was set up, was in that mould.
But I’ve been thinking for about 2 years now that we had to change things. But when something is going well, it can be hard to change. The temptation to continue as before is very high.
I am a biology teacher, and I know that without evolution, everything declines to extinction, and I don’t want that for WriteMentor. I want us to adapt and change to ever-moving world around us, and to be dynamic enough to realise when we need to move in a new direction.
So what does this mean?
Well, the new programme will remove all the (self-imposed) constraints of the previous programmes – namely time. The plan is still to offer support, but we’ll be more flexible in how long this is for and what it looks like. Each mentor can tailor what they offer around what they feel able to, instead of fitting in with our moulded template.
We hope this offers a more, relaxed experience for all involved – after all, this programme has always been about fostering long, and lasting, relationships between authors, and ultimately that arbitrary timeline we’d created only acted as a pressure for everyone.
Will you still do the agent showcase?
Again, this was a self-inflicted constraint of the programme – we asked agents to participate in a 1-week window (not always convenient) at a time of year that maybe wasn’t always ideal for individuals. Similarly the only workable way to design the showcase left everyone short-changed. A few hundred words isn’t always enough for either party.
So we’ll leave this open and flexible for the writers to query their chosen agents when they feel comfortable and ready. No rush, no worry, no panic (well, except the usual, you know!). But if you do get selected, indicating being mentored on our programme is worthwhile when querying.
So what will mentors do?
Well, previously we’ve asked mentors to read a full manuscript or 3 Picture Books, and give editorial feedback, as a minimum.
We’re removing this element.
We want the mentoring to be about fostering a relationship with a more experienced author, who you can check in with and they can give you advice, wisdom, brainstorm and be your cheerleader. We will ask that mentors commit to doing a minimum of 3 x 1 hour consultations on Zoom (or equivalent, ie 6 x 30 minutes), or 6 email consultations (however we won’t restrict any mentorship that wishes to continue, in agreement with both parties beyond this).
Mentors can specify if they’d like to work with a writer from a specific background/experience that they feel they could help most.
So there will be no editorial input?
We will leave this as a choice for the mentor, but there will be no expectation of any editorial help, nor should you ask for this if selected as a mentee. This new programme will be about having an experienced person to talk to, to navigate the tricky world of publishing a book, more than it’s about editing your work. As this is a volunteer run programme, we ask that you respect this at all times.
We will however offer to group you into small critique groups, so you can swap work with peers who are at a similar stage to you, and write in the same age-range, and hopefully genre.
Are there any other changes?
Yes, so this year we are looking for published/soon-to-be published (ie with a contract signed) authors only. This is not to exclude anyone, but the nature of how we’re evolving the programme means we’re imagining mentors will help writers over the longer term – ie with advice of choosing agents/how to manage an offer, what do when you’re getting published etc etc, so that’s the reasoning. We are going to trial self-publishing mentoring this year too, so if you’re a self/indie-published author and would like to help another author to navigate that pathway, you’ll be able to apply.
Will the programme still be as big?
We are keen to keep the numbers sensible going forward – as we’re volunteers we need to balance time and workload – so if application numbers are very high, we may not be able to take everyone on, regretfully.
How will the application process work?
Much like before, we’ll ask you to apply to a mentor (or 3), and they will read applications and choose their mentee. We will try to keep it as simple as possible.
Will I need a completed novel/picture book to apply?
Yes – in order to get the most out of your mentor, you’d want to have completed your book and be looking to take the next step. Completing a book is a huge step and achievement, and it’s at that stage that you will benefit most from the experience of a published author.
Will you lose the community aspect of it?
No, the plan is to create a Slack community, like in every previous year for mentees/mentors to communicate, during, and after, their mentorship.
We are planning to do a live Q&A session soon on YouTube, so that will be the time for any potential-mentee questions.
As always, we simply want to foster an environment of support and community, and help elevate writers who may be struggling. The purpose of mentoring is not to get you published, it’s to help you navigate the tricky road ahead.
Writing can be lonely, but it doesn’t need to be.
Applications will open in April for mentees. We will publish more information on the specifics closer to the time.
Applications are now open for mentors. Apply here. (Deadline for applications is 6th March)
Mentor Requirements (please note that this is a voluntary programme, run by a volunteer)
- Published (or soon-to-be, with contract signed) in children’s fiction (PB up to YA). No adult or NA or non-fiction.
- Willingness to help another writer navigate the tricky world of getting published.
- Time commitment – 6 hours total (you can do more if both parties are keen to continue but this is not expected).
- There is no expected editorial input (though again if you wish to, that’s up to you and mentee to agree). However we will ask for samples along with applications as we think it’s important to be invested in the mentee’s work, even if no direct editorial input does take place.
- There is no time-limit, but we’d expect most of the 6 hours to take place within 12 months.
- There is no prep work needed – simply arrange a time via email with mentees to chat or if you both prefer you can simply email instead)
- If any mentee is inappropriate or oversteps boundaries, we can step in to re-assert those and deal with the situation.
- If you’re interested in becoming a mentor (not mentees at this time), do email Stuart (stuart at write-mentor.com) if you have any questions beyond this.
The dates are similar to usual – we’ll open for applications in mid-April. Then decide in a two week window which mentee you’d like to work with, and then work with them over a longer, more flexible period.