NYWF – Professional Mentorships

Sourcing and Engaging in a Professional Mentorship

*Fact sheet prepared for National Young Writers Festival, Sydney, September 2016

Downloadable PDF

Why should I get a mentor?

Mentorships aren’t for everyone. Some writers may not feel the need to engage with a mentor in a formal sense—the advice, encouragement and support of trusted advisors, friends, colleagues might be enough. But in some cases, a mentorship may be a way to access specialised/in-depth/targeted advice on a specific area of interest or difficulty. In these cases, a professional mentorship might be worth considering.

What kind of advice can I expect to gain from a writing mentor?

There are many different kinds of mentorships available to writers, from project development mentorships to industry advice. Perhaps you are working on a science-fiction manuscript and want to improve the world-building elements, or you have a polished manuscript and want to know where to send it. Whatever the area of interest or difficulty, there are knowledgeable people out there who are willing to help.

Where can I source a mentorship?

Mentorships can be privately sourced (see info under ‘how do I approach a mentor?’), or sourced through professional institutions and awards. See list below:

  1. Australian Society of Authors Emerging Writers’ and Illustrators’ Mentorship Program supported by Copyright Agency Cultural Fund

https://www.asauthors.org/asa-mentorships

Professional advice for emerging writers and illustrators on strengthening a manuscript to publication standard for an elected number of hours over an agreed time period.

  1. Hachette Mentoring Program

An opportunity to work with an in-house editor at Hachette Australia on a manuscript

South Australia: https://sawriters.org.au/2015/05/19/south-australian-hachette-mentoring-program/

Western Australia: http://www.writingwa.org/programmes-services/hachette-mentoring-program-for-writers/

Northern Territory: http://www.ntwriters.com.au/news/hachette-mentorship-program/

Tasmania: http://www.taswriters.org/tasmanian-writers-centre-and-hachette-mentoring-program/

  1. Valerie Parv Award

1-year mentorship for a romance author to work with award-winning writer, Valerie Parv

http://www.romanceaustralia.com/p/110/Valerie-Parv-Award

  1. Affirm Press Mentorship award

http://www.varuna.com.au/varuna/index.php/programs/residential-programs/pathways-publication/item/342-the-affirm-press-mentorship-award

  1. Writers’ Centre Programs

South Australia – https://sawriters.org.au/mentorship-program/

Victoria – https://writersvictoria.org.au/support/mentorships

New South Wales – http://www.nswwc.org.au/support-for-writers/mentorship-program/

How do I approach a mentor?

Before applying for a mentorship or choosing a mentor, the applicant should identify what they want to gain from the process. A mentor will want to know that they are the best person for the job and that they will be able to provide the kind of advice being sought. Mentorship programs won’t consider an application unless they believe a specific outcome can be successfully achieved.

For privately sourced mentorships, the success of an application can lie in the strength of the query letter. Some authors will make it very clear on their website that they are not available for mentorships. It’s always good to do your research and find out if they’ve taken mentees before—which can be a positive indication that they would be open to doing so again.

What should I include in a query letter?

  1. Identifiable and relevant details about yourself
  2. Clear explanation of why you’ve approached the mentor including examples that express an understanding of the mentor’s strengths and expertise
  3. A detailed mentorship plan including SMART goals (measurable outcomes, timelines, mode of correspondence). More on SMART goals here: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/smart-goals.php
  4. Details on how you’re going to recompense the author for their time and expertise. Rates can be found on the Australian Society of Authors (approximately 100 per hour).
  5. Should you be considering applying for a grant to cover the costs of the mentorship, details of grant should be supplied so that mentor can prepare relevant support letters and references. See more information about grants and funding opportunities below.

How do I fund a privately sourced mentorship?

Sourcing the right mentor is one thing, but finding a way to recompense them for their time and expertise can be the tricky part. Below is a list of grants that are specifically designed to support authors with mentorship opportunities (Apologies in advice for the South Australian focus of this blog post. Similar funding bodies can be found in each state):

Arts funding bodies in SA include:

  1. CARCLEW:

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/ProjectandDevelopmentGrants

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/fellowships

https://carclew.com.au/Funding-Program/quickstart-loans

  1. ARTS SA:

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/emerging-artists-mentorships-impp/

http://arts.sa.gov.au/grants/professional-development-imp/

  1. Copyright Agency Ignite Career Fund:

http://copyright.com.au/culturalfund/career-fund/career-fund-guidelines/

  1. Quick Response Grants:

http://www.adelaidecitycouncil.com/your-council/funding/community-development-funding/

https://www.countryartswa.asn.au/our-services/funding/quick-response-grant/

  1. Local council grants (eg: City of Salisbury):

http://www.salisbury.sa.gov.au/Council/Grants_and_Awards/Grants

  1. University Alumni grants (eg: Flinders University):

http://www.flinders.edu.au/research/researcher-support/grants-contracts/

So, you’ve successfully secured a mentorship, now what?

Now it’s time to move on to my blog post on interpreting and implementing professional advice and feedback, which will outline what to expect when working with a mentor, editor, publisher on a manuscript or project.

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Thank you SA Life Magazine and SA Writers Centre

Was very excited to get a text message from a workmate last week saying: “Your photo is in the latest issue of SA Life! Page 44.” Lo and behold I went and bought myself a copy and found this!

SA life article SA Life article 2 SA Life cover

It’s an article about the South Australian Hachette mentoring program I received with in-house editor Sophie Hamley for my YA speculative fiction manuscript, Gold. A big thanks to Vanessa Jones at SA Writers Centre for making this happen. It’s lovely to get an acknowledgement in such a fancy magazine!

cited to

Hachette Mentoring Program Announcement!

I’m so stoked to be able to finally spill the beans. I’ve been chosen as a joint recipient of SA Writers Centre’s 2015 Hachette Mentoring Program alongside writer friend, Rose Hartley for my YA speculative fiction manuscript tentatively entitled Gold. Here’s what ran through my head after finding out the news. *See SA Writers Centre Press Release for full article.

Hachette Logo

“When I found out I’d be commencing a mentorship with Sophie Hamley from Hachette, I spent a good hour just hyperventilating from excitement. It was clear that this could be the most important learning opportunity in my writing journey so far.

To me, writing has always been a solitary process – highly creative, subjective, and extremely hard to contextualise within the realities of the publishing industry. Who’s my market audience? What’s my brand? These are not typically the questions running through my mind while I’m at home, alone, lost in a fantasy world, shooting my characters with ice arrows.

But the more I’ve learnt about writing and reading, the more I’ve come to realise that craft and industry go hand-in-hand. Sometimes the difference between a highly ‘creative person’ and a ‘novelist’ can be the mere integration of these two skills. This is why the chance to work with an industry professional from an established brand with a target audience in mind will be invaluable to my learning. It will give me the clarity and confidence to take my writing to a new level and bring me one step closer to my goal of sharing my stories real-life readers.

I can’t thank SA Writers Centre, Sophie Hamley and Hachette enough for this invaluable opportunity. It’s safe to say I’ve never been so eager to work so hard!”