Want To Pay It Forward? Mentoring Opportunity

So, when I went full-time earlier this year, I realized I might have a little more time to pay it forward and mentor younger/newer writers. I knew immediately I wanted to focus my efforts on writers of color, because I say I’m committed to increasing diversity, so I should put my extra time there, right? Right. Put your time where your mouth is, as it were. And we all know that young writers of color often have a harder time breaking in; I can help with manuscripts, I can help with business advice, I can be a person in someone’s corner.

An opportunity to help out a guy who was having trouble tackling a revision presented itself almost as soon as I came to this realization. Unfortunately, on Friday I learned that the person I’d been helping has been behaving very badly and hurting many women writers and that until the talking started people had been too afraid to speak up, now there was a flood. I believe them. To say I am livid and dismayed is to understate things. But I still believe in my realization earlier this year too. So I tweeted this on Friday night, almost as soon as I learned about the situation:

As you can see, it took on a life of its own. I have, at last count, about 35 or so emails from women of color looking for mentors. I’m on deadline this week, so it will probably be next week before I can sit and truly go through them. I don’t want to turn anyone away. But I can only take on one or two of these writers at most. Do I have time to coordinate this project? Well, I’m going to make time. Because this is important. This was a tweet on a weekend; this is a need.

So this is where you come in, writer friends. Are you a writer who’s further along? Who feels like you could mentor someone? Let me know (comments or email). If I’ve already heard from you–and bless you, six or so volunteers I already have–you don’t need to contact again. I’ve got you. You may wonder, what kind of time commitment are we talking about–I think that’s up to you and the writer you work with. I’ll sort through emails in an attempt to identify who will be a good fit, then work with you to pick who you want to work with out of a few people. Everyone is going to need something slightly different. I look for people who at least have a manuscript complete (and I assume that’s mostly who I’ve heard from), because those are people who are serious enough to have finished a project and who I can help push forward.

For me, mentoring is about providing manuscript feedback and career advice, it can be about helping a person wrap their head around a revision and set deadlines for themselves with outside accountability (aka me). That sort of thing. Your strengths may vary a little, so you may focus on different things. There’s no one way to mentor someone.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also plug a program several people have let me know about: Writing in the Margins. I don’t know all the details, but it’s certainly something I’ll be sharing with these writers (and I know one at least I’ve heard from has been through it already).

13 Responses to “Want To Pay It Forward? Mentoring Opportunity”

  1. Kris Dinnison

    I’d love to help. Let me know what you need.
    The website I gave is just my book recommendation blog. My author site was hacked recently and has to be rebuilt. That’s in process.
    Thanks for doing this!!!

  2. Michelle

    Not sure I’m super far along, but happy to help out and be a mentor if you’re still looking. Thanks so much for doing this!

  3. Rebecca Petruck

    I’m in! I’ve mentored as part of the SCBWI Carolinas program and Pitch Wars for two years now, so I’m comfortable with a range of needs. Can’t wait to meet a new mentee! Thank you for organizing this!

  4. P J Dean

    I saw your tweet and would like to know if offer is for real. I am a WoC and have stagnate sales/exposure. I’m looking for a better way to promo. I write a Scifi romance series for eXtasy Books who is based in Canada. I also have written a historical for their mainstream line (Devine Destinites) which did well on word of mouth. Next month, I am releasing my first self-pubbed historical. By the way, ALL the leads in my romance books are interracial couples. My no-nonsense heroine in my SciFi series is African-American.

    • Gwenda

      Hey there, PJ — This is more aimed at brand-new writers who are trying to make their first sale. But you might try Writing in the Margins or RWA for resources for more established writers!

  5. Tara Creel

    I’m super interested. I am a PitchWars mentee this year, but work as an editor for a small publisher. I’m always looking for ways to give back. Thank you for the opportunity!

  6. Rebecca Maizel

    Totally available and willing to help!

  7. Rebecca Coffindaffer

    I’m not sure whether I’m far enough along to be a mentor, but I write and freelance edit and would be more than happy to mentor.

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