Thursday, August 7, 2014

What if you're not "almost there"?


In my Pitch Wars bio, I repeatedly say I want to mentor someone who's almost there. Someone who's right on the cusp of getting signed to an agent; someone who's ready.

Well, what if you're not ready?

Don't you "deserve" a mentor more than someone who's so close already?

Here's the reason why I don't want to work with people who haven't already come most of the way themselves.

Cultivating a voice takes time, care, and practice. I think it's vitally important that proto-authors guide this process themselves. They should do it through reading. They should do it through writing. They should do it by taking and applying advice from more experienced authors and publishing professionals. And if they latch onto a willing mentor too soon in their lives, they run the risk of not developing independently.

Writing teachers, developmental editors, beta readers, mentors--we all run the risk of influencing a developing author too much, and I worry that I've been guilty of it (though probably not enough to have warped anybody; there's nobody I've dragged around under my wing long enough to pollute their waters permanently). So I want to work with people who have already done most of their homework, already found their own way to be an artist, and have their heroes and role models but are no longer copying them. I do NOT want to mold the products and publishing path of someone who's still a lump of clay. I want them to pilot their own writing destiny, and I'll only take over as copilot on the rare occasions that they get lost or fall asleep. They need to know how to fly the plane. This needs to be their show.

So, when I work with writer friends, I ask them to show me their work at the end of the road, if at all possible, and I ask them to get it as good as it's gonna get before they involve me. If they're not there yet, I'll be honest and tell them it's not ready. I'll give them a push: you do this well, you need work on this, here are a couple language errors, I hope you keep writing. But if they just need a polish, I'm the girl. If they just need publishing/querying guidance, I'm the girl. If they just need reflections on the whole Author Experience, I'm the girl.

But I'm not the girl to choose your path if you're still figuring out where you want to go. You should be the one to choose that.


  1. That makes sense. And there is a difference between a mentor and having someone who will co-write the book with you.
    Great post!