Writing groups and workshops are great, as is showing your writing to your best friend, mum, cat, but there comes a time when you need to make a decision about how much you want to be a writer and how seriously you are going to take it. I am now offering a mentoring service in collaboration with the Riff Raff and I am about to tell you why you might need a writing mentor and how the scheme works.
Working one to one with a mentor can really take your writing to the next level. We won’t only be looking at your characters, plot and structure, we’ll be looking at voice, style and at your work at a paragraph and sentence level. We’ll also be thinking about where your book might fit in today’s market, what it is similar to, but also what makes it unique.
Agents want to know that you are serious about your writing. They want to know you have put as much time and energy into making your book as good as it can be, as they will be putting into selling it. Being able to say, in your covering letter, that you worked with a mentor for three or six months on your book shows that you are seriously invested in your career as a writer. Agents don’t want to take on a hobbyist. They want committed authors.
Firstly you need to get working on your book. Starting a book, or deciding to take your writing seriously, can feel like a huge leap into the unknown. Writing is a very solitary and lonely occupation. You don’t have anyone to tell you you are doing a good job. There are no appraisals or customer feedback. There is nobody to reassure you that you are going about your book in the right way, to make informed suggestions, or just to tell you it is worth carrying on. Working alone on a book can be extremely difficult, especially when there are so many easier things to do in life than try and write a book. Self doubt creeps in and self doubt is the cause of many an abandoned book.
It can also be incredibly difficult to just get the words down. There is always something more urgent that needs to be done such as painting your toenails or bleaching your tea spoons.
This is where I come in.
As your mentor, I will not let you give up/drown in self-doubt/go and bleach teaspoons. I assure you, as your mentor, that you will get the words down.
Then we will look at them.
So, why work with me?
Although Notes on My Family was not the first novel I wrote, it was my first published which makes me a debut novelist. Being a debut author means my own journey to publication isn’t that far behind me. I remember what it was like, finishing my novel, searching for an agent, gaining representation, the submission process, the editing process, what happens, and doesn’t happen, after publication and what is required, right now, of an author in terms of publicity.
Although I love the classics, I am also an avid reader of contemporary fiction. I feel it’s part of my job, as an author, to have a good idea of what’s going on in the world of publishing. I may be able to recommend certain authors and books for you to take a look at.
I have a BA (hons) First Class in Creative Writing and I have almost finished my MA in Creative Writing (I’m working on my dissertation). Prior to studying for my BA, I completed two creative writing courses and have over seven years experience work-shopping fiction and creative-non fiction in progress and giving editorial feedback. I have taught creative writing to both adults and children.
How does the mentor scheme work?
If you are interested in working with me on your book, you can apply through the Riff Raff (link at the bottom of this post). You’ll need to select me as your first choice mentor or manuscript assessor. I’ll look at however many pages/words of your book you decide to send depending on what package you opt for. They’ll also be SKYPE calls where we’ll discuss your book, your plans for it, and what you’ve submitted.
In order to apply, you will need to send a writing sample and book summary to the Riff Raff. I don’t mind if your book summary is short or if you don’t yet have a clear outline. What matters to me most is your writing sample. Your work should be edited and proof-read to a high standard, your sentences should be clear and functional, and I should get a good sense of your characters and setting, especially your protagonist.
By the time we’ve finished working together, you should have a confident and polished opening, a regular writing practice, better knowledge of how to edit your own work and the confidence to carry on on your own.