Welcome to the 2022-2023 Storymentors year! We’re excited that you’re interested in being mentored by one of the members of the Storymakers Guild. It’s awesome that you want to improve your craft and learn more about the nuts and bolts of being an author! We hope that this year is one of growth for you.

Before you apply to the program, we’d like to share with you our expectations and guidelines so you know what it is you’re getting into! If you ever have any questions or concerns about any aspect of the program that aren’t answered here, please contact the program directors (Rebecca J. Carlson and Kara Reynolds) at storymentors.program@gmail.com. We are here to help you have a great experience!

General Expectations for Communication

This program lasts from mid-June to the next Storymakers Conference (May 2023). The mentors are ready to commit to the entire time to help you. If you cannot commit to working on your writing for the full 11 months, please wait to apply for the program until you are able to do that.

Once you are paired with your mentor, please reach out to them and set up an initial introduction meeting. This can be over the phone, Zoom, or even a chat program. Use whatever method you and your mentor are most comfortable with! It may even be possible to do introductions solely over email, but some partnerships from last year reported that it was much easier to get to know each other using a live communication format for the initial meeting.

Here are some suggestions for what to establish in that first meeting:

  • Frequency of communication (we recommend at least once a month, but every partnership will look different, so decide together what will work best based on your mutual goals and schedules)
  • Your writing needs
  • What your mentor is willing/able to do to help meet those needs
  • Goals
  • Schedules (for example, if you have a big life event in February, let your mentor know you won’t be giving material to them to read then. Or if it’s summer and you’ve got young kids at home from school, let them know you’ll need extra time to compensate.)
  • Next planned contact time

We ask that you check in with your mentor at least once a month. This can be a simple check in (Here’s what I worked on this month, here’s some questions I have, etc), or it can be more involved, depending on what you and your mentor work out. If you and your mentor have set a deadline together (for example, you’ll have 50 pages for them to read and critique by October) and you realize you need to adjust the deadline, reach out sooner rather than later so your mentor can schedule around it.

Three Mentorship Tracks

This year, we’re trying out a new way to sort our mentees, based on their goals. Mentors are able to signify on the application which of the three tracks they feel qualified to mentor, while mentees will be limited to one track for their application. Here’s a quick overview of the three tracks so you can decide which one best suits your goals.

  • Traditional Publishing Track: these are mentees who have decided they want to either sign with a literary agent or small press, and have a specific work in mind that they are getting ready to query. They are looking for mentors who can help them craft a query letter, synopsis, and other submission materials, and give them advice on the submission process. 
  • Self-publishing Track: these mentees have decided they want to self-publish their books, and are looking for guidance at a variety of steps along the way. Some may have a particular book they are ready to publish that they’d like help with.
  • Writer Development Track: this is for mentees who haven’t decided which publishing track they want to take, or may not be interested in publishing their work at this time. This track will focus on craft development, which is a really broad scope! They may be on their very first manuscript, or they may have more writing under their belt. Writers at any experience level can choose this track. The mentor and mentee will decide together which aspects of craft they want to focus on over the course of the mentoring year.

Writing Sample

Last year, some mentors indicated that they would like to see a writing sample to help them make the choice of their mentee. This year, when you apply, we’ll have you submit up to 5 pages of a writing sample of your choice. Not all mentors will use a writing sample to make their choice, but we’d like to provide the option to those that want to. You can use 5 pages of any of your writing, except for the traditional publishing track because it’s focused on getting a specific work ready for submission. If you are applying for the traditional publishing track, please submit 5 pages from the work that you are looking to have published.

General Mentorship Advice

Obviously, every mentor/mentee pairing is going to be different, with a range of needs and wants, but here are some basics:

  • Be considerate of your mentor’s time. At the same time, though, you should feel like you can approach your mentor if a question comes up. Open communication is really important. 
  • Not all mentorships will hinge on the mentor reading a manuscript for their mentee. There may be some partnerships where advice, guidance, and encouragement are more important to the mentee than a manuscript critique. It’s important to be upfront with your mentor about what needs you have. Your mentor may not be able to fulfill every single one of those needs, so be prepared to prioritize with them.

Besides having a mentor, many writers benefit from the support of writers at the same stage of their writing journey. We will create a private Facebook group for the 2022-2023 mentee group, where you are welcome to seek out new critique partners or start writing discussions. Participating in this group is optional. This group is for positive support and encouragement only. Posts about issues that you may have with your mentor will be deleted on sight. If you have a conflict with your mentor, the appropriate action is to email the program directors (storymentors.program@gmail.com).

Complications

Life happens! We know there may be a situation where someone has to drop out of the program, and we’ve made some tentative plans for how to deal with this.

  • If you need to drop out of the program: Before contacting your mentor, contact us first! (storymentors.program@gmail.com) It’s possible that we can work out a pause in your schedule with your mentor. If you do need to leave the program completely, it’s better for us to know sooner rather than later so we can give the opportunity to someone else if possible. Do not ghost your mentor.
  • If your mentor needs to drop out: They may be able to find you a replacement mentor from their own network (for example, someone from their critique group with similar skills and experience). It’s ultimately your choice whether you want to work with the replacement. The program directors may find you an alternate mentor from the Storymakers Guild, or they may step in themselves to help mentor, depending on your needs and how far along in the mentorship year it is. We won’t abandon you!

We always hope for the best, but we know that it’s possible that conflict may arise within the mentor/mentee pairing. The directors are here to help you and your mentor work through any issues that may come up, and you can contact us at any time if you are struggling with your mentor for any reason.

We had a lot of success with the program last year, with many mentees reporting that they improved their skills and had found a new friend in their mentor. We are excited to offer the program again to help another crop of writers, and hope that you’ll have a great year of writing!