Monday, September 1, 2014


Is mentoring a good idea?


Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to have competent and willing people who mentored me. In my marketing and sales positions, I worked my way up from the shipping department to riding in helicopters and private jets due to someone looking after me and having faith that I could do the job. Now that I am a writer, I still seek and get excellent mentors. I have 10 people that I trust and give them a copy of my manuscript to review and provide me with comments that always make improvements to my writing. So I have learned that mentors are important and they make a huge difference in your ability to reach and touch your dreams.

I am very lucky to have my wife as a live in mentor. Pat has contributed so much input to my writing. She has a knack of coming up with just the right suggestions to make the ending of my novels interesting and exciting making the reader wanting to come back for more.

But do you want or need a mentor? Here are my thoughts Mentors come in different forms – a friend, sibling, teacher, parent, clergy, drill instructor, boss, and so on… The mentor guides an inexperienced person by building confidence and molding positive performance. A successful mentor understands that his or her task is to be reliable, engaged, genuine, and aware of the needs of the person they mentor.

A bit of history of the word Mentor - The word mentor comes from the character "Mentor" in Homer's epic tale, The Odyssey. Mentor was a trusted friend of Odysseus, the king of Ithaca. When Odysseus fought in the Trojan War, Mentor served as friend and counsel to Odysseus' son Telemachus. Riverside Webster’s II New College Dictionary 1995 defines a mentor as “a wise and trusted teacher or counselor.” The act of mentoring is a series of ongoing and little successes. You will be able to make a real impact through consistent and ongoing relationship building.

First, you need to decide what you want help on. Review your writing critical eye, decide where you are deficient, define the areas where you need to sharpen your skills, and outline the specific writing goals you want to achieve.

Moreover, by specific I mean very specific.

Is your problem grammar, characters, plotting, sentence construction, or style? Maybe motivation or finding the time to write is an issue. A good mentor can help in many of these areas - as long as they know what you need.

A mentor must be self-assured they can aid you in achieving your writing goal. When you start seeking out mentors, ask questions. Not only is it important you know what you want, it is important you are confident the mentor can and will deliver for you.

All authors are different, so are mentors. Mentors may not be best selling authors or have a string of writing credits. Some mentors are simply good at what they do. What should you look for in a mentor - Intelligence, patience, professionalism - Yes, all of these things? Failing that, you could contact a famous - or favorite - author and ask if they ever mentor new authors. Most do not but a few will.

What is the cost? Again, it depends on what you want. Do you need an overall assessment and minor guidance – then you are looking at something in the range of $300 to $500 for a 100,000-word novel. I have read that the cost is this cost is quickly becoming an industry standard.

Want to give your book and attitude a thorough workout (editing, reworking etc?) Budget up to $1500 a novel. Pay less and you have to wonder what you are getting. (You get what you pay for etc.)

Need complete hand holding or lots of encouragement and blow-by-blow help. Most reputable mentors will charge from $500 to $1000 a month for that type of aid. They are usually open to negotiation depending on your circumstances. A few mentors will charge more - much more.

But, remember, mentoring is not always in relation to the writing style or technique. Sometimes it is about turning you into a writer. Gaining the right mentality and putting you on the road of self-discovery, with the confidence and skills to handle success in this industry.

Whatever you get from it - it should be rewarding and fun. Shop around to find a mentor that suits you, makes you feel good about yourself, and helps you grow - as a person and an author.