Monday, October 27, 2014

Mentor Magic

Not long ago, I received a phone call from a woman I'd met earlier this year. During our initial meeting at our local library, I'd offered some advice on breaking into the publishing world. We talked about things like crafting query letters, composing punchy pitches, and pitching projects.

No one knows it all. Seriously. Ask for help!
I did not read her project (a young adult novel) or comment on it. I scanned the first few pages enough to see that she knew how to put words together, and knew a thing or two about punctuation. Our meeting didn't focus on the writing -- it was more about what to do with what was written.

It appears that she went right home and worked on what we'd talked about. (Side note: I can't tell you how gratifying it is when someone asks for your advice -- and then follows it.)

She called to let me know that a BIG agency had responded to her query and requested the first three chapters of her manuscript. She had a few questions about proper format -- but mostly, she was just excited. And she wanted to say "thanks."

I told her how proud I was of her, and told her to let me know when she'd landed an agent and sold the book.

Urgently needed: Fashion mentor. Stat!
No one knows it all. And -- praise God! -- we don't live in a vacuum of isolation. We all need mentors. We need people who are willing to point out the path we should follow.

How can you tell if you need a mentor? Five sure signs:

1.) You have done your best, and have progressed as far as you are able to on your own.

2.) You have specific questions that someone else can easily answer or you lack specific skills that someone else can easily demonstrate.

3.) You are ready and willing to learn.

4.) You are ready and willing to act on what you learn.

5.) You are ready to stretch yourself, but you need someone with experience to help show you the way.

If you exhibit all five signs, you owe it to yourself to find a mentor willing to help you grow.


No one can make us follow a particular path, or use information that's been given to us. And no one can walk the path for us. But I'm always grateful when someone who's a little further up the publishing ladder is willing to give me the benefit of his or her experience. And I'm happy to help people who might be able to learn from what I know. The magic is in realizing that we're not on this trip alone.

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