One of the more exciting changes in publishing has been a surge in mentorship programs. Just some of which include We Need Diverse Books, but also POC in Publishing, the AALA, and Latinx in Publishing.
I am so excited about these opportunities and what they offer young professionals and the industry as a whole. And I’m excited to be participating as a mentor.
Finding a Mentor
For those who aren’t able to get a mentorship under the more organized programs like those above, there are still ways to find someone to guide you.
When I was a young professional there was nothing formal available, but it doesn’t mean I went without mentors. I just had to find them myself. It was through groups like Women in Publishing and The American Book Packager Association that I was able to meet other agents and create a less formal mentorship, likely without my mentors even knowing. I only wish I had known the power of asking someone straight out to be my mentor.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that finding a mentor is as simple as asking.
Find those people you already know and respect, who you feel comfortable with, and ask if they’d be willing to mentor you. Just know going in what you want from them. Do you want monthly in-person meetings? Slack conversations? Email contact? Knowing what you want out of mentorship will help both you and your potential mentor determine if it’s a relationship worth pursuing.
Making the Most of a Mentorship
Mentors are fantastic. They can coach, guide, and even handhold. But only if both parties are ready to do the work.
While there are guides on how to mentor, I want to dig into how to get the most out of mentorship for a mentee.
- Know what you want to learn. Going into the mentorship have an idea of what you want out of it. Are there specific things like navigating auctions or more general like earning a livable salary? Knowing your path helps your mentor know theirs.
- What are short term goals?
- What are long term goals? — both of these are related somewhat to the above, but can definitely be fleshed out further.
- Do you want to explore personal goals as well as professional goals? It’s okay to want to understand auctions and get your debt under control. A good mentor should be able to listen and guide on both.
If you are seeking mentorship I would recommend looking into the above programs or the organized groups (writers) that you’re already a part of. Mentors can be incredible. Get one.