Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Finding the Right Writing Mentor or Ghostwriter

How do you find the best writing mentor for you?

A few months ago I was approached to help someone with their first novel. The person was sincere enough and had actually written the first few chapters. They wanted me to continue with the work from chapter 3.
I was initially excited to work with this potential client. The writer was eager to get started and was open to my comments and suggestions.

Then came the first read. The first thing I noticed was that the book's topic was far beyond my comfort zone. I do very little science fiction, especially books that rely heavily on data and other scientific information. Also, I felt like the first few chapters needed a re-write--something the client did not appear to want to have me do.

I turned down the project, hoping that the writer was later able to find a mentor/ghostwriter that more easily fit into his plans, that more easily connected with his dreams. And I learned a few things:

  • Writers seeking mentors need to be open to revision. If they're not, they're probably not ready for a mentor.
  • Mentors seeking writers need to be careful about who they take on. Consider your personal writing style and the style of writing the client wants. Have an initial consultation to make sure that you are a good fit. Anything less than connection will not produce the work your client seeks for and the quality of writing you want to deliver.
  • Writers need to look for mentors that understand and appreciate their genre. It's important to ask questions at the initial consultation. Questions like: How do you feel about the science fiction genre? Have you ever written for it? are good places to start.
  • Clients need to make sure that the mentor has time for their work. If you need editing help, that's one thing, but a ghostwriting job takes much more time. Questions such as: How much time can you give to my book on a weekly basis? When do you see the book at the first-draft stage? will let you know if the mentor is a good fit when it comes to future time spent on your project.

A writer mentor connects with you and with your writing. He/she enjoys this connection and helps you along the road to better and greater things; something both the mentor and the client wants. 
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