The Career Author Podcast: Episode 122 – The Mentorship Model for Authors

The Mentorship Model for Authors

The Mentorship Model for Authors

Nothing can be more empowering for an author than having the ear of a trusted mentor. Whether you get wisdom and guidance from other writers or from books and podcasts, mentorship can help authors to get beyond learning plateaus.

J. has had mentors his entire life and recognizes that the most important advances in his career are a direct result of the advice given by his mentors. The guys go on to discuss why mentors are important and how you can begin building the potentially most important relationships in your professional career.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • What is a mentor
  • Different types of mentorship
  • Why authors need mentors
  • J.’s mentors, past and present
  • How to find a mentor

Also in this episode, learn how you can earn points for necessary business expenses.

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Leave us a comment: Who has mentored you? Who have you mentored?

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11 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 122 – The Mentorship Model for Authors

  • Morning guys. You make me feel at home, talking about the weather again.
    Great way today J. Not sure about your side of the pond but I think credit cards over here carry an element of insurance so if you use one and don’t get the product you can claim back from the credit card company. This works on holidays so business trips might be included.
    Interesting discussion on mentorship. So who has mentored me? Does listening to podcasts or doing courses with feedback count as mentoring? From Authors on a Train I consider that you two have mentored me, even though I don’t always do what you suggest 🙂. I also consider Craig Martelle, Michael Anderle, Mark Dawson and Jo Penn, to be mentors of mine, albeit in a casual way.
    I’m probably not the best mentee because I listen, absorb, process and evaluate, then I do my own thing based on what I think.
    Who have I mentored? Nobody formally, but having been a teacher and trainer by profession and practice for 34 years I’ve helped a lot of people, which I still do whenever I get the opportunity.
    Actually I am mentoring my brother to become a book cover designer. He has been doing illustration work, portraits and cartoons for national newspapers, part time for years, so he has the skills and talent but not the knowledge of the Indie book cover world. He has done 3 covers for me which I paid for to encourage him and is doing more. Maybe this will become his next career.
    Maybe I’m not such a great mentor; how many mentors do you know who pay their mentees?
    Love the show.

  • Maybe it’s because I live in Eugene, Oregon, a place that draws plenty of weirdos, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have some great mentors in my area, accomplished writers who are very generous with their time. I’m going to link their Amazon pages where I can because everyone should read their books.

    The first step for me though, was seeking out mentors. I joined a writing group called the Wordos in Eugene, which has been around for some 20 years now, and most of these writers were part of the group or had been members at one point.

    Nina Kiriki Hoffman – Stoke Award Winner, judge for Writers of the Future. Nina is tough but fair. Her multi-colored pens point out all the different areas of crititque where a story didn’t make sense, character is inconsistent, setting doesn’t work, etc. She leads weekly write-ins and is always generous with new writers. Her joy at an entertaining story is always fun to see. Working with her is like getting to know an editor, since she definitely has kinds of stories that she likes. 

    Eric Witchey – Eric has published more than a hundred stories and several novels. He is the most systematic writer I’ve ever learned from. He approaches story as a “dream” and is always exploring the ways a writer than turn the “tiny squiggles” on the page into visions in the reader’s mind. You don’t want to break the dream for the reader. He teaches, and his classes are incredibly thorough, and you leave with a dense packet of material to work through on your own. He always bring the receipts – one class on revision I took from him included four versions of a story with explanation for each level of revision. His systematic approach for analyzing your own work really clicked for me.

    Jerry Oltion – Jerry has published the most stories in Analog of any of their writers. I think he’s almost at a hundred now. Jerry is also very generous with his time and I’ve seen him encourage many new writers. I’ve seen the critique table tear up a story for various reasons, especially for a new writer, and then Jerry brings it back with a simple, “I liked this story,” and lays out why it worked for him. I think of him when I remind myself that it all comes back to story and if an editor likes your story, they’ll buy it.

    Kate Wilhelm – Kate Wilhelm started the Clarion Writers workshop. I should just link her Wikipedia page because she’s a huge figure in SFF, and for women forging a path in a male dominated field. She hosted a critique group toward the end of her life that I was lucky enough to attend, and sometimes I had to pinch myself that she was reading my work. She was also strict but fair about story, and stuck with what she liked. Though I met her at the end of her life, it was apparent she loved writers and reading stories. She seemed to take a lot of joy in reading a new story and helping it improve.

    Mal Cooper – I started working with Mal in 2016. She was looking for co-authors and I had enjoyed her Outsystem series, which was one of the better selling SF series in Kindle Unlimited. Mal loves her characters. They’re real people to her, and she tells stories for the joy of it, imagining a future full of optimism and human achievement (and space battles, of course.) Mal is also generous with her time, helping other writers. She’s been a huge example to me of being yourself and finding your true fans. People *will* support you. Mal has helped many, many people figure out advertising and audience-building.

    Jeff Chaney – I’ve only been working with Jeff for less than a year, but I’ve learned a lot from him about conceiving and executing a project to serve an audience. His readers love his books, but I think Jeff also deeply respects them and their tastes, while keeping his own art in the mix. He’s mentored other authors to help them hit these marks. 

    Bill Cameron – Bill is the author of several novels in mystery and suspense. He just published a novel with Penguin as W.H. Cameron. Bill gives his time to other writers, he teaches classes in the area and leads writing events. He doesn’t have to do any of this, but I’ve seen his support of other writers, like the community is a plant that needs tending.

    Darryl Lynne Evans – Darryl Lynne leads a local non-profit called the Wordcrafters here in eugene (wordcrafters.org). Her non-profit does more for new writers in this community, in K-12 and with adult events than any other organization. Darryl Lynne is the force behind it all. 

    Mike Copperman – Mike is a professor at the University of Oregon, working with first year and underserved students. His novel Teacher tells his story of working for Teach for America in Mississippi. I took a summer creative writing class from Mike in 2006 when I first left the Army and didn’t know what to do with myself, if I wanted to write, or what that might look like. I’ve known Mike for fifteen years now, and his dedication to fostering new writers, and to the work itself, has always been a beacon for me.I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone.

    As I think about mentors, the first bit is that I had to seek them out. I found them through groups, usually, and through being willing to share my own work and be vulnerable in that way. I think people respond to your desire to be part of a community and improve your work, and they want to help. But you have to take the first step.

  • Great episode! Have you ever heard of the book Mastery by George Leonard? Your talk about the Plateau reminded me of it, because he writes about it in depth. He also has three personality types for learning something new: the Dabbler, the Obsessive, and the Hacker. All three usually wash out when they hit the Plateau. The Dabbler because they like the newness and don’t like it when an activity gets hard. The Obsessive wants to go to every class and turbocharge their training, only to get discouraged and quit when they hit the Plateau. The Hacker is content to stay on the Plateau and never do anything to progress further. Anyway, I highly recommend the book! The author was a high level aikido instructor too.

    I’ve had two mentors in learning to write a novel. One is an editor who is in my writing group. She was brutally honest! It often hurt, but she helped me become a better writer. Her feedback also helped me develop thicker skin so now I can take feedback without it bothering me…as much. Two indie writer friends who are further along the path have also been mentors.

    A few podcasts have helped me a great deal: yours, of course! The Creative Penn, The Writer’s Well, Write Minded, Create If Writing, and Story Grid.

  • Great landmark episode guys.

    My Mentors are many. I also look for one when I am at a day job. The problem with being a software developer is that everything is changing all the time and if you don’t have a mentor you are going to have an even harder time keeping up. Of course, that comes with the need to mentor others as well. Since something that you can go deep on is something that you are now an “expert” on and you can always share your knowledge to help the organization grow as a whole.

    For writing there are several who I have reached out to and asked questions. I haven’t overstayed my welcome with any of them so far. (J and Z let me know 🙂 But when I have questions I ask and take the answers into consideration while working on my path.

    I feel like all the podcasts I listen to are mentors in a way since the hosts are sharing their wisdom and experience to everyone who will listen.

  • I don’t really have any direct mentors, I don’t think, although the few editors I’ve worked with have been helpful. I do have a few indirect ones though!

    I recently found another author of modern Jane Austen retellings who is super successful. I love her covers and her social media posts, but I haven’t read her books yet. She looks like an awesome person all around too. So I guess my plan is to read her books, stalk her, and find something I can offer to help her with!

    I’ve tried to be somewhat of a mentor to a writer friend of mine who recently revamped and re-released her first book. She might consider me one if you asked her, heh. I would love to do more of it as I get more experience myself. Although I’d make a terrible teacher, I do like giving advice and helping people out where I can.

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