Resources for Readers

developmental mentoring

Looking for help with a manuscript? There’s no better feeling than being able to find the right place to start a story or figuring out what’s gone wrong when it isn’t selling.

As a founder of the former Adventures in YA Publishing blog and the First Five Pages Workshop (recently acquired by Transmedia Mutts), I have spent more than ten years mentoring new writers and helping them develop unique, marketable stories. I’ve written and published fiction for both adults and young adults, and I’ve helped New York Times bestselling authors with their projects.

The Hard Truth about Publishing

An agent or editor won’t read your whole manuscript unless your query letter and opening pages show them a story that is compelling, competently written, and different from anything already on the market. Experienced agents and editors know within a few paragraphs whether a story is publishable. But that doesn’t mean more stories couldn’t become publishable with developmental guidance.

Developmental editing is the riskiest part of the part of the editorial process. Each new writer and every story is different, and they often need time to evolve. Hectic schedules at publishing houses no longer allow editors to mentor writers through time-consuming major story changes. Few agents can afford to gamble on an unpublished writer whose work isn’t almost ready for publication. That too often leaves writers missing out on the feedback that could turn a story with promise into a marketable manuscript.

Developmental Mentoring

As part of my first publishing contract, I discovered that having a knowledgeable story editor was like striking gold. For the first time, I also had the opportunity to discuss stories with other published writers and play what-if with people who’d honed their craft over many books. Talking things through with an editor or an experienced author inevitably led to revelations about plot, setting, character, motivation, emotional damage, overall marketability, and so much more. Having access to these discussions changed my manuscripts and my writing process, and I love passing that knowledge on to others.

Who Can Benefit from Developmental Mentoring?

Developmental editing is usually the most intensive part of crafting a novel, and it can cost $3,500 or more. It can also require several rounds. If you aren’t sure why your story isn’t working, or selling, or if you simply want to make it as strong as possible, you might consider developmental mentoring instead.

You’re a good candidate for developmental mentoring if:

  • You are starting a new story idea you wish to develop to its full potential, or you have a completed manuscript that isn’t working as well as you hoped,
  • You can work with guidance to look at your writing, story, and characters objectively,
  • You are ready to put in the hard work needed to get through rigorous editorial work,
  • You’re confused by feedback you have received from agents, editors, readers, or other writers; you don’t have access to professional feedback; or you have received rejections from agents or editors without helpful feedback.

The Mentoring Process

When you are ready to discuss developmental mentoring, please complete the submission form, including your desired timeframe for receiving feedback, the project pitch, and the first five pages of your manuscript. As a working author, I can’t promise to provide free feedback to everyone, but if I am able to respond within the timeframe you’ve requested, and if there’s some concrete advice I can offer, I’ll reply with a few insights about what I see as the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your pitch and pages. If you find that feedback helpful, we can set up a call to talk things through in depth.

To let me help as many writers as possible within the time I have available, I offer different levels of developmental mentoring:

  1. During the Mentoring Call ($150), we will discuss the plot, theme, setting, and characters of your manuscript, as well as your story inspirations and goals, what you love most about it, what you want readers to take away, and who the potential audience might be. We’ll challenge assumptions and address potential problems. Mainly, we’ll focus on where the pitch and pages you sent me don’t seem to line up with your hopes or expectations and look for breakthroughs and solutions. I’ll point you toward sources of help for specific issues.
  2. After taking time to absorb the Mentoring Call, you may want ongoing or more intensive help through full Story Mentoring ($500). This service will guide you more specifically through the changes your story needs. Working together, we create a short story map that allows the plot, character, and emotional arcs of your manuscript to fall in place at the right time and in the most natural way. Story Mentoring can help you see how to plug the holes in your manuscript and develop it to increase its punch and emotional impact.
  3. Once the overall story structure is mapped out, I accept a few projects for Opener Revision ($100). This is critique on the first three chapters (up to 30 pages max), not copyediting or proofreading, and this service helps set the story up in a way that best shows its potential. The process also reveals the specific strengths and weaknesses of your writing style and choices in an actionable way so that you can go on to make your remaining pages shine.
  4. I can take up to one Full Manuscript Revision ($1,000 up to 75K words) per quarter after Story Mentoring. If you think you are a good fit, please inquire.