A new scheme offering free peer mentoring to aspiring women writers launches today. The WoMentoring Project aims to offer insight, knowledge and support to women writers at the beginning of their careers. Mentoring is voluntarily offered from a pool of over 60 women working in publishing as authors, editors, literary agents and illustrators.
The WoMentoring Project is managed by novelist Kerry Hudson. Without a budget, the entire project is currently dependent on volunteered time and skills. Individual mentors will determine what they can offer with their mentee, and mentorships are likely to differ. Organisers of the project said that, “In an industry where male writers are still reviewed and paid more than their female counterparts in the UK, we want to balance the playing field. Likewise, we want to give female voices that would otherwise find it hard to be heard, a greater opportunity of reaching their true potential.”
WoMentoring Project mentor, Shelley Harris (author of Jubilee), said that “mentoring can mean the difference between getting published and getting lost in the crowd. It can help a good writer become a brilliant one. But till now, opportunities for low-income writers to be mentored were few and far between. This initiative redresses the balance; I’m utterly delighted to be part of the project”.Alison Hennessy, Senior Editor at Harvill Secker, said she knows from her own authors “how isolating an experience writing can often be, especially when you’re just starting out, and so I really wanted to be involved. I hope that knowing that there is someone on your side in those early days will give writers courage and confidence in their work”.
Francesca Main, Editorial Director at Picador, said her career “has been immeasurably enriched by working with inspiring women writers, yet the world of publishing would have been inaccessible to me without the time and support I was given when first starting out. The WoMentoring Project is a wonderful, necessary thing and I’m very proud to be taking part in it”.Mentors also include authors Peggy Riley (Amity &Sorrow), Julie Mayhew (Red Ink), Keris Stainton (Emma Hearts LA) previously reviewed and interviewed by We Sat Down; and children’s literary agent, Louise Lamont (agent for Red Ink).
Applicant writers (mentees) should submit a 1000 word writing sample and a 500 word statement about why they would benefit from free mentoring. All applications must be made for a specific mentor. Mentees can only apply for one mentor at a time.