How to Find the Right Mentor

Finding the right mentor can be life changing in any kind of business. Doesn't having someone with more experience to guide you sound great? But it's not always easy to figure out how to find the right person.

I asked Storyteller Academy instructor Jim Averbeck to talk about mentors for three reasons.

  1. Out of all of our instructors, Jim (by far) mentors the most students.
  2. Our students who get publishing deals often credit Jim publicly with helping them find the version of the story that sold.
  3. Jim is the mentor I turn to when I love a story but can't figure out how to make it work. He somehow manages to identify problems and give me the tools and encouragement I need to solve them. 

I hope that watching the following video will help you figure out what kind of mentor you need and also how to connect with that mentor. 

Types of Mentors​

  1. Business Mentors: These can help you market yourself and your books.
  2. Public Speaking and Presentation Mentors: 
    1. How to present at conferences.
    2. How to speak to children for school visits.
  3. Creative Mentors: These help you strengthen your writing and illustration in your creative projects.

What to Look for in a Mentor

  1. Experience: You want someone who has been through what you're facing so that they're able to guide you.
  2. Communication Skills: You're better off with someone who can see how to improve your work and can communicate what to do and how to do it.
  3. Recognition in Their Field: Find someone who is where you want to be. Do they have publishing contracts, starred reviews, awards, etc.?
  4. Honesty: A mentor needs to be able to tell you what will help your work move forward.

How to Find a Mentor

  1. Paid or Granted Opportunity:
    1. Take a class with someone you'd love to have as a mentor, and put enough into it that you get noticed. (This is actually how I (Myrna) ended up working with Arree at Storyteller Academy, so I can tell you this works.)
    2. You can apply for granted opportunities through organizations like We Need Diverse Books and SCBWI.
    3. SCBWI also has paid mentorships, but you still have to apply for them. Storyteller Academy offers paid mentored critique groups every term and paid one-on-one critiques with certain instructors.
  2. Organic Relationship: Make a friend.
  3. Volunteer for a Literary Organization:
    1. SCBWI
    2. Agencies
    3. Libraries
    4. And more!

If you'd like to learn more from Jim, you can find more videos and tips from him on our blog. And his Writing Picture Book Manuscripts course is amazing. We hope you feel empowered to find a mentor who can help you. Thanks for reading!

Picture of Myrna Foster
Myrna Foster

Myrna Foster writes and edits content for Storyteller Academy and the WriteRiders Newsletter for SCBWI Nevada. She has spent a lot of time teaching and coaching children, including five years as a preschool teacher. She's also worked as a journalist, and Highlights High Five has published six of her poems.

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