I’m always interested in the revenue streams different writers put together, so Nalo Hopkinson’s decision to offer mentoring to aspiring writers definitely caught my eye.
A little background: Nalo Hopkinson is an accomplished science fiction and fantasy novelist. Her teaching credentials include the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing Workshops. At the end of September, Hopkinson offered one-on-one mentorships, offering to work with writers on a novel or other fiction project between October 15th and January 15th. Interested writers had to submit an application. The cost of the mentorship is $2,000.
I’ve spent the past couple of weeks thinking about this approach to mentorship and what it means for other writers considering new options for bringing in income. I think that it could be an incredible opportunity for writers — fiction or not — who have been writing for a long time and enjoy teaching. When I say a long time, I do mean years and years of experience. It wouldn’t be unreasonable for someone in search of a mentor to look for writers who have been in the game for at least ten years. Without extensive experience, it isn’t so clear that the time required for mentoring a new writer would be worthwhile, either.
New writers may be more interested in this sort of mentorship for fiction projects, as opposed to learning about magazine writing or copy writing. Think about the kinds of writing classes that are popular in college: the poetry and fiction classes all seemed to fill up first. Interestingly, that’s the sort of student Hopkinson seems to be aiming towards: it’s almost as if she was a writer in residence at a school where she could work with a handful of students. She’s even had a few people offer scholarship funds with that approach in mind.
If you’ve got the experience to make a mentorship worthwhile for an aspiring writer, it’s worth considering mentorships or other teaching opportunities, if only to diversify the income you’re bringing in. It’s not the only option, of course, but there are a couple of factors that may make it worthwhile: The number of freelance writers is rising, especially as many people are turning to freelance work while job hunting (and quickly realizing that they need additional skills and training to be able to handle it). There are also more jobs that require effective written communication and the ability to use blogging and social media tools — which can provide an opportunity far beyond fiction writing.
In your first year of writing or so, would you have been willing to pay for a mentor to work through the process with you?