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The Editor-Writer Mentorship: promoting voices from the margins

What is the mentorship program?

The Editor-Writer Mentorship pairs upcoming writers from underrepresented groups* with experienced book publishing editors!


Our Editor Mentors provide substantive feedback to help raise a strong manuscript to its best position for submission to potential agents and editors. This is an opportunity to learn from the knowledge of experienced acquiring editors. This program is free of cost due to the generosity of our volunteer editors. 


Meet our 2024 Editor Mentors 

For our 2024 program, The Word proudly partners with five Editor-Mentors from a variety of publishing houses (click images for full bios!):




Pantheon Books

2024 Adult Fiction


Charlotte Peters photo.png






2024 Adult Romance Mentor

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Little, Brown Books

for Young Readers

2024 Mentor

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Little, Brown Books

for Young Readers

2024 Mentor

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Little, Brown Books

for Young Readers

2024 Mentor


Dates for our next application period will be announced SOON!

We encourage all applicants to review the FAQs before applying.

Application deadline

Applications for our 2023 program have closed, but keep an eye out for information about 2024's program! 


Aspiring or upcoming writers from underrepresented groups (see explanation below) with a completed, unpublished manuscript in the above outlined categories may apply. Applicants may apply in only one category.

How to apply

Step 1: Download the full application instructions.

Remember to follow all formatting requirements when you apply! 

Step 2: Take a look at this example submission attachment to double check yourself.

Step 3: Submit your application via this form.

More about underrepresented voices

How do we focus our search for underrepresented voices? We promote the inclusive representation of experiences in literature, including a diversity of experiences based on: racial, cultural, ethnic, or religious identity; gender identity; sexual orientation; physical, cognitive, or emotional disability; socioeconomic adversity; and personal experiences of adversity or injustice. 


*We recognize that personal experiences of adversity occur in many forms and we believe that the impact of each must be respected. To guide the use of our resources, we focus on experiences that lack representation in literature, based on our best knowledge and research. 

Additional program information

Mentors and mentees will determine their contact schedules and frequency based on the needs of both parties. All mentors and mentees will be provided guidelines and resources to help promote productive working relationships. The mentorship relationship does not guarantee publication of any completed work and mentors are not expected to provide any referrals to acquiring agents, editors or others. The program’s goal is to support the development of the mentee writer’s work.

Mentors and mentees will have a minimum of two meetings over a 6-9 month mentorship relationship. Feedback may be written or oral, as is determined by each volunteer editor. Additional meetings and feedback will be determined by each mentor/mentee pair, based on the volunteer editor's availability and the needs of the mentee. 


Is this opportunity open to writers whose subject-matter may not directly reflect their personal identity?


We recognize that the perspectives of individuals from marginalized backgrounds will influence their works in a variety of ways. We further recognize that identity is a complex question. We, therefore, do not have any subject-matter limitations for this opportunity.


I’ve read the explanation of “underrepresented voices” but I’m still not sure if my background fits within the underrepresented category. Should I submit?


Our mentorship is focused on providing support for individuals whose background has proved a challenge to their writing path and entry into the publishing space, as well as focused on stories that are underrepresented among published books. We ask that you consider whether your identity and background have offered challenges on your writing path, and whether you think that your work will contribute to our mission to achieve greater inclusivity among those groups that have been regularly marginalized. If based on those considerations you believe that your work is the right fit for this program, we welcome your submission. 


Is this opportunity open to agented writers or writers who have been previously published?


We don’t require that a writer be unpublished or unagented. Given the high volume of interest and need, we do ask all writers to consider whether you are truly in need of this opportunity. 

The manuscript for which you are seeking feedback must be unpublished. 

What can I expect from my mentor-editor if selected for the program?


This mentorship pairing is for the purpose of providing our Mentee Writers with editorial feedback on one full-length manuscript. Mentees will have at least two touch points for feedback during the mentorship program (approximately 6-9 months in length), and each pair will determine the method of feedback that will be provided (e.g.,: editorial letter, oral feedback, or feedback in multiple rounds).


Can I submit to more than one category? 


Applicants may only submit one manuscript for consideration per application year. Applicants should not submit multiple manuscripts, even if in different categories, or this will result in disqualification.


What category should I apply for?


Editor Jessica Anderson generously demystifies the KidLit genres for us. Learn about the differences between Chapter Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult books. Here is the link to the video and skip to the 24-minute mark:


Does my manuscript have to be complete for me to apply? 


Yes, your manuscript must be complete. If you are chosen as a finalist, you will be required to submit your complete manuscript for the Editor-Mentors to evaluate and chose their mentee. This mentorship program is meant for authors who are looking to prepare a manuscript for agent or editor submissions, which requires a completed piece of work. 


Are you accepting graphic novel submissions?


At this time, we are NOT accepting graphic novel submissions.


For picture books: What if my manuscript is less than 10 pages? 


You should submit your entire manuscript in your initial application materials if it is less than 10 pages.


For picture books: Should my manuscript include directions on page breaks and art direction or art notes? 


As long as your manuscript does not exceed 10 pages, and meets all other formatting requirements listed in the application instructions, it can be formatted in whatever way you feel best communicates your vision.  

For my pitch, should I include comp titles? 


Write your pitch in whatever way you think will best represent your manuscript. What you choose to include is up to you as long as it does not exceed the word limit set in the application instructions. 


Can non-US citizens or non-US residents (international applicants) apply?


You are welcome to apply for our mentorship program regardless of your location. Keep in mind that all of our editors are located in the US, and so if you are chosen as a mentee, when it comes to scheduling times to chat, meet, and do critiques, you'll have to be a lot more flexible with their schedules. But if that's not a problem, then please apply!


Can co-authors submit?


We unfortunately can only accept submissions for one writer mentee.


Updates on Past Mentees


Our past mentees books are now on many shelves, and can be on yours too. Explore our Bookshop list to witness the magic of this program in action and to support our incredible writer cohorts.



What were the highlights of past mentee experiences in the program. Check out our blog to read insights, tips, and testimonials.

Meet our Past Mentors and Mentees

2018 Editor Mentors: Andrea Davis Pinkney - Vice President, Executive Editor at Scholastic, Taylor Norman - Children’s Editor at Chronicle Books, Nan Gatewood Satter – Independent Book Editor

2019 Editor Mentors: Andrea Spooner – VP, Editorial Director of Picture Books at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Alvina Ling – VP, Editor-in-Chief at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Nikki Garcia – Editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Amber Oliver - Assistant Editor at Harper/Harper Perennial

2020 Editor Mentors: Brian Geffen - Editor, Henry Holt Books for Young Readers (Macmillan Children's), Jessica Anderson - Associate Editor, Chrisy Ottaviano Books/Little, Brown/Hachette Book Group, Kate Meltzer - Editor, Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan Children's), Sylvan Creekmore - Associate Editor, St. Martin's Press (Macmillan), Tiffany Liao - Senior Editor, Zoho Books

2021 Editor Mentors: Alyson Heller - Senior Editor, Aladdin Books, Caitlyn Dlouhy - Vice President/Publisher, Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Deeba Zargarpur - Editor, Books for Young Readers and Salaam Reads, Jessica (Jessi) Smith - Associate Editor, Aladdin Books, Kate Prosswimmer - Editor, Margaret K. McElderry Books, Lashanda Anakwah - Assistant Editor, Simon & Schuster, 
Sally Howe - Editor, Scribner

2022 Editor Mentors: Amy Li - Associate Editor, Crown, Estee Zandee - Editor, WaterBrook & Multnomah, Gianna Lakenauth - Assistant Editor, Knopf Books for Young Readers, Khari Dawkins - Assistant Editor, Doubleday, Lydia Gregovic - Assistant Editor, Delacorte Press, Maria Camila Correa - Assoicate Editor, Random House Books for Young Readers, Matt Phipps - Assistant Editor, G.P. Putnam's Sons, Mia Council - Associate Editor, Penguin Press, Rūta Rimas - Executive Editor, Razorbill, Sareer Khader - Assistant Editor, Berkley, Stacey Barney - Associate Editor, Nancy Paulsen Books

2023 Editor Mentors: Andrea Spooner - VP, Editoral Director, Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, Caitlin McKenna - Editorial Director, Fiction, Random House, Eileen Rothschild - VP, Associate Publisher (Wednesday Books) Executive Editor (St. Martin's Publishing Group), Erum Khan - Editor, Abrams, Lee Wade VP + Publisher, Random House Studio, Penguin Random House, Leslie Calhoun - Associate Editor, Ink & Willow, Samantha Gentry - Editor, Little, Brown and Company, Simone Roberts-Payne - Editor, PRH, Want Chyi - Editorial Assistant, Penguin Young Readers

2018 Writer Mentees: Nadine Johnson, Maleeha Siddiqui, Maria Ramos Chertok

2019 Writer Mentees: Denise Adusei, Dionna L. Mann, Rosario Martinez, Samuel Kóláwolé

2020 Writer Mentees: Alyssa Reynoso-Morris, Celia Viramontes, Sara Kapadia, Swetha S., Jeanne Paulino

2021 Writer Mentees: Yvette Yun, Mimi Wong, H'rina DeTroy, Stefanie Foster Brown, Sope Martins, Rehannah Azeeyah Khan

2022 Writer Mentees: Meriam Ben Hamza, Adriana Lebrón White, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, Sophie Li, J.H. Ahn, Kim Fears, Raksha Vasudevan, Patricia Martin, Nurin Chatur, Kari M. Johnson, Charlotte Yeung

2023 Writer Mentees: Taunya English, Shuchi Mehta, Deneen Reynolds-Knott, Cynthia Harmony, Sasha Thomas, Angela M. Sánchez, Belen Medina, Edwina Joe-Kamara, Ebonie Ledbetter

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