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 2021 Editor Mentors
For our 2021 program, The Word proudly partners with seven Mentor-Editors from Simon & Schuster (click for full bios!):
2021 Program Details
Applications for our 2021 program are being accepted April 5, 2021 (8:00am US Central Standard Time) through April 30, 2021 (11:59pm US Central Standard Time).
Aspiring or upcoming writers from underrepresented groups (see explanation below) with a completed, unpublished manuscript in the picture book, middle grade, young adult, adult fiction, or nonfiction* categories may apply. Applicants may apply in only one category.
*For memoir nonfiction projects a complete manuscript is required. For other nonfiction, a complete proposal with sample pages is required.
How to apply
Download the full application instructions.
Remember to follow all formatting requirements when you apply!
Take a look at this example email and submission attachment to double check yourself.
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 only for #ownvoices submissions?
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 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.
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.
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.
For nonfiction applicants, memoir applicants must have a completed manuscript. For other narrative and general nonfiction, if your work will be submitted on proposal rather than via a completed manuscript you may apply so long as you have a complete proposal, with sample pages. If you have a completed manuscript for a narrative or general nonfiction book, you may apply for mentorship on the completed manuscript.
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?
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 nonfiction that will be submitted on proposal: What do I include for my manuscript sample?
Include the first ten (10) pages of your sample pages. Do not include any other portion of your proposal with your initial application.
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 welcometo 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.