more about individual tutoring and mentoring

 
 

I first began helping writers, doing manuscript appraisals, nearly fifteen years ago, while completing my own PhD in Creative Writing and teaching for the Open University. Since then I have worked with over two hundred individual published and unpublished writers on everything from epic historical fiction to contemporary-set short stories, from life-writing and creative non-fiction to scholarly articles and book chapters.

This page gives a broad picture of how I work, and I hope answers many of your questions, but every writer is different and I’m always happy to discuss ways that we might work together. I also very much enjoy working with writers’ circles and groups. Just click through to Contact to find out more or ask any questions, and to find out where I will be appearing in the next few months, click through to Events. To get a flavour of how I think about writing, dip into my writing blog This Itch of Writing.


I never share students’ work without their express permission, so this is a sketch-map I made for myself of the geography of the imaginary Kersey Hall School, for  The Mathematics of Love . It’s one of the many, many different things we might do to help you develop your writing.

I never share students’ work without their express permission, so this is a sketch-map I made for myself of the geography of the imaginary Kersey Hall School, for The Mathematics of Love. It’s one of the many, many different things we might do to help you develop your writing.

appraisals

Short stories, novel or non-fiction extracts, synopses, submissions packages, or any combination. Choose between:

1) I read and mark up the manuscript (including any synopsis/plans etc.) with comments and notes, and return that to you by post or electronically.

2) I read the manuscript (including any synopsis/plans etc.) and make notes for a 90 minute meeting in person, on the phone, or on Skype, at which we talk through what the project still needs. At the end I’ll give you or post the notes I made for our conversation, for you to take away, although they won’t be as comprehensive as option 1.

When you’ve had the appraisal, you’re welcome to email me with any queries which will help you make the most of my comments. For either of these options, I charge £180* to read up to 3,500 words, plus a synopsis. For longer manuscripts, as a guide, 6,000 words including a synopsis would be £210*, and 11,000 including a synopsis would be £270.*

Generally speaking, I will work on hard copy if you’re in the UK, and hand or post the marked-up manuscript back to you. For overseas writers I will mark the manuscript up electronically, using track changes and comment balloons.

Book-length manuscripts. I’m sorry that, because of other commitments, I’m not at the moment taking on any full manuscript appraisals, except for existing clients. But you would be surprised by how successfully we can use a shorter section or sections, in conjunction with a synopsis or longer treatment, to explore about how the book as a whole is working. If you are an existing client, then I may be able to read your book-length manuscript, so do drop me a line.

Mentoring

Mentoring is structurally like a series of appraisals of short writing, and the fee is the same, but the discussion and feedback would also focus on your wider and longer-term goals and hopes as a writer, as well as the writing that I’ve seen in this particular session.

Generally speaking we would meet for 90 minutes either in person or on Skype. After the first meeting, if you’d like to go ahead, we would meet regularly, arranging the next date at the end of each meeting. I find every six weeks works well as an interval, but I am very happy to be flexible.

If you’d prefer not to commit to a regular arrangement we can work ad hoc, with you emailing me whenyou feel another meeting would be useful; however, with ad hoc arrangements it may be a little longer before I can find space in my diary for the reading and meeting.

* Please note that these prices are guaranteed for any feedback booked and paid for before 6th April 2019; after that there may be a small increase.


practicalities

Presentation: To understand the industry-standard way to present manuscripts, click through to this post on my blog. Whether you’re emailing a file or putting a printout in the post, I do ask you to format your manuscript like this, at least in terms of line-spacing, margins and page numbers, as it makes a big difference to how effectively I can work on your writing. If I have to do serious re-formatting before I can work, I will have to charge extra, but I’ll let you know before going ahead.

Times: My diary does get very full, but when you enquire I should be able to give you an idea of the dates when I can give you the feedback. I will need your manuscript about ten days before that, or two weeks if it is longer than about 10,000 words.

Dates: When we discuss how we’ll work together, we will agree a date for you to send the manuscript, and a date for the meeting or feedback.. As I get enquiries all the time, I can’t promise to hold the dates we’ve agreed until you send the payment, though I will try: after you’ve paid, the slots are yours. With regular mentoring clients, we will generally set the next date at the end of the meeting.

Places: If we’ve agreed to meet for feedback, and you can get to South East London, we can meet in person; we have lots of excellent cafés to choose from. However, phone and Skype also work very well, whether it’s because you live in Australia, or because you can’t get away from the office.

Payment: I ask you to pay, ideally by bank transfer, when we agree the dates for sending the manuscript and for meeting or sending the feedback.

My comments: I write comments and reports to help develop your writerly craft and confidence, so that you can make progress with this specific project and your writing in general. They’re not comments meant for general or public consumption, and they’re not designed as publicity quotes or recommendations. If you would like me to give a quote for that kind of purpose, I am usually happy to do so: just email me and we can sort something out.

Other genres: I love working with all kinds of fiction and creative non-fiction, and find the same opportunities, problems and technical issues crop up regardless of the genre. But there are genres in which I don’t have specialist knowledge of the readership and the current market: chiefly writing for children and young adults, and the very science-fiction-y end of fantasy and speculative fiction. The more historical-fiction end of fantasy, and the realistic end of speculative fiction, are fine. However, if you are looking for a specialist in those areas, I may well be able to recommend someone, so do get in touch.

Finally, I have a great deal of experience in working with writers, and I will do my best to help you to improve your writing and achieve your goals. But nothing in life is certain – least of all anything to do with the publishing industry – and it’s just not in my power to get you that agent, that book contract or that prize. Of course the market matters if you hope to sell your work, either to a publisher or directly as a self-publisher but, because of all the uncertainties, it’s important that you feel that working on your writing is worth doing in itself.