Sunday, March 03, 2024

The Value of Mentoring

By Terry Whalin

Whether we like it or not, the publishing world is constantly in motion and changing. As an example, recently I had lunch with a long-time friend who years ago led a communication team but now is retired. I told him about a few hours earlier when I recorded a podcast interview. He asked, “What is a podcast?” 

I explained a podcast is like radio yet online. With the massive numbers of people podcasting and guest podcasting or listening to podcasts, his question surprised me. Podcasting began twenty years ago. I include this story to remind us the tools of book promotion and getting out our message, continue to evolve. As someone in publishing, we need to be constantly learning and experimenting. Im not encouraging you to chase the newest aspects but we need to be aware of them and use them if appropriate. 

In these articles, Ive often encouraged you to be learning new aspects of the writing life and publishing. Its important for each of us to have a healthy dose of curosity and eagerness to improve our writing. 

Lets move beyond learning for your own sake and ask what you do with this information. When you learn a new aspect of the writing life, how to you pass along this information to others? Some people dont and that is certainly your choice.  Teaching others is a firm part of my DNA. As Ive studied my ancestors, I discovered a long line of teachers. My great grandfather was a teacher. A number of his children including his oldest son (my grandfather) worked in education. In fact, my grandfather was a principal and superintendent at a Kentucky school.

While I didnt study education in college, for many years, I have been teaching others.  Since 2008, the articles in this blog have been one of the places to write the stories and give insight to others. Many of my editor colleagues work with authors on their books yet do not teach at conferences or blog or write how-to books about their craft or any number of other ways to mentor others. Each of these actions take time, energy and on-going commitment.

Some people have become editors and others have started a coaching business. During the editing or coaching process, they mentor others. Others have started or joined a critique group as a way to give valuable insight to others and help their writing craft. Other writers have started a local conference or taught at writers conferences. Mentoring and training happen throughout a conference. Later this month I will be at the Blue Lake Christian Writers Conference (use the link to learn more) which is a smaller event with great opportunity. Others have become university or community college instructors about writing. Im suggesting there are many different ways for writers to pass along what they are learning to others.

Online groups is another way to mentor and teach others about the writing world. In particular, I want to tell you about a Christian group called The Writers View which Suzie Eller started in 2001. She created a unique format for this group. A series of professionals in different areas of the market became leaders or panelists (editors, publicity people, authors, literary agents, etc.). Each week this group will focus on a partiocular topic and discuss it for several days. Then a new topic starts the next week. In over 20 years, a wide range of writing and publishing topics have been explored. The process has created a rich database of information for anyone interested in publishing--whether a beginner or a professional. The panelists / leaders and the participants have varied through the years. Ive been a panelist with this group since the beginning and stayed with it. The size of the group has varied but currently there are about 500 people participating.

Behind the scenes, some of my colleagues have been critical of my involvement in The Writers View. They have viewed my participation as a “waste of time.” Instead Ive seen this online forum as a way to invest in others and pass along some of the lessons and insights Ive learned from my many years in publishing. My continual participation is part of the consistent writer that Ive encouraged in these articles. 

The Wild Card of Mentoring

There is a giant unknown for each of us who mentor or teach others. What is the impact and who have you touched in this process? From my experience after teaching and traveling for decades, it cant be measured or known this side of heaven. Even this past week a much-published author and professional peer thanked me for helping her years earlier during a meeting at a writers conference.  I havent been to the event she mentioned in years so this meeting was decades ago--yet she recalled our conversation. Its part of the joy and value if you teach and mentor others. I encourage each of you to find some method of helping others in their writing journey. 

A common saying is “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Actions speak louder than words. What actions are you taking to begin passing along what you have learned about the publishing world to others? Let me know in the comments below. 


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4 Comment:

At 2:25 PM, Blogger Suzanne Lieurance Left a note...

Hi, Terry,

I've always loved to write and I've always loved to teach, so about 20 years ago I combined my two passions to become a writing coach. It's the best of both worlds. I think I get more excited when one of my clients get published than they do. And it's such fun to be part of their writing/publishing journey.

Plus, I meet so many interesting people and as I coach other writers I become a better writer myself. Can't beat that!

Suzanne LIeurance

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thank you for this comment and it is great that you can have the best of both world--writing and teaching and working with clients. I agree the process makes for better writing.


At 6:08 PM, Blogger Mike White Left a note...


I've registered for the Blue Lake Christian Writers retreat, but I can attend only on the Wednesday and Thursday part of the schedule. I am looking forward to making your acquaintance and sitting in on your workshop about crafting an effective book proposal!

Michael White

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Thanks for this comment and letting me know we will meet at Blue Lake. Let's make some time to talk and I look forward to it.



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