Updated: Sep 3, 2019
“If I have seen further than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton
I do not believe that anyone succeeds on their own. At some point you will need the expertise of others to assist you in your endeavors, and one day, you in turn, will be key in someone else’s success. It's a beautiful circle of growth. Hence the reason everyone tells you to get a mentor. And I whole heartily agree. My mentor has been instrumental in helping me smooth out my rough first drafts and is constantly challenging my creativity.
I don’t think a mentor takes the place of connecting with great professionals in your industry though. I’ve met many wonderful people via social media who have been willing to assist me in all aspects of releasing my book from beta reading, professional blurbs, and friendly advice, all the way to artists who work tirelessly to make my cover ideas come to life. Speaking of which, huge thanks to Don Noble! Don created the artwork for my debut novella featured below and I really enjoyed working with him.
These colleagues are critical and it’s important to maintain the relationships with these high-quality people. A great example of someone in the industry sharing experiences with young writers is this post from Duncan Ralston.
I found some great advice in this blog and I’ve already gone on it share them with others. Sharing tips and valuable content is something I’m big on doing. I can only hope I’ve paid forward all the help I received in some way by sharing such posts on social media, writing reviews, or just providing people with quality products and entertainment.
Despite the close ties you'll have with these colleagues when sharing in their successes, your mentor will have an even closer bond with you. They are more personally invested in your victories. They are a source of guidance and advice and a sounding board for your ideas. They can decrease the amount of mistakes you make when beginning your career and encourage you to grow personally and professionally.
However, there is a third tier of support that differs slightly from mentorship. If you want your career to rocket to the next level, find yourself a sponsor or advocate. Fairygodboss.com defines the difference this way “A sponsor will help you advance while a mentor will give you ideas on how you might advance. Think of it this way: a mentor is like a guidance counselor, while a sponsor is like the college admissions officer. The latter opens doors for you while the former describes possible doors to you.”
Sponsorship, like mentorship, is a two-way street. And just recently I think I’ve been fortunate enough to turn my mentor into my sponsor. Honestly, I’m kinda freaking out with excitement over the whole thing. Now that I’m involved in this protégé/collaborative relationship, I can see the differences from mentorship. I want to believe that this will be my big break, but I still hear that nagging voice of failure sometimes. Not to mention, the degree of commitment is much higher and the work is getting harder. But I also think that means I'm getting closer.
So I’m taking it one day at a time and ignoring the doubts as best I can. If things work out, I’ll be back with a follow-up post on how you too can find a sponsor as well as what I’ve learned from the experience. I also look forward to revealing the work my sponsor and I are in the process of creating! And regardless of how things pan out, you can always find my reviews and ramblings here.