The Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme
The Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme is a six-month writing mentorship for aspiring authors, and was established in 2020 as part of the agency’s commitment to champion new and exciting voices around the world and launch debut writing careers.
The programme is split into two parts – the first part is a series of online insight sessions, given by editors, agents, international rights, film & tv, as well as bestselling authors. These sessions take place over the course of six fixed months, and our mentees gain valuable insight into the entire industry process, from pitch to publication, and everything in between. The second part of this programme runs concurrently with the first, but without a fixed time limit. Each mentee will be partnered with an MM literary agent mentor and will receive personalised editorial feedback on their manuscript. Each mentee will also receive guaranteed representation.
AN UPDATE ON OUR ALUMNI
It has been a complete whirlwind since the start of our very first Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme. After reviewing applications from thousands of candidates in 2020, the mentorship was eventually awarded to six outstanding writers across the genres of adult and children’s fiction: Sophia Spiers, Nigar Alam, Ronali Collings, Sophie Jo, Avione Lee and Francesca Robbins. In 2021, we welcomed a fresh new group of writers to the agency: Gabrielle Griffiths, Sara Di Fagandini, Harry Godfrey, Soula Emmanuel, Gamu Nhengu, Tanesha Grant, Kwan Ann Tan and Bridget Shirvell.
Our 2020 and 2021 alumni have come a long way since. We are excited to share that all of the mentees who have gone on submission have now received a book deal, and we just recently sent out another exciting manuscript. Several of our mentees are working editorially with their literary agents, and we could not be prouder of how far they have all come. Last year, the landmark women’s fiction debut Love & Other Dramas by Ronali Collings was acquired by Bonnier Books, while the psychological thriller The Call of Cassandra Rose by Sophia Spiers was snapped up by Lume Books for an autumn 2022 publication. This year, Sophie Jo’s addictive teen fiction debut The Nicest Girl was sold to UCLan books with an August 2022 release, and Nigar Alam has seen her historical literary fiction debut Under the Tamarind Tree acquired for an exciting mid-2023 publication with Putnam. Last but certainly not least, we are over the moon to announce that our 2021 mentee Soula Emmanuel has already been offered a publishing deal. Wild Geese by Soula Emmanuel explores what it means to live on the jagged edge of labels and loss in the twenty-first century, and will be published by the pioneering new literary imprint of Bonnier Books, Footnote Press, as its very first fiction lead. Francesca Robbins’s historical mystery, Victoriana, won the 2022 Bath Novel Award.
Looking back on their experience, here is what some of our alumni have said about the scheme:
Ronali Collings: ‘This mentorship has been life changing. Most writers understand the importance of honest and independent feedback, but it’s rare to be offered this by an agent who wants to help you to develop your manuscript from its infancy into a book that they want to sell.’
Avione Lee: ‘The Madeleine Milburn Mentorship program has truly been a spectacular experience. The guidance I have had on my manuscript, as well as the once-in-a-lifetime introduction to the publishing industry, is worth more than can be fulfilled with words.’
Nigar Alam: ‘This mentorship has been a dream, a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I can’t thank all of you enough! We’ve gotten a great introduction to the industry from guest speakers who’ve been so generous with their time – editors are publishing houses, rights agents and book-to-film agents as well.’
Sophia Spiers: ‘The Madeleine Milburn Mentorship scheme has been a life changing experience for me, and I feel lucky to have met five incredible writers along the way, who are now lifelong friends.’
Sophie Jo: ‘Being part of this scheme has … shown all of us that we are good at what we do, that we can do it, and that many writers struggle with the same things we do.’
Francesca Robbins: ‘Everyone at MM has made us feel part of this close-knit family of an agency and we’ve had inspirational and generous guest speakers from every stage of the publishing process. The five other writers in the mentorship are the serendipitous gift that keeps on giving; we message each other almost every day, and sharing the journey with them has been a total joy.’
Gamu Nhengu: ‘Being part of the MM mentorship programme has provided me with a continued sense of purpose. It has spurred me through the kinds of days when writing four or five coherent sentences seems like an impossible challenge and I find myself wondering aloud what on earth I’m doing trying to be a writer. I felt lucky when I was chosen to be a part of it, and continue to feel this way months later.
Harry Godfrey: ‘I have to say that it’s great being a mentee. I have attempted to learn about the industry before, but this mentorship has taken me step-by-step through various aspects of the publishing process in a way which is simply not available elsewhere due to Madeleine Milburn’s use of their personal resources.’
Gabrielle Griffiths: ‘I’ve really enjoyed the sessions – it’s been great to gain such frank insights on aspects of the publishing world that can be quite oblique to a would-be novelist. I’ve appreciate the variety of the sessions and they’ve enabled me to see how many different opportunities and potential income streams there are. It feels like the agency has a great handle on all these and therefore the team is well-placed to hopefully help us mentees land many deals in the future!’
It has been wonderful seeing how far our alumni have come since the start of their mentorship programmes, and we look forward to seeing them continue on in their writing journeys.