The Madeleine Milburn Literary Agency is thrilled to announce that the 2022 Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme is now open.
This six-month writing mentorship for aspiring authors 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, and we cannot wait for a new batch of talented writers to join our tight-knit MM community.
Based in the UK, the MM Agency was founded in 2012 and is known for launching debut authors’ careers by negotiating significant deals in the UK, US, international markets, and Film & TV, with close ties to publishers and producers all around the world. The agency has handled the careers of multiple bestselling authors across different genres, including international phenomenon Gail Honeyman (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine); Sunday Times bestsellers Elizabeth Macneal and C.J. Tudor; New York Times bestsellers Ashley Audrain, Katherine May, Clare Pooley, the No. 1 and No. 2 New York Times bestsellers Nita Prose and Charmaine Wilkerson, and many more. Madeleine Milburn was Literary Agent of the Year in 2018, and was shortlisted in 2020, the same year our Rights Director Liane-Louise Smith was shortlisted for Rights Professional of the Year.
Now in its third year, the 2022 MM Mentorship Programme has grown in its commitment to reach even more diverse candidates. We are offering six spaces on our mentorship scheme this year, and for the first time, all six places will be reserved to those from underrepresented backgrounds. This includes, but is not limited to, writers from an ethnic minority background, LGBTQ+ writers, writers who are disabled or neurodiverse, and writers from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.
Madeleine Milburn commented:
‘I am delighted by how far our previous mentees have come over these past few years, and I look forward to welcome a brand new group of writers to our agency. As an agency, we continue to champion writers from all walks of life and I am very excited to share that for the first time, all the places on this year’s mentorship scheme will be reserved to those from underrepresented backgrounds. We are so excited to meet and work with our future mentees, and to champion new voices around the world!
THE MENTORSHIP PROGRAMME
The programme will be 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 will take place over the course of six fixed months, and our mentees will gain valuable insight into the entire industry process, from pitch to publication, and everything in between. Sessions might include:
- A conversation with an editor
- Insights into the book to film process
- Selling your book internationally
- Panel discussion with bestselling agency authors
The second part of this programme will run 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. We understand that each writer will be at different stages of completion with their manuscript, so we’d prefer not to be too prescriptive about an editorial timeline, instead allowing each mentee and literary agent to develop their own goals and targets depending on how much work the manuscript needs. Each mentee will also receive guaranteed representation from an agent, and though not a given, we will aim to get the manuscript ready for submission for publishers around the world.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
We are looking for exceptional stories with characters who live and breathe. We want to find stories that are compelling, that create a world around their reader, the kind of novel that makes you miss your stop on the train. We would like to see narratives with universal themes that make us think hard about the world we live in, that cast a critical lens on society, or have something new, fresh and interesting to say.
On the fiction side, we are especially eager to find commercial, literary, thriller, historical, romance, book club, middle grade and young adult. On the non-fiction side, we are particularly looking for narrative non-fiction, memoir, new perspectives in history, arts and culture, politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, nature and science, unusual illustrated projects, dynamic cookery or food writing.
As this is a programme for aspiring new authors, we particularly encourage writers who have not completed their full manuscript to apply. You just need to have a strong idea of where it is going with at least a few written chapters, and you should come prepared to work editorially with your mentor.
Please note that we are only looking for writers from underrepresented backgrounds this year.
HOW TO APPLY?
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with:
- A pitch in the body of your email
- This should include a brief description of the central premise; a note on what is special about your idea; its genre; what stage of completion your manuscript is at; and three comparable books in the market today.
- A two-page synopsis followed by the first chapter of your manuscript (including a Prologue if applicable), attached in a single document
- A synopsis is a straightforward description of the plot from start to finish, and it should contain all the key details, including any spoilers. This is helpful for us to see what direction your book is going to move in, even if you have not completed the full manuscript. We understand a synopsis will evolve over time.
- The first chapter of your manuscript can be of any length, but it should give us a strong sense of your writing style.
In your subject line, please state the title of your work and your name. For example:
‘[TITLE] by [Author Name]’.
Entries must be received by 5.30pm BST on 31st July 2022.
- Entries for the Madeleine Milburn Mentorship Programme must be the original work of the entrant (and not previously self-published, published or have appeared in any commercial form, such as an anthology or journal), in English (not translated).
- The mentorship programme is open to writers around the world. Entrants must be over the age of 16 and unrepresented. If an entrant accepts representation from another agency, they will no longer be eligible for the mentorship.
- Entrants retain full copyright over their work.
- We can only accept one entry per writer.
- Mentees will be announced by late September 2022.
- Please submit your manuscript in Word format, size 12 font and 1.5 or double-spaced.
- Entries may not be altered after submitting.
Please tweet about the mentorship at #mmmentorship!
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 The House with the Tamarind Tree acquired for an exciting mid-2023 publication. 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.
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 wonderful 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.