The inaugural MM Mentorship 2020 Programme has now come to an end, and we are incredibly proud of how far our six mentees have come.

After reviewing applications from thousands of candidates last year, 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.

Each mentee was guaranteed representation from each of our literary agents, as well as personalised editorial notes on their manuscripts, and private one-on-one sessions to discuss submissions and ambitions for their books.

Throughout the six months, the mentees also participated in a series of sessions that gave them a 360 degree view into the publishing industry, from a panel discussion with our very own agency Sunday Times bestselling authors Elizabeth Macneal and C.L. Taylor, to a presentation from our in-house International Rights department. Mentees also got to meet with editors such as Darcy Nicholson from Sphere, and Millie Lean from Penguin Children’s, and gain insights into our film & tv team. At the very end of the mentorship, our mentees had an intimate debriefing session with founder, director and literary agent Madeleine Milburn.

Now that the mentorship has come to a close, we wanted to share what some of our mentees had to say about their overall experience.

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. The one to one mentorship by Hayley has been priceless.  Her honest, constructive feedback has helped me to shape my narrative from the four chapters that I submitted into an entire novel.

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. As soon as the programme started, the collaborative team at MM made all six mentees feel part of the agency and have been cheerleading us on every step of the way. I’m honoured to have been a part of the programme and I’m beyond excited to be represented by Madeleine Milburn.

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 at publishing houses, rights agents and book-to-film agents as well. One of the most inspirational meetings for me was the one with Cally (C.L. Taylor) and Lizzie (Elizabeth Macneal), powerhouses in the industry! They were both extremely candid in sharing their journeys, including the challenges, and I left the meeting feeling energized and impressed by not only their talent, but by their hard work and persistence. Finally, the number one most valuable part of the mentorship for me has been the relationships I’ve formed with my fellow mentees and agent. The six of us mentees have a strong, true bond, personally and professionally, and I value this tremendously. And I would be absolutely nowhere without Giles’s thorough feedback, guidance and confidence in my book!

Sophie Jo: ‘Being part of this first-ever MM mentorship has been an invaluable experience that’s provided us with a real range of ‘insider knowledge’ … Being part of this scheme has also 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. I’ve learned that no-one is born knowing it all! No-one finds structural edits easy! Everyone has days where they think: “oh my god, I am terrible at this and I don’t know why I ever thought otherwise!”. And that has been really refreshing in the way that it’s made this whole process so much more accessible and less overwhelming for me. Maddy and the team have been so welcoming, kind and generous over the last six months. Thank you for a wonderful experience!’

Avione Lee: The Madeleine 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. I have learned so much throughout this process, but the one part that I cherish the most is the daily interaction I have had with my fellow mentees. We have formed a wonderful support group that I know will continue in our career ahead. Thank you once again for this wonderful opportunity!’

Francesca Robbins: This mentorship scheme has been life-changing. Informed feedback is gold dust for writers, and to get this while your novel is still a work in progress is a dream come true. 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. I’m so grateful to Catherine, Madeleine, and all the team for the chance to be part of this amazing experience.’

Although we are now at the end of this mentorship programme, for these six writers, this is really only just the beginning, as they continue to work hard with their mentors to polish up their manuscripts for submission. We are thrilled by how far they have come so far, and we wish all our mentees the best of luck as they continue on their promising writing journeys!