KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Mentors: Some Crabbiness and Some Advice

I love to mentor other copyeditors, whether they're new to the profession or new to practicing it as a freelancer. As I posted yesterday, there's just something so satisfying—viscerally so—about being there for another human who wants to learn and grow. And in doing that, I grow too. I like helping other editors the way I wish other editors had helped me, had I known they were around. (This was before computers were everywhere, so who knew who was out there?)

Nearly every one of my "mentees" over the years has been a go-getter, eager to learn and do whatever it takes to succeed. They do the legwork necessary to build up their business, coming to me for advice, tips, and cheerleading, not to get work handed to them. They make me proud.

But there's one mentee who's driving me batty. I think I'm going to find a way to extricate myself from mentoring this person. Why? This person comes to me with the same questions over and over, not seeming to have learned anything from experience. This person has been hinting broadly about wanting me to pass along some of my clients' contact information. Today, this person, having apparently gathered that those hints weren't effective, asked for the info outright. I didn't provide it, saying that I think having to do legwork is a valuable learning experience for freelance editors.

Now, I have been known to share client contact info, but only with those who haven't asked for it, who have done the hard work, who have shown themselves to be industrious. And they're delighted and grateful.

My advice: If you're lucky enough to find a mentor, don't abuse the relationship. Do the hard work—it's your career. Don't expect your mentor to just drop work into your lap.

mentors publishing


Susan Johnston Taylor said...

Katharine, I have been luck to have some great mentors, but one of the challenges of the mentor-mentoree relationship is understanding that not everyone has your work style. I'm a go-getter, but I tend to use a soft sell approach and one of my mentors tried to push me into a harder sell. I know she's just trying to get me to sell myself, but I'm not always comfortable cold calling.

Katharine O'Moore-Klopf said...

You're right, Susan—everyone does have a different work style. I don't expect my mentees to change their work style to match mine.

I do expect them to seek work on their own and not ask me to get it for them. That is what the mentee I discussed does: She wants me to send work her way, or at least get production editors and managing editors with projects to call her. Freelancing means that one hunts down one's own work. I'm sure that you find your own work; my mentee doesn't want to.

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