Cinnamon Pencil

Cinnamon Pencil logoA new mentoring service for 2019

In 2013 Cinnamon Press launched an exciting new mentoring scheme to allow writers to work one-to-one online with a range of experienced tutors and writers over a full year of feedback on a complete manuscript of fiction or poetry. It's been a fantastic experience to see how the combination of commitment and support can transform a manuscript over a year. We've worked with 130 dedicated writers and 70% have gone on to find a publisher. We've had consistently great feedback and learnt a lot.

Why change?

It's all too easy for success to become complacency and we strongly believe in reviewing everything we do to aim for the best possible from all we've learnt to date. We have given our mentoring programme a complete refresh. We have an exciting team of high quality authors and editors who also have a lot of teaching experience who share our vision to keeping the programme innovative and forward-thinking while offering the best service possible.

Why work with a mentor?

Remember those awful red pencil scrawlings all over your work when you were young? Too often they were disheartening, but critical feedback given with insight and encouragement is not only challenging, but vital for writing to become honed and polished. Cinnamon is a powerful spice with many health benefits and, rather than taking a red pencil to your work, let's take a cinnamon pencil and make your work shine.

Mentoring works because it is collaborative and transformational. We want our students not only to be able to write fluidly, but to take new delight in the process and think confidently of themselves as writers. We want our students to dig deeply into themselves, their environments, and their material; to be always pushing their own boundaries.

Mentoring sets high standards and gives you the assurance you can attain them by adding direction and support. You will end the process not only with a more polished manuscript but with more insight into your writing and yourself as a writer.

Who is it for?

This service is for anyone who is really dedicated to their writing of fiction (adult and YA), memoir or poetry and who is willing to do the work to make it the best it can be. (Currently we don't offer mentoring for plays or screenplays.)

Application is competitive as our mentors have busy writing lives and limited capacity, but we are looking for manuscripts that stand out, from writers who are highly committed to writing at many stages.

This includes:

  • unpublished writers with work in progress or with full manuscripts that they are looking to develop, structure or sharpen with the help of an objective eye;
  • published authors with a new project that would benefit from expert-peer input;
  • writers who have previously done an MA or PhD in writing and now want intensive input that is not tied to an academic appraisal system;
  • writers with agents who are considering changes to their book.

You don't need to have a complete manuscript, but you need enough to show us the potential of your writing.

Who are your mentors?

Our mentors include fiction writers, memoirists and poets. They are all experienced authors and/or editors with expert understanding of the publishing process as well as writing and tutoring experience.

When does it take place?

The mentoring programme runs for a nine-month period each year from March-November.

How is it delivered?

Our great team of writers are based around the UK and your mentor will deliver six sessions of detailed feedback over the nine-month period. In addition, your mentor will put a minimum of 18 hours work into reading your manuscript, highlighting revisions that might be made, thinking about structure and looking at your writing techniques etc. (It's often many more hours than this in practice.)

Some mentors are able to meet up depending on geography and your ability to travel. If this is arranged, meetings will be at mutually convenient times in quiet places (like cafés or galleries) in or near the tutor's hometown. You won't be asked to go to the home of someone you haven't met before.

Some tutors alternatively are able to offer phone or Skype sessions, but the most common delivery is via email with follow-ups.

What do we promise?

We promise to give you feedback that will put pressure on your writing process to help you make your manuscript the best it can possibly be, whether it is poetry, short fiction, fiction of nonfiction.

We promise to work with you to take your writing seriously and devote time and attention to making your work shine. We've seen manuscripts transform, even when they've been strong at the outset.

We promise a minimum of 16 hours expert support over nine months, including 6 face-to-face (or online/phone/Skype) hours.

Some of our mentors may suggest an agent or a publisher to you towards the end of the process, but this isn't a promise of publication.

What does it cost?

The nine-month programme is £1,600 for prose manuscripts (up to 90,000 words) and £1,000 for poetry manuscripts (up to 60 poems).

Why is the price higher than the previous mentoring scheme?

We want to be as accessible as possible but also need to consider what is a fair return for this intensive programme. We've been running the Cinnamon scheme for six years at minimal cost due to the generosity of many of our authors giving their time to the programme to support the press. We're immensely grateful for this, but also aware that the former programme was vastly under-charging compared to other mentoring opportunities. There are a few very high quality mentoring programmes, but nowhere like enough to meet demand.

We've done a lot of research into other mentoring opportunities. There are well-known agencies charging £800 simply to produce a one-off 2,000 word report on an 80,000 word novel. There are respected courses that charge £4,000 for six months of group lessons on a novel. One mentoring scheme costs £3,300 for nine months and another editing service costs £2,000 for six months feedback on up to 60,000 words. An MA in Creative Writing can cost £5,000–6000 and we've had many MA graduates in our previous cohorts looking for feedback that is less tied to curriculum and more focussed on their individual work. And a 5-day residential course can easily cost £800.

In short, we are continuing to charge well below the market rate for what is a well-developed, proven service.

Are there any bursaries or grants?

We have a limited number of bursary places offering a 20% discount. The cost of the scheme after bursary is £1,280 for prose writers and £800 for poets. These places are highly competitive. We won't ask you to prove need or disclose income details but we trust that applicants applying for a bursary would otherwise be genuinely excluded from working with a mentor.

The new Arts Council England grant for individuals is 'Developing your Creative Practice' and has several rounds through the year with grants of £2,000–10,000. Similarly the Arts Council of Wales has some small grants for professional development. (These are competitive awards and we can't offer advice on completing applications.)

How do I apply?

There's an online application process and if we think your work would benefit from the scheme we will match you with a mentor and take it from there.

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer feedback if your application is not successful but we will let you know whether we didn't feel the work was ready for mentoring (we are not in the business of taking money from those who wouldn't get the full benefit of the service, but you can always try again if you feel your writing has moved on) or whether it was simply that we were over-subscribed.

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Join our mailing list to keep up to date with all our new books, books launches, events, competitions, and our special offers. We never share our mailing list with anyone else.