Thankful Thursday: Yay for Experts

One of the things I’m getting better at as I get older is finding experts to help me along my way. Sometimes, as with my accountant, this means asking someone with a skill to do something I’m not only lousy at, but that I truly hate. At other times, it’s a matter of finding someone further along a path I actually want to go down, and getting some professional advice.

Which is what I did this month.

I’ve talked a few times about wanting to break into writing nonfiction educational books for kids. I’ve written some samples that I’m pretty happy with, but when I was getting ready to put a package together to submit, I started thinking. And what I thought was this

  • I think I can guess at how I might want to put this all together.
  • I’m pretty sure I can write a decent and basically professional cover letter.
  • I can take a stab at which samples I should submit.

And then I thought: Hey, I could get some help on this.

So I went to Mentors for Rent.

Laura Purdie Salas and Lisa Bullard have both been writing educational books for years, and they’ve started a new service where they are offering to help out us beginners…via Skype. Their prices are more than reasonable, especially when you consider you’re getting the benefit of two writers’ knowledge & experience.

I had some very specific things I wanted to accomplish, mostly around the best way to package what I have and who I am. We went back & forth a few times by email on how best to organize our time around my needs, and Laura & Lisa were more than helpful in working this out. I ended up sending them my whole package–including samples, cover letter, and resume. They spent half “our” time critiquing the pieces, then sent me back the critiques before our Skype meeting, so I could figure out what questions I had. Then we Skyped for the rest of the scheduled time.

How did it go? Beautifully. The critiques hit on some points that are really going to improve my package, and our Skype session helped me see the best way to present myself, to (hopefully!) move me and my submissions to the top of the editors’ slush piles, to show that I’m someone they definitely want to work with. Laura & Lisa helped me understand how “pushy” I can and probably should be, which is a tough point for me to get to. They talked to me about the industry and what editors are looking for and helped me realize that 1) I fit into that picture and that 2) It’s way more than okay to demonstrate that in my letter.

Was my session worth the time and money? Definitely! Laura and Lisa’s service is the perfect example of the right time to invest in productivity and efficiency, to take a “shortcut” around all that waffling we do on our own when we’re stepping into something new. Knowing I would be asking for their help got me moving to pull everything together, and getting that help brought me the focus to move forward with much more confident steps.

So, BIG thanks and an even bigger recommendation for Mentors for Rent!


  1. Wow — I’m always amazed by the fabulous idea people out there…”Mentors for Rent?” Love that! So happy that your session went well, and that you’re feeling better prepared. Good luck! Can’t wait to hear the outcome, Becky.


  2. laurasalas says:

    Thanks, Becky, for your wonderful post about your experience with Mentors for Rent. Lisa and I are so happy that it worked out exactly how you wanted it to! We look forward to hearing good news from you when you get your first assignment from an ed pub!


  3. What a neat idea! Glad it worked so well for you.


  4. How interesting! I’ve never heard of this before but it sounds like a great way to get useful feedback.


  5. Thank you, Becky, for sharing about this great resource. I’ve just added Mentors for Rent (and also a link to this post of yours) on my website page, “Tips for Writing for the Education Market.” (
    Best wishes to you on your quest for assignments!


    • beckylevine says:

      Thanks, Eve. Your site definitely came up during our Skype discussion, and I’ll be spending some time there soon!


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