‘Gold Dust is for people who take their writing seriously. It’s been a brilliant investment for me, worth every penny.’
Cherise Saywell, author of Desert Fish (Vintage) mentored by Lesley Glaister.
‘Sal has more physical, mental and creative energy than anyone I’ve ever met. She’s a magical mentor and wonderful woman.’
Elaine Cusack, mentored by Sally Cline.
‘During the mentoring year I found an agent based on a previous novel and Shelley has been extremely supportive over that big step.'
Dorothy Judd, mentored by Shelley Weiner.
'Jill’s intuition on every level is astounding. Her delicately balanced comments have given me the confidence I’d always hoped for. More than anything, she has made me believe that there is an audience out there ready and waiting to enjoy my writing.'
Ruby Speechley, mentored by Jill Dawson
‘Sally Cline’s energy and drive is an inspiration and Gold Dust as a scheme has been instrumental in nurturing the skills and confidence I needed to progress as a writer. This has just been proved by my securing literary representation last week from my first choice agency on my first mail out.'
Based in the UK, Gold Dust is a unique mentoring scheme for writers, founded by novelist Jill Dawson. An invaluable resource for new and emerging novelists and authors of non-fiction, Gold Dust offers eight hours of face-to-face meetings with an established novelist, biographer or short-story writer, usually taking place over a year. In between meetings the mentor will read your work for a further eight hours, and offer feedback on the writing, as well as an insider’s advice on the publishing world and finding an agent.
Jill Dawson on why she set up Gold Dust
Writers offering mentoring are popping up everywhere at the moment. Is it just a trend or is there something special that established writer mentors can offer new writers? I've been running Gold Dust, a mentoring scheme for writers, for three years. I set it up because I'm asked so often by new writers how to get published, how to get an agent, and then much more importantly - how to structure their novels and non-fiction books. I couldn't possibly read all the full length novels that were being shown to me; I realised there was a need for detailed, sustained, one-to-one advice that wasn't being offered on MAs or other writing courses.
For Gold Dust I decided that I'd only use well known writers with a long track record of publishing, writers who teach on Creative Writing MAs and have a generous nature, wisdom and experience to offer. So much of any writer’s life is about keeping going, recovering from set-backs, getting over creative blocks, facing new challenges. I wanted authors as mentors who'd been through all of that, and triumphed, so that they would offer encouragement and support to newer writers going through it for the first time.
Gold Dust is unique in that we don't use editors, or inexperienced new authors as our mentors. I really value the life-long experience of the Gold Dust mentors and I think relying on such a prestigious bunch is what makes the scheme distinctive from others out there. All our authors are represented by agents of course, and are at liberty to recommend a new writer to an agent – I leave that up to them. I’m always happy myself to do this, if I believe in a writer’s promise.
We have lots of names that readers will recognise, and no hidden surprises – we only use the mentors featured on the site. These include Booker nominated novelists Romesh Gunesekera, Sarah Hall, Jane Rogers and Andrew Miller. Our writers have been nominated for, or won, or judged, the Orange, the Whitbread, The Booker, The Governor General's Prize, The Costa, The IMPAC and many others. They include well-known biographers and authors such as Louise Doughty, Lesley Glaister, Kathryn Heyman, myself (Jill Dawson), Shelley Weiner, Sally Cline, Kate Pullinger, Michelle Spring and Richard Skinner. Tim Pears is our first novelist working in Oxford; biographer and social historian Midge Gillies and award-winning crime-writer Jim Kelly now offer mentoring in Ely, Cambridgeshire. As well as this, some of our mentors now offer mentoring via email and phone or Skype for mentees who don't live in the UK.
The price - £2800 - reflects the calibre of writers we offer, and the fact that they work individually with you. Gold Dust has had lots of successes so far, despite being small and just four years in the running - several of our new writers have already signed up two-book deals; many have signed to agents and one just won the Tony Lothian Prize for first time biographers and another a national writing competition, coming first out of 27 thousand entrants. We put un-edited testimonies on the website from Gold Dust ‘graduates’ so that those interested in applying can get a feel for what we offer.
I do try to pair up new writers with the writer of their choice. Not everyone is accepted - it's competitive. Again, I think we might be unique in taking this tough view but Gold Dust is for those who are serious, committed and talented. It aims to be the ‘gold standard’ among mentoring schemes, and I think we’re right to be selective.