Los Angeles Region

Mentorship Contest 2022: MG or YA Nonfiction


Six-month mentorship with Joseph Taylor. The mentorship will include six months of interaction and critiques, including an initial call to establish the goals, expectations, and parameters of the mentorship, weekly email check-ins, and a monthly meeting by phone or Zoom.


The contest is open to writers of middle grade and/or young adult nonfiction. (PAL members previously published in fiction or poetry but with an interest in writing nonfiction are welcomed.) The mentorship will focus primarily on craft-related issues and fine-tuning manuscripts. While you will submit only one writing sample with your application, the mentorship is not limited to one project. You may want to discuss multiple ideas but work intensively on one manuscript, for example. Joseph says, “I aim to take a broad approach but also meet you where you are and adjust the focus accordingly.”

The mentorship will cover elements of successful nonfiction writing (including structure, openings, transitions, narrative techniques, poetic devices, voice, use of quotes, and point of view, among others); research, reporting, and interview techniques; and the importance of backmatter and supplemental materials. Joseph can also offer guidance regarding queries and submissions, how to complete a full book proposal, and tips for marketing and an author website.

“Are you ready to roll up your sleeves to produce nonfiction work that is worthy of publication for older kids and teens? If so, I hope you will submit some work and place yourself in consideration for this mentorship.”

—Joseph Taylor


1. You must be a member in good standing of the SCBWI-L.A. or Cen Cal region.

2. Associate or Full members may apply. PAL members who are not published in nonfiction are also eligible to apply.

3. Limited to one entry per person.

*SCBWI membership levels: PAL (published and listed), Full (published unlisted), Associate (unpublished)


1. DO NOT contact the mentor directly.

2. Applicants not in compliance with the rules or that do not adhere to the application instructions will be disqualified.

3. To ensure fairness to all, no questions will be answered.


Your submission will consist of two parts:

I. Written responses to the following:

1) How long have you been a member of SCBWI?

2) How would you describe the stage you are in as a children’s writer?

3) Do you see yourself primarily as a middle grade or young adult nonfiction writer? If not, what other types of writing have you been focusing on? If so, have you done other types of writing that matter to you?

4) What subject areas most interest you as a nonfiction writer? Would you describe yourself as a generalist or specialist or something else?

5) Have you shared your work with others in children’s literature (critique partners, SCBWI workshops, course instructors, classmates, agents, editors, etc.)? How has this process worked for you?

6) What do you hope to gain by having a mentor?

II. Your Project

Please submit the first 10 to 20 pages (double spaced) of a nonfiction middle grade or young adult manuscript. A work-in-progress is acceptable.

In addition, please submit a brief (2-3 sentence) synopsis and a title and/or subtitle that make clear what the book is about. Please specify whether the project is MG or YA. Finally, if there is anything you’d like to share about the manuscript you are submitting, you may include a brief statement.

Please send as either a PDF or Word document. Include your name, email address, and other standard information in the top left-hand corner of the first page.


1. Your submission must be emailed with the subject line MENTOR CONTEST to:

2. In the body of your email include:

– Your current SCBWI member name

– Address

– Phone numbers

– Email address

3. Provide your written answers to the questions in Roman numeral I (above) as a PDF or Word attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_ANSWERS. Example: Giblin_Answers.pdf

4. Provide your manuscript sample and synopsis described in Roman numeral II (above) as a PDF or Word attachment. Name your file: LAST NAME_MANUSCRIPT. Example: Giblin_Manuscript.pdf

5. Entries must be received by 11:59pm on 1/26/22.

About Joseph Taylor

Joseph Taylor was recently named editor of "Muse", the acclaimed children’s science magazine from Cricket Media. He is an award-winning science and biography writer for kids; his work has appeared in "Muse" as well as its sister literary publication, "Cricket". “Flying Balloons: The Story of the Montgolfier Brothers” ("Cricket", April 2008) won the 2009 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Nonfiction and was later published as an educational book. “Emerging Butterflies: The Story of Maria Sibylla Merian” ("Cricket", April 2013) received the 2014 Magazine Merit Honor for Nonfiction. “Launching Rockets: The Story of Robert H. Goddard” ("Cricket", September 2017) was named Editor’s Pick of the issue. “The Path to the Moon: The Story of Katherine Johnson” ("Cricket", July/August 2019) was cited in 2020 by the Parents’ Choice Foundation as “a wow of an in-depth profile” in awarding "Cricket" a gold medal.

In 2020, Joseph’s educational book "Dancing Through Darkness: The Story of Alicia Alonso" was published by Heinemann, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Joseph holds a master’s degree in science writing from Johns Hopkins University and a bachelor’s degree in social science and American studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He lives in the Los Angeles area with his spouse and a growing menagerie of amazing cats and the cutest dog on the planet.