Jaime Dill is a North Carolinian soul who grew up on a healthy mix of classics, poetry, and young adult fiction. She uses her broad editorial skill by helping other writers as a freelance editor and book coach through her own company, Polish & Pitch, established in 2018. Jaime is most appreciative of editing commercial fiction because it has allowed her to integrate her love of genre fiction with the technical skill gained during her studies as a Creative Writing student. “The line between literary and genre is one many people don’t like to toe, but crossing easily between the two allows imagination and skill to mingle and learn from each other without risk of cancelling each other out.” Published works by Jaime include her poetry collection "I Remember Us" and "Byline Legacies, an inspiring anthology by writers for writers.
What does mentorship mean to you, and why do you want to be a mentor?
In short, mentorship (to me) is passing along any and all information I have learned through experience to someone needing guidance to accomplish the same goals. In long, though, mentorship is a relationship, one that I take seriously and commit to for the long haul. All the writers I have ever mentored have become my writer family. Walking someone through the hardest parts of their journey, whether creative story development, querying, or publishing chaos, has a way of bonding you. And I learn just as much from my mentees as they do from me. We are all works in the making, and every person's path is different. What works for me may not work for another, but mentoring means putting in the work to find the solution that is best for the person I am leading, which often pushes me to grow as well.
I want to be a rogue mentor because I believe in the power of such relationships to propel people forward in a fully supported way. The writing industry is confusing, sometimes isolating, and often not transparent. It's terrifying to walk it alone. I can't imagine getting through it without people who support me, and I love every chance I get to be that person for someone else.
What is your mentorship style? What do you consider your strengths and weaknesses?
My mentorship style is one of listening and suggesting. The story will always have lived longer in my mentee's head than mine, and the only way I can be adopted into that world is to listen carefully to what they share with me about it. Once I feel like I have a grasp on the full picture, I like to listen to what the mentee wants from me. One person may prefer hearing all the nitty gritty for the full project so they can dissect and rework in bulk while another person may prefer to deeply discuss one section at a time so they don't become overwhelmed. I meet them where they are and cater my methods to suit the process that works for them.
When it comes to feedback, I prefer to have a conversational tone, one that feels collaborative, like I am exploring the suggestion and hoping to hear what they think rather than dictating a right or wrong way. As I said, I'm only adopted into the world, so I have to be open to hearing when I've misunderstood or when I'm not being helpful or clear enough.
I suppose all of the above would be a summary of my strengths—that I listen and shape my style to the person's needs. My weakness (professionally speaking) is that I'm usually so excited in the beginning that I leave tons and tons of affirmation and "fangirl" type thoughts because I'm genuinely that into the story, which starts to put me behind schedule and I have to sometimes abruptly shift away from that and try to focus on just the critique. This only really matters when there's a contracted deadline and I have to hurry it up and deliver within the paid time frame. For a mentorship, especially ones with loose or no deadlines, I can leave as much enthusiasm in the comments as I please! It's all in the balance.
I also have an autoimmune disease that will occasionally steal my brain and put me in the bed for a few days. I haven't had flares to that degree all year, so here's hoping that my new treatment keeps it that way. But when I do have unexpected days off for health, I always reach out and let people know so they don't wonder where I've gone or what's wrong.
What makes a great mentee? Describe your ideal mentee/mentor relationship.
Based on my clientele and mentees through the years, I can confidently narrow it down and say that a great mentee is one who has genuine enthusiasm for the relationship and puts in the effort to communicate. So many little details like being slow to revise or needing extra editing help or not grasping general technique can be embraced when the person I'm working with is happy to work and stays consistently open and honest in their communication of what they need, what they're struggling with, and what they need from me, as well.
How would you describe your normal working speed?
What kind of communication can your mentee(s) expect from you?
I am the type of person who always feels the pressure to respond right away, which is obviously not sustainable for a healthy work life. I’ve instituted work hours for myself to counterbalance that urgency, which means I unplug and focus on family on weeknights and weekends. I do make exceptions when needed, don’t worry! I’m not going to leave you alone when revisions have you crying over your screen late on a Tuesday night. But I will typically leave all work-related emails and messages until the next day after I have clocked out.
My full-time freelance job, which supports my entire family, is also in the business of writing and editing. This means I’m often juggling several manuscripts at a time and dividing up my week to pace my reading and critiques. When faced with a paid deadline, I will prioritize that work over anything volunteer on my plate. I need a mentee who fully respects that but also trusts that I value our partnership just as much. I am very transparent with my time and will always let you know when to expect to hear from me if I need a minute to wrap up something else.
Nudge me all you want if I drop the ball or you need more of me than usual, I promise you are never ever a bother. Creating with you is my joy! I handle a lot of incoming communications and inboxes, so I sometimes forget to initiate an outgoing conversation. But I’m SUPER chatty and love DMs and will talk right back when you ping me. And I hope for the same enthusiastic chattiness in a mentee. I believe mentoring is about more than the writing. It’s about the person. Often, that means the best support I can give is to listen to you talk about home stress or fangirl with you over your favorite movie. I don’t want communication that’s purely transactional. I want a bond that feeds both our souls because soul is where the stories originate and grow.
If all of that sounds good to you, then I don’t care how you reach me. Email, phone, Zoom, DMs, text—I’m here for you and will meet you where you are.
What kinds of communication are you able to accommodate?
Email, Zoom/Skype/Video, Text/Whatsapp, Social Media DMs, Phone calls
Are you able to make accommodations for mentees that request them?
Indefinite/As long as the mentee needs to complete our work together
Check all that apply: What do you plan to offer as a mentor?
Submission package critique (Query, Synopsis, 50 page sample), Partial manuscript critique (50 pages), Full manuscript critique, Multiple manuscript passes and query support, Line notes/edits, Business strategy and marketing for indie publishing (cover art, promotion, finances, etc.)
How polished should your submissions be?
I am particularly interested in working with someone who is confident and well-versed in the technical skill of sentence crafting. I want the focus of our work together to be on taking the story execution to the next level by sharpening the character arcs, plot structure, and language without needing to backtrack to grammar and phrasing.
Fantasy, Novel in Verse, Contemporary, Women's Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism, Poetry, Romance
Please know that experiences I am keen to see reflect my personal life (to varying degrees). I will never pressure an author to authenticate their work as a mirror of their own identity since that can force writers out of the boundaries of safety they have set for themselves. But I will always be transparent about what voices I can personally relate to/identify with and speak alongside of so that I don’t misrepresent in my advising.
Genres—Contemporary, Literary, & Literary genre-blends
I love love love stories that keep character as the driving force. My sweet spot age range is college to mid-life. I’m thinking mostly single-POV but multi-POV is cool as long as the story has a solid reason for its necessity. Also, I can’t speak for male-identifying or nonbinary folk head spaces, so female-identifying protagonists only.
Though I am open to a wide range of themes, characters, and settings, I would EXTRA love:
- Sapphics! Give me all the WlW. (Hi, I’m bi-demi)
- Parenthood, especially with neurodivergent children
- Coastal. I can never read enough books set at the beach. Like, ever.
- MCs obsessed with music. Not classic, more like concert tees and vinyl
- That spoonie life, re: chronic illness rep
- Girl who has no clue what to do with her life (but please don’t make the answer a man)
- Or, girl who is a total boss with her own business (but probably still feels like she doesn’t have a clue)
- Give me an art eater, someone who lives, breathes, and thrives on the consumption of artistic expression
- Complicated relationships that span years of history because they just can’t move on
- Unique forms, like novel-in-verse or epistolary or time-hopping (such as TV show This Is Us)
- A title that makes no sense until I read it as a line in the book, at which point the stars align in the most perfect “OMG!” moment
Please do not send me:
- Hit me with the heated sex, but please no erotica or sex work. They deserve tons of rep, I just can’t speak to it or relate to it, so I wouldn’t know what to do with it.
- Please no centralized food or cooking or eating issues or body dysmorphia. My autoimmune disease makes me intolerant of many major food groups and I have a history of eating disorder wrapped up in that, so I’m easily triggered.
- I know this is surprising, but please no stories with big, happy, wholesome families or a theme of biological family importance. My dad died last year, and my mom (my only other living relative besides my two siblings) moved away shortly after, and I’m still in a bubble of grief where family themes rip my heart out.
- Please no politics. Or war.
- I don’t want to read stories that lean heavily on dreams or flashbacks as a mechanic for storytelling.
- For Literary genre-blends with magic: please no elemental magic or complicated systems. I prefer something more mystical
- Please no religious themes.
- Please no mental health themes or descriptions of anxiety or depression. We need so much more rep for this, but I have too much mental health stress in my daily life to be in a healthy place to read it.
- I want a queer read, but don't bring me anything that antagonizes Trans and other less visible queer folk. No in-community hate. Not cool.
What are some of your favorite books?
No matter how much my taste ranges in what I read, edit, and write, “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green is still my undefeated soul-book. The balance between the snark and the sobering themes of life, love, and death is just *chef’s kiss*. I also love:
“Undiscovered Country” Kelly O’Connor McNees
“Orlando” Virginia Woolf
“Sorry I Haven’t Texted You Back” Alicia Cook
“The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo” Taylor Jenkins Reid
“People We Meet on Vacation” Emily Henry
“Conversations With Friends” Sally Rooney
What are some books, movies, shows, games, etc. that you've recently enjoyed?
I'm obsessed with literary shows with female characters, such as Younger and The Bold Type. Also stuck on dramas that explore female-centric power plays, like The Morning Show, Firefly Lane, Little Fires Everywhere, Ginny & Georgia.
Most recent film that left an impression on me was Paterson. OH! And Vita and Virginia. LOVE.
Is there anything else you want potential mentees to know?
I have a chronic illness. I’m thankfully doing well this year since switching medication, but I still sometimes flare, which impairs my cognitive function and mobility. I don’t go dark during these times. In fact, sitting around reading and chatting is sometimes all I feel up to on those days. However, the brain fogginess does make my communication grammatically sloppy, and sometimes I don’t grasp concepts as fast and need a lot of clarification. When on calls, I will sometimes lose my thought or fail to remember the words I need for what I’m trying to say. Like I said, I’m doing really well lately, but there’s always a chance I will have moments like this, and I really appreciate patience and compassion when I do. (FYI, my flare typos are absolutely hysterical. Legendary, even.)