Avoid the Pitfalls, Reap the Benefits

Writing as Coauthors: Benefit or Bust?

by Claudia Gere

Avoid the Pitfalls, Reap the Benefits

Writing as Coauthors: Benefit or Bust?

by Claudia Gere

by Claudia Gere

For many aspiring authors, the idea of writing a book can be daunting. How am I going to have enough to say to fill an entire book? How am I going to sustain the effort of writing? Having a partner to co-write a book with can be a great way to divide and conquer. For Alesia and Rosemary, writing More Time for You was one of the most synergistic projects I’ve ever experienced. For their book and the others involving multiple authors, the results have always been positive. Despite the advantages, there are also possible pitfalls to avoid.

5 Pitfalls to Avoid Working with Coauthors

To be a successful collaboration, there can be obstacles to overcome. Here are five pitfalls and how to avoid these mistakes.

  1. Decision-making. The most important decision the authors have to make is what book to write and often that is the most difficult one to agree on. Having a clear idea of how the book will benefit each of the authors is one of the best ways to come to agreement. All collaborators should be able to experience benefits from having the book published. There will be many decisions along the way, so having a track record of working together is the best indicator of future success. Second best is if the collaborators are used to facilitating or working in groups to make decisions.
  2. Agreements. Even the best of plans can go awry so having a concrete agreement will avoid future disputes. And put it in writing. What happens to the project content, profits, and authorship attribution if a change in life circumstances or priorities means a contributor drops out, doesn’t meet their agreed upon commitments? Having everything clearly stated up front, will make those determinations much easier in the eventuality of the breach of the agreements.
  3. Accountability. While each author can serve as a cheerleader and provide inspiration to the others, writing takes time and commitment. Without a roadmap and a timeline, it’s possible for a project to go on forever. Developing a project schedule with the designated individual responsible for each task can help everyone commit and deliver accordingly.
  4. Compatibility. If the contributors have all worked on projects together before, then they will probably know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. If everyone working on the book is a big picture thinker and averse to details, you’ll need to commit to adapting styles to complete the work. If both are detail oriented, then there is the danger of getting so mired in refining and reworking the content. Recognizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses at the start will help to determine how you will hold each other accountable. Or acknowledge up front that you will need to hire editorial support.
  5. Copyright and profits. Who will be the designated copyright holder(s)? Be clear in writing before starting the book. For business partners, it’s often easiest to put the copyright in the name of the business. If the partnership dissolves, the plan for settling their affairs is most likely in place. Is the book based exclusively on one person’s content, with a co-author who is ghostwriting, editing, and helping in other ways to get the book finished? It isn’t always clear-cut. Similarly, to whom and how will profits be distributed? Are there expenses to pay off for creating the book before dividing profits from sales?

Whatever the agreements are putting them in writing before starting will ensure a smooth solution to problems that arise. Realize the benefits of co-authors and avoid the pitfalls.

5 Advantages to Working with Co-Authors

Despite the possible pitfalls, there are many advantages to working with a co-author. Here are five primary advantages:

  1. More content. Two people have different stories to contribute to illustrate points the authors make in the book. Each has different life and business experiences. Even two people who think they know the same things can be surprised by what unique insights the other has. Working with two authors is the very definition of synergy. Conversations lead to new ideas, expanded explanations and illustrations. Two authors build on each other’s ideas and trigger new ones.
  2. Editing and review. Every writer needs and editor. One partner can review what the other has written. Aside from inspiring new ideas, they can help each other avoid egregious errors. One of the most difficult aspects of writing a book is seeing what is missing. What haven’t you said that is necessary for getting your point or lesson across? Someone looking with a fresh perspective can help avoid errors of omission.
  3. Accountability. Having another person in your corner, a cheerleader,  someone for inspiration can make a big difference in keeping the momentum  going.  Holding each other accountable, means a greater likelihood of meeting schedule commitments.
  4. Split the costs. When it comes to self-publishing, two people can split the costs for editing, design and layout, and print production set-up.
  5. More marketing and sales. When you have two authors, oh, they can be in two places at once. Multiple authors can speak more, blog more, and create more demand for their book. Essentially, multiple authors multiply the number of people they can appear in front of to promote their book.

Having the right partner will drastically the amount of work each has to contribute in order to write, publish, and market a book. Just be sure to have the right agreements in place before you start. If you would like more information about ways you can write your book contact me, Claudia Gere, for your free 15-minute consultation.

Claudia Gere envisions a world where all aspiring nonfiction authors can write a great book that shares their experience and knowledge. As an author consultant, literary agent, ghostwriter, and host of her Rock Your Business with a Book Program, Claudia has launched many successful authors. [email protected], 413-359-0003 (Eastern)

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