Can you really share?
It takes time and sometimes poor choices to realize what works for you and what does not. It also takes time to get to know yourself as a writer. Perhaps you started out thinking that you would never self-publish but come to see its value. Maybe you were thinking you didn’t want an agent, but now you see how a partnership could support you and help you grow.
When I received the opportunity to co-author a book, I jumped all over it. I entered Kara Leigh Miller’s contest that she hosted with Anaiah Press and won. I was chosen to co-author a medical romance with her and I was thrilled. I had a short story published in an anthology a few months before, I’d tried self-publishing that Christmas, and I’ve been agented. I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about what co-authoring actually means. I just kept going forward by saying YES to Kara.
Let me say, I got lucky. It could have been a disaster. It wasn’t, but it never occurred to me that it could be. Kara and I have a similar writing style and our words flowed together well. We were both open to listening to the other person, flexible with changes and plot ideas. One of us wrote and the other would pick it up from there and keep the story going. If new twists and turns came about, the other would adapt and build on that. It was a truly great collaborative experience. There were some kinks to work out, sure. You never know how someone will respond when you say, “Um…I’m not so sure about that idea.” For us, it went really well and as a result, Dangerous Love, a book we’re both proud of, will be released in April 2015. So, why the blog post on being cautious? Because it is so much easier to see what could have happened, after the fact.
There are things I should have considered, things Kara probably considered before deciding to do this, things that I would consider now, before embarking on another co-authoring experience with anyone other than Kara, who I know for sure I work well with. So what should you consider if co-authoring is an option for you?
1. Can you be open to sharing your ideas? Your characters? The world you’ve created in your mind? Can you let someone else into your writing?
2. Do you have similar writing styles? Have you checked out any of their other work?
3. Logistics. How will it actually work? Kara and I used google docs, making it easy to go back and forth. What would work for you?
4. How will you handle changes, suggestions, edits that are sure to come?
5. What will you do if you strongly oppose your co-author’s idea or if they can’t get behind one of yours?
6. Who are you as a writer? Are you fast? Slow? A plotter? A pantser? What about your partner? Will your styles clash?
7. What happens if you feel like your partner is not doing their share?
8. How will you communicate?
That’s a lot of questions. I should have asked those questions because, let’s be honest, writers are fairly protective of their words. But I didn’t even consider those questions. My thoughts were more along the lines of “Woo-hoo, I won. Kara will tell me what to do.” And again, it worked out really well for us and we’re considering doing another novel together. But this could have been an entirely different experience if Kara and I hadn’t meshed so well.
Co-authoring is a great experience. It’s a new level of support—more so than a CP or a beta reader. It’s someone in there, invested, with you and the story you’re trying to tell. It’s a unique way to build a platform. Now, when Kara and I tweet something about Dangerous Love, it goes to both of our followers. It opens up new worlds and ideas and strengthen your writing ability. Kara has helped me address some of the issues that I struggled with, such as show don’t tell. Writing together, trusting each other, allowed her to tell me, “That. That’s an example of telling instead of showing. Try this instead.” And though I’m not entirely sure what, I’m sure Kara learned from me as well. It’s important to have commonalities, but there’s also a benefit to having different strengths. You can help make each other better writers.
For me, the most important piece of developing a book together, is making sure that there are no jagged transitions. A well-written, co-authored book should leave you wondering which author wrote which part, even if you’re familiar with both of their work. It might be two authors, but it is still one story. Kara and I were very lucky that our words wove together without jarring the reader, but this may be something you have to take into account as well.
I found some interesting thoughts and perspectives about co-authoring while sorting out this blog post. Some you might be interested in are:
Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her family. She's a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell, Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, Rachel Gibson, Sophia Kinsella, and James Patterson. She's unintentionally funny and rarely on time for anything. She writes multiple genres but her favourite is romance.
Forever Christmas on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Forever-Christmas-Jody-Holford-ebook/dp/B00H6ZA1ZQ/ref=asap_B00H7LAZDW_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413517613&sr=1-2
A Not So Lonely Christmas on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Holiday-Spice/dp/B00INHCHGM/ref=asap_B00H7LAZDW_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1413517613&sr=1-1