So often, writing feels lonely, doesn’t it? We’re alone in our writing cave getting words onto the page, and it’s not until we’re ready to show polished pages to a trusted critique partner that we embrace working with another creative. Or we’re alone in marketing our book, finding readers, or just figuring out how to get our final manuscript into an agent’s hands.
What if I told you that it didn’t have to be that way? According to Statista.com, in 2021 there were over 49,500 authors working in the United States alone. That is a lot of creative brain power and publishing know-how. Instead of working alone, expand your options and paths to success with author collaborations.
Collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. I like this definition for multiple reasons. First, collaboration is an act. It demands that two or more people work together toward a common goal. Second, the reason behind the collaboration is directly tied to creating or producing something. The nature of collaboration is a driving force to an end product. Third, it requires people to work together.
If you were a person who hated group projects as a student, I don’t blame you. Collaborations are only as good as the people involved and their dedication to the project.
But if you get a group of authors to work toward the same goal…that’s where you find priceless creative gold.
Let’s first cover a few types of author collaborations.
- Anthologies – a collection of written works, usually by various authors. Can be themed to a subject, character archetype, world, holiday, etc.
- Cross-promotions – an agreement between two or more authors to promote each other’s books during a set time and method.
- In reader groups
- Through newsletters
- On social media
- At conventions
- Publishing Teams – an exchange of skill-based services instead of money.
- Group Giveaways – authors who have a similar theme or world and giveaway a free copy in order to either increase sales or newsletter subscribers.
- Group Sales – authors who have a similar theme or world and have come together to do a group sale.
- Author Events/Book Signings – authors with similar titles or similar audience team up to share a table at an author event or host a panel during a book signing.
- Co-writing a book or series – two authors, one story. Yes, it can be done!
- Author Co-ops – a group of authors with varying publishing talents form a cooperative to publish and market their books.
Some of these you’ve probably either heard of or participated in, but the two I’d like to focus on are Co-Writing and Author Co-ops.
Co-writing involves sharing the creation of the novel in any way you see fit. That is, co-authors could alternate writing scenes, discuss and write chapters together, have one plot and the other write, or choose POVs you each represent. But the process and the result are the same: a book that represents both of your ideas, abilities, and creativity.
How can you possibly write a novel with another writer? The key is picking the right writing partner. Ideally, you choose someone who complements or enhances your skills as a writer. Yet, many authors have found success writing a book with a partner, including such bestsellers as Neil Gaiman and Rachel Caine.
The most important aspect of a co-writing partnership is trust. And trust is often built by defining expectations and following through. How will the process work? What responsibilities do you each have? How will you resolve any disagreements?
Co-writing with the right writing partner can lead to faster turnaround times on projects, more creative solutions to plot problems, and an excitement for the project that is fueled by two authors striving for the words The End.
Author co-ops are groups of authors that volunteer their time and expertise to help other members publish or promote their work. In a well-run co-op, with clear rules and responsibilities, an author co-op can operate just as any other publishing house.
Book View Café (BVC) is an author-owned and operated publishing cooperative. Their authors range from New York Times bestselling authors to award winners. They write across all genres, from science fiction to romance to historical to mainstream. At BVC, authors function as editors, copyeditors, ebook formatters, cover artists, website maintainers and more. Titles are offered in both reprints and new titles in ebook form, and many titles are also available in print. And 90% of the cover price goes to the author. That’s more than at any other online bookseller (Amazon, B&N, iTunes, or GooglePlay).
Author co-ops are a lot of work. Time is spent beta-reading, copy-editing and proofreading, marketing, and managing the overall logistics of running a co-op. But the creative gold found within many co-ops is priceless.
Are you in the process of discovering and completing your author team? Or perhaps you just need that precious time with other authors. Good news! There are still retreat spots open on the April 1, 2023 Cruising Writers Writing Cruise to Grand Cayman. Cruising Writers brings together talented authors along with respected teachers to provide writing time, feedback, and craft improvement. This year, Becca Syme of the Better-Faster Academy and Kirsten Oliphant of the Create If podcast are leading our cruising writers through the gorgeous waters of the Caribbean. Registration is easy on the CruisingWriters.com website, but book your spot soon. Spaces are limited and only a few retreat spots are left!