Co-Authoring is a Breeze (or not)

2011_ThomasRebecca_2Melinda: Once upon a time, in a dimension far, far away (okay, it was just Savvy Authors) two aspiring authors met and became instant friends. They had the same tastes in books, were both motivated writers, and recognized talent in the other. Fast forward about a year and a half, and both were sporting contracts for novellas. Fast forward another year and they decided to co-author a historical romance. After all, with two people writing it would take half the time. They would continue to work on other writing projects of their own. And last, but not least, they would motivate each other to push through any evil thoughts of procrastination.

They finished their book, immediately sold it, and became best-sellers.

And that my friends, is a fairy tale ending. So totally not what happened to my dear friend Rebecca and I. Nope, when you get up to the point of finishing, from that point forward I was fibbing. Probably a sad attempt to make myself feel better about the fact that we haven’t made it past chapter three.

We didn’t exactly go in blind. We’d read a few success stories on co-authoring and really, those authors made it appear simple.

What we didn’t read were the authors who had tried and failed. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider us failures, we just aren’t finished. But we had to debunk a few myths and realize writing with a co-author could in fact be harder than writing a book on your own.

Myth 1: When you co-author a book it takes half the time of writing a book on your own.

Myth 2: Working on other writing projects won’t interfere.

Myth 3: Procrastination is a monster that will be slain by your writing partner through pep talks, late night phone calls, and the constant nagging feeling that you are letting someone else down.

Headshot_smaller_2Becky: Yes, those are myths, but let me take a moment to talk about what makes co-authoring really fun and rewarding.

1. Someone else is every bit as invested in your story and characters as you are.

2. You have someone else to share your successes with, well okay and failures too.

3. You don’t have to come up with brilliant plot and story ideas all on your own.

If you are considering co-authoring with someone I think you both have to be willing to compromise. It’s a marriage of sorts and if you aren’t willing to make changes in the story you’re probably better off writing on your own.

I also think you have to love the writing style and voice of your partner. If you both have different writing strengths, that’s actually a plus. For example I love writing setting details and narration. Melinda, not so much, but she is great at dialogue and evoking emotion in a scene. When she critiques my work she is constantly telling me to man-up my hero. Well, we all know you can’t have an emotional pansy-assed hero, so it worked really well to have Melinda write the hero’s POV and I wrote the heroine’s. Then we both go back and critique each other’s scenes. This has worked brilliantly for us. As long as we work from an outline and agree on the characters inner conflict and motivations, we are good to go. But unfortunately we are both really good at procrastination and we both have other projects we are working on individually. So it’s easy to let our joint project be last on our list of priorities.

Melinda and I both mutually respect each other’s opinions, but we aren’t afraid to disagree with each other either. Like I said, it is a marriage of sorts and although our project is taking way longer than we ever imagined, I truly believe the end result—whenever that is—is going to be fantastic.

Melinda and Becky: Now that we’ve discussed some of our pitfalls, we will give you some tips that do work for some, remember not everything works for everyone.

1. Get an outline done. Even if you are both pantsers – outlining helps you both work toward a goal at the same time.

2. Find an outside critique partner, preferable one that will be brutally honest. We were too easy on each other, an outside crit really kicked our butts and is making us work harder on our characters. The outside crit also said she thought our voices blended very well – and that gives us the motivation to keep working no matter how slow the work is.

3. Don’t give up!! As a mentor of mine always says, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”

We’d love to hear your stories. Have you tried co-authoring? Do you shy away from it?

Thanks for stopping by and always, Happy Writing!

Melinda and Rebecca

Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and Membership Director for Savvy Authors. When she has time she writes in almost every sub-genre of romance and refuses to follow the path of most resistance. Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce

Rebecca Thomas enjoys a love-hate relationship with Alaska. She lives there with her husband and two teen-aged sons where she enjoys everything the outdoors has to offer. From flying to fishing to hunting, no adventure is too small. She writes historical and contemporary romantic fiction and is a member of Romance Writers of America.
Recently, Rebecca signed a contract with Entangled Publishing for a historical romance novella for their Ever After line and a contemporary category romance for their Indulgence imprint.

Connect with her on Twitter @Rebecca_Thomas3

7 thoughts on “Co-Authoring is a Breeze (or not)

  1. Great post ladies. i co-authored 2 books with Ellen Ben-Sefer years ago, and the interesting thing at the time was that we had never met. Only on the net, and she actually lived in a different country. Like you, we found our strengths and weaknesses bounced off each other and worked really well.
    Best of luck with your writing partnership

    Jane B

  2. Thanks for stopping by, ladies!

    @Jane, I do love the success stories.

    @Ally, we didn’t even touch on the subject of control issues, and sometimes I feel like a little bit of a bully 🙂

  3. Enjoyed this post! I’m in a co-authoring situation, and have learned so much. We are stalled due to crises (health and divorce) but will soon get moving again. Get to that finish line, ladies!

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