Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Collaboration: Tips for Writing with Someone Else—Publishing as a Second Language, Part 3

by Linda Gilden @LindaGilden

While working with a co-author is usually a rewarding experience, there may also be some difficult situations. Troubleshooting may not be a word you have associated with collaborative writing. But if you are aware of possible problems, you can keep your eyes open so you do not see them looming on the horizon. 

Here are a few things that could slow your project down if not addressed early on in the writing process. 

1. Make sure you are in agreement as to the information to include in your book. This is where a good outline will come in handy. Before you ever begin to write, agree on the layout of your book and the information you will include in each chapter. Of course, there will be additions and deletions as you go. But if you have a viable plan, you and your co-author are much more likely to stick to the plan. Additions and deletions will be minimal.

2. Understand how booksignings and publicity gigs will be handled. Since there are two people involved, you can be sure there will be times you will disagree on something. The area of marketing and public appearances may be one of them.
  • Often when invited to participate in one of these events, the event coordinator or producer does not even know a co-author exists. (Yes, that happens even though there are two names on the front of the book!) Sometimes it is a matter of only having space for one guest at a time. Other times, one guest lives locally and the other requires a plane ticket to be there, thus a larger budget is needed.
  • Agree with one another when you are invited to participate in a publicity gig or booksigning you will mention to your contact person that there are two of you and you would be glad to come together. That is not always possible but it is nice to make sure your co-author is acknowledged.
  • Have weekly (or whatever timeframe works best for you) meetings to discuss what is going on from your perspective. Keeping one another informed will remove many opportunities for misunderstanding.
3. Everyone is busy these days so you and your co-author’s schedules may not be easy to combine. When you first talk about co-authoring, realize this could be a problem and choose a co-author you know will get his or her part done on time, regardless of schedules. If one of you runs into a time when you can’t get your part done on time, know that you will pick up the slack for each other when necessary.

4. Try to mention your co-author as much as you can when talking about the book. True, in conversation, always saying “my co-author and I” can get a little cumbersome. It is tempting to say, “In my newest book…” rather than deal with the co-author phrase and that will happen sometimes. But when possible, a mention always blesses your co-author.


Linda Gilden has coauthored 11 books with 5 different coauthors and has #12 and #13 coming out in 2022, adding a new co-author to the list. She loves every one of her coauthors and enjoys collaborating on interesting projects with them. She also has written many books on her own and realizes what a treasure and blessing a good co-author is.

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