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Writing Right: The Blog

NOVEL COLLABORATION

If you've been thinking about collaborating with someone on writing a novel, think again. Here's why.

 

First, collaborating means coordinating, and that's a step you wouldn't need to take if writing solo. It's not easy to get two different people to work together on any project, let alone a conventionally solitary one such as writing a novel.

 

Second, collaborating can be a prolonged and tedious job. The chapter that you might have pounded out yourself in a day or two could take a week or more when working with someone else.

 

Third, what you may view as some of your best work won't end up in the book—not, at least, if your collaborator strongly disagrees with your judgment. That could lead to hurt feelings and disappointment.Fourth, divergent egos often clash; strong divergent egos often clash dramatically.

 

Fifth, in the case of unresolved disagreements, who gets the final say? Every army has only one commander-in-chief.

 

Sixth, in the improbable event that the book takes off and becomes a best seller, who's going to take the credit? Do the interviews? Get his or her name out front?

 

Seventh, how will you split any advance money and royalties, not to mention income from subsidiary sales? Will it be a fifty-fifty division? Is that fair when one of you will be doing more work than the other, guaranteed? That, too, could lead to more bad feelings.

 

Now, if you can think of a reason that outweighs all the negatives I've found in collaborating over the years, go for it. Work out a schedule with your collaborator, and decide who's going to be responsible for doing what. Then agree on how you're going to work together (by phone, e-mails, messaging, in person, or all of the above), and get started. When you fall behind schedule, don't fret about it. Just pick up where you left off with a new timetable, and get back to work.

 

But, for your own good, before leaping into a collaboration, think about the drawbacks versus the advantages. It's tough enough to work with someone on a nonfiction book where you have only to settle on the facts to include and decide how to include them. It's twice as challenging—and even more frustrating—with something as subjective as fiction.

 

D. J. Herda is author of the new eBook series of writing advice, About Writing Right, available at Amazon and at fine booksellers everywhere.

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