So I’ve had a lot of people ask me about how cowriting works. And Santino Hassell (my Cyberlove series co-writer) and I have done a couple of interviews on how specifically we work. You can find links to those here. However, I thought I’d make a generic how-to post, since I see more and more writers teaming up. Obviously, these are only my opinions. But I feel pretty strongly about them. Take ’em or leave ’em. I’m not the first person to cowrite and a book and I won’t be the last. I hope you get something out of it!
1. Choose wisely
Why are you cowriting with this person? When Santino and I chose to write together, it was because we had utmost respect for each other’s work. And we were friends. We understood each other’s schedules and thought we could pull off meshing our different writing styles. While our partnership went well, I can see the many ways cowriting could go wrong. Get to know your cowriter first. Don’t jump in without your eyes open.
2. Leave your ego at the door
No really. Shut it in a closet. Lock the door. You are both staring down a blank page of nothing together, starting from scratch. No one is Gordon Ramsey here. You are both home cooks looking to pull off a souffle without it falling.
Cowriting is a different beast from writing alone. A different skill. And as soon as you start thinking you don’t need your cowriter, then that’s when it all falls through. Discuss how much tweaking you can do with each others’ words. But honestly, word choice is a small thing compared to the entire book you’re producing. If your cowriter changes a word, it’s probably for the better. Don’t get huffy because they changed ‘asked’ to ‘said.’
3. Decide on your goal
What are you hoping to accomplish with this book? Get it out as fast as possible to hit a trend (no shade)? Is it a story that you are working together on the side in conjunction with other projects? Is this about building your fanbases? Hitting a list? Whatever it is, talk about it. Your goals might shift while you are writing, or after you’re writing, or even once the ARC reviews roll in. That’s fine. Either way, talk about it!
4. How you gettin’ paid?
If you’re self-publishing, you need to discuss whose account you’ll be using for deposits, and how you’ll pay the other writer. There are a zillion apps that you can use with no fees (unlike paypal). So look into it and decide early how you plan to document your expenses and profit for complete transparency.
5. Play to your strengths.
Overall, I had more time and more comfort with marketing, therefore I took the reins on that in our cowriting partnership. Santino took a lot of the responsibility for communicating with our formatter and proofer. Even within your two-man team, delegating is crucial. You should both be leaders and step up to the plate where you think you can be most effective.
All caps, because for real. You don’t communicate, and I don’t see it going well. We are both loose plotters, so we talk before every chapter to make sure we’re on the same page.
7. Have fun
Seriously. It’s pretty awesome not to be responsible for every single word in a book. And there are so many times that opening the doc to see what my cowriter wrote is like Christmas morning. I love that feeling!
So have at it, kids. Produce awesome books.