Collaboration, Co-writing, and How to Not Kill Each Other (plus giveaway)

Hi, all — had some interweb issues last night (do NOT get me started on cable companies), so the drawing was slightly delayed. Anyway, the winner is…

SARAH!

Thanks for playing, everybody!

Hiya, peeps! Today in the house we have authors E.L. Blaisdell and Nica Curt, who are going to chat about their experiences co-writing a novel. I, personally, have always wondered how that would play out, co-writing something with another author. And as I suspected, it involves a lot of work and a lot of give-and-take. I’m really thrilled that E.L. and Nica have stopped by to address that, and give us some pointers using their own experiences as reference. DrainedTheLucidBookCover

And, in a super-cool addition to this super-cool blog, E.L. and Nica are giving away an ebook copy of their novel! To get in on this most fabu drawing, leave a comment below. Make sure you supply a valid email address in the comment fill-out form (do NOT put your email in the comment itself, because there are evil cootie-bots roaming the web looking for just such email addresses to use in their schemes for world spam domination). The merry elves will draw a winner Tuesday, October 21, 9 PM EST, U.S. Have fun and good luck!

Now I’m going to turn this place over to E.L. and Nica. You’ll find their bios below, along with a summary of their co-written novel, Drained.

Thanks for stopping by, you two!


Collaboration, Co-writing, and How to Not Kill Each Other
E.L. Blaisdell and Nica Curt

Nobody liked group work in school. In fact, we bet you were probably that student who did everyone else’s work because you didn’t trust another person to be responsible for your grade. So why in the hell would you want to co-author a book? Isn’t that just double the work for half the fame and fortune? The answer to those questions is not the purpose of this blog post. Instead, we’d like to share our experiences with co-authoring our recently released novel, Drained: The Lucid. Here are five suggestions that we found helpful as we moved from original idea to self-published product.

1. Find an author with a similar writing style and voice. If your writing styles are drastically different—for example, one person is poetic in their prose while the other has a “rough around the edges” style––you’re going to have a hard time making the resulting text read like it’s one, cohesive voice. It’s not impossible, but having a similar writer’s voice helps your process, particularly if time isn’t on your side.

2. Check your EGO at the door. Seriously. There isn’t room for it, and it’s not productive. Be up front about expectations and terms. It’s an awkward conversation, especially if you’re friends, but this is as much a business as anything else. You wouldn’t want to start a retail store with someone without considering some basic terms, so don’t approach your writing collaboration as less than that. If this is a lead author + secondary author situation, figure out the terms before you write. Make this decision right away and let that guide the division of labor.

    ● Does one person feel they need a bigger cut? 70/30, 50/50, etc.
    ● Be sure to communicate to avoid resentment or regret. Did you initially agree to split profits and work in half, but as the project continued, one person did more? Be transparent and honest throughout the process.
    ● Figure out who will be in charge of the finances. There will be a trust factor involved here. For example, Amazon’s KDP does not (at least as of the writing of this blog post) offer an option to divide the royalties between the different authors involved in a project. Regardless if you have one, two, or twenty people collaborating, all royalties will go to one person.

3. Learn the skill sets of each writer and use them. You have two brains, use both. Under the assumption that your novel will be self-published, like ours, it’s good to know things such as: who’s better at formatting or copyediting, who can design the cover, who will be in charge of marketing and social media, the website if there is one, etc. Obviously, there is much more to writing a book than the actual writing of the book.

4. Find a system and tools that work for you both. If you both can write at the same time, try doing that — it doesn’t hurt to experiment with different methods to see how it affects your productivity. There are plenty of free tools that allow for you to write in real-time with each other. Our process is writing together 70% of the time, real-time drafting and editing in Google Docs. Depending on if you trust that system is a whole different issue, but so far, it’s working for us. Our thought on this is: If we’re trusting Google to send attachments and e-mails that will sit on their servers anyway, Google Drive isn’t too much of a stretch. If work or family scheduling doesn’t allow for real-time collaboration, be sure to leave detailed emails, notes, and/or comments so the other person knows what’s going on.

We came up with a color-coded system in Google Docs to provide feedback and to distinguish who had written what. This is our process during the first draft.
We came up with a color-coded system in Google Docs to provide feedback and to distinguish who had written what. This is our process during the first draft.

5. Have a middleman — an editor, a beta reader, or a friend you both trust will work for this position. There will be moments that are going to be difficult, because there will be scenes that you both might have differing ideas and opinions on. The easier moments will be when ideas can be compromised on. But sometimes, those ideas are polar opposites and you both need to remember #2 on this list. Take a step back, breathe, and think of what is best for the story. This baby project belongs to the both of you, so approach it like concerned parents.

It’s in those moments when you’re frustrated and considering retirement from writing altogether, that you’ll need to remember that this is supposed to be a fun experience. If you find your pace with each other, you’ll enjoy the fact that you can share and discuss every idea with someone else; you’ll have someone to share a journey with. Writing can be lonely and isolating, and if you’re a writer you’ve probably spent months locked in an office, dedicated to one manuscript by yourself. Co-writing is locking yourself in that room with another person, so make sure you like each other.

This is the same scene as above after formatting and editing.
This is the same scene as above after formatting and editing.

This post was written in the same manner as our story, Drained: The Lucid. We used Google Docs, and we used a lead writer and secondary writer approach for each section. One person typed out the foundation, and the other built upon that first draft. Did a possible breakup occur in writing this piece together? Possibly, but we have a friendship that kind of resembles a tough rubber band. We snap back and we’re fine. You and your writing partner should have a work relationship that’s similar, that way you’ll come out of this process with your friendship intact.


And now, some details about Drained and the authors.

Synopsis:
On the surface, Riley Carter had it all: amazing friends, a job she loved, a promising new girlfriend, and immortality. As an ambitious succubus working for Trusics, Inc., her life should have been simple. Nightly visits to the dream realm as the guest star in human fantasies afforded her the sexual energy required for survival. Provided she met her employer’s monthly quotas, she would continue to enjoy the extravagant spoils of eternal youth. Life was pleasure for pleasure—until it wasn’t.

Now in her seventh decade, Riley finds her life lacking, especially when she encounters a lucid dreamer. Armed with an analytic pragmatism as dangerous as any weapon, this new dreamer has Riley questioning the purpose of her existence.

Humor, romance, and intrigue meet in Drained, the search for the perfect life in an imperfect system.

Available on Amazon: Kindle, paperback

About the Authors:
E.L. Blaisdell (Eliza Lentzski) and Nica Curt met in 2009 through a fanfiction archive that has since become defunct, yet their friendship endured. Although they’ve collaborated before, Drained: The Lucid is their first original novel together. Follow them on Twitter (@ElizaLentzski and @NicaCurt) for updates and exclusive previews of future original releases.

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21 thoughts on “Collaboration, Co-writing, and How to Not Kill Each Other (plus giveaway)

  1. Nice blog ladies! You’d fit right in with the collaborative approach I use with my students! We’ve discussed the need for respect, responsibility, being prepared, and trust when you share the task of a common piece! If you wouldn’t mind, I’d be interested in using a portion of your blog to show real live ‘rock star writers’ using the process 🙂 Much luck to you both with your new novel! WRITE ON!!! 🙂

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    1. Hey, Sandi! Reach out to me on twitter or G+. Would love to hear more about what you’re teaching in regards to this topic. I’m obviously all for collaborations and those who support it. Thank you for the kind words too. 🙂

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