How to Become a Successful Co-Author of Books and Ebooks
Whether you’re writing an educational book, an epic fantasy, or a self-help guide, there are many advantages to becoming a co-author. Creating a book or an ebook in partnership with someone else allows you to share the workload, which can speed up the writing process. You can also bounce ideas off one another and potentially reach a wider audience.
If co-authoring sounds like something you’d be interested in, learning how to work with another writer might just be the way to ensure a successful venture and lots of sales post-publication.
What Does a Co-Author Do?
A co-author is someone who writes and publishes a book in collaboration with one or more fellow authors. Decisions about the book are made jointly, and both authors share responsibility for drafting, editing, and fine-tuning the content.
Collaborative writing is becoming increasingly popular, and so the role of a co-author has expanded. You can co-author with as many people as you’d like, but it’s best to start small so you get used to writing with someone else before attempting anything more ambitious.
What Are the Different Collaborative Writing Roles?
Depending on how many people are working on the project, there can be several roles involved in collaborative writing—not necessarily just two co-authors. Some typical roles during the book writing process include:
- A lead author: This is the author who’ll be mentioned first upon publishing. They’ll likely take on more responsibility and a greater workload than their co-authors. Perhaps they’re the person who first had the idea for the book. The lead author usually establishes its direction (that’s not to say a co-author can’t do this too).
- The book owner: This individual owns the publishing rights to the book or ebook and will usually take care of anything to do with publishing. This might be a company or a person.
- A co-author: A co-author will work alongside the lead author and/or book owner, contributing to specific parts of the publication.
- Other contributors: There may also be additional contributors, such as an illustrator or designer who works alongside the authors to create images for the book.
To successfully co-author a publication, you need to know how to write a book in your chosen genre or niche. You must also be aware of each person’s role, responsibilities, and knowledge to ensure the process is as smooth and efficient as possible.
For example, if you’re writing a book that looks at the impact of pandemics on society, one of your co-authors may have more knowledge about the environmental impact, whilst another might be more focused on the history of pandemics. You can then use these various areas of expertise to develop the different main points of the book.
As an author, there are numerous decisions that must be made during the writing and editing process. This might involve choosing what happens to the characters, how the story will end, whether to write in first, second, or third person, and so on. The choices are endless, which can be daunting for both experienced and new writers alike.
With a co-author, these difficult decisions can be made together. This means you need to find someone you can work well with and who ideally has experience writing in your chosen genre.
A co-author can have as much control over the process as the lead author. For example, the lead author might find it difficult to come up with an exciting ending for the chapter they are working on; their co-writer could help them by suggesting an excellent ending that maintains the sense of anticipation.
To make it easier when collaborating, set boundaries so everyone knows where they stand and create a clear and concise decision-making process.
Formulating deadlines is also vital, as it sets clear boundaries that help in getting the work done. Most importantly, constant communication when co-authoring is key.
The Advantages and Challenges of Co-Authoring
To determine whether co-authoring is right for you, it’s good to know what you’ll face when you begin the process. Understanding the challenges involved allows you to put solutions in place so creative differences don’t cause a halt in production. While co-authoring can solve some issues in relation to sharing the workload, it also brings a unique set of difficulties for you to navigate.
The advantages of co-authoring include:
- Combined knowledge and expertise: Each contributor brings something unique to the table, which is great when co-authoring a book. For instance, if you’re creating an ebook about writing code, one author may have more expertise in writing the content for the book. Using your combined knowledge, you can produce a well-informed publication on your chosen topic.
- A shared workload: If you’re struggling to meet deadlines, have other commitments, or are currently writing merely as a hobby, it can be challenging to take on such a big task alone. Becoming a co-author means sharing the workload, making it more feasible to meet tight deadlines.
- More creativity: Two heads are better than one, and this is certainly the case when it comes to being a co-author. The book could go in a completely different direction once you combine ideas, allowing for greater creativity (and more fun).
- Motivation and accountability: For any serial procrastinators out there, co-authoring a book is a fantastic way to stay motivated and accountable. On hard days, you can have a chat with your co-author, which can boost your mood and get you in the right headspace. If you hit a writing block, you can discuss this with them, and they might even have some great ideas for getting back on track.
With that said, co-authoring also has its challenges, which include:
- Labor division: Deciding who does what can be difficult when creating a book. It’s important to discuss this at the start so that all parties are aware of how much work they’ll need to do.
- Creative differences: If you’ve never worked with another author before, creative differences can be difficult to manage. These could delay your project, meaning you need to address them quickly and nip them in the bud. Find a decision-making process that works for both authors to help you navigate disagreements when they arise.
- Legal and financial issues: Co-authoring requires clear agreement between all parties regarding aspects such as copyright, revenue shares, and other legalities. A solid agreement signed by all authors at the start of the writing process can prevent any issues or fallouts from arising.
Finding the right co-author
To succeed in co-authoring a book, you need to find the right person for the job. This will make a big difference when it comes to managing disagreements, as you’ll be able to work with, not against, each other.
When looking for the right co-author, you should reflect on the project as a whole and how you would like to approach it If you’re really passionate about presenting your ideas on AI, for example, then you’ll want to find someone who aligns with your ideas. Whereas, if you’ve been commissioned to write a guide about managing a call center team, you might be more focused on finding someone who can work to a deadline and who has written on similar topics before.
Once you know what you’re looking for, there are plenty of places you can find a co-author, including:
- Writing groups
- Online writing websites and circles
- Social media
- Writing forums
If you think you’ve found the right co-author, begin with a trial period to see how things go. By staying in constant communication during this process, you can discuss what’s working and what isn’t.
Getting started with co-authoring
To get started on the right foot when co-authoring a book, follow these three steps:
1. Know your audience and your market
To be successful, any author involved in the project will need to know their target audience and market. For example, who is the book aimed at? Think of your “ideal reader” and the characteristics they embody. You need to ensure that the content aligns with their needs and values.
Authors also need to set specific goals from the get-go, as this will reduce the risk of challenges in the future. You can start by asking yourself what you want to accomplish by the end of the book or what the aim of the book is.
2. Create an outline
Creating an outline can be something you do on your own before reaching out to a co-author, or it can be done together. If you want to write an outline created solely by you, be prepared to make adjustments and be open to other writers’ ideas.
When creating an outline, make sure you:
- Come up with a book title and define the chapters, including the concept of each chapter.
- Define the hooks that will be used to captivate the reader.
- Note the main points or ideas you want to explore in each chapter.
- Specify anything else that needs covering, such as case studies, research references, or anecdotes.
3. Split the work
When choosing how to split the work, look at each author’s strengths and weaknesses. This is an effective strategy for getting things done quickly and efficiently. You also need to decide who’ll be promoting the book, managing social media, and which author will be responsible for most of the editing.
During this process, define a clear writing style that both authors can adhere to. If you don’t do this, the content of your book may not flow as smoothly as you’d like.
Co-Authoring in Summary
For experienced and new authors alike, finding the time, patience, and determination to write a book is difficult. By collaborating with another experienced author, however, you can share ideas and thoughts, creating your next masterpiece in less time.
To be successful as a co-author for books or ebooks, be sure to familiarize yourself with each role in the book-writing process, understand the advantages and challenges you may face, and, most importantly, make sure you find the right co-author to go on this journey with you.