Writing is often viewed as a solitary pursuit. But if you walk down the aisles of any bookstore, you’ll notice dozens of books with two authors listed on the front cover. Many writers decide to work with a coauthor to speed up the book writing process and improve the final product.
Finding a coauthor who has a different background and expertise than you can add a unique perspective to your book and make your message even more powerful. Getting a second set of eyes on the manuscript will also help polish it and eliminate grammatical errors. The finished book may even reach a wider audience and generate more revenue with two people promoting it.
Although there are many benefits to this type of partnership, cowriting isn’t without its challenges. Along the way, you and your coauthor may disagree about the structure of the book or the best way to market it to your target audience. Here are some tips to help you navigate the cowriting process so you can bring your book idea to life.
Find a Coauthor Who Shares Your Vision
You’ve likely felt called to share your story for years, but haven’t had time to write due to family and work obligations. Now that you’re finally ready to turn your experiences into a nonfiction book that inspires others, it’s important to find a coauthor who shares your vision and passion for the project.
Working with someone who’s on the same page about the purpose and direction of the book will make the writing process much faster and easier. But where can you find a coauthor who’s in sync with you creatively?
Search on Online Forums
Online forums that focus on the same topic as your book idea are great places to look for potential collaborators. For example, if you want to write a nonfiction book about living well with a chronic illness, you could search for a coauthor in online patient support groups.
Ask Friends and Family
Another way to find a cowriter is to let everyone in your network know that you’re looking for one. Many coauthors meet through a mutual friend or family member, including Missy Kelley and Alayna Burke, a pair of aspiring authors who joined The Book Professor’s Executive Group MASTERMIND.
Missy is friends with Alayna’s parents, which is how the two women first connected. When Missy learned that Alayna was struggling with an eating disorder, she was quick to offer the teen emotional support. Missy overcame an eating disorder in the 1980s when she was a young adult, so she understood exactly what Alayna was going through.
Once Alayna finished treatment for her eating disorder, the two women decided to write a memoir together about their recovery journeys with The Book Professor’s assistance. Although Missy and Alayna have a significant age difference, their partnership worked because they both shared the same goal of helping other women struggling with eating disorders.
So remember to keep an open mind when looking for a book writing partner. You never know who will turn out to be the perfect collaborator for your project!
Create a BookMAP and Purpose Statement
Another factor that contributed to Missy and Alayna’s success was the hard work they put into planning their book. Nancy taught them how to create a comprehensive BookMAP—a visual representation of everything they wanted to include in their book. Laying out all the stories they wanted to tell and lessons they wanted to share helped them get on the same page about the direction of the manuscript.
Before you and your coauthor start drafting your own manuscript, make sure you agree on the structure of the book and the content you plan to include. Otherwise, you may get into creative disagreements down the line that could delay the writing process.
Nancy also helped Missy and Alayna crystallize their vision for the book into a powerful purpose statement—a single sentence that encapsulates what your book will do for your target audience. For example, Missy and Alayna wanted their memoir to inspire women with eating disorders to pursue treatment, allowing them to lead more fulfilling lives.
Crafting a purpose statement that reflects your vision for the book will help you and your coauthor stay on track during the writing process. It’s easy to go on tangents and stray from your message when drafting a manuscript. Nailing down your purpose statement at the beginning of the project will help you and your writing partner remain focused.
Decide How to Split the Workload
Another crucial step of the book planning process is to decide how to split the workload. Ideally, you should aim to divide the work equally based on your individual strengths and skillsets.
For example, you may excel at hammering out first drafts quickly, while your coauthor is better at editing and proofreading each chapter to perfection. So you may agree to take on more of the writing work and hand off your rough drafts to your coauthor for polishing.
At this stage, you should also discuss how you’ll divide non-writing tasks like marketing. Don’t forget to address the business side of your partnership as well. When your book starts earning royalties, how will you split them? If you decide to hire a book coach or cover designer, who will pay for it? It’s usually a good idea to draw up a contract that outlines how you’ll handle costs and royalties so you have a written copy of your agreement.
Hold Each Other Accountable
Writing and editing a book demands countless hours of hard work and commitment. When life gets busy, it can be difficult to find the motivation you need to meet your writing goals. That’s why it’s important for you and your coauthor to encourage each other to stay the course.
Hold each other accountable by setting firm deadlines and meeting regularly to discuss the progress of the book. When you face challenges during the writing process like writer’s block or lack of time to write, work together to find solutions. With the constant support of your coauthor, you’ll be able to get your book across the finish line.
Be Willing to Compromise
Working with a coauthor who shares the same vision for the book can help prevent disagreements. However, it’s impossible to avoid creative conflicts entirely. During the writing and editing process, you’re bound to disagree about some of the finer points of the manuscript such as word choice. When differences of opinion arise, it’s important to be flexible and willing to compromise.
At the end of the day, readers probably won’t focus on the minor details you and your coauthor disagree upon. The lessons and wisdom you both share in the book are what readers will remember for years to come. As long as you and your coauthor agree on the overarching message of the book, it’s ok to let the little things go.
With that being said, it’s worth defending aspects of the book that are truly important to you. Just make sure you state your case respectfully without letting your emotions take over.
Write With a Consistent Tone and Point of View
One of the hardest parts of working with another writer is creating a consistent tone throughout the book. If you and your coauthor have different writing styles, you’ll need to figure out how to merge them so your book doesn’t seem disjointed to readers. For example, if you write succinctly and your coauthor prefers flowery language, you’ll have to find a way to meet in the middle so the book feels unified.
Getting the point of view right can also be difficult for cowriters. Solo authors can simply write in first person without additional clarification. But coauthors who take turns narrating must specify who’s speaking when using first person point of view. This can interrupt the flow of the book and confuse readers if done incorrectly.
If you and your coauthor have trouble determining the best point of view or tone of voice for getting your message across, working with a book coach can help. The Book Professor® will guide you through every step of the book writing process and teach you how to craft compelling creative nonfiction. Even if you’ve never written a book before, Nancy’s expert instruction will enable you to produce a polished manuscript that stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best books on the market.
Contact us today to learn how The Book Professor’s coaching programs can help you become a published author like you’ve always dreamed, whether you decide to work with a cowriter or not.