Choosing to self-publish a book with a co-author can be a difficult decision. Collaborating on a project means sharing the rewards of publishing, as well as the labor of planning, writing, releasing, and marketing the final product. At Self-Publishing Relief, we know that successfully self-publishing a book with a co-author also requires business savvy and a healthy measure of trust. Here’s how to determine if you should self-publish a book with a co-author.
The Pros And Cons Of Self-Publishing With A Co-Author
Pros Of Co-Author Collaboration
There are many benefits to collaboration:
Write More Books. Self-published authors know that “rapid-release” publishing is one way to super-charge your book sales. Depending on the genre, this may require writing four books a year or a book every month. If you’re a solo author struggling to keep up with a rapid-release schedule, working with a co-author is a smart way to avoid burnout.
Feed Your Social Animal. Writing can be a lonely experience. If you enjoy working in groups, bouncing ideas off someone else, or prefer steady support, interaction, and cheerleading during the writing process, having a co-author may be the perfect solution.
Import Expertise And Credentials. Some projects, especially nonfiction projects, may require the input of someone with more expertise than you have yourself. Co-authoring a book with a writer who has impressive credentials or a specific expertise will not only make for a better book, but helps with marketing as well.
Share The Writing Burden. Book projects can be daunting. Working with a co-author means sharing the labor of the writing itself by splitting responsibilities according to each author’s specific strengths.
Increase Marketing Efforts. Marketing and publicity take lots of time. Having a co-author to help with promotion will make it easier to spread the word to more potential readers and buyers.
Divvy Up Costs. Self-publishing involves up-front costs like editing, covers, formatting, ISBNs, and marketing. Co-authors can share expenses, cutting costs in half.
Cons Of Co-Author Collaborations
Without proper preparation and realistic expectations, author collaborations might become difficult and awkward. Conflicts and misunderstandings may arise if you don’t first lay ground rules and discuss important aspects of the project:
Money. Self-publishing requires start-up costs, as mentioned earlier. How will these expenses be split among the parties? How will the royalties be split? Who will be in charge of tracking all income streams and equitably and promptly distributing the profits?
Writing Process And Responsibilities. Can you trust your co-author to meet deadlines? Are you both on the same page when it comes to the division of writing labor? Are you in agreement about the direction of the project? Do you both give and take constructive criticism well? Are your writing styles and process compatible? The answers to these questions will determine how smoothly the project moves ahead.
Self-Publishing Business Decisions. Beyond the writing of the book, self-publishing involves critical business decisions the co-authors must navigate together. Do you plan to publish under a pseudonym, use both names, or release books under an LLC? What about the copyright? Do you prefer to publish wide or stick with Amazon Kindle Select? Do you intend to publish paperback versions as well as e-books and audiobooks? Make sure you and your co-author are in agreement before you get started.
Signing A Collaboration Contract. A good collaboration contract lays out expectations and responsibilities involving deadlines, division of writing labor, money matters, indemnity, breach of contract, and more. Not everyone is keen to sign a contract, but doing so helps avoid conflict and misunderstandings. Standard collaboration contracts are available online, but it’s always best to work with a lawyer in your home state to make sure the contract follows all local laws.
The most important—and sometimes most difficult—part of a co-author collaboration is finding the right partner. Choosing a co-author involves more than just expertise, credentials, or literary proficiency. Collaboration requires knowing your own strengths and weaknesses so you can vet options according to those specific needs. But once you find the right partner, it just may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship—and a great book!
Question: Have you ever collaborated with another writer on a project? What did you learn?