In December 2013 I published my first collaboration. It’s not something I thought I’d be able to do: actually write a book with someone else. I’m usually way too much of a control freak for that caper. But I have to say it’s been quite a liberating experience.
Here’s how it started:
Jo: (co-collaborator): You should write a series of detective novels set in 1930s Hollywood.
Me: But I don’t know anything about the Golden age of Tinsel Town (or words to that effect). Why don’t you write them?
Jo: But I don’t know anything about detective novels….
**LIGHT BULB MOMENT**
Jo: Why don’t we write them together?
Inspired by those co-writing enthusiasts over at the selfpublishingpodcast.com (if you have any interest in writing you really should check them out), Jo and I decided to split the tasks involved in the collaboration process. I know other authors (like Mark Edwards and Louise Voss) take it in turns to write chapters (each one writing from a different point of view character – POV) but in order to get the voice right (first person POV) we agreed it was important to have one writer take a run at writing the whole thing from start to finish. But I’ve getting ahead of myself. This is actually how it went:
- Discussing the character and history of our hero (P.I. Spencer McCoy)
- Thrashing out the high level plot together
- I then ‘beat out’ the outline. This was basically a chapter by chapter outline listing the events that needed to happen in bullet-list form
- Then Jo wrote the first draft
- Then I read that draft
- And did nothing with it for months (I had a novel to finish!)
- I then picked it up again and completed something between a re-draft and an edit
- Back to Jo to edit my edits!
- Then off to trusted beta readers and proofers
- Then published to Amazon with no fanfare at all
What I’ve learnt
Although I do stamp my foot over some ideas, and I’m still a little too quick to dismiss others that I can’t see working, I think my listening skills are gradually improving! The process is also really honing my editing skills, which I can apply to my own novels.
Book two in the series, Lost and Foundling, has just been through the plotting and beat outline phase. Told from the point of view of Spencer McCoy’s very able new assistant, Rose Randall, it’ll uncover even more Hollywood secrets.
In the meantime the first book is available from:
The Collaboration Experts
If you want to catch up with the guys from the Self Publishing Podcast, as mentioned above, but feel too overwhelmed at the prospect of listening to over 100 hours of chat, you can buy their book, Write. Publish. Repeat. instead, which pretty much covers all the stuff they’ve been talking about for the past gazillion episodes.
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