Have you ever done something that was the best thing you’ve ever done, but you sort of fell into it?
This is how I feel about co-writing. I have co-written four books (two with my mom, one with my daughter, and one with my mom and son) and I can’t imagine writing any other way. As a literary agent, I have represented several co-authors. I have seen what it’s like to write with a co-author and put your ideas together. There really can be beauty in co-writing that brings with it some natural affinities for you and your co-author(s).
Some of the benefits include:
- Recognizing rhythms of maximum effectiveness. Each of us has a different peak writing time during the day—we’re wired in unique ways. One day you might not be feeling very productive, and you can encourage each other in your writing. With this comes the opportunity to develop a deeper level of trust with each other.
- Celebrating differences that complement each other. Another benefit is your differences. Yes, this is a benefit! It brings diversity in book writing. Co-authors often have different backgrounds, perspectives, and maybe even different generations. Sometimes one is in the field of professional work while another may be in school, a stay-at-home mom, or a workplace leader.
Your differences actually punctuate what is distinct about you!
With your different gifts you are each using your distinct voice. You are often writing to your age group with your experience added in. Your co-author(s) helps contribute to the writing with their experience and passions. A variety of stories builds interest!
Oftentimes this will translate into choosing topics or chapters that are best for you to write. Sometimes one person will take one chapter and another co-author will take another chapter based on what they are more positioned to write well. You may blend your voices in the actual chapters by signaling who is writing. It’s helpful to have an outside editor read your work so that it complements well throughout.
- Exploring multiplied creativity. One of the areas that I think brings beauty in the process of co-writing is you have double or triple the creativity, depending on the number of co-writers. Each of you gets the opportunity to use your imagination and creativity. You can initiate your ideas and hear someone else’s. You can take turns reading each other’s work as you take different assignments. It’s also beneficial to tag team where needed, especially as your ideas shift.
- Marketing to different audiences. When it comes to promoting your book, you reach diverse readers, and you are getting the word out through more than one platform. You can split the marketing and help reach different audiences in different avenues where you shine. You can also explore how to reach your own age group.
Collaboration is the key to a successful co-authorship. It’s not a competition but a partnership.
How can you support your co-author more than having your own needs met and ideas accepted?
The goal is to bring out your co-author’s best skills. Go in asking how you will grow. The goal is to walk away better than when you started. Learning each other’s styles and what is truly in the best interest of the reader is key. It’s not that you have ALL your thoughts in the book. It’s that you get to write some of your best.
Some of the greatest memories come when you are co-writing because of the time you invest not just for the reader, but for yourself, becoming a better writer with someone else. Perhaps this becomes “the thing” you didn’t know you needed but you can’t live without now.
Happy co-writing, friends!
Question: Have you done any co-writing? If “yes,” what is the name of the book and what are the benefits you experienced? If “no,” what are your questions about co-authoring?
About Blythe Daniel
Blythe Daniel is a literary agent, author, and marketer. Her agency markets books and represents non-fiction and fiction. Blythe was the publicity director and marketing director for Harper Collins Christian Publishing and a literary agent for 18 years. Blythe co-authored Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters and I Love You Mom: Cherished Word Gifts from My Heart to Yours with her mom. Blythe and her daughter co-authored Let’s Be Friends: A Tween Devotional on Finding and Keeping Strong Friendships.