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Collaboration









If you are a self-published writer, it is almost impossible to complete your book, publish it, and market it successfully without collaborating with someone else.


Collaboration, of course, can mean many things, and certainly when I started to write, I was intent on taking ownership of what I was producing. This wasn’t, as it may seem, a complete control issue. A lot of the themes, ideas, and characters meant a lot to me, and I did not like the thought of somebody editing the work and changing what that was. Having met published authors who say that this is one of things that has happened to them, it worried me slightly that I would lose sight of my art, intent and possibly even my conscience.


However, self-publishing is a long haul. I made mistakes and if you watch any of our videos, you will see I talk about some of those, and I certainly needed another set of eyes on the books when they were finished and thankfully, I have that now. There are likely to be so many stages when you will need some help and, of course, that’s partly what ASPA and its community are there for. We also suggest ways in which you can access support at reasonable costs on other sites.


But what about collaborating on your story? The closest I’ve come to this is when I used to write scripts. This was part of a business I ran with someone else, and most of the writing was for plays or musicals that major tour operators would perform in many resorts. Some were childlike, almost like pantomimes, and others were a little more grown-up. For the two of us to do the writing of the songs, record all the instruments and singing, design and supply stage sets and costumes and the script writing was a big ask, but that is what we did, and I think we did it well. Although I did most of the story writing, we would meet once every week or every two weeks just to talk about where it was going. Of course, if you worked for a company like TUI, they wanted specific things in the show. Sometimes it was as harmless as mentioning sun safety, and in others, it was promoting a named product.


We were very lucky in that rather than arguing about ideas, we would throw all sorts of things in there and often spend the evening laughing at our own sad jokes. I would make plenty of notes and go away and then write for another week or so. It was incredibly rewarding, because even when we met senior executives, they would give us more or less a blank sheet and I felt everything we did worked well, and it was always wonderful to turn up somewhere and watch something that you have written and an audience enjoying it.


But do you think you could write a book in partnership with someone else? I would hope that as soon as you read that question, you immediately thought about people who you could do that with you and yes, it is very much about the person. Certainly, they would need the skills of an author, but it is so important that you get along, have similar ideas, and don’t take the work too seriously.


I have always done my work as a Ghost-writer in partnership. It is the polite exchange of ideas where the author is always in charge but is very much a collaboration. It is so important that once you have a solid idea for your story that you run it by someone else, someone you trust. Again, if you’ve read much of the support on this site, we constantly emphasise the need to have a nondisclosure agreement with any collaborator, even if it is your best friend. Several sites offer services like a ‘Pitch it’ service, which is not necessarily there to tell you that you’ve got it wrong but to pick out the best parts of your ideas before you start. If at any point, like most of us, you have collaborated with someone, try very hard not to take what they say as criticism.

If they are outwardly critical or even insulting, then you have the wrong person and you need to try someone or something else. Professional sites like Meet The Authors are tuned to supporting authors. In my experience, it is rare that someone who wants to write a book hasn’t got some good ideas.


My advice would be to strike a balance between relinquishing control of what you have and being too proud to consider letting others help and support you. Please use our ‘46-step guide to becoming a self-published author.’ It is what it says it is, a step-by-step guide to getting your book published and hopefully sold as well. There are so many suggestions in there about how you can get help along the way.


Our great wish for ASPA is that it becomes a community, a collaborative resource where you can safely ask a question or an opinion, without being frightened of what the response may be. We ask everyone who is a member to respect this please. If you have some expertise, please be kind to those who are starting out and unsure of their way forward.


Rob


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