Today we’re talking about co-writes! There are tons of pros and cons to writing with another person. We’re going to break down what you should consider before diving headfirst into co-writing a book. Remember that while this can be a fun project, it’s also a business arrangement that will last as long as the book is published.
Pros of a Co-Write
- You’re reducing workload because there’s someone to share the load. There’s two people to do the writing, the editing, and the marketing.
- You’re potentially doubling the skills. Maybe one of you is great at editing and the other is a whiz at graphic design, or any other numerous skills available that will benefit your book.
- There’s someone to pick up the slack if one of you gets sick, has a crisis, or cannot work for whatever reason.
- You’re sharing your audience. Each of you will be bringing your readers to the project and while there’s likely to be some crossover in your audiences, you’re still going to be having a bigger overall reach.
Cons of a Co-Write
- You’ll be making 50% of the profits compared to a book released on your own where you’d be making 100%.
- You’re beholden to another author for the life of the book.
- You have to navigate all the difficulties of creating books in general with the added stress of having a new business partner.
- You will lose some creative freedom and control because you’re working with another individual, so you don’t call all of the shots anymore.
Do you have a co-writer in mind?
Some people want to do a co-write but don’t have an author in mind to collaborate with. Some people get around that by doing an open call. They will post on social media that they are looking for a co-writer and they sort through the people who respond.
Some people specifically want to do a co-write because there’s an author that they really want to work with. This might be someone whose work you admire, this could be a brand new author that you want to help reach bigger audiences, or this could just be an author friend that you think would be fun to work with.
Do you like their work?
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s very possible that at some point you’ll get asked to co-write with someone that you like as a person, but don’t love their work. If you don’t think you’ll be a good fit as a co-writer, don’t be afraid to decline the request. You don’t have to tell them it’s because you like them, but not their work because there are plenty of reasons authors can’t take on an additional project, let alone something that requires the coordination of a co-write.
Do you have a similar style?
When a book is being co-written, you typically don’t want to be able to tell where one author ends and another begins. The story should be completely seamless by the end of all of your edits. If you and your co-writer have very different voices then you could run into issues.
It also makes more sense for the most part if you’re pairing up with someone that writes in the same subgenre, enjoys the same tropes, and isn’t going to squick over any kinks you might want to add to the spicy stuff.
Do your ideas for the co-write mesh?
There’s a lot of things that have to align to make for a successful co-write. Do you have the same vision for plot, characters, and world building? If you’re writing stuff with spicy content, do you like the same stuff and can you agree on what to include in the story? If you’re in conflict with these things then you might be in for a rough time.
Do you have similar schedules?
Scheduling is really important when you’re working on a book with someone. If one of you is locked down with other work for ages before they can get to the co-write, but the other is eager to start right away then you may end up with a work imbalance. It can be helpful to develop systems such as working in the same Google document, so that both of you are able to access real time updates, leave notes, and adjust things to make everything more seamless. If you are writing somewhere that your co-writer can’t access and are adding things to a shared document later, then you may run into issues with needing to do rewrites if you got off track or start adding things that weren’t previously discussed.
Will the book be wide or in Kindle Unlimited?
At the time of this recording Amazon does not have any system to manage books with multiple authors in which they manage the distribution of payments and allow all authors access to the reporting for the book. As such, if the book is going to be in KU, a single account will have to be the publisher, and they are the one that will receive all of the royalties and have access to the reporting.
If you intend for the book to be wide, then there are companies, such as Draft2Digital that will manage the royalty payments for all involved authors based on the percentage filled in when the book is set up.
Which account is the book going to be published under?
Whoever publishes the book will be the one who has full access to all of the reporting, and is the one who will be getting paid and therefore responsible for paying their co-writer. They are also the one who will have to deal with any issues with the distributor and will be responsible for all of the set up and making sure those deadlines are met.
Do you understand the legalities around a co-write?
Co-writing falls under joint work because you’re creating a cohesive piece of work where the work of each author can’t be easily distinguished. Both co-authors are entitled to an equal portion of the royalties for the project, and both are able to authorize use of the copyright without the permission of any other co-authors. Now, that being said, if you’re outside of the US, I would recommend looking into the copyright laws for joint work in your country of residence to make sure this information applies.
I would heavily suggest that you look into a contract when working with a co-writer. Lay out who the publisher will be (ie. which account you’ll be using to publish the work), how often payment will be made to the non-publisher partner, etc. Consider watching my episode on understanding publishing contracts if you haven’t done so already to help you navigate this.
Planning for the future
If all goes well and things remain exactly the same as when you start the co-write then you don’t have to worry, but like with all things, it’s usually better to plan for the worst and hope for the best. With that being said, let’s look at a few scenarios to consider, and potentially work into your contract.
What happens if one of you doesn’t want the book out there anymore?
Would the other author be able to make changes and publish a revised version or does any trace of it need to disappear forever?
What happens if there’s a falling out between the two of you?
How will the royalty distribution be handled if you’re no longer on speaking terms? Do you still want to be associated with one another through the book?
What happens if one of you wants to leave writing?
Does the book stay up or does it have to be taken down? If the book is staying up, do you just stop promoting it? Are you okay with continuing to share future profit with someone who has zero plans to ever contribute to the marketing again?
What happens if one of you passes?
This one really needs to be part of an even larger conversation with family about how everything would be handled.
These are not fun conversations to have, and I truly hope that none of these come to pass. We’re all human, things happen, relationships change, and tragedy can occur without warning. Having a plan laid into the contract can help you navigate them.
I hope this episode has been helpful and that it will help you navigate co-writes.
That’s all for now. You can find all of my books and platforms in the description below. If you have questions or suggestions for future episodes, please do let me know. And if you’d like early access to these you can join my Patreon where I share them with people as soon as they’re ready to roll. Thank you so much for listening and I’ll see you soon for another episode!
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