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AussieBilly
01-17-2012, 05:51 AM
Here is something I haven't seen discussed anywhere on this forum ... co-authorship.

For some time I've noticed a number of very prolific authors producing novels under their name and writing 'with' another person. I've always thought this was simply a way to benefit a best-selling writer without that writer having to do anything except loan out his formula. But now I seen another possibility ... a more personal possibility.

Background: I have had a dozen novels published by a London firm (I'm a Yank who now lives in Australia). Hale Publishing will take almost everything I produce ... as long as it is a western novel. Only once have they accepted a crime story ... and that one didn't do well at all. Why? With every reject I am told that my story doesn't have enough tension. Here is a quote from the last one: "there is little tension and excitement ... your writing is of such good quality..." but, thank you but no thank you.

Okay, so what about someone coming forward to take my piece and put in the tension/excitement I don't seem able to? A co-author. Such a deal would be better than relegating the story I worked so hard on to the UNPUBLISHABLE file.

Any thoughts?
Thank you....

geagar
01-17-2012, 08:12 PM
Michael Jordan played basketball for 10 years then got tired of it and played baseball for two years which he sucked at.

Returning to Chicago he put on the red and black, laced up his air Jordan’s and took off; winning several more NBA championships.


I normally dislike westerns but loved the movie ‘True Grit’

Filigree
01-17-2012, 08:48 PM
Co-authorship is one of those fantasies that sound really good at 2am in a bistro, but can turn sour very quickly under the light of day. Your prospective co-author should be someone you can get along with, and someone who won't mind protecting themselves and you with a strong, clear legal contract.

thethinker42
01-17-2012, 08:54 PM
Co-authorship is one of those fantasies that sound really good at 2am in a bistro, but can turn sour very quickly under the light of day. Your prospective co-author should be someone you can get along with, and someone who won't mind protecting themselves and you with a strong, clear legal contract.

QFT. Every last word.

Lori, who's been burned

veinglory
01-17-2012, 08:58 PM
QFT. Every last word.

Lori, who's been burned

Ditto.

Some co-author teams totally rock--but it is not a thing to be entered into lightly.

Al Stevens
01-17-2012, 09:28 PM
I've done it twice with non-fiction titles. Both times the co-authors had independent contracts with the publisher. We worked via e-mail and never met nor talked on the telephone.

One experience was very good. We divided the effort, worked independently on our assignments, then worked well together pulling it all together. The other one was not so good. The book sold well, but I do not like having my name on it. Only on the royalty checks.

The point of all this is to say you cannot tell in advance how it will go. In fiction, I would not do it unless I knew the other author's work well and liked it. And, most importantly, only if the story idea and plot were brought by the other author to the project. I wouldn't want to bail on one of my own "creations" only because of personal differences.

So, how come you can write a western with tension and excitement, but not in a crime story? That's a serious question. I don't know much about the western genre.

ETA: This opinion does not apply to "significant other" co-authors. That works really well for some writers.

AussieBilly
01-18-2012, 02:37 AM
So far I can agree with everyone's comments ... a lot of common sense. And I assure you all, I'm not that desperate ... yet. My 'lack-of-tension' filled stories fit quite nicely in the UNPUBLISHABLE file.

In response to your question about western novels, Mr. Stevens, I can only say that I agree; reading a western is not my idea of a good waste of time. I'll probably catch it from writers of that genre but I have broad shoulders. Why am I able to write acceptable cowboys and rustlers but not murderers and kidnappers? I dunno. The westerns are all about 45k words, all follow the same pattern and all have been reprinted at least once. My publisher only requires that I include a lot of shooting and at least one good fist fight... very little if any sex and the hero has to win. Doesn't sound much like J. D. McDonald's Travis McGee does it?

My westerns have a pretty good audience in the UK, where they are published, also in South Africa and down here in Australia. I'm told there is a growing interest in Germany, too. These readers are, for the most part, older men.

And that might be another stumbling block ... at least in so far as finding success in the US. Being an expat living in AU makes it impossible to take advantage of agent workshops or conventions. One of the very few downsides of having retired to paradise, I suppose.

Meanwhile, thanks all for the comments/thoughts
Bill

Arcadia Divine
01-18-2012, 08:57 AM
I've been lucky with my co author.

AussieBilly
01-18-2012, 09:28 AM
Hey, Arcadia Divine ... Good on you ... but pray tell, how were you able to work it out? Seems to me finding someone is only a little part of it. C'mon, tell me all ... oh, if you don't want to put it ALL on this forum, try jax289@hotmail.com.
Far as I can tell, your comment is about the only positive experience to respond to my original question. Go ahead, answer all the questions I have and Thank You!

M.R.
01-18-2012, 10:57 AM
This is something I've never done. I kind of want to do it because it's something I've never done. Some big name authors have worked on a story to help authors they really like get a boost.

While I think there is opportunity for fun, I think think there is a lot of opportunity for misery too. Also, I think without the big name behind the authors, a piece that has two names on it can be a hard sell.

If it's something you'd just want to try with a short story, with no real expectations to sell the work, then I'd be interested in having a go. (I write horror and SF. I've been wanting to do a genre mash up. Possibly a horrific western, pun that's not really a pun intended.)

frimble3
01-18-2012, 11:38 AM
Also, I think without the big name behind the authors, a piece that has two names on it can be a hard sell.

So, you make up a third, joint, name. It worked for 'Emma Lathen' and 'her' books (two women writing financial mysteries).

M.R.
01-18-2012, 04:35 PM
So, you make up a third, joint, name. It worked for 'Emma Lathen' and 'her' books (two women writing financial mysteries).

While this idea might get you through the door, I don't agree that it working is a given. If an agent or publisher are on the fence, learning that there are two parties involved could kill the deal. Two parties, in general, are deal killers from unknown authors.

There are exceptions, of course.

geagar
01-18-2012, 11:07 PM
AussieBilly

I personally have made AW my Co-author. I’ve found several wonderful writing buddies; Beta read 6 novels and have had mine Beta read in turn.
You start in the writer sandbox to workout some of the weak points in your plot then spend some time in the SYW forum critiquing others work, then finally getting your own critiqued. Then Beta read for others and they will Beta for you in turn. Then go to Query letter site to sharpen up your query and finally spend time on the Agent site to find an agent that works for you.
I realize this sound like and ad for AW but I am simply pointing out what has worked for me.

Good luck on your novel.

Cathy C
01-18-2012, 11:34 PM
Oh, it's been talked about here or there, and I usually have a say in it. I've written with a co-author for a dozen years or so. We have 18 books on the shelf. We're also writing individual stuff now, but so far the partnership has worked. It takes time and effort and a strong willingness to look past egos for the betterment of the book. But it can work.

It does, however, take advance agreement on how to resolve disputes and a strength of purpose to stand by those agreements (even if it bites you in the tail later.) :)

A co-author can be a terrific thing for moving genres. But are you TRULY willing to allow someone to change your words wholesale? That's what it takes. You have to allow that person to edit--not only the text, but the spirit of the book. Not that many people can step away from the keyboard and beat their creative muse into a corner.

If you can, good on 'ya, and I have no doubt you could come to terms with someone. But you have to be honest with yourself before you even attempt it.