Writing a book can be difficult, not only because the writing itself can be a lonely old process riddled with moments of self-doubt, but also because you have no one to answer to. If you write alone it can be easy to let yourself down and give up.
I have long been a fan of collaboration. I believe that when two people with complementary skills get together the book they produce can only benefit from the meeting of two minds. Better still, once the book is out, when you have two authors you get two networks you can tap into for promotion and two people to work at marketing and selling. During the writing process you can keep each other on track. Back in 1995 I collaborated on a cookery book with Sue Valentine. I loved to cook, knew how to write and knew how to desktop publish. I had written a cookbook before. Sue had a PhD in food science, was used to inventing recipes, loved to cook and also loved to take photographs. Sue and shared the work, the promotion and the money! We wrote Dates when we both lived in Oman. It has now been republished by Zodiac and continues to do well.
More recently, Simone Costa Eriksson and Ana Serra have collaborated on a brand new book called Moving Abroad – the Mission of Detective Mike.
Simone takes up the story:
“Ana was my spouse intercultural coachee, after our 5 sessions were over, I had found out about Ana’s interest in writing for children and that we had a lot in common: we both had intercultural marriages, we both had lived in Italy, and we both have had problems with our children while moving abroad. So I proposed to her to write the book combining my psychology interest in families in transition and her talent with writing for children. In reality, when we began, we were just two desperate expat wives trying to make sense of our life experience, we were so convinced children and their families needed special attention. I was always impressed with Ana’s writing, one time she wrote a special poem for her daughter to have it on her birthday party invitation.
“We started by meeting weekly to discuss each area of difficulty for children and how we could help them solve it. Since she is from Argentina, she started writing it in Spanish, she would read to me and help me translate what I could not understand. Ana moved back to Italy just before we concluded the Spanish version, it took about a year. Then we did the Portuguese version and later translated into a non-native English! That is when I found Jo Parfitt. Besides correcting the English and turning it into native language, Jo questioned the structure, the characters and the language we had used in an honest way, just what we needed! Another 6 months had passed when we managed to put together the text, illustrations and design. I felt I could trust Jo ‘as a midwife’ since the first messages we exchanged.
“We met the illustrator Meri, throught Evely, someone who builds and sells wooden toys and whom I met in the local craft market. I needed to paint a big cube used for our workshops. Since the very beginning, Meri understood immediately and deeply what we were talking about, it was an instant synergy. We had magic moments together and often got very emotional when discussing the concepts behind the story.”
Sue and I collaborated on a cookbook, Simone and Ana collaborated on a children’s book. Both publications benefited hugely from this meeting of minds and skills.
Through my work as an authors’ mentor I have often worked with teams who are working together. I have discovered that while this is definitely a good idea, it has its pitfalls. If you are thinking of collaborating, here are some tips:
five tips for collaborators
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