The following is a re-post from a closed Blog.
Anyone who has been through formal education into their teens, and definitely anyone who has been through higher education, training in a work environment or any form of leadership training will have undertaken some group work. Often this is dreaded – there’ll be egos to deal with, someone who is quite happy for every one else to work as long as they get a share in the credit and someone who knows best and wants to lead the project, irrespective of what everyone else wants…
But, there are some great works that have come out of collaboration. Think about the great films, TV series and songs that have come out of writing teams. My own experience of co-authoring was very productive, leading to the novella Rose Scar. So, if you choose* to co-author and pool your experience, knowledge and skill.
Based on my own experience here are my ten ‘top tips’ for co-authors:
- Agree what you are writing (genre, style, length etc.) before agreeing to collaborate. If you don’t agree, don’t collaborate.
- Agree the broad outline of the piece before anyone picks up a pen.
- Agree up front how credit (whatever form that takes, including payment) will be split. If there are tax implications get this written down and signed.
- Agree what name(s) are going on the document, and in what order before anyone writes anything.
- Agree the roles of every team member up front.
- Agree the minimum contribution necessary to warrant inclusion in the credit.
- Agree who should actually do the writing, and hold the draft/proof document safe.
- No member of the writing team can also be the proof reader or editor.
- Disagreements should be sorted out as soon as possible, and in a professional, adult manner.
- If you have a choice and it’s not either fun or in some other way fulfilling, stop and withdraw.
*Items 1 and 10 effectively only work for voluntary collaborations. If you are working on assignment that requires you to collaborate and/or where the parameters are set for you then I’d suggest that 1 becomes ‘Agree the ground rules before starting’ – whether they be these or something else and 10 becomes ‘Agree in advance who the final decision maker is in case of irreconcilable differences. It is essential that this should be someone outside of the team, and preferably not the direct customer for the output.’
© Chris Johnson 2018