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Copyright © AJ Tipton 2016-2017 The right of AJ Tipton to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (or other similar law, depending on your country). All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author, except in cases of brief quotations embodied in reviews or articles. It may not be edited, amended, lent, resold, hired out, distributed or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s written permission. Permission can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org
This book is for sale to adult audiences only. It contains substantial sexually explicit scenes and graphic language which may be considered offensive by some readers.
This is a work of fiction. All characters, names, places and incidents appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, organizations, events or locales is purely coincidental.
All sexually active characters in this work are 18 years of age or older.
Cover art photos provided by BigStock.com, Morgue Files, Flickr.com, and Upsplash.com. Graphic design by LydiaChai
Choose Your Co-Author
Choose Your Genre
Choose Your Story
Choose Your Editor
Choose Your Formatting
Choose Your Cover
Choose Your Final Touches
Choose Your Platform
Choose Your Budget
Choose Your Promotions
Choose Your Reviewers
Choose to Keep Going
Letter from the Authors
Meet AJ Tipton
YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE ALONE.
Writing is customarily portrayed as a solitary pursuit: the lonely writer toiling away in the dusty attic, the pastoral cabin, the dank dungeon (we don't know your life). Even authors who attend professional workshops, or who participate in editing review groups, are ultimately on their own. An author writes, gathers feedback (often completely contradictory feedback), and then must decide which critiques to pursue, which to ignore, and which to expand into something totally different. If you love that solitary road, this book is not for you.
Even after the story is complete, the work of the lone author isn't finished. Whether the writer is traditionally- or self-published, the real business starts for writers after a book hits the digital or actual shelves. The art and business of writing is back-breaking, heartrending work when done alone.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
What we offer is a different vision: a way of writing that is collaborative and fun. Writing with a partner halves the work, not only in the writing itself, but also the marketing, publicity, distribution, and sales tasks. Having a partner provides double the brainpower to work through the problems and questions that arise constantly as a writer: whether it’s figuring out how to keep your main character alive after throwing them off a cliff, or deciding whether it makes financial sense to continue translating fairy tales into Spanish when readers are only buying the shapeshifter books.
Together, we have written over 30 novels using the lessons and tools outlined in this book. Our prolific success is due to many factors that all boil down to one thing: a successful partnership.
We are not going to teach you how to write. If you want to learn about grammar or plot structure, there are many excellent resources you can check out in the resources section at the end of this book. What we’re providing are the logistics of how to create a story with a partner, self-publish it, and then market your work. The examples that we will use are based primarily on our own area of expertise, paranormal romance novellas, but these lessons can be applied to any genre.
This book charts the path from the beginning to end of creating a book with a partner, starting with how to choose your co-author all the way through promoting your finished work. You can read this book from start to finish, or use the table of contents to jump to the section most relevant to your questions. Each section begins with a brief anecdote from each of us (in blue) about our different experiences with each aspect of writing and publishing process. One of the beauties of writing with a partner is that each step of the way, you're working with someone who lends a different perspective to the work.
My dream since I could hold a pen was to be an author, Jess's was to own a small business and be independent. By the time I reached adulthood, I hadn't made the author road work on my own, but self-publishing combined our complementary ambitions and skill sets so that we could both head toward what we ultimately wanted. Every day we pull each other toward the finish line.
Annie and I will never fight over a man. True story. We have completely opposite taste in the fellas and one of us will often scratch our heads at who the other drools over. We also have very different taste in what we like to write. Sex scene? Screaming match? Count me in. But, if a character wants to think about their feelings or grow emotionally, that’s where I tag Annie in. We work well together because we’re so different, like a well-mixed cocktail. Cheers.
The "AJ" in AJ Tipton stands for "Annie" and "Jess". We are two authors working together as one, and it’s made all the difference. Outlining, writing, publishing, and marketing is so much more fun when done as a team. It’s very important, however, to find the right team. Since AJ Tipton was born, there have been over half a dozen people interested in writing with us, but only one has followed through. Writing and publishing together sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. People will be excited to join in, but finishing can be a rare occurrence. Here are some of the most important questions to keep in mind:
Do they actually want to co-write? It can be difficult to determine if somebody is willing to follow through on partnering up to write a book, or if they're just humoring you. It is far easier to say, "Yes! That sounds like a lot of fun!" than to actually sit down and write out pages of agreed-upon content. As thousands of memes across the Internet will remind you, writing is hard. There's a lot that's fun about it, but you need to make sure that your writing partner is equally motivated to finish this project, or you'll be looking at a half-written story.
Are you compatible as partners? Try to plan some travel together. It doesn't have to be an international jaunt; a weekend trip to a local hangout also works. Being able to synchronize schedules, work with your differing budgets, and spending a lot of time with each other are all skills you will need to write well together. Travel is a fun and easy test to see how co-writing might go.
Are you on the same page? Make sure you and your co-author have the same goal. Are you writing for funsies, or are you trying to replace your current career? If one author is working towards quitting their day job and the other is doodling around on a fun hobby, you will probably run into conflict down the line. If all co-authors on a project know the ideal end result, everyone should be able to prioritize accordingly. This may be an awkward conversation, but it is definitely worth talking over. And speaking of...
The power of communication: Like all relationships, communication is key to success. You have to be ready to talk through issues honestly and fearlessly to handle any problems that may come up. The power of GChat, Skype, and other tools make working closely with another person easier than ever before.
How do you plan to share content? Figure out ahead of time where you are going to physically store your document. We highly recommend using an online platform where you can write your story at the same time (we use shared documents and folders in Google Drive for all of our writing and business needs), and set up a time to write together. Or, if your schedules don’t match up, block out individual time to write and let the other person know. It’s important to volunteer information about when you’ll be writing so one co-author doesn’t have to wonder when the other will get to typing. Put a regular communication plan in place before you start, and make sure you hold each other accountable for work.
Look for a diversity of perspectives & skills: One of the enormous advantages of writing with a partner is that you have someone to bounce ideas off of, spot the plot holes in the story, and balance out the blind spots in the other’s perspective. To that end, try to find somebody who thinks differently than you do. Two minds who are perfectly in line are going to write a one-dimensional book. But if you can find someone who can push you beyond your comfort zone, you will have a story which is far greater than what you could produce alone.
When possible, also try to find co-authors or partners who balance out your skills and interests. While Annie takes classes on how to improve our writing and storytelling, Jess researches how to improve the business and marketing side of our work. We both have to know all sides of the writing and business, but specializing means we can dive deeper into the aspects which interest us more and improve the work as a whole.
How will you acknowledge yourself as authors? This isn't the first thing you need to figure out, but it should be an early conversation: what are you going to call yourselves?
Some co-writing teams are quite clear that they are two (or more) authors writing together. For Good Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman have a clear byline that shows they wrote the story together, and they promoted their book equally and loudly among their massive fandoms. Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer were even more transparent in their co-written Cecelia and Kate novels, which were penned in the form of letters back and forth between the two main characters, with each set of letters written by one of the authors. This dual byline format makes sense for authors who already have branded names, but for the rest of us, you're going to need to build an author identity (possibly from scratch). You’ll want to be strategic about what name you choose.
We chose a shared pseudonym, but in our bio we acknowledge that there are two of us. The name itself took less than a minute for us to create: A and J for the first letter of our names, and Tipton as the first staff name listed on a movie poster we were sitting close to at the time.