Tracie and I are in the beginning stages of co-authoring a new series—this will be our fourth. As I was trying to decide what I’d write about this week, I thought this might be a good time to answer a question we are frequently asked when we speak or attend an event together: “How do you co-author—especially when you live so far apart?”
My first response is usually that we didn’t always live far apart—that Tracie deserted me for the beautiful scenery and asthma-friendly climate of Montana after we’d already begun our co-authoring venture. I’ve finally come to grips with the fact that, except to visit, she doesn’t plan to return to Kansas. And let me tell you, sometimes it’s hard for me to come to grips. J Where did that saying come from? If you find out, let me know by leaving a comment. My idiom dictionary says it developed in the mid-1900’s, but it doesn’t say how or why. As usual, I digress—back to the co-authoring.
Methods of co-authoring vary as widely as methods used by authors who write individually. So, this is our method—certainly not the one used by all co-authors, but the one that works for us.
It all begins when one of us has an idea that we think would make a fun series to co-author. We’ve either read something or learned about a specific area that captures out interest and think it would be a wonderful setting for a new series—one that would be even more enjoyable if we co-authored. If it sparks interest for both of us, we write up a very brief proposal to see if the publishing house might be interested in the project. If so, the real fun begins. We begin our in-depth research of the setting by visiting the place we intend to use, or a place that emulates our setting as closely as possible. We conduct as much research as possible, make as many contacts with historians or other curator-types, and eat at as many good restaurants as we can find. LOL.
If time permits, we prepare the basic synopsis for the first book and general outline for the other two books. By doing this, we know the areas that will need the most research prior to actually beginning to write. This proposal is sent to the publishing house and then we wait to see if they are as excited as the two of us. Once we have the green light, we produce an in-depth or chapter synopsis, character development sheets, and sketches of houses and towns if we don’t have maps. Whenever possible, we do this together—usually by taking about four or five days away from the distractions of home.
Once the framework of the book, has been constructed, I write a first draft and send it to Tracie via email. Another reason I’m thankful for computers and the internet. Can you imagine writing in longhand and sending a manuscript back and forth by Pony Express? It would take us a lifetime to complete a book. J Anyway, once I send the draft to Tracie, she adds and changes at will. When there are chapters that deal with places or events that Tracie has already researched, I leave gaping holes in the manuscript for her to complete. The manuscript goes back and forth between us until we are both satisfied. Then we hit the send button to our editor. So there you have it. There are many more details, but I thought I should stop before you begin to snooze. But, if you have any questions, just leave them in the comment section.
May you find joy as you explore new beginnings with dear friends. ~Judy
P.S. If all went according to plan, there should be an interview posted at ajhawke.blogspot.com
where she will be having a drawing for a copy of Somewhere to Belong for those who post a comment on her blog. You might hop on over there and take a peek. And if she doesn't have it posted, leave a comment with me and I'll do a drawing. I think she may be having some blogger problems. :)