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Collaboration - Writing narrative books with a co-author

By Lyn Millner

Last night at 9 p.m., very tired, I went to the cafe session with Sarah Wernick. Even though I’d been up since 4 a.m., she was such a lively speaker I forgot my fatigue. Wernick has collaborated on several books and she offered some down-to-earth advice about collaborations, including: Be sure the author can say three unique things about her book topic that would appeal to an editor. If not, the person probably doesn’t have enough of a focus or a realistic idea about the book’s potential audience or viability.

Wernick also covered collaboration agreements – most co-authors work out a 50-50 split – and discussed nightmare stories she’d heard from co-writers. Some authors have written a proposal with an expert only to have the expert switch writers once the proposal sold. For this reason, she advised that every collaboration agreement include a “way out” – so you’re paid for your work if the process ends unexpectedly. I hadn’t realized how lucrative collaboration can be. Wernick only pursues a project if she thinks it’ll be a six-figure deal. For some projects, she may work as little as four months.

Lyn Millner is a Freelance Writer.

Posted in book proposals, sessions.Writing With a Co-Author, team reporting, writing with co-authors on December 12, 2003 at 05:14 PM | Permalink