How do co-authors coordinate when writing a book?

As a book coach, I am frequently approached by 2, 3, or sometimes larger teams of people who want to write a book together. 

People think that writing a book with somebody else will mean less work. However, it’s only less work if it’s coordinated and planned. 

Otherwise, it can be a nightmare! 

Bring different things to the table

Many people want to write a book with somebody just because they feel a sense of camaraderie. 

They haven’t thought if they bring different things to the table.

Think of it in terms of business instead of a book.

For example, I am the sole owner of my business. However, in the future, I may decide to take on an equal partner.

Very likely somebody who’s very detail orientated because I’m not. I’m a big thinker, a strategic thinker.

If we wrote a book together about operating a book coaching company, it’d be easy to plan because all the strategic, big thinking ideas will be what I write, while they would write about the detailed stuff.

There’s no stepping on toes. I’m not going to feel like they’re taking all the glory. They’re not going to feel like I’m taking the glory. It works beautifully and harmoniously.

 If you all bring similar things to the table, toes inevitably get stepped on.

 So the first thing is, co-authors need to bring different skills to the table.

Have the same end goal

The second thing is aligned goals. There are so many teams of authors who don’t think of this. And then they realize much later down the line, sometimes when they’ve already created the book, maybe even published the book, that their goals were misaligned.

Let me give you an example. Say you have two co-authors. And one author wants to leverage the book to build their authority to build their business, whereas the other author doesn’t have a business. 

One of you is going to use the book to build your business. But how is the other person going to be compensated?

You end up building a business and making a lot of money, but the other person isn’t making much money. It’s not fair if they put the same 50% of their hard work into creating the book as you did.

This can lead to upset. It’s best to have these conversations before you start your book writing project. 

Plan the book meticulously

The third thing is you need to plan your book out meticulously.

It becomes very easy to plan out your book and assign different parts when each co-author brings different skills to the table.

It’s far more challenging when you all bring the same things to the table (a sign of this is one person who feels that others are getting too much of the glory).

Consider these two very famous sayings or phrases:

  • Many hands make light work, and
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth.

These two phrases may seem at odds with each other at first glance. However, they are both right.

Many hands do make light work when you’ve planned meticulously. 

However, when there has been little planning, too many cooks almost certainly spoil the broth (or, in this case, the book!)

 I’ve recently taken on two authors who are writing one book.

The only reason I said yes to them is they came to me with a plan. 

Person A is going to be doing this, and person B is doing that.

They knew exactly the different skills each brought to the table. And their end goals were aligned.

Finally, I’ve met a team of co-authors that I can actually work with!

I’ve said no to everybody else because I knew they weren’t ready to work with me. 

They hadn’t had those discussions regarding book goals or what each brought to the table.

I could already foresee toes being stepped on and people getting upset.

They needed to have those tough discussions first before they worked with me. 

Before you think of writing a book as a co-author, you need to answer these three questions first:

  • Are we bringing different things to the table?
  • Do we have the same end goal?
  • Have we planned the book?

Once you have these answers, you can go and co-author your book! 

Next Step

If you’re interested in writing a business book that will generate leads and sales for your business, get a copy of The Freedom Master Plan that will explain everything you need to know about writing and marketing business books.

You can also download a sample chapter here