The power of author collaborations

Have you been invited to collaborate with another author but hesitated because you weren’t sure if it was a good idea? Maybe you were reluctant to commit the time or energy, or maybe you felt you didn’t know enough about that person to decide.

Who can blame you? Let’s be honest: Before you partner with someone, you want to be fairly confident that it will be a good, productive experience.

That confidence often comes from experience working with your collaborator on other projects or in other ways. For that reason, starting small might be the best way to approach teaming up with someone else.

3 reasons to collaborate

But why would you do any of this in the first place? What’s in it for you? Here are three reasons I love author collaborations:

  1. You can help/entertain/educate/inform more readers when you partner with others who already reach the people you want to reach.
  2. It’s an easy and affordable way to expand the audience for your work.
  3. There’s potential for you to learn, grow, and improve when you partner with a colleague who could be in a position to teach you about something you need to learn.

And, honestly, it’s just plain fun to work with smart people you admire or respect.

4 easy author collaboration ideas

“Entry level” author collaborations can take many forms. You might . . .

  • Ask another writer in your genre to share information about your new book with her e-mail list in exchange for sending details of her latest book to yours.
  • Organize a virtual authors event with a bookstore or library.
  • Include another author as a resource when pitching an article idea to a magazine or newspaper or a segment to a TV talk show.
  • Form a blog circle with other authors targeting the same readers. Link to the blogs in your circle from your site, comment on their blog posts, agree to contribute content to theirs — and vice versa — on a regular basis.

(Get more ideas in “5 ways to collaborate with other authors.”)

I seem to be leaning more and more towards collaborations in my own businesses. Sometimes I do it simply for the pleasure of creating something new with a smart colleague. Other times, it’s because I know that our combined efforts will do more good than the solo approach.

Start small

Whether I’m doing a blog post swap or creating a course with a colleague, the collaboration is nearly always mutually beneficial.

The trick (for me, at least), is partnering with people who will deliver. We both have to do what we’ve committed to.

That’s why I recommend starting with a small collaboration before partnering on something bigger — co-writing a book or creating a Facebook group together. Beginning with something that involves less of a commitment will help both of you assess whether there’s potential for a positive and productive longer term partnership.

Give it a try

Finding someone to collaborate with might take time, but the rewards are worth the effort.

Do you have room for this in your author life? If so, start small. It could lead to something big.

How do you collaborate with others to reach your readers or achieve other goals?

(Editor’s note: This article was first published in August 2013. It has been updated and expanded.)

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  1. Sandy,

    Great post about an important concept for authors. At Morgan James we have a private Facebook group for our authors (something most publishers would never do) because we believe we are stronger as authors if we cooperate rather than compete. There are over 1,000 authors in this private group. This article has wonderful ideas that authors need to take action and use. Thank you,

    author of 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed

    1. Thanks for the validation, Terry. Why do you say other publishers wouldn’t bring their authors together in a group like this? I’m curious because I don’t see any downsides to it.


      1. Sandy,

        From my experience, publishers do not want to put their authors in the same virtual room and let them speak with each other. One author may get something another author didn’t get. Their system is set up for competition instead of cooperation.


  2. I had one highly successful book collaboration and two other book projects that crashed and burned most unpleasantly. If you don’t know the other person well, it’s hard to know ahead of time if the potential partner is responsible, reliable and mature. My advice is to do your due diligence and be honest about both people’s motivation to partner up. Consciously look for red flags – often they’re there and we ignore them out of hopeful optimism.

    1. Great advice to make an effort to look for those red flags, Marcia. This is exactly why I recommend starting with something small rather than with an undertaking like co-producing and hosting a podcast, for example. Testing the partnership on a small project gives you an opportunity to actively look for those red flags as you recommend.


  3. I second what Marcia said. I have been involved with one attempted collaboration that would have ended up with me doing most of the work; mercifully, the other author decided to drop out of the project. As an editor I worked with two authors who collaborated on a non-fiction book that had problems from the start. They ended up with a good book, after multiple edits over a period of three years, but the marketing fizzled because they couldn’t agree on how to handle that aspect of it, and one of the authors got stuck with paying for all of the editing, layout, cover design and publishing. I doubt I would I ever try a collaboration again, and I doubt I would work with collaborators again as an editor.

    1. Yikes! Doesn’t sound like much fun, and yet, it doesn’t surprise me, Larry. (Sigh.) Starting with a small project will help identify potential problems.


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