Monday, 19 March 2012

Why are we co-authoring on this challenge?

We were recently asked why we chose to do a challenge involving co-authorship rather than simply take on the 90daysnovel as a solo challenge.

There are a number of reasons why we chose to co-author:

1. It splits the workload. A whole novel in 90 days is heavy going, especially combined with marketing ourselves as well as the normal vicissitudes of life.

2. A second person is a great sounding board for the work. We're both very different, and an extra perspective helps to add clarity and depth to the storyline.

3.  It adds to the challenge. While dividing the workload in two may appear to make this easier it actually adds quite a few complications. Who should write any given part of the novel? Who's name will appear first as author (We're going alphabetical to avoid arguments!). Who owns the rights to the work? This could become even more complicated if we became successful in this endeavour: It takes an awful lot of foresight to discuss and agree on issues that might never come to exist such as movie rights, reprint rights, sequel works, international licensing etc. There a huge number of pitfalls to beware of (not the least is one partner doing more work!). We'll also have to do some ongoing rewrites to tie the novel together as one literary voice.

4. If one of us has writers block then that person can assume responsibility for the periphery stuff such as this blog, our twitterfeed and our facebook page.

If anyone is considering co-authoring a book it really is essential to set out exactly what you are agreeing in a document known as a memorandum of agreement.
It's wise to agree:
-Who is the lead author, or if it is equal co-ownership (in which case, the names should be listed alphabetically)
- How any royalty should be split
- Who the rights revert to after a print run (if using a traditional publishers)
- The deadlines by which you will submit your chapters
- Who has final editorial discretion
- Establish that you actually both want to write the same book, rather than two similar books. The work will need to come across as having one voice at the end of it.
- Rights to do a sequal
- International IP use rights
- If they book can be turned into a movie
- If you want to retain the right to give out extracts
- Which agents/ editors etc you want to use.
- Who will do book signings, interviews, television appearances (I know, this one would be a nice problem to have!).

Finally - it is worth getting a lawyer if in doubt. It may cost a few pounds, but it could save a lot of heartache later on.

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