Friday, April 22, 2005


cZja asks:
My copy of Rebel Moon arrived today...I knew that Vox signed it - I thought that was some gimmick like getting a free toaster when opening an account or something - but he co-wrote this with you?

How does that work? Did you guys take turns on chapters or something? I'm just curious - I can't imagine writing a novel with someone. Come to think about it - I guess it happens quite often. More and more examples are coming to mind as I type. But how exactly did the process break down with you two? I'd love to know...

Yes, Vox is a collaborator. How do you think he wound up with the shaved head?

Collaboration has been defined as doing twice the work for half the money. I don't think that's a fair assessment. Four times the work is more like it. In addition to using whatever talents it takes to write the book itself, you also have to employ or develop a host of communication and project management skills that fiction writers are normally exempt from using. Then, after the blessed thing is finished, and unless you and your co-author are either unusually sympatico or employing a narrative gimmick, one of you must rewrite the whole thing again from front to back, so that it actually reads as if it was written in one voice.

There are, I think, two valid reasons to collaborate. One is that you and your co-author actually work better as a team than you do individually, and if you're one of the fortunate few to whom that applies, then God love ya, go for it. The other (and more common) is that the publisher has a Big Name Author who isn't producing new titles as fast the publisher could sell 'em, and so one or more Little Name Authors are hired to sharecrop the BNA's turf. Having done the latter, I speak from sad experience when I tell you: don't do it unless you really, desperately, need the money. And even then, you're probably better off selling plasma.

I've actually been involved in quite a few collabortive projects and will relate some of my horror stories in the Comments. (I'm trying to learn to keep these initial blogbits short.) I'll just end the overture with a warning: too often, young or unsuccessful authors say, "Let's collaborate! We'll combine our strengths!" But without exceptionally strong project management skills, "Let's combine our strengths!" very rapidly morphs into, "Let's multiply our weaknesses!"

Let the ranting begin...