Tuesday, April 1, 2014

...On co-authoring...

Co-authoring – The best decision I ever made and why aspiring authors should consider it.

By: Lindsey Pogue, co-author of Bestselling Sci-Fi Romance saga, The Ending Series

Although I’m not new to writing per se, I’m a newcomer to the indie, self-publishing world. And let me tell you, there is a lot to learn, and it’s constantly evolving. And if I’m being completely honest, although I’ve been writing most of my life, I wouldn’t have had the gumption to tackle publishing if it wasn’t for my co-author and partner in crime, Lindsey Fairleigh (LF). Yes, we’re co-authors and both of our names are Lindsey, spelled the same way and everything.

Oh, to be so inspired…and petrified. I always wanted to be a writer. In fact, I wrote my first YA manuscript in high school. But it wasn’t until 2011 that I decided to take that leap from aspiring to published author. Has self-publishing made it easier to reach my dreams? Yes! Is it a lot of hard work? Definitely! Am I afraid of failure? I was, but then I asked myself what would be worse: never trying and always wondering? Or taking the leap and being able to say, regardless of the outcome, “I did it”? And guess what, the sleepless nights, the fear of rejection, the brain farts and time crunches are all totally worth it! I have to work for someone anyway, so why not work for myself and take a chance on something that I love doing? LF and I were at a point in our lives where it just felt right and we had each other, so we went for it—110%. As a result of our dedication and belief in one another, we’ve created a bestselling series that we couldn’t be more proud of.

               That glazed-over feeling that hits you when you step into the ever-changing, self-publishing world

Our long story short
. So, LF and I have known each other for a few years now, but when we first started writing—aside from our love of reading and watching True Blood—we didn’t know all that much about one another. So, co-authoring was really a leap of faith for both us. After bouncing ideas off of one another, we decided to embark on a fun side-project together, which has since blossomed into an amazing adventure. What was originally meant to be a blog, turned into a four book series, the first two are out now, After The Ending and Into The Fire.

Co-authoring, really?
It’s definitely not for everyone. Writing with another person means there will be different and sometimes conflicting opinions, approaches, strengths and weakness. But partnerships also provide more ideas, different perspectives, someone to share the load and lean on when you’re feeling the woes of authorship. For me, co-authorship is exactly what I needed to get my butt in gear and stop sitting around wishing I could be a writer. Would I be as happy as I am now had I co-written with someone else? No, I doubt it, because LF and me just seem to mesh well. For whatever reason, we did have a connection—we do—and we listened to it. Look where we are now. It’s truly a wonderfully amazing gift to be able to embark on a project like this with someone else you trust.

Having a co-author helps me in more ways than one.

I am one of those writers who has a hundred story ideas bobbing around in my head all day every day, so I struggle to stay focused on one story at a time. Only once, before The Ending Series, did I complete an entire manuscript. If you’re like me, sometimes it helps having another person in the mix, holding you accountable, who will help keep you focused. LF doesn’t babysit me, don’t get me wrong. You don’t want to let them down so you work your butt off as much as you can. A co-author helps to keep me motivated, holding me to my own standards and goals. If I know LF is waiting on my work, I get it done one time. If I know that she’s going to critique it, I try to write something to the best of my ability. With a co-author, a writer has to stay focused. I hate letting people down so it’s additional motivation.

Two heads, two perspectives. Let’s be honest, working with someone else is generally more motivating no matter the setting—talking things out and getting ideas out of my head is crucial in plotting. When you’re working with someone, one of you will find a plot hole while another comes up with the most awesome twist neither of you ever saw coming. Having a brainstorming buddy is one of the most important aspects of writing, especially when that brainstorming buddy is as equally invested in the project as you are.

A sense of security. Who doesn’t want someone around who is equally invested in the success of your project? It’s easier to take chances when someone is there by your side. I’m not talking about a supportive, significant other (although that is definitely important), but someone who feels as connected and accountable for your project as you do. The great thing about having a co-author is that there is someone to take the punches with you, someone to laugh or rejoice with when an occasion calls for it. There’s someone to talk to who knows exactly what you’re talking about and feels the way you do—someone who can relate to you. In working with LF, I have a partner to share failures and successes with, all of which are intimidating, especially for a first time author.

                                     That happy moment when you can celebrate your successes with someone

The “dark side”. Although I’ve been fortunate to have a great experience working with LF, I can see how things could get messy for some co-authors. As with anything, co-authoring isn’t always going to be furry puppy dogs and sunshine, so before you embark on a writing project with someone, you really need to consider the personality traits you share and what you foresee your differences being. There are also your different ways of writing that you need to consider, which gets tricky. LF is one of the writers that can get everything from her head down onto paper and it’s nearly a finished draft. I’m lucky if I can get most of my thoughts out fast enough, so for me, I need to revisit a chapter multiple times before I can say, this is the best it can be. So, working at different paces definitely proves challenging for me. You need to make sure you’re open and honest when it comes to feedback too, but if you don’t have thick skin, or at least aren’t working toward it, working together may be difficult to stomach. Keep in mind, you’re co-author should want the story to be the best it possibly can, so honesty WHILE practicing kindness is key.

                                                                                         How I feel when we're editing

Be the most creative you.
Don’t let co-authoring define who you are as an author, but let it help you get to that place you want to be—use it to your advantage. Learn from your experience—from each other—and together you can create something more amazing than you probably thought possible. If you don’t feel like that’s the case for you, get out of your project and start your own. The last thing you want is to publish something with your name on it that you’re less than proud of. You’ll regret it, guaranteed.

Again, I know co-authoring isn’t for everyone, but it was the best decision I ever made…for my writing and for my life. I’m 100% happier now that I can write and follow my dream. So, whether it’s writing a blog or a book together, collaboration can sometimes bring out the best in a person, and can show us what our potential truly is.

While I still have to work a part-time day job in order to fund my passion for writing, it’s my hope that one day, this hair-brained decision LF and I had a few years ago will turn into something more and allow me to continue pursuing my dream and writing another adventure. Thanks, LF, for all your hard work, and for helping to make the last three years of our writing career absolutely amazing. I probably never would’ve had the guts to follow my dreams without you.

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