I have co-authored several books with different authors over the years. And I am currently working on two more collaborative projects right now. I have found co-authoring a book can be powerful. I first stumbled upon this idea in 2009 when I first met Heather Hart.
Heather contacted me on my website FindYourTrueBeauty.com to ask if I knew of any devotional books specifically for teen girls. At the time there were none that I knew of or could find. So I asked her if she would be interested in writing one. One thing led to another and we published the first volume of “Teen Devotionals…for Girls!” That book has impacted many lives and sold many copies. However, it would have never been published had Heather not been willing to co-author it with me.
There is power in collaborating with other authors.
7 Steps to Self-Publishing a Book with a Co-Author
However, just because you can co-author a book, does not necessarily mean you should. Here are the 7 steps I recommend you take when self-publishing a book with another author. I encourage you to carefully consider each step before taking the leap.
Choose the right topic
When co-authoring a book, you want to pick the right project. Some books will be easier to co-author than others. Non-fiction tends to be easier than fiction.
However, like any book project, you want to choose a topic that is in demand and will meet a need for your target audience.
Find right person
Sometimes this can be the hardest part. I co-authored a book with S’ambrosia Curtis Wasike. She had been working for me for a couple of years and I knew she had the expertise to fit the project, we worked well together, and I trusted her. I found out later that she has amazing editing skills (which I don’t) and so our strengths also complemented each other.
Find someone who:
- Has the expertise needed for the topic.
- Works well with you.
- Someone you trust.
- Their strengths complement yours.
Decide how to publish it
You pretty much have two choices when you self-publish a book with a co-author. You can start a new publishing company for your books or one of you can take on the role of publisher.
Obviously, it takes a lot of work to start a brand new publishing company. However, if you plan on publishing a lot of books together and want to start a new brand that may be the way to go.
Otherwise, I recommend one of the authors taking on the role of publisher. This is what I have done. So far, the books I have co-authored have been published by my imprint, Body and Soul Publishing. They are uploaded in my accounts and I pay the co-authors royalties each month. It would be nice if KDP or Createspace allowed authors to share royalties with a co-author, but that is not currently possible.
I highly recommend that you use a contract when publishing a book with a co-author. Contracts are important in any business relationship as they protect both parties. A contract also allows for good communication and helps you avoid misunderstandings.
Within the contract outline:
- How royalties will be split
- How royalties will be paid
- Who will be responsible for publishing (i.e. formatting, editing, cover design, etc.)
- Who will be responsible for marketing
- What formats of the book will be published (i.e. eBook, print book, audiobook, etc.)
- Any other details important to this book
It can be as simple or complex as you would want it to be. In my JV Partnerships Author Forms pack, I share two of the contracts I have used with co-authors. You can adapt them and use them for your own projects.
What I like to do is outline the book together. This can be done via Skype, a Google+ hangout, phone call, or in person. I personally love using mindmaps to outline my books. It makes it super easy to move things around during the brainstorming/outlining phase of writing.
Once you have an outline, you can then delegate sections to each author.
And finally, it is important to set deadlines for when the first draft is due.
You still have to do all the normal steps of self-publishing. It is important to stay in good communication throughout the process. If one of the authors is taking on the role of publisher, they will most likely take on the responsibilities of formatting, cover design, and editing.
In my previous projects, if I was taking on all the responsibilities (and costs) of publishing, I would get a higher percentage of the royalties (i.e. 75/25). But, in situations where Heather and I have shared the responsibilities and costs of publishing, we share the royalties 50/50.
Everyone is different in what they will determine for a royalty split. But, if one person is taking on a greater responsibility, both with time and finances, they should most likely receive a higher percentage of the royalties.
The final step (and ongoing step) is to market your book. I believe it is important in most cases to share the marketing responsibilities. You both have invested time into this book and have the opportunity to gain from the profit of book sales.
Do you want to create a new platform for this book or use an existing one? Most of the time, I have used my existing platforms to market a book I have published with a co-author. However, there has been one exception. The book I published with S’ambrosia was in a niche that required its own platform. And this required a lot more work upfront. Therefore, if you can use your existing platforms to market the book, it will save you a ton of time.
Have you co-authored a book? If so, what advice do you have to share? What would you do differently next time? Share your thoughts in the comments below.