From Zero to Launch – Collaborations (Part 1)

One thing that I was 100% positive of when I started learning the writing business was: I am going to write my stuff and only my stuff.  Figuring out which path was the best for my journey between traditional publishing and indie publishing was hard enough.  The thought of having to work with someone else on a creative project as well seemed impossibly difficult.  

So what happens at the first writer’s conference I attend?  Yup, that’s right, I signed up to write in another world.  

Why the heck did I do that?  Collaborations were supposed to be a hard no, right?

At the conference, there were some really good points made about why and when to work with others.  Not all of those points resonated with me, but a few did. I am not going to cover all those points – be honest I only wrote down the ones that made sense to me, but I’ll want to share what my thought process was in decided to work with this group of people.

First things first are the ‘why nots’.  It’s important to me to firmly define the barriers to doing a thing, so I can make an informed decision.  Barriers can be a good thing too, let’s not forget that. They are called boundaries and should be respected when they are a positive thing. I had a habit of saying yes to just about every project that I was asked to join for years.  

Guess how many actually got done?  

My reasons not to collaborate.  

  1. Time.  
  2. Comfort.
  3. I knew nothing about how coauthoring worked and figuring out how to do this on my own was hard enough.
  4. Money.

I’m going to explain these a little deeper but not in order, so stick with me. 

Let’s be honest here. You have to split the cash in an equitable fashion when you work with other people.  As an unpublished author, half of nothing is still nothing. The thought of sharing a nothing burger or a poorly received book made me wilt inside.  I can do that but I never want to ask someone else to do that. 

The other side of the money issue is true as well. If it was a hit, I’d have to share the wealth.  I’m more than ok with that, teamwork is the way to go for just about everything in life if you want to make a lot of money. The issue for me is the part of me that would always wonder how well I would have done on my own?  It’s a matter of self-worth (using a crappy metric, I know) but I want to know the answer to that question.  

I am very comfortable doing all the different tasks associated with self-publishing, or at least learning how to do them.  Striking out alone made sense, to learn from others but also to learn by doing. I am sure eventually there will be tasks that I will farm out (Cover design for instance) but I want to experience all the things that go into creating a book.

Time is another big piece of the puzzle.  I have a full-time job, a pre-teen daughter, and my girlfriend lives four hours away.  It’s a lot of time in car the on top of work and family. This is a career I’m kicking off with part-time hours.  Splitting my time working on another book project besides my own seemed like a bad idea. Recruiting help was a difficult prospect too since we’d have to find a working cadence that fit for both of us.  

My lack of knowledge made me think that this was one area I could ignore as a new author because working with other people adds complexity.  Starting out I wanted to reduce complexity, even if it took more time to learn new things. Then, once I understood all the pieces of the authoring puzzle, maybe I would look at collaboration.

Turns out my ignorance was the thing that changed my boundaries into barriers. 

That is tomorrow’s post though.