Should you ever co-write your book?

Sometimes you come up with a great story idea with another person. Or your discussions and critiques of one another’s works are inspiring. So you decide to co-write a book.

Is it a good idea?

There are, of course, a number of great books written by a pair of authors. On the other hand, most books boast a single author, and when asked who are our favorite authors, we rarely gave the name of a duo.

There are a number of pros to co-authoring a book:
• Create synergy – You can avoid writer’s block by feeding off of one another ; when uncertain where to take the novel, for example, a co-author often can provide ideas that inspire. Think Lennon and McCartney when songwriting, with one filling in the other’s gaps.
• Complement one other’s talents – If you lack the expertise, a partner may be the way to go. For example, a tech savvy person can really benefit from a person who has a way with words (and vice-versa).
• Division of labor – Writing a novel takes a long time; even those who do it full time may spend up to a year penning their tale. Two writers theoretically means half of the work, right? It’s rarely that simple, but certainly in most cases authors don’t have to generate as much of a story’s details when sharing the workload.

There are downsides, unfortunately:
• Difference of opinions – Sometimes disputes over what the book is about and how to execute ideas can stall the writing. The co-authors should have a clear idea of where the book’s purpose before they begin writing.
• Developing a single voice – Writers can have very distinct styles. If the book writing is divided so one author pens Chapter 1 and the other author knocks out Chapter 2, the two chapters may sound like they’re from entirely different books.
• Establishing a contract that is acceptable to both of you – How will the profits be split? How will the work load be divided? What is the marketing strategy and who will implement it? Who will be your agent? These questions can split even the greatest writing partnerships – consider Lennon and McCartney.