Inside the May 2019 issue of Writing Magazine is my Business of Writing piece about Writing Tandem. We know that writing partnerships can work well in some writing formats, such as comedy (particularly sitcoms), films and even theatre work. But what about books?

When I began looking for co-authored books, I soon found this was more common than I initially thought (which was great, as I was looking for writers to quote in my article!).

What I was a little surprised about was how positive an experience it was. I specifically asked for drawbacks to this process, and yet heard few. Indeed, as a writing business, partnership working has more benefits, it seems, despite us being more used to working on our own, in our isolated garrets, set in our own quirky routines.

Chris Brookmyre, part of the Ambrose Parry partnership said:

“It took a level of pressure off me to not have to come up with a new story – and indeed a new world – as I would normally do when embarking upon a new novel.” 

Peter Jones commented that:

”For instance, co-writing a book inevitably involves surrendering some of the control over what goes in it. Which is completely fine… unless you’re a control freak. Like me.”

Mark Sullivan, one of the many writers who’s co-authored with James Patterson simply said:

”None that I’ve encountered.”

And Della Galton (who co-authored How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim with Peter Jones) commented:

”I actually can’t think of any drawbacks, there might be some if you didn’t agree with each other and/or weren’t on the same wavelength. But this would be something you would need to sort out in advance of making any decision to co-author.”

Having someone to bounce ideas off clearly helps with moments when the muse won’t flow… as does having the responsibility that you’re part of a team producing a book, and you don’t want to be the one to let the side down.

But one of the most interesting aspects of such a partnership came from the comments Mark Sullivan made concerning his collaboration with James Patterson. Partnership working can be a fantastic learning opportunity.

”Patterson is the best story mind I have ever encountered. Working with him has been like taking a master class in commercial fiction writing. He’s withering in his criticism and effusive in his praise. I’ve learned and become a better writer from every discussion I have had with him.”

He also considers the end product is what’s important, not the writer’s ego.

“Bury your ego and work in service to the story. Deliver your best. Enjoy the process.”

So if your writing business isn’t flowing, why not consider a collaborative approach? Two heads are better than one. Not only might your writing business improve, but the process could also make you a better writer.

Good luck.

Tandem Teamwork

4 thoughts on “Tandem Teamwork

  • April 15, 2019 at 4:48 PM

    Good post, Simon. I have shared it around. WordPress still won’t let me “like” it.

  • April 17, 2019 at 9:14 PM

    I loved writing my co-authored book with my co-author Julie — I was the writer, she was the expert, and it all worked well. The only thing I would say is that it didn’t take half the time it took to write my other books of the same length single-handedly. So from an ‘hourly rate’ perspective, I expect it was financially inferior. But we struck up a good relationship and I think ended up with a much better book than either of us could have done on our own.

    • April 18, 2019 at 10:30 AM

      Yes, the benefits of partnership working aren’t always financial, are they? But definitely just as worth it, Alex!


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