Posted in E-publishing | Posted on 19-03-2017|
Over the last few years, I’ve had a number of people ask me if I would like to collaborate on novels, and my response has always been (out loud), “Thanks, but I’m too busy right now” and (inside) “Why the heck would anyone want to do that?”
I’m aware, of course, that there are writers who collaborate on a regular basis and even have entire careers as duos, but I’ve never been interested before for a couple of reasons.
First, I am busy with my own projects – I have tons of ideas scribbled in my notes, and I usually have a schedule lined up a good year in advance. (For those who wonder, for 2017/early 2018 it’s six books in my soon-to-be-launched Sky Full of Stars series, Chains of Honor 3 and maybe 4, and four Ruby Lionsdrake space romance novels that I’ll be doing as part of a shared world project with another SFR author. I’m also hoping to fit new Rust & Relics and Dragon Blood novels in there somewhere!)
Second, I (arrogantly, I’m sure) believe I have a unique voice when it comes to writing, most notably with my humor and the way I write dialogue. I had people identify my “Ruby” books as mine (or at least note the similarity) months before I came out with the pen name. I’ve worried that my voice would be lost if I had to blend it to fit in with that of another author (or, in this case, authors) and that my regular readers would be unimpressed.
Third, most of the people who have approached me have been newer authors who haven’t yet built up a readership of their own. I’m not familiar with them and their work (they seriously just email out of the blue), and there’s no reason I would want to invest a lot of time in co-writing a project (not to mention splitting the earnings) with a stranger, especially when I’d be the one most likely bringing readers to the finished book.
As I write this, I’m standing in the airport, about to hop on a plane to Chicago where I will meet Joanna Penn, J Thorn, and Zach Bohannon. We’ll jump on an overnight train to New Orleans and plot out a novel (a dark fantasy adventure that will take place on a train, perhaps that very same train) before we arrive. We’ll spend the next five days in New Orleans, exploring the city and writing the rough draft of the novel before we leave (we’re each supposed to write 20,000 words of it).
Here’s a little more on the project itself.
So, what’s changed? Why am I collaborating on something?
Number #1 on my list is still true (I’m stopping in the middle of writing the third Sky Full of Stars novel to have this adventure), but the whole project isn’t going to take that long. As I said, we’re writing the novel in a week and planning to get it edited and out there shortly after.
Also, I know all of these folks. J Thorn and Zach have been on my Science Fiction & Fantasy Marketing Podcast, and I’ve been on Joanna’s Creative Penn podcast a couple of times. They’re also established authors with podcasts and fan bases of their own, so nobody will be pulling all the weight when it comes to marketing.
Next, we’ll each be writing a chunk of the novel from the points of views of characters we make up. I don’t have to worry about blending styles overly much. It’ll be a challenge to get the dialogue right for other people’s characters, who will appear in my character’s scenes, but I imagine we’ll chime in during the editing process, and people can say, “My character would probably say it more like this.”
Lastly, they teased me with the idea of a real life adventure to go along with the novel we’ll write. I’m going to be honest: this was the selling point. I’ve never been to New Orleans or done an overnight train trip, and it sounded fun.
How will it go with four different authors trying to put together a cohesive story? Will I be able to write a “dark fantasy” novel set on Earth (the closest I’ve come is my Rust & Relics series, a series that I have yet to finish…)? Will anyone actually buy the final product?
We don’t have super high expectations for the project (I think we’re all just hoping we’ll make enough to pay for the trip), but I’ll do a post in a couple of months to let you all know how it went. Maybe I’ll learn something and have tips for other authors thinking of doing collaborative projects. We’ll see!