A Matter of Trust — The Art of Collaboration by A.J. Llewellyn

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Occasionally authors write articles on the site on different topics they believe would be of interest to their colleagues, and the following post from A.J. Llewellyn is one such essay.

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I have, I would say, had the terrific good fortune of having one of the most amazing writing partnerships I know of. Ever since the divine and deeply talented D.J. Manly approached me to write a story together, my career took a turn down a road I can only describe as less traveled and utterly astonishing.

We’ve penned almost 50 books together (and counting) but why is it that some partnerships work and some don’t?

If you are thinking of a collaboration there are some rules you should take into consideration. I’m no expert by any means but ever since I was approached by one of the pioneers — and one of the most highly regarded authors — in the genre of M/M, I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.

I’ve thought long and hard about this subject for a variety of reasons, mostly because both D.J. and I are asked to collaborate with many authors. I’ve dipped my toes in the pool a few more times than D.J. but after the stories I’ve heard, it comes down to this: A Matter of Trust.

I trust D.J. in ways I cannot describe to friends and family. I trust his instincts, his talents, his taste and his judgment. He is an ethical person and writer. We talk about our characters and they are real to us. To discuss Stride and Zero, Rallus and Knox, or Matt and Thomas…they live in our heads, weaving their webs, their magic keeping us in their grip. Their stories demand to be told and these are conversations I cherish and could never, ever have with another living soul.

Recently, one of our publishing houses was rocked by a total catastrophe. A very successful, best-selling author was discovered to have plagiarized one of her OWN books, a collaborative effort with another author.

The plagiarist, let’s call her Sue, not only lost all her publishing contracts with two houses but both her real name and variety of pen-names have been disseminated to publishers everywhere. She will be lucky to publish anything after this. What was shocking was that she lifted whole sex scenes from previously published works and merely changed the names. She was exposed by one of her own fans.

I don’t feel sorry for her, nor do I buy her crappy excuse of “a photographic memory.” I feel sorry for her co-author, let’s call her Jenny, whose entire backlist of 30 joint titles (including paperbacks) has been removed from publication.

30 books is more than most authors produce in their lifetime and these were Jenny’s hottest books…her calling card, if you will. She also told me the sex scenes were hers. Her plagiarizing co-star had peppered yahoo groups for months with wild tales of illnesses and calamities. Jenny patiently waited through this so they could honor their contracts, only to discover that Sue had signed a deal elsewhere and was strip-mining their very popular works.

Poor Jenny learned about all of this and felt devastated and betrayed — and rightly so. Every author I know with a backlist depends and survives on them. Those quarterly payments from our publishers and third-party sellers are our backbone. Not only that, but according to the email Jenny sent out to all her readers and co-authors, Sue has never bothered to respond to calls or emails. No apologies…nothing. Jenny also feels smeared by her former co-author’s activities.

Like I said, writing with somebody else is a matter of trust. So, in no special order, here are some suggestions if you’re considering a partnership.

1. You must like your fellow co-author’s work. Forget about reviews, I am talking about their actual work. In the weeks after Phantom Lover, my first-ever M/M novel, was published, I floundered in a sea of uncertainty. I had no idea if the book was selling, if people liked it…I had nobody to talk to. Out of the blue, a writer/reviewer contacted me and said she loved the book. I was so flattered when she asked me to co-write that I said yes. We nutted out an idea. She told me she lived in the Caribbean but had overused Jamaica as a locale in her works. Fine by me. I love exotic places and suggested Turks and Caicos since I’d just been there covering a boxing match and my character was a boxer.

She asked me where and what Turks and Caicos was. If she really lived in the Caribbean she’d know that it’s one of the smallest but one of the most popular, unblemished islands…right? I was beginning to panic.

Then she started the ball rolling. I’d never collaborated on a novel before and learned that she would write from one character’s POV and I, from the other.

And then I read her pages. They were simply awful. I couldn’t believe it. I wrote my portion, gently pointing out major plot holes in her stuff. She didn’t take it well and said she’d fix it later. Later? When?

The pages we exchanged got worse and worse. It was becoming too stressful and from reviews I was reading, I learned that realism was not this author’s strongest suit. I quietly purchased and read one of her books and knew I’d made a big mistake. I should have done that first. I stopped the collaboration.

2. Beware of authors who have a problem with hot sex and expect you to spice up their prose. Some authors have a problem with sex, straight or gay. You cannot write successfully with somebody who abhors gay sex but wants to cash in on what they think is a hot $$$ wave. You will be miserable. I tried helping a friend out, again, early in my career, but when she blanched at the sight of my first blowjob scene, I worried. The couple hadn’t even started having anal sex yet. What bothered me about this partnership going south was that I loved this author as a writer and a person. She apparently thinks I just write porn and expected to write the story herself and have me insert, quote, unquote, “the dirty bits.”

Another partnership bit the dust, but thankfully, our friendship prevailed. Sometimes that’s more important than even the best story idea…

3. Be willing to be flexible. Now we are getting to the actual collaboration. I am not telling tales out of school by relating this to you: when D.J. Manly first approached me about working together, I said yes. Of course. I was so excited to be working with one of the most astonishing authors in the world that I wondered whether virgin sacrifices might be involved. Living in Los Angeles, I figured finding one might take some time. Once the emails went back and forth, we fixed on an idea of two writers meeting online, falling in love and meeting in person at a writer’s conference. The catch was that both men are gay but one writes as a woman, confusing the heck out of the other guy…until they see each other.

D.J. started the ball rolling. He wrote from Thomas’s POV and I loved what he wrote. I read everything but could not get a handle on the name of Marcus, who was my guy. I felt I needed to change it and after my two previous, very bad experiences, asked if I could change it to Matt, expecting an explosion of anger. D.J. said of course, and our Black Point series was born. Names are a funny thing. I loved everything D.J. did and he set up our story with his usual humor and style. I can’t think of Matt and Thomas being with anybody else and I am glad our readers love them.

4. Be prepared to help one another if one of you attempts to jump the shark. This is a serious point. In our second book together, Back to Black Point, I wrote a scene that D.J. felt the readers would hate. It involved cheating on the part of the secondary couple, Ryan and Cole. I was disappointed since I thought it was a provocative scene that would work. He felt strongly that we shouldn’t do it and thank God I listened. He was absolutely right.

Similarly, he killed off a character in our second successful series together, Blood Eclipse. I felt strongly that the character should survive and he agreed. Both times, we talked and listened and I feel this is why we adore writing together. We both have a love for story. We are passionately committed to our characters. I am often shocked at things D.J. does to our characters and, I’ve learned, vice versa. I introduced an array of angelic children to the Blood Eclipse series thinking the children will lead the way…D.J. read the scene where I left off and had his character open the door and cut off all their heads with a sword!

I still haven’t gotten over that one…lol. It was not how I saw it going, but in hindsight, what he did was perfect. That is the magic of a collaboration. You should be able to surprise each other. We have a lot of children in our stories and I always tease him about not killing off the kids. When I pitched the idea for the sixth Black Point book — Black Point Forever — to D.J., I told him about my friends’ fight to save their baby. Many gay and blended families have children via surrogates and often have no real idea of medical history. Their baby needed bone marrow and it was a heart-breaking journey.

It was, I think, the perfect ending to Matt and Thomas’s love story, that the one man who could threaten their union — Thomas’s ex lover, Daniel — was the only person in the world whose blood type was perfect for Baby Rose. The original idea had been mine, but the solution was pure D.J. Again, that’s why I love what I do. Your work should fit together and should not necessarily be formulaic.

And Baby Rose survived! No sword for the baby!

5. Be prepared to have each other’s back. We trust each other, I’ve already established that but the one area that is crucial is in dealing with an editor, publisher or cover artist. There was one time we got a cover I liked, but D.J. hated. This is a partnership so I backed him up the whole way and he fought for a change. He was absolutely right. The second cover we got was fantastic!

Similarly, we had an unusual situation with an editor who worked on both our individual and joint titles. For some reason, she decided to revisit our Black Point series — after they were published, mind you — and said that Matt and Thomas’s niece, Daphne, was too advanced for a two-year old. I was astonished. Daphne is based on my own niece who inspired the character. D.J. and I talked and he backed me up completely. The editor commented that a two-year old would not play with Lego, but Duplo. Duplo didn’t exist when I was a kid and Alina, my little niece, plays with Lego! Not all kids are the same. And I’ve learned kids today grow up faster than they did 20 years ago (when our sweet editor had her tiny bundles of mischief). They are way more advanced. I mention this because the issue became contentious, but D.J. and I stood strong. We back each other up, always. We even check with one another on covers etc. before responding to the artist or publisher. A partner does this. United you stand — remember that.

6. Don’t count your chickens…yet. If you enter into a collaboration with another author, it is a good idea to wait until contracts have been signed and the book is finished before you announce it anywhere. This is just good business. You have no idea, until you write with someone what their life is like, what their process is, how long they take, do they need a lot of hand-holding? Endless phone conversations? Do they need every paragraph applauded? Believe it or not, I worked with a writer I admire enormously in an attempt to collaborate but I couldn’t handle listening to the daily dramas of divorce, kids, illness, etc. etc. If you have the time to devote to somebody producing a minimal amount of work with a huge amount of angst, this might be ideal for you. However, until you start working with somebody, you just don’t know what their method is. So wait, before you blog!

And finally, I must say I’ve had four successful collaborations with other authors and have been most fortunate. I have highlighted my work with D.J. because we’ve written so many books together but I already adore working with my new co-author, Serena Yates. D.J. and I have a series of anthologies with her and once again, we have another wonderful author we love and trust.

I can only advise you to look before you leap, and when you do, go with both feet and have fun. If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth it.

Aloha oe,

A.J.
www.ajllewellyn.com

44 thoughts on “A Matter of Trust — The Art of Collaboration by A.J. Llewellyn

  1. Aleksandr Voinov

    Excellent post – let me add that it is important to cover your ass in legal terms. If such a collaboration fails, it tends to do so quite spectacularly (thanks to the high stakes involved). Draft a contract to sort out rights, and keep the paper trail (all emails with the co-writer). Agree what happens to the books when you “split up”. I know an author who has one novel and three partials that represent many months of work and can’t go anywhere because of such a break-up.

    I see any collaboration as a marriage that will yield children – you have to make sure that the kids at least will be all right.

    Another point that’s important: It’s usually better if both authors are experienced and have similar creative goals. If one wants to build a career, but the other feels s/he’s “just playing” or “just passing time”, there’s a source of friction.

    Also, I’ve found that experienced authors are overall way more professional. In one cooperation (different lifetime, not m/m related), one co-author threatened to “pull” their scenes – we’re talking signed contract and book release in 3 weeks! (Cue panic and stress that I don’t wish on my worst enemy.) The reason: She didn’t like being edited.

    There are so many things that can go wrong, so my biggest caveat remains: cover yourself legally and make sure there’s a plan for the book – even if it’s just a partial. Agree who can take the idea and the writing (usually, one author is driving the book more than the other – often the one who had the initial idea).

    Yeah. I should write a book on cooperations. :) Thanks again for the post!

    1. Wave Post author

      You’re lucky I didn’t ask you about writing partnerships among the fifty questions I sent you for your upcoming interview Aleks. :lol: Kidding!!!

      You raise a very valid point — I had assumed that every writing partnership was a legal entity so that in case of disagreements or breaches the partners would be protected. Maybe that doesn’t happen as often as it should.

      1. Aleksandr Voinov

        It tends to not happen at all. You’re all “WOW, SHINY!” and stuff can turn nasty *very* fast, and then it’s too late.

        I’ve seen the good, the bad and the extremely ugly. (Also at friends’ who collaborated…) It seriously can be as bad a marriage turning nasty, including power plays regarding the kids. Just cover your asses from the start.

        (And – I only ever speak about collaborations that went well, but I don’t know a single collaborating writer who hasn’t got burned in one way or other.)

  2. AJ Llewellyn

    Thank you for the great response, Aleks. In most cases authors can extract their portions of a story and move on. In the extreme example I cited, the author whose partner had plagiarized was not so lucky. She had to walk away from everything they wrote together. I would find that utterly traumatic,
    I am shaking my head over the author you said didn’t like being edited. OMG! There isn’t a writer alive who doesn’t need an editor!

    1. Aleksandr Voinov

      Yeah, I’d heard of the plagiarism case, but I was missing a shedload of “how it panned out” (for context, that was just before I shut down all my author loops – I just couldn’t cope with the mail volume…). I feel extremely sorry for the plagiarised author – having thirty books pulled is a huge hit, both to the ego/muse and to the bank account.

      And – it can be difficult to extract a character (I tend to pull out characters from failed collabs), as he’s literally *made* to be with the other. Re-imagining those “failed” stories is usually harder than scrapping them altogether (I’m finding, but I’m very set in my ways – once I’ve made up my mind where the story/character should go, any “re-take” on that just doesn’t make any sense to me.)

      And, yeah, the lady in question was also suffering from bouts of depression, which really didn’t help. In the end, we spent most of the royalties on talking her off the cliff on the phone.

    1. Wave Post author

      It really blows my mind that in most of these partnerships there’s no legal agreement. It would seem to me that that would be the first item of business when you enter into such an agreement because the exit strategy is what will kill you.

      Hopefully, authors thinking of entering into writing partnerships in future will take note and develop some protocols to protect themselves.

  3. K. Z. Snow

    Fascinating post, A.J. (and fascinating comment, Aleks). I’ve always been curious about what prompts writers to engage in collaborations in the first place, given the complexities involved.

    My assumption has always been that it’s a way for two authors to expand their audiences by tapping into each other’s fanbase. Is that it? Is the rationale: “we can double our popular appeal by teaming up”? I’m sure that in some cases, the motivation has more to do with an existing personal relationship or a need for creative expansion, but most of the time…isn’t it a more practical symbiosis tied to career advancement? That makes sense, anyway.

    1. AJ Llewellyn

      Hi KZ, sales really didn’t enter my mind initially to be honest. Writing as you know is such a lonely profession, made more so frankly with everything being done online. I have had phone conversations with one publisher and one editor in the four years I have been a published author. For me and D.J. It was about the idea of the creative experience. That symbiosis of a writing partnership that works was the driving force. We loved it when our editors couldn’t tell who wrote what. like I said we love to tell stories! Part of the fun is that you never know what your partner might come up with.
      I know some people like to write with a road map they stick to but not me. Again I think that depends on the partnership. We have a rough idea when we start but no absolutes…

      1. K. Z. Snow

        That’s really nice to hear. Your relationship with D.J. is probably rare among collaborators. You’re both very fortunate. It’s been a felicitous pairing. :smile:

    2. Aleksandr Voinov

      KZ – that’s a good question. I’ve actually *mostly* co-written (my second solo novel is out only in November,but I did do some solo shorts).

      In one case at least, I was invited to “help with soldier types”. The author wasn’t sure she could do her military characters justice, so I jumped in (and, no, she didn’t actually need my help at all).

      In another case, I think I might have been invited because the author was struggling and basically only needed confidence.

      In a couple cases, I was friends with the other author, we chatted, batted ideas back and forth, and then BANG, the Muse BITES. As it’s your shared idea anyway, writing it together makes sense.

      Very often, I was already a fan of the other author (AJ makes an excellent point about having to *like* what the other author is doing – I couldn’t write with somebody whose style annoys me and who can’t carry their part of the narrative).

      In a way, collaboration are simply Huge Screaming Fun. All the things you struggle with when writing alone (“I’m not motivated, who the fuck cares anyway, oh, there’s a new episode of Burn Notice on!”) are gone when you know there’s at least one person out there who passionately cares about that story. Also, you end up telling each other the story as it progresses. I couldn’t WAIT for the next scene from Kate Cotoner while we were writing “The Lion of Kent” – a brilliant author is telling me a story! And I get to read it first! – writing *your* share of that collaboration is just the price you pay to hear how it continues.

      That said, I’ve learned something from every one of my co-writers. (Some things about writing, other things about “me the writer”.) I’ve found it very worthwhile.

      I’ve never considered the market, but if the association with me sold some books for the young talent I’ve teamed up with, or if Rachel’s readers discover me after “Break and Enter” or if there’s “fan crossover”, that’s cool.

      But then, I’m a niche writer, and hence the market is not my first priority when I write.

      1. K. Z. Snow

        Very interesting points, Aleks. I hadn’t considered those factors. Makes perfect sense that each author has to like and respect the other’s work, enthusiastically, for collaboration to be a rewarding experience on a variety of levels.

        But don’t you have to be temperamentally compatible, too? Clashing personalities could result in a great deal of Sturm und Drang. :ugly:

        Sounds like your and A.J.’s experiences have been quite positive. So keep on keepin’ on!

        1. Aleksandr Voinov

          Yep. The thing is – writing deeply personal. It *is* a lot like a marriage, there has to be a great amount of compatibility; goals, personality, plans, how people address conflicts, how controlling/giving you are. I know of several collabs that have failed because one writer turned into a control freak, or another writer tried to take all the credit, claiming it was really *their* work.

        2. AJ Llewellyn

          Hi KZ,
          Every writer has a different temperament, obviously, but since most collaborators write via email, it really doesn’t matter about personalities…except when the tough stuff starts, such as edits. Sometimes it happens that one of us is busy and the other one handles it or whatever. I would not enjoy working with someone who doesn’t want to be as thorough as possible.
          D.J. Rarely gets upset about anything a fact I admire. I’ve learned a lot watching how he deals with stuff that crops up in life and work.
          We got to know each other slowly and I think D.J. would agree with that statement. Personal stuff came later. We don’t spend hours talking each other off cliffs. I couldn’t bare that kind of working relationship.

  4. Silver Pixie

    OK i will note all of this and never ask either of you to write with me cause now i am scared thanks…. Honestly AJ thank you.. I love when you do Blogs like this.. they might scare the hell out of me but they give me a more insightful look into what it means to be writer and truly gives me something to honestly think about. I love all your Co-written books however i do have to be honest and say the ones you wrote with DJ are my Favorite of all of them…

    oxoxoxox
    silver

  5. Susan65

    That was an eye-opener to read. I guess I never really think of authors as being human, mistakes and all. I know that sounds strange but when you guys do what you do (writing, of course), knowing that I can’t do it…(again writing), it puts you on a level I can only dream about. Thus, the tendency to see you as “other”.

    My favorite authors are my hero’s, they take me away from my world when times are tough and allow me into a new world, where all my problems are non-existent. Even when my world is rolling happily along, I get to leave it for awhile and live vicariously through your eyes and your characters.

    It’s awful to have another person’s lack of integrity affect your work but in the end it’s a lesson that you will never forget. As the saying goes,”some people come into your life as a blessing, and some come in as a lesson”. Not sure who said it but it is so true.

    Keep doing what you guys are doing and your fans will be here cheering you on.

    Peace

  6. Issa

    Wow, thank for the post. I’ve always wondered how these situations work. Some of my favorite books are done collaboratively, either officially or behind the scenes (like a husband wife team where the wife is listed as the author) and it’s clear that a good collaboration can make a good story spectacular. I never thought of the nightmare that can happen when the pairing goes south.

    1. AJ Llewellyn

      Thank you Susan!
      Issa, I know of many successful husband and wife collabs and not just in erotic fiction. Tori Carrington is one such partnership that comes to mind. Adriana Kraft writes erotic romance and is a husband and wife team and they work well together too. I love their books!
      I did get lucky with D.J. and I am grateful every day. That’s why I wanted to write this post. There are a million horror stories out there…

  7. A.B. Gayle

    Great post, AJ, and insightful comments, Aleks.

    I’ve actually watched Aleks in action on Etherpad and other mutual writing software and was fascinated with the process. The way he and the other author could chat about something else entirely (eg the weather) while each writing their character’s part in a sizzling hot sex scene.

    I’ve done two types of collaborations. One with William Maltese where I provided the text and he basically edited and said what was needed and slotted in his sections wherever I left a comment: “Tell it from the US angle here, William.” We had a contract for that, so I’d back up AJs and Alek’s remarks. It made me feel safer and more professional.

    The other type of collaboration I’ve done is the online soap “Redemption Reef”. It’s mostly two or three working on an episode but once we had five authors working together on the one story at the one time (all in different parts of the world). That’s been great fun but a bit like herding cats, lol. I’ll be furiously typing my character’s contribution in Google Docs, while another author is going along behind me, fixing the typos. All the time, having one eye on the chat box on the side because Andrea Speed (one of the co-writers) is in her usual crazy, fun mood and I’m trying to keep track of the conversation which is bubbling along faster than the writing! It’s great fun, which is what writing should be all about.

    I asked Jane Davitt about her collaboratons with Alex Snow in my latest blog and she also attested to the way collaboraton really made writing so much easier.

    You mentioned email, AJ, have you tried actually writing, using Google Docs or something where you can both write in the same document at the same time?

    My other question is editing. It’s a given about the publisher’s editor suggesting changes, but how much editing do you do of each other’s writing? You’ve mentioned major scenes but what about the smaller craft issues, eg does one go along tidying up after the other? Suggesting alternate rewording/rephrasing?

  8. AJ Llewellyn

    Hi AB!!
    To answer your question we are working on so many books at any given time that we just send stuff back and forth plus we do talk
    on the phone constantly. We are either writing something, in various stages of editing or finishing or starting joint titles or individual ones plus we have day jobs. It can get hectic! As for edits we spot typos and have no problems fixing them for one another. I have no ego about that. As for wordage, that has never been an issue between us but editors do bring up things for sure, I know we are considered clean writers so our edits consist of de-boo-booing rather than major plot bunnies.
    We are wrapping up a 12 book serial called Blood Slave: Nibiru Vampire Warriors and each chapter is packed with a strong storyline, intense passion, action, drama and mystery. We have talked more about this particular project more than any other because we release a chapter a month and are on the final one now. It’s like a death. It’s hard to say goodbye to Stride and Zero.
    We both write extremely fast so it feels like we are writing on the same page at the same time lol. We’ve done author chats together and I believe that our sense of humor gelled from the outset. those live chats move fast lol! so DJ knew I coule keep up with him!

    1. Silver Pixie

      its mind blogging how fast you2 are and how well you keep up in those chats lol :???:
      i am sad to see Stride and Zero go bye bye… but you know what that means… SPIN OFF!!!!

  9. Lena Grey

    Hi AJ,

    One of the first questions I asked Serena when she mentioned that the two of you were writing a book together was, “How in the heck to you do that?’ All I could think of was two strong minded people butting heads over what would be in the story. She told me then that it took a very special relationship to be able to do it successfully. I was intrigued and very impressed.
    Now, more than ever, I’m amazed by, not only your working relationship, but by the fantastic results.

    After reading your post, I have an even better concept of the process. One other thing I’d like to mention is that since writing is pouring out your heart and soul, co-creating, requires an even deeper level. You’re essentially opening your mind and spirit to each other. That’s scary stuff and requires a level of trust not often found. It seems to me that one of the reasons you’re so successful with both DJ and Serena, is because you can trust each other with these thoughts and feelings. Whatever it is,it’s working so keep doing it! Thank you! :bravo:

    1. AJ Llewellyn

      hi Lena sorry for the delay in responding. Thanks for your kind comments. I am really lucky to have found DJ and Serena. I don’t question the creative magic…I just kiss my muse’s feet for steering me in their direction!

  10. D.J. Manly

    I have no idea why I asked A.J. to write with me, but it was one of those times I followed my instincts. I’d had a crappy and I mean crappy experience co-writing with a few people. I did it to be a nice guy, and it backfired. I ended up writing the book myself out of frustration. I said, never again!

    I was at a talk once and A.J. was there. He was a new guy, and I sat back and listened. I thought, A.J. is intelligent and then I went and read the blurb of his book. I didn’t read the book but I knew this guy can write. I just sent him a message and asked, ‘want to write a book with me?’ I had this idea which bloomed into Black Point. I remember thinking A.J. didn’t want to write with me because honestly, he didn’t respond right off. Then a few minutes later, I got this answer. “Are you kidding?” Wasn’t sure what that meant, so I wrote back that I was serious but that he wasn’t obligated. The next message said, “Obligated??? YES!”
    I went into this partnership without fear for some reason. I just knew it was going to work. No nagging voice like before. We wrote the book and then we were talking series and fifty books later, we’re still at it.

    And we’re not clones. We don’t even write the same, although I do think we share the same values… and readers say they can’t tell where I end and A.J. begins. Um. It’s weird but it really works so I don’t question it. I never did.

    But not all partnerships work like this. I’m lucky. I hope you are too…or be like I was, a lone wolf, at least you have only yourself to blame when the book isn’t finished.

    xx
    D.J.

    1. Silver Pixie

      I don’t know you both a few gives but damn the more you 2 write the less the gives show… ya got me hooked like a fish… I knew from the first time i read Black Point which what what introduced me to You DJ and Funny enough i hadn’t started reading AJ yet.. You were my first *that just sounds bad* AJ came second*note i know this sounds even worse* now i cant survive w/o either of your books!!! ok i am taking my little weird self back to my corner now
      :biglove: :whistle:

  11. Norma Nielsen

    This was a very insightful and interesting post as were all the comments you sure have given newbie writers like me some huge things to think about… and will have me rechecking my own works to make sure I never fall into the same trap. I have actually earmarked this whole thing so that I can come back to and re read so that I never forget.

  12. Cleon

    Thank you for this post, AJ. And thanks for the additional input, Aleks. This is really informative and a great warning for every author who is thinking of collaborating with another author.

  13. Blaine D. Arden

    Thanks, AJ. It was insightful and interesting (like Norma said). And Thank you, Aleks, for the addition.

    I admire those who can write together. I never feel like I’m reading two different inputs. I admire how you make it gel.

    I feel sorry for the writer who lost most of her back log, and all other writers who’ve had negative experiences.

    I talk to people about my stories, but it’s very difficult for me to explain, and I feel I explain it differently every time as well. So, I doubt I’ll ever collaborate. I have enough of a hard time creating my own worlds, I don’t think I could ever truly find someone who gets me and what lives in my head.

  14. AJ Llewellyn

    Hi Norma, Cleon and Blaine,
    thank you for your comments. I have had a staggering amount of emails about this post. Some authors have shared their horror stories, Some have asked who the plagiarizing author is but in fact the story I related was never made public but was shared amongst the authors for the publisher’s site. Only one yahoo group covered the case and that was the betrayed author who let her readers know what was going on… Regardless of who the offender was, she did a terrible thing. The betrayed author is now bouncing back stronger than ever and even has a new and exciting writing partnership. I mention this because I think it’s important to stress this: Just because you get your heart broken doesn’t mean you can’t and shouldn’t fall in love again. It’s the same as a writing partnership, but just as in love, a creative collaboration can be fantastIc or – not. What I wrote here was from the heart and I hope if and when you do collaborate, keep some of my suggestions in mind. But most of all Just write!!

  15. Serena Yates

    Thank you so much for posting this, AJ. It is a good reminder of what can work, and why, and why it might not.

    I think I was very lucky to have worked with you and DJ on the Stealing My Heart anthology, that showed me how you guys work. All your points about liking the other person’s work, and being able to trust them got tested, in a way, on that project. At least for me. So by the time we started talking about our first book togehter, I was pretty sure we’d be okay. As far as I am concerned I was totally lucky (and still am!!!!) to get to work with you. The surprises in the storyline alone when the book comes back from you are worth it, never mind the working together and creating something that is different and better than I could have done on my own. That, for me, is the ‘magic’ of a collaboration.

    From the bottom of my heart: thank you for being a fantastic writing partner. You have spoiled me to the point where I am not even sure I’d even want to try working with someone else. :smile:

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