How to love your co-authors

establishedClaire Bodanis is one of 12 authors of new book Established, to be published by Unbound once it’s raised the necessary funds

Whenever I tell people about our collective book project, one of the first things they ask is – how does it work? Who decides? Don’t you all end up arguing? What if you don’t like their chapter? Or they don’t like yours? Or questions along those lines. Basically they’re all asking the same question, which is about the perceived impossibility of getting 12 people to agree about something as personal as their own writing.

And, since people seem to like lists quite a lot, I thought I’d give you a list.

  1. Good writers: You have to respect other people’s work to want your name to be associated with theirs. Also, the help you get from your colleagues can be invaluable. For example – I was stuck on how to approach my chapter so I asked Elen who knows me well and is much better at this sort of thing than I am if she could help. And her idea, which was to approach it from a form of business writing with which I am very comfortable (I won’t give it away, you’ll have to sign up and buy the book if you haven’t already), was exactly the prompt I needed to write a creative piece.
  2. Good editors – whose word is final: someone (or some people) has to own the whole project editorially, and here we are lucky in our three archangels, John, Jamie and Stuart, who founded Dark Angels and by whom we are all happy (honoured, even) to be edited.
  3. Good editees – who accept their editors’ word as final: I think I’ve just made up a word here, but following on from good editors is good editees – the very best writers are made even better by being edited, but not everyone takes to it well. However, we are all business writers. And as a business writer, if even half of what I started with ends up on the page, I tend to see it as a major success. We are not precious, we are used to being edited, and don’t take editorial comments personally.
  4. Nice people: if we didn’t get on and enjoy being in each other’s company it wouldn’t work. If you don’t like people, it’s hard to work with them, not least on a project which involves something as personal is writing.
  5. A plan: I would say this, because I am the group’s project manager, planner, general sheepdog and chivvier (think I just made up another word), but it is no less true for that. Great ideas need plans, schedules and quite a lot of chivvying to make them happen – and collective ones even more so, with so many people to be organised and gently (or less gently) encouraged in the direction of the deadline.

To pledge for a copy of Established and help this Dark Angels book become a reality visit Unbound.

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