Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
JA Motherfucking Huss is the NYT bestselling author of 321 and has been on the USA Today Bestsellers list eighteen times. She writes dark shit that isn’t for everyone but once in a while she gets a joke in her that comes out as a romantic comedy. She’s a workaholic who lives on a ranch in Colorado. (This is her blog, BTW, so her links are all over the goddamned place so I’m not gonna post one here.)
COLLABORATE WITH A PARTNER
So here’s a topic I never thought I’d be writing about. I’m not exactly a team player, I don’t work well with others, and I’m pretty good doing everything myself. Like, it suits me, ya know? But there are a lot of reasons why you might want to team up with the right person and make them your partner in crime. I’m no expert on this subject. We haven’t even released our first book yet, but I’ve learned a ton of things about my writing process from working with my partner.
1 KNOW EACH OTHER VERY WELL BEFORE YOU START
I’ve known my writing partner, Johnathan McClain, for about a year now. But we really didn’t start being friends until April and by June we were writing a script, by September we were pitching it, and by the beginning of December we’d written our first book, were working on the second, and had become producing partners with MGM for our TV pilot.
It was a whirlwind of a friendship, that’s for sure. And it’s sounds kinda short. But… we’ve kinda been through a lot together professionally in that time. I think a lot of that had to do with writing the script for The Company together, but we also email or talk on the phone almost every day, he came to visit me at my house (he’s in LA, I’m in Colorado), and we met up in Las Vegas once and are about to do that again in two days.
I think Johnathan and I just knew were compatible writing partners from the very start. And I wish I could explain how I knew that, but it’s just a gut feeling. There have been other people who have wanted to write with me before and I always said no. That too, was a gut feeling.
Know your potential partner very well before you get involved with them professionally. It is easier to divorce your spouse than it is to divorce your writing partner. If you publish something or sell a script or whatever, you are attached to that person via copyright laws until your death plus seventy years.
2 KNOW YOURSELF VERY WELL TOO
You have to know when it’s time to bend and when it’s time to stand your ground. If you’re in a partnership it’s generally an equal partnership and both participants need to be considered. However, there’s going to be lots of times when you have to make a decision – should I give in on that point? Or should I fight to the death to get my way?
Pick and choose your battles carefully. If the point under consideration isn’t going to break you—meaning, fuck up your art or output—then you should defer to your partner’s wishes. They in turn should do the same for you when you feel the need to fight to the death.
3 RESPECT EACH OTHER
There’s lots of ways to handle a situation and yelling at someone is almost never the right way. If you respect your partner—and you should, or why are writing with them?—then you don’t throw fits. You discuss. You be honest. You say things with compassion. They in turn should do the same for you.
You should also respect each other’s time. If you have a deadline, meet it. If he expects you to call him, call him. If he’s waiting on you to answer a question, answer him. Neither of you are more important than the other.
Also… artists–and that’s what we are–have a reputation for being… difficult. I am difficult, but so is Johnathan. lol So, um, yeah. We can’t both be difficult at the same time. That’s not gonna work. When he wants to be difficult I become understanding. When I feel the need to be difficult, he becomes understanding. He supports me, I support him.
I think that might be the secret to a successful collaboration.
4 HAVE THE SAME OBJECTIVE
If one of you wants to write horror and one of you wants to write romance, well, look man, those two genres don’t normally go together. There’s lots of genres that do go together—for instance, science fiction and romance, or mystery and romance, or science fiction and thriller, or mystery and science fiction. But horror and romance is very tough sell with almost no marketability. So before you start a collaboration, have this talk. What do each of you want? Where do you see yourselves in a year? Two years? Five years? Even if you don’t have the same long-term goals, you can still l forge a short-term collaboration. No one says a partnership has to last forever. So don’t be afraid of your answers. It’s better to be honest and know where you’re heading than it is to pretend you’re on the same page when you’re not.
5 COMMUNICATION IS KEY
Talk to each other. Email, phone, video chat, whatever. Even if you’re just shooting the shit about your day, talking is almost never a bad way to nurture a relationship.
Don’t be passive aggressive. People know, OK? Passive aggressive is almost never passive. It’s so fucking obvious. And if you’re partners with someone, that means they probably know you pretty well, and yeah, they can absolutely tell when your sweet words are laced with a big ‘ol side of bitch.