Tips for Working with a Co-Author

drafting publishing
Tips for working with a co-author

Writing a novel with another author comes with many advantages. In co-authoring, you have someone with whom to share the workload. You have someone to bounce ideas off of when you get stuck in a rut. You get the benefit of two creative forces at work on one project. This can make for a fantastic finished product!

However, you need to prepare for the journey ahead by building a solid foundation on which this partnership can thrive. There are many things to consider besides the actual writing of the novel. In this post, we will share five tips that will help you build that foundation for a successful co-authoring experience.

Get on the same creative page

Before you begin writing, make sure that you and your co-author both have the same creative vision for the novel. What will be the tone of your novel? Who is your target audience?

Get your ideas on paper and decide on the trajectory of your novel by plotting out a beginning, middle, and ending for your novel. Create an outline. Map out your vision for each of the story acts so that you don’t waste any time figuring out what to write next. Creating a story bible together can also help with this task.

Once you’re on the same creative page, it’s time to create a writing schedule.

Decide how you will split the writing and editing

One of the most important decisions you and your co-author will make as a team is deciding how you and your writing partner will divvy up the tasks of writing and editing the novel. There are many ways you might share these writing responsibilities:

Multiple points of view

If you’re writing a novel that is written from multiple points of view, an easy way to split the writing is for each of you to take on a specific character’s point of view. If there are more than two characters giving voice to the story, split the characters evenly between the two of you. Agree on who will write each character’s perspective in the story. If there are multiple timelines in your story, you could split the timelines in a similar manner, such as giving yourself the current timeline and your writing partner and past or future timeline.


If your story involves worldbuilding, as is often the case in science fiction or fantasy novels, decide if you will share the task of building your novel’s world or if one of you will tackle that responsibility while the other author takes on character development or plot. This might even be a decision you tackle while writing the story bible for your novel. Decide which of you is best suited for the project of worldbuilding and take this task into consideration when creating a writing schedule.


Another way to split the work of writing is to evenly divide the chapters between the two of you. Use the outline to decide who will tackle which chapters, or write alternating chapters. If you are writing multiple points of view, each chapter can be from the perspective of a different character that has a voice in the book. If your book is divided into parts, you could split the parts equally as well.


Not only does your novel need to be written, but it also needs to be edited. Who will be in charge of editing your co-authored novel? If one of you excels in editing, you might decide to let that person take on the role of editing entirely. Another solution is to edit each other’s work and then send the final draft to a professional editor who can then edit the whole novel. You might even opt to have a third-party handle all the editing. Make sure you weigh all the options and come to a decision that both parties are satisfied with.

Establish a communication plan

Once you have a schedule in place with clearly defined deadlines and responsibilities, decide how you will communicate and share work as you progress through the novel. Maybe you don’t live near each other and will need to use online resources and technology to communicate. Fortunately, there are many tools co-authors can take advantage of while working remotely:

  • Slack is a messaging app that makes access to your coauthor simple communication and sharing easy. You can message each other, share work, collaborate, and organize details into spaces called channels. Slack gives you each access to all the information needed to work on and complete the project and communicate with your writing partner.
  • Trello is another way to organize details of your project and communicate progress with your partner. Trello uses cards and lists that can be organized by chapters, beats, plot, character, or however you choose to organize your project.
  • You might use Google Docs to share projects. With Google Docs, each author has real-time access to their partner’s work. Authors can leave comments or suggestions in the margins of the page, making it easy to edit on the go with real-time feedback from your writing partner.

Also, decide if you are going to use text messages, phone calls, or emails as part of your communication strategy. Are you going to have daily or weekly Zoom check-ins where you can discuss the progress of the project? How often will you have those meetings, and what day and time would be best? Be sure to set expectations on times to reach out. If you’ve decided not to write on the weekends, you might also put in the agreement that work communication on the weekend is off-limits.

Create a writing schedule with clearly defined deadlines

If you are writing a 100,000-word novel and need to have the first draft finished in three months, map out what that will look like for each author. How many words per day does each author need to write? Are you writing simultaneously or taking turns, allowing time to read each other’s latest work in order to build on it? Are you going to write on weekends or stick to a weekday work schedule?

Without a writing schedule with clearly defined deadlines, you might find yourselves getting out of sync with each other on the novel, causing tension in the working relationship. However, it’s also important to leave a little wiggle room in your schedule in case there are any bumps in the road. In order to handle those situations, you need to establish a communication plan.

Agree on the business details

Once the book is written, there are a few more business details that need to be agreed upon. There’s a lot more to writing a book than just writing a book. This is a business venture with many important decisions to consider.


Decide how you will be splitting the royalties. If the work of writing the book is being shared evenly, then the royalties might be equally shared as well. If one author tackled the editing on her own, or spent more time outlining or world-building, take that into consideration so that each author gets a fair share of the royalties based on the amount of work put into the project.


Once the book is written, you need to agree on a marketing plan. If you’re writing a book for young readers, are you going to be doing school visits? Will you have a book tour and travel to visit bookstores to promote the book? Will you have an author website, blog, podcast, or social media handles? Make sure you create a plan together that evenly divides the marketing plan you agree on.

Publishing the book

Once the book has been written, it’s time to think about publication. Are you going the independent route and self-publish the book, or do you want to have your book published traditionally? If you decide to have your book traditionally published, you will need to find an agent to take on your project. This requires a query letter, and a list of agents you agree on that would be a good fit for your project.

If you are going to self-publish your book, you need to decide on artwork, formatting the book, and which platforms you will use to list your book. Will you sell print copies or just digital ones? Do you want an audio version of your book?

Take all details into consideration and come to a publishing decision that you are both happy with.

Ready to start?

You’ve covered all the bases! You’ve created a writing schedule and set up a communication plan. You’ve outlined your project and divided the work of writing and editing evenly. You’ve decided on a publishing and marketing plan. It’s time to get writing!

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