7 Times Author Collaboration Is A Bad Idea
When is it best to go alone?
Usually I focus on the positive aspects of working with others to create your books. Collaboration allows for fast feedback, frequent promos, and a wider reach. But there’s a downside to working with others too often—especially before your writing is published and available on the market.
Sometimes, the lone wolf instinct is worth listening to. Here are some of the best occasions when you might want to keep your writing to yourself.
I’m not talking about times when you can’t think of an ending or if you don’t know what the main character’s day job should be—I’m talking about when a concept is new and fresh in your brain and you haven’t had enough time to decide what you want your feel to be. What style will you write in? What genres will you touch? How do you want your readers to connect with your characters?
If you share an idea with someone else before you quite learn what it is yourself, your peer might pull it in a direction that doesn’t work best—either for you or for the story you’re trying to tell. Let new ideas simmer for a while before you start bringing them up or asking for advice.
There are a number of reasons for this—you might be fishing around for empty compliments from devoted family members (always fun) or sharing with a critique group that boosts your ego more than your book’s chance of success.
Fishing for empty compliments feels good and is an easy habit to develop, but don’t let it come between you and great writing. If you’re looking more for attention than you are for help, focus on getting more reviews for your published books, and read those instead.
Not everyone cares about your writing, and not everyone wants to read it. It’s helpful to know who in your circles is interested in your writing and who isn’t—or else you’ll come off as desperate and clingy.
It can be hard to know where the line is here. An occasional mention of the fact that you write can arouse some people’s curiosity and even get you some excited new fans. But if people don’t respond to your mention, don’t press it further than you need to.
Writing by committee happens when you find yourself surrounded by brilliant people—or at least, by people who you trust more with your own stories than yourself. Whether it’s a series of highly qualified editors, a group of friends and family who actively support your writing, or an active critique group; too many early draft readers can tear your book to shreds, and leave nothing left.
You want to get eyes on your book early, in most cases, but it’s better to work with an editing strategy instead of showing your work to everyone you know and prioritizing everything they tell you. You should also take into account what aspects of your writing you would be willing to change and what are non-negotiable—that can be handy when finding someone who shares your vision for your book.
This happens very rarely in fiction groups but more often in the non-fiction and screen-writing industries, and it’s still something to keep in mind. Before you entrust anyone with your writing, make sure it’s someone you trust and know won’t plagiarize your writing.
Once your books are out, you can feel free to promote them regularly, but stay away from begging. Newer readers to your list might enjoy hearing about an old book, but the same people you wrote to last week don’t need to be reminded to buy every chance you get.
When dealing with readers, remember to be open and social about your writing life. Share your enthusiasm for what you’re doing, and you’re more likely to win over organic readers.
Procrastination doesn’t always come down to browsing Facebook for hours or mowing the lawn. It can come from otherwise productive activities—re-reading your favorite passages, designing possible covers for your masterpiece, or passing around what you have to get feedback.
I see you. Get back to writing.
But seriously, if you’re taking a break to get feedback when you know what you’re going to write next, it might be time to take ownership of your writing and focus more on completing what you have than learning what else you can add.
Trusting Your Gut
Sometimes there’s no good way to know if it’s best to share your writing or keep it to yourself. A lot of it depends on your writing, your ideas, and your process as an author—and I’d love to hear what guidelines you use to know when to share your writing. Please comment your own experiences and judgment below in the comment section or join my group for self-publishing fiction authors below for further discussion!