Recently, the term “Conscious Uncoupling” has become part of the zeitgeist. It is meant to define the dissolving of a marriage.
Today, I’d like to discuss “Conscious Coupling” or collaborating on a book – in this case a work of fiction.
In Hollywood, collaborating on screenplays is done all the time and there are good reasons for that. As I understand it, two people working together to write in that format can benefit from each other’s ideas, and the result can be that much stronger.
To some extent, the same can be said for two people collaborating on a fiction book. There is no question that sharing ideas can add to the story and if the collaborators can blend their voices, the result can work. But book collaborations of this kind can be fraught with problems for one or both of the participating authors.
If they are using their real names and then each wants to go off and write individually using his or her own name, could be limited by the option and non-compete clauses in their previous contracts. If they use a pseudonym for the collaboration, they will not receive the credit they would want for writing the book and if the collaboration results in a successful book, it would not further their career when writing under their own names.
Many times in these collaborations, one of the authors is seen as the more important name, and then the other suffers both in the collaboration and when s/he wants to publish under his/her own name.
Finally, these collaborations can be used as a crutch. They are comfortable and can be fun to do, but in the end, book writing—successful book writing – is a very difficult and individual task. When the author completes a novel by him/herself and sells it, his/her future from a contractual point of view is clear and well defined. S/he knows what s/he can and cannot do going forward as far as his/her option and non- complete responsibilities are concerned. In the end, it seems to me this is the best path a novelist can take to grow his/her career.
I’d love to know what you think about these kinds of collaborations. Do you like to read books written by more than one author?