How to Coauthor a Book
Having multiple authors collaborate on a book is not unheard of, but it isn’t exactly common either. There are a number of issues that can make coauthoring difficult. How do you split up the workload? How do you make the book sound as if it is written by one person. How do you allow creative freedom and still keep the plot on the agreed upon path?
We addressed all of these issues as we would for our day jobs. My background as a software engineer made me view the book as a large software project. Each chapter is basically a software FUNCTION. It has a set of inputs and it has an output; whatever happens in between is an implementation detail left to the programmer.
Our chapters were built much the same way. We would have a very rough idea of what had happened in the world before this chapter (inputs) and what should happen in the chapter (outputs), but we gave complete freedom to the author on how to achieve the desired outcome of the chapter. There were a few cases where chapters got away from us and ended up as multiple chapters, and other times where a chapter was tossed after it was completely written.
Once a chapter was written, it was passed to the other author for review and edits. We had to grow thick skin, but we knew that the only way the book would be publishable was if we were brutally honest with each other. In truth, if something was bad or suspect, the person who wrote it already knew that it needed work. That’s not to say that we always agreed with each other. There were times when we would pass a single sentence back and forth for days.
We split the workload by each focusing on the point of view of specific characters. After a chapter had passed between us a few times, it was difficult to remember who wrote what. Of course, that was kind of the point.