The Official Blog of Iain Rob Wright: Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Two heads are better than one, they say.  Take the Simpsons, TVs longest running sitcom.  Every episode begins life in a boardroom with, like, a dozen funny Jewish fellas (and lasses) shooting ideas off of each other while chewing bagels and slurping coffee.  Its impossible to spot every opportunity, every joke, every story beat all on our own.  We are only human, and as a society nearly all of our most remarkable achievements were made collectively.  For example, Facebook wouldnt ever have existed without those two twins for Mark Zuckerberg to steal from.  The pyramids would never have gotten built without all of those plucky slaves carrying blocks for the kind, benevolent Pharaohs.  America wouldnt be America without 64 States.  You catch my drift?

Fiction is no different.  While the traditional form of a novel is a single writers vision written down for the rest of us to enjoy, its becoming more commonplace to find novels co-written by two, three, or even three-and-a-half writers.  The reasons for this are because its fun, easy, and makes money.  Thats right, despite having to share the wealth, writing a collaboration can be lucrative.  And thats what writing is all about, huh?  The money.

Recently I wrote a sequel to a book.  The interesting thing is that the book was a sequel to another dudes book, not my own.  I loved Origins by JA Konrath and I wanted the story to continue.  As Joe was taking his sweet time, I decided to ask if I could write the next entry myself.  He said yes.

I wrote the entire novel, using Joes characters and adding my own.  I linked his world to mine, sharing our individual created universes.  When I was done, Joe took several months making his own changes until the book was almost exactly 50% his and 50% mine.  We both agreed that the book was a hoot and that werewolves and bananas rule.

As the bigger, richer author, Joe paid for the artwork and editing, although I wouldve been happy to split it.  Then we released the book to both of our audiences.  They loved it.  Our mutual fans loved seeing our individual characters interact.  Joes fans loved getting a sequel to Origins.  My fans loved seeing my characters in a new universe.  My fans were introduced to Joe, while his many many fans were introduced to me.  When the dust settled, one thing became clear.  We had both managed to provide one another with new readers.  We had shared our fan bases.

And that is probably the key benefit to collaborating: you share fan bases.  The second benefit is that you release a book that appeals to two sets of fans instead of one, which usually means lots of sales.  In my case, I had a third benefit: I was able to piggyback on the shoulders of a publishing giant, JA Konrath.  I raised my profile and cemented myself as a name in many readers minds (horror readers mostly).  If you are a big name author, collaborating with an up and comer is a great way to pay it forward.  Ill be doing just that very soon.



1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Collaborations are quite fun for all involved - writers, readers, the whole lot. It's amazing they don't happen more often.