Have you ever moved? It can be a massive amount of work—packing, moving, and getting settled after the fact. You can do it on your own (mostly), but the process is much faster and easier when you share the many necessary tasks with family and friends.
Publishing a book can be even more daunting, especially if you are researching, writing, publishing, and marketing it primarily on your own.
A collaborative book may be just the type of project to explore as an easy introduction to becoming a published author or as an avenue to rapidly add another title to your publishing credentials.
Here are four reasons to consider creating a collaborative book:
1. Get Published Faster
Each of my collaborative books has taken three to six months to complete—from concept to published book. In contrast, I have clients who have been working on their manuscripts five to seven YEARS before they contract with me for their book cover design and interior formatting. It’s simple math that thirty authors writing 1000 words each will create a 30,000 word manuscript faster than one author can alone.
2. Provide a Broader Viewpoint
We each have a unique combination of experience, knowledge and expertise. The written perspective of six to thirty authors provides a wider view on a topic than a single person can contribute on her own.
3. Share Ideas
A quote often credited to George Bernard Shaw says, “If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we swap apples—we each end up with only one apple. But if you and I have an idea and we swap ideas—we each end up with two ideas.” Writing books in collaboration with others is an excellent way to share ideas.
4. Expand Your Marketing Reach
Before social media made it so easy to connect, it was said that most people had about 250 in their network of contacts. Now it’s common for someone to have 500 – 1000 contacts. The reach of one person with a 1000-person list of contacts is a drop in the bucket compared to the reach of ten co-authors with 1000 contacts each. Each co-author benefits from the exposure of all their co-authors’ contacts as well. This is especially effective for publishing a book as a strategy for marketing your
5. Build Stronger Relationships
People like to do business with people they know and trust. The key to building stronger relationships is to do what you say you will do. Working on this type of a short-term project is an easy way to show your follow-through on a commitment—in addition to sharing your knowledge and creativity—with the added benefit of a book to sell at the completion of the venture. In addition to building stronger relationships with your co-authors, publishing frequently is also a powerful way to build relationships with potential and existing customers. Becoming a published author elevates you to the status of an expert and can be the starting point for a foundation of trust.
Here are ten important steps for publishing a collaborative book:
1. Determine a strong central topic
Make your topic narrow enough to appeal to a niche, but broad enough to give the co-authors room to write. In each of the ten steps below, I’ll use examples from my most recent collaborative book, The 28-Day Thought Diet.
This book had the central theme that we change our lives by the thoughts we choose to think. My concept was to create a book providing readers with suggestions of inspiring thoughts they can choose to focus upon for a particular day. Each chapter started with the sentence, “Today, I choose a thought of…” Twenty-five authors completed the sentence with a word or phrase that resonated with them personally, then wrote their chapters to expand on that selection.
2. Have clear guidelines and objectives
Each chapter’s length was up to 1000 words. In addition, the co-authors had a sentence bio at the end of their chapters and a 250-word bio in the “About the Authors” section. I encouraged authors to use personal stories to make their chapters more engaging.
3. Appoint a project manager
It’s important to have someone managing all the activities and people involved in a collaborative book. The project manager should be someone who can see the big picture, as well as being comfortable tracking important details. In addition to design services, I serve as project manager for many of my clients.
4. Identify an editor, designer, and printer
It is critical to have these team members in place when you begin a collaborative book project. Since everything is accomplished at an accelerated rate, you may encounter delays in the publishing process if you haven’t identified these key vendors in advance. Talk with them about the time needed for their particular steps to accurately set a production schedule. Discussing timelines with vendors allows them to block time on their work schedule for your book.
5. Create a production schedule
The only way to accurately let co-authors know when the book will launch is to identify the many steps and assign a target date to each. Add wiggle room in the schedule at several stages in the process. Something unexpected will often happen that takes a few days to resolve. If it doesn’t, the book will be ahead of schedule making everyone look good!
6. Assign and communicate deadlines
Make sure all co-authors and vendors know the deadlines and have agreed to meet them at the beginning of the project.
Communication is critical throughout the entire process of gathering collaborators, writing, editing, designing, formatting, publishing, and marketing. Clearly outline responsibilities and deadlines. Be available for calls, check email regularly, and respond to questions quickly.
8. Be flexible
Something will happen you don’t expect and it can be wonderful. In The 28-Day Thought Diet, one co-author wrote a fantastic chapter that was twice the length of the 1000 word limit. Instead of requiring her to chop the chapter in half, I decided to add a bonus chapter into the book. I easily recruited an additional co-author to write the missing chapter. The result is a more diverse book with Day 17’s chapter on “Receiving Gracefully” and the bonus chapter on “Creative Expression.”
9. Provide marketing basics
I provided the co-authors with basic materials they could use in marketing their book. This included: a JPG graphic of the book cover, a lo-res pdf that authors could use to solicit reviews or as a free gift for new clients, a press release template, and a template for creating a 30-second book trailer. I also described various options for selling books on their own websites and at events.
10. Have fun!
Publishing a book is a lot of work, but sharing the load of writing, publishing and marketing is like having a team of friends helping you on your big move. You may still be tired at the finish line, but you’ve laughed and created memories along the way.
If you are interested in finding out more, check out Nanette’s new Partner UP! Book Program. She created it specifically to help you publish a collaborative book. The program covers how to:
• Come up with a theme or topic for the book
• Price your project
• Send an invitation letter
• Explore the necessity of editing
• Create a book cover with a graphic designer (That would be someone like me!)
• Understand the different components of book layout (Me again!)
• Schedule and discuss the printing process
• Learn the importance of proofreading
With Nanette’s guidance, you’ll become a published author in a fraction of the time it normally takes and have friends to help with the heavy lifting along the way.