Writing a Book: The Joys of Collaboration

Feb 14, 2017 | Writing A Book

I wrote my first book in 1972. It was a contract work, so my name didn’t appear on the cover. It was about a practical subject: budgeting for first-line supervisors. After that I wrote several more books, and I wrote them all by myself. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that I wrote my first book with another person.

Jeff Senne and the Books About Business on the Web

I knew Jeff from our common membership in an association, and one day we were talking about books that we could recommend to our clients about how businesses should react to the then-very-new worldwide web. We talked for over an hour and when we couldn’t come up with a single book to recommend, someone, I think it was Jeff, said, “Why don’t we write it ourselves?” So, we did.

That book was Cyberpower for Business. Inc. Magazine said that it was a book that “every CEO should own.” We both got a bump in our speaking and consulting from the book, as well as the next book we wrote together, Net Income.

Those books were career boosters for me, but I got something more out of them than a business advantage. I learned how great it could be to write a book with a collaborator. That’s what got me started on the road to the ghostwriting/writing partner work that I do today. I discovered that there are three big benefits of working with a collaborator.

When You Work with a Collaborator, You Have More Skills

Jeff and I did a lot of the same things, but we had very different skills, too. I was good at writing and harmonizing the manuscript and Jeff was great at seeing marketing opportunities and at sharpening my prose by asking questions. He was also great at summarizing our work in a list of key points. I nicknamed him “Mr. Bullet Point.”

We could divide up the book’s interviews based on who had the better skills, knowledge, and reputation. We could do more and better work because between us we had more skills than either of us had alone.

When You Work with a Collaborator, Your Knowledge Base Expands

It’s like the saying goes, “We know more together than we do individually.” We sure did.

Jeff and I were familiar with different industries and with different kinds of job specialties. My background was in operations, analysis and logistics. Jeff understood sales and marketing, and had a deep knowledge of the financial services industry. That gave us a wider range of examples and possible ideas for the ways that e-commerce would affect business.

When You Work with a Collaborator, You Get Support

One of the great things about working with Jeff was that we could support each other during the writing process. That meant that we could cheer each other up, but also that one of us could carry the load for a week or two while the other one had to deal with personal or business issues not related to the book. We got more done, and we did it better.

Collaboration in My Work Today

Today I see my work as a ghostwriter/writing partner as a collaborative effort. One other benefit that I got from the books Jeff and I wrote was being invited to speak at events in several different industries. During the next ten years, I was exposed to all kinds of businesses and that experience still helps me today. I work best with people who know their own ideas, but are open to bringing in some other insights. That’s another advantage of collaboration.

Bottom Line

When you work with a writing partner you will write a better book than you could on your own because you have more skills and knowledge to draw upon. When you work with a writing partner, you also have a built-in source of support, too.