Posted On November 12, 2014 by Print This Post

Multi-Author Collaborations with Eliza Knight & Stephanie Dray

We have double the talent and double the smarts here with us today to give us the skinny on producing a multi-author collaboration.  Welcome to Eliza and Stephanie!

Producing Multi-Author Collaborations
Boxed sets, continuities, anthologies!
by
Eliza Knight & Stephanie Dray

It’s the year for multi-author collaborations. Anthologies have been popular for a long time. But now we’re seeing an influx in ElizaKnight_ADayofFire_2500boxed sets and more recently continuities, in which various authors all work on the same story arc together.

What accounts for the sudden popularity of author cooperation? For one thing, collaborations are a great way for authors to expand their readership and gain visibility in the genre. For another, they’re an excellent marketing tool for networking, promoting your backlist and achieving better cross-promotion with authors whose readers might not have discovered you yet.

Let us define the various ways in which authors can collaborate:

Boxed Sets: A boxed set–typically done as a digital release only–is a set of books being sold in one package. The majority of the sets being put out today are self-published titles. Authors can do this on their own or with a group. They are priced low–at a price readers will consider a steal–to gain more downloads. Because the point of the boxed set isn’t necessarily to make money, but to expand readership, and to draw readers toward author backlists. Boxed sets usually hold entire novels (sometimes novellas) either the same genre–historical, contemporary, paranormal, or subgenre–Scottish historical, vampire, time-travel.

Pros: Boxed sets are a chance to cross-market and reach readers who will love your work…if only they could find it. The combined promotional platform of multiple authors can also serve to launch the book more successfully.

Cons: Boxed sets are usually priced so low as to be a minimal money-maker.

Anthologies: Anthologies are typically short stories or novellas written by several authors with the same theme or a similar setting or situation. For example, on Valentine’s Day, Eliza’s THE HIGHLANDER’S CHARM will release in the KISSING THE HIGHLANDER anthology with Vonda Sinclair, Terry Spear, Victoria Roberts and Willa Blair. And the unifying theme is a particular stone circle in the Highlands, where each author will set her tale. Stories placed in a boxed set are written on their own and are either new stories or stories previously published.

Pros: Because anthologies can serve as a collection of very loosely related stories, they require next to no creative collaboration. Anthologies also provide all the cross-marketing benefits of a boxed set without the potential money-loss of practically giving away a full-length book.

Cons: Readers often resist short stories and some of them are reluctant to buy anthologies for fear the stories will not be similar enough or delve deeply enough to give a satisfying read.

Continuities: Continuities are not anthologies. In a continuity, the stories are one story broken into coherent but stand-alone parts. For example, in May of 2015, Stephanie (writing as Stephanie Draven) will release SEX, LIES AND KARMIC CATASTROPHE in the THIS WEDDING IS DOOMED continuity with Jeannie Lin, Shawntelle Madison and Amanda Berry, each of whom will tell a love story that unfolds during the worst wedding of the year. Earlier this month, we both participated in A DAY OF FIRE: a Novel of Pompeii with Ben Kane, Vicky Alvear-Shecter, Kate Quinn and Sophie Perinot. The book is considered a novel in six parts with an overarching plot–the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Each author took a part of the story and developed their own characters. We wove our characters and plot points into each story. It reads as one novel, even with six authors and six parts. Because of how closely linked the stories are there was a lot of writing together. In A DAY OF FIRE, we had plotting parties, both online and in person. We wrote together using a Google Doc–literally two or more people in one document writing a scene together. It was amazing.

Pros: Cross-marketing benefits and increased launch platform given the combined media reach of all authors involved. Tons of creative collaboration with clever colleagues. Readers love getting the feel of a full length novel while authors love getting to release a full-length novel while only having to write a small portion of it.

Cons: Increased chance of creative disagreements. More time-consuming to plot a whole novel with others. Romance readers are familiar with continuities, but they are still rarities in other genres where readers might confuse them with anthologies.

Now that we’ve had a chance to explain the various ways in which you can collaborate with other authors, we’re going to get into the fun parts!

Divvying Up Duties

When you self-publish any title, you’re acting as a publisher. This means you are in charge of getting a cover, formatting content, putting together a marketing plan, copy-editing, banking, etc… In a collaboration, you can divide up all of these duties so that it doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders.

Here are few descriptions of job duties you can use in a multi-author collaboration. Some of these duties will not be necessary depending on what type of project you are contributing to. For example the editorial position can be modified if all authors are in charge of getting their own work copy-edited.

Publicity Coordinator
● Ensure advanced review copies (both print and digital) are produced
● Send out review copies to appropriate parties in a timely fashion
● Set up a blog
(Choose how any agreed-upon costs incurred in the pursuit of these duties, including shipping of advanced copies, will be reimbursed by the partnership. Either costs can be paid upfront by those who’ve taken on the duties to be reimbursed when royalties are paid, or you can set up an account where each author contributes a set amount prior to beginning the project, say $25, $50, or $100.)

Promotional Coordinator
● Work with the publicity coordinator to see the blog tour is complete
● Write up a marketing plan
● Establish an outward facing Facebook Page for the collection
● Arrange for a Facebook launch party
● Organize other launch events for the book or relaunch activities
● Buy any agreed upon advertisements and spearhead promotional campaigns with the participation and assistance of other authors in the collection.
(Reiterate here what your group has decided as far as expenses being reimbursed.)

Editorial Coordinator
● Coordinate the swap of stories for critique and content editing according to deadlines.
● Finalized by each author and that every author receives at least two critiques.
● Complete final read-through of the overall manuscript to check for continuity errors and fact-checking.
● Turn over whole manuscript to formatting coordinator
(Reiterate here what your group has decided as far as expenses being reimbursed.)

Formatting Coordinator
● Arrange for copyediting
● Format the manuscript for all platforms
● Format the manuscript for print
(Reiterate here what your group has decided as far as expenses being reimbursed.)

Banker
● Allocate funds as designated in this partnership agreement
● Handle all monetary and tax-related aspects of the project as a whole
● Upload to desired platforms
● Secure ISBN numbers so that the payments and proprietary interests are kept together
(Reiterate here what your group has decided as far as expenses being reimbursed.)

Branding Coordinator
● Produce a title and back cover copy to be agreed upon by the partners
● Produce any and all taglines
● Arrange for the book cover
● Pursue the possibility of an introduction or cover quote from notable authors
(Reiterate here what your group has decided as far as expenses being reimbursed.)

Every collaboration project should have a contract/partnership agreement that lays out who is in charge of what, how the money will exchange hands, deadlines for when content is due, a release date, a date for when or if the project will be pulled from the market. There should be a clause for if an author decides to pull their work and a clause as to how authors can eject a member from participation if things go badly. Each author participating should agree in writing to the terms. This is done to protect each other. You need a paper trail, because let’s be honest, things can go badly. Which brings us to the next topic…

Playing Well With Others

When people work in a group, conflict is inevitable. Luckily, we’ve all experienced this since we were in grade school and forced to do projects together (if you were blessed with siblings, you learned very well how to play in groups, too!). We all need to play nice. Nobody wants to have to take their “toy” and go home, and nobody wants to tell somebody else they aren’t allowed in the sandbox.

While it would be ideal for everyone to agree on everything, it isn’t realistic. Because of this, every group should vote and go with the majority. It works well in the real world, so take advantage of this when working on your projects.

Always maintain a professional attitude. No need to get snarky or attack each other personally. You’ll only end up making enemies and not moving forward in the project. If you feel at any time like you may say something you’ll regret, do what your 1st grade teacher said: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Take a moment to collect yourself. We’re not saying that you shouldn’t give your opinion. Everyone has a right to state how they feel about particulars, but make sure you state it in a professional manner. If you are on the receiving end of someone’s nasty attitude, still follow these rules. While it feels good to smack them back, it won’t make the situation any better.

Click here to read excerpts and reviews of A DAY OF FIRE: a novel of Pompeii.

***

Have you considered creating a multi author collaboration? What were the pros and cons in your mind?

On Friday, join Avery Flynn as she discusses the secrets to a successful Facebook party.

***

Bio:

ElizaKnightAuthorPhotoELIZA KNIGHT is the multi-published, award-winning, national bestselling indie author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain with her own knight in shining armor, three princesses and one very naughty puppy. Visit Eliza at http://www.elizaknight.com, or her historical blog History Undressed:

www.historyundressed.com

Join her on social media!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightauthor or https://www.facebook.com/elizaknightfiction

Twitter: @ElizaKnight

 

STEPHANIE DRAY is an award-winning, national bestselling and two-time RITA award nominated author of historical Stephanie-Dray-Headshot-smallerwomen’s fiction. Her critically acclaimed historical fantasy series about Cleopatra’s daughter has been translated into six different languages, and won the Golden Leaf. Before she wrote novels, Stephanie was a lawyer, a game designer, and a teacher. Now she uses the transformative power of magic realism to illuminate the stories of women in history and inspire the young women of today. Writing under her pen name, Stephanie Draven, she also writes paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and historical erotic romance set in the 1920s. She remains fascinated by all things Roman or Egyptian and has–to the consternation of her devoted husband–collected a house full of cats and ancient artifacts. Visit Stephanie at: http://www.stephaniedraven.com.

Buy Stephanie’s Books

Twitter | Website & Blog | Goodreads | Facebook

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Discussion

7 Responses to “Multi-Author Collaborations with Eliza Knight & Stephanie Dray”

  1. This is a timely post. My short story is part of an anthology of Christmas stories with my publisher. Interested to see the result.

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | November 12, 2014, 9:43 am
  2. Interesting post. Never heard of continuities before, but sounds intriguing!

    Posted by Maria Michaels | November 12, 2014, 12:31 pm
  3. Hi Stephanie and Eliza!

    Sorry, I’m late late late! =)

    I have to say I love anthologies…I always find new authors I want to read.

    Off to buy this wedding is doomed…=) it sounds like just my type of story!!

    Thanks for the great post – I learned a lot!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 12, 2014, 10:34 pm
  4. This sounds like a LOT of work! As a reader, I appreciate all the work that goes into multi-author collaborations because I love to read them. I enjoy them because it’s a good way to check out authors I haven’t read before – I’ve discovered some authors who are now on my must-buy list from this type of anthology.

    Thanks for a great post!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 12, 2014, 11:40 pm
  5. I searched for mult-author collaborations when one of my favorite authors Michael Connelly collaborated with 26 other authors many of whom I read all the time (Face Off). Now Jeff Abbott and other offers “No rest for the Dead” and this is one mystery with 26 writers… I always thought writers had the paranoia of corporate espionage theorists and are loners for the most part. Now I see them making tv guest spots together, commercials together and writing one book together. I like this trend and see it healthy and better for the profession.

    Posted by Laurel Gonzalez | November 24, 2014, 2:44 pm

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