One for the money..two for the ..what?

I and a male co-writer (who is not my husband or boyfriend) are getting ready to submit our action-adventure thriller to agents. At a writer's conference, we met several agents who didn't quite seem to know what to do with the two of us; it was like they were distracted by the co-writer part or couldn't figure out how to treat us. Is our co-writer status creating confusion that may work against us?

I don't know a lot about this because I don't represent any co-writing teams. I have "author" and "ghostwriter" which is totally different.

You two are preparing to share in copyright? And share in editorial decisions? There are people who do this successfully: PJ Tracy ,and Perri O'Shaughnessy come to mind.

You might need to go to those meetings with some proactive answers about how you plan to work together.

If anyone reading the blog has experiences with this, as either writer/editor/agent, I'd sure like to hear about it!


Carolyn Chambers Clark said...

I co-authored a book with an MD. We had a contract, but it wasn't written tightly enough. Before you send out your manuscript, write a specific and complete contract, indicating what each person's obligation is (when manuscript is due, when revisions are due, etc.), how royalties and advances will be split, and what will happen if either of you don't fulfill your obligations. Our agent didn't have any trouble working with two of us, but our editor did and that's why I'm recommending you clarify everything in writing between the two of you. Good luck!

Rina Slayter said...

I currently write with a partner who happens to be my best friend. We can already finish each other's sentences and our work truly is a melding of both of our voices. We don't have an agent, but we do have an editor.

In our case, my partner handles most of the day to day, but when there are decisions to be made, revisions to be done, we both share the duty and both have to agree on all major decisions.

This is not difficult as we're already best friends... I don't recommend partnering up with someone whom you're not willing to go the long haul with because even though there's lots of love, there's also a lot of friction. That can get expensive if lawyers need to be involved.

If you're truly that dedicated to each other and the work, then you shouldn't have a problem. Just make sure your editor and agent understand that even if you're writing under one pen name, you are two separate people and need to be included in all discussions.

There ya have my two cents--maybe three--on it, but every team is different.

Jan said...

I would like to suggest that the person asking the question visit Absolute Write message board and post the question there. Cathy Clamp posts there on a regular basis and she has written and published several books with a co-author. She may be able to offer you some insight.

Christa M. Miller said...

Another PJ... Parrish. Actually two sisters. They have a decent blog (http://pjparrish.blogspot.com/) but they don't post nearly enough IMO. However, their website is interesting. http://www.pjparrish.com/

Maya said...

And P.J. Tracy is a mother/daughter team. One imagines that a blood tie might help; if only because they're going to be related forever, which may provide incentive to work through any issues that arise. Or not. :)

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hannah Alexander is the pen name of husband/wife team Dr. Mel and Cheryl Hodder(hannahalexander.com) They seem to be very prolific as writers.

Bernita said...

Manning Coles was the pen name for a village duo (Adelaide Manning and Cyril Coles), who wrote the Thommy Hambleton series: No Entry, Not Negotiable, Green Hazard... about 25 espionage works together.
Carolyn's advice about a contract might well allay the natural legal concerns an agent/editor might have.It's an increasingly litigious world and publishing is a business.

harridan said...

I know of a few writing teams, mostly husband and wife.

Tori Carrington comes first to mind. I don't have their website on hand, but I assume it to be ToriCarrington.com They are wonderful, open people and you may be able to email them with some questions.

Also, author Beth Ciotta has a couple of books out with a female/unrelated writing partner. Together they write as C.B. Scott. Beth is at bethciotta.com and she has a link to their C.B site.

Again two very nice people who would probably be open to questions.

Best of luck

Some Editor said...

I've worked with several writer teams, and I've found it much easier to have just one point of contact. I really wouldn't want to have to make two calls or go through having to set up conference calls for every discussion.

Stacy said...

I work for a publishing house which frequently works with writer teams of up to 8 authors. Fortunately, they don't have to get together too often; some of them actually live in different countries and rarely meet.

At the beginning of the project, the author team chooses a book coordinator who is the point of contact for the editor, and performs some duties like collating comments on proofs that make the process a little less stressful. This person gets a bit more on their share of the profits, which is made clear to all the other authors, and frequently repeated.

Keeping good records is essential - the publisher, editor and the authors must be aware of who wrote how much of what, as the royalties will be split using this information - if one author wrote 75% of the book, and the other was playing the fool, this has to be documented so that when the contract is finally drawn up, there are no nasty surprises. It's a system that usually works well.

Of course, said author who was playing the fool may still need sedatives and refuse to sign because she is sure she did all the work on her own, and then create an embarassing scene. Publishing is fun.