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Friday, March 16, 2012

Co-Authors and Contributing Writers ~ Ken Lambert

Guest Blog Post by author, Ken Lambert
Top Ten Most Influential Christians

How to work with a Co-author, and contributing writers

As the launch of our book, “Top Ten Most Influential Christians (since the Apostles)”, is nearly upon us, I have a few words of practical advice for any writer who is thinking about working with a co-author, or other contributing writers.

For a variety of reasons I decided that my best avenue to market (and to book sales) would be to work with an equal co-author.   After I had started an outline from my initial idea (a “Church History 101” for average churchgoers), I reached out to Abby Matzke.  Abby is the founder of a Christian magazine, and also writes and edits for the publication.  After some phone discussions, some email exchanges, and showing one another some of our published works, we both decided it was worth a try. 

We did sign a simple 1 page business agreement- which I would highly recommend.  It outlined the basic terms, including the fact that we were 50/50 equals on all decisions and in all fiscal matters.  Note that in some ways being a true “equal” can be dangerous in a partnership, but we took the chance and thus far it has worked out fine.

There are some reasons why working with a co-author is always a positive idea: 
  1. Brainstorming
  2. Initial first pass at editing
  3. Reduces the workload; divides in half
 In addition, if you are self-publishing, like we are, there are additional reasons, like:
  1. Doubles your potential sales, via their network and circles
  2. Lessens the upfront and other printing and publishing costs

But a fair warning:  having a co-author is not always a walk in the park.  You will not always agree, and you must be able to find resolutions and compromises at times.  In a manner similar to a marriage, two people will not think alike (or write alike) on every aspect- so there will be differences of opinion.  Whose opinion is correct, or most important?  How do disagreements get decided?  In our case, there were very few “battles”, and we managed to work it out fairly easily and quickly.  But, there were also a couple of anxious circumstances that would not have been the case if I had chosen to write it alone.

Another similar subject is that of infusing contributing writers within the book, which we did.  This was done for practical and marketing reasons, such as:
  1. Reduced the actual writing workload for Abby and I.
  2. Expanded the likely sales numbers via the friends, family and networks of those contributors
  3. Enhanced our book’s credibility, via selecting relevant and noteworthy contributing writers.  We are able to market that we have some significant “experts” in the subject matter- which in a nonfiction book is key

In using a healthy number of contributors, our roles shifted more towards compilation and editing than that of a true author.  That is good and bad, and we then had to deal with varying levels and styles of writing within the same book.  With more people to work with, there are inherent issues that will come up- as opposed to writing every chapter and paragraph yourself.

Overall, I am happy with the decision to both work alongside a co-author, as well as compiling other 3rd party contributing writers.  The pros have outweighed the cons, especially given the fact that I am a first-time (Christian genre) author, and am self-publishing.
The book is now available as an ebook ($4.95), and a print version ($9.95), via Visit our website at

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