Working With Writer Friends.

So if you've decided to pursue this weird life, you're going to end up making friends who are also writers. 

And if you make friends who are also writers, you're going to end up working with them to some extent. Whether it's actually co-writing something, or engaging in a shared promotion project like a book bundle, or putting together an anthology. It's going to happen.

And it's a good thing; part of the reason Tina and I teamed up was because we knew we could do more with our talents combined than we could separately. Your fellow writers are going to have different strengths and weaknesses than you do, and those will often end up being complementary.

But we are not always the easiest people to work with.

I've learned a few things working and interacting with other writers, and this is where I pass those things on to you.

The first thing I learned is to never provide critique on a piece of work unless invited to do so. Sharing your writing is for most people a hugely intimate act, and especially for new writers it can be hard to separate the work from the self. So I let the writer make the call on whether or not I critique their work. If someone hands me a piece of writing, I will read it and hand it back to them, saying thank you, I enjoyed the chance to read your work. And then, if they ask, or if critique was a part of the original agreement, then and only then do I give my opinion. 

Note: this entire situation can be circumvented by saying that you appreciate the offer but you don't really have time right now, but if you don't read other people's work, you'll find other people unlikely to be willing to take a look at yours.

I try to be slow to anger and quick to forgive when working with other authors. I think it can be easy to view things as a betrayal when we all feel so passionately about our work, and I think that if we think and talk before we get angry, then we'll all have better professional and amicable relationships.

I always remember that other writers will always prioritize their work/career/success over mine. These things aren't always mutually exclusive, but there are times when you'll think that we all have the same goals and priorities, and that turns out to not be the case. So it's important to keep in mind that if you give an author a choice to promote their own work or to promote a collaborative work, they will likely promote their own. If there is an expectation that they promote the collaborative work, then that needs to be explicitly stated and probably written into any kind of contract or other working agreement that you have. It's always better for all parties to know up front what their responsibilities are.

And finally, if things are just unworkable, I will always give up the working relationship before I give up the friendship. Because a working conflict doesn't always mean that the other writer is a shitbag person. Sometimes it just doesn't work out. And that's okay. But if you maintain the friendship, there might be a working relationship there in the future. And honestly, especially as indies, we're nothing without our friends.