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Team Writing: Ten Tips for Developing a Writing Partnership

by Susan & Bill Albert, a Crime-writing Team

  1. Choose a partner who supports your strengths, complements your weaknesses. In this assessement, check your ego at the door.

  2. Discuss your working habits. Be clear about who will do what, when, and where. Be realistic. Tell all. Don’t keep secrets.

  3. Start with a small project before you launch into something large or long-term/permanent. When it’s finished, assess the product, the relationship, its productivity, its “feel.” Is it working for you? for your partner? If not, get a divorce right away. Don’t drag a dead partnership around for months and months!

  4. Develop a regular schedule for coordinating writing work with your partner—daily, weekly, bi-weekly, etc—and a reliable method: face-to-face, phone, E-mail, etc.

  5. Writing is a business as well as an art. Be clear about who handles what in the non-writing aspect of the partnership: agent relations, contract review, promotion, financial matters. Have regular discussions of these matters.

  6. Decide on your financial arrangements with your partner before you begin to write. Who gets how much? for what part of the product? when? by what method of payment? Is your split 50-50? 60-40? 70-30%? Put it in writing.

  7. Keep accurate, up-to-date records of your individual time and activities, your client contacts, business expenses, etc. Go over these records with your partner at some regular interval: monthly, every six weeks, quarterly.

  8. Dance with the one that brung you. Don’t solicit partnership clients without your partner’s knowledge.

  9. Trust your partner to competently do the work s/he has agreed to do. If you’re compelled to keep checking, maybe you should stay with a singles act.

  10. Consider more than one partnership for different kinds of work—non-fiction, other fiction projects, etc. If you go this route, let your partner know that the relationship isn’t monogamous.

Susan Wittig Albert's latest China Bayles mystery is entitled Mistletoe Man. Under the pseudonym of Robin Paige, she and her husband Bill Albert also write a series of Victorian mysteries. Look for Death at Whitechapel, available now.

Copyright 2000 Susan Wittig Albert and Bill Albert. All rights reserved.


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Last updated: 01/14/01