Dynamic Duo: The Adventures of Caped Co-Authors
by Geoff Habiger & Coy Kissee
We’ve all seen the memes and jokes on social media. Being an author is great except for…editing, re-writes, plot holes, characters who misbehave, marketing, dealing with writer’s block, and the list goes on and on. We laugh, maybe a little self-consciously, because deep down we know there is a little grain of truth in the humor. Being an author can be hard, but being a co-author is actually great, at least in our opinions. We have a built-in support network when we write, and we are able to keep each other going and avoiding many of the potential pitfalls commonly faced by an author who is doing it solo. We don’t claim that we don’t face the same problems, or suffer the same fears (marketing anyone? *shudder*). By writing as a team, we can more easily overcome the obstacles when they crop up.
Division of Labor
We have known each other since high school, and this really helps in our writing. We started out doing game design together, developing role-playing games, and card and board games. This allowed us to develop our skills while working together and made it so that when we started writing fiction, we knew what our strengths and weaknesses were. Geoff is the creative one and does the bulk of the initial draft for each story, while Coy is the one that keeps Geoff on track and the continuity flowing. Geoff is not an editor (he’s never met a comma that he either put in the wrong place or didn’t put where it belonged) while proofreading and story continuity are Coy’s strengths. Once Geoff has drafted the story, Coy can go through and make sure everything works – the characters stay true to who they are, and the story and dialogue flows. Once that is done, we sit down at our respective computers (Coy lives in Kansas City, while Geoff is in Albuquerque) and through the magic of video calls, we then read the story aloud and edit again as we go. Our strengths are very complimentary and when we work together it is like our powers merge and we become super-writers.
While we each have our strengths, which help us be better authors and (we feel) put out great stories, we also share many duties. This includes marketing and promotion as well as developing story ideas. We both work to get the word out about our books through social media, our own network of friends, family, and acquaintances, and performing author appearances. Between the two of us, we can draw from a larger pool of potential readers, and we can attend in-person events in different parts of the country. We are able to get together several times a year to attend larger events (like the larger comic cons) and we use this time to develop new story ideas. In this way, we become sounding boards for each other, tossing out story and character ideas, and plot out the basic outline for a story, which we can then work on when we are back at our respective homes. This allows us to continually develop stories for our different book series, as well as any solo projects we are working on.
You Can Be A Super-Writer
What can you do to get the same super powers that we enjoy? Well, the simplest thing would be to find another writer and start writing together. Become your own writing dynamic duo. But we know that this may not work for all authors. What’s the solo hero to do? Why, you join a superhero team, of course! Like the Avengers or the Justice League, you can join with a group of fellow authors and combine your powers. Whether you find a group online or in person, joining an author group has many benefits. You’re joining a group of like-minded people that you can use to work through those pesky plot holes, writer’s blocks, and misbehaving characters. An author group is also a ready group of beta readers for your story. But beyond the basic concepts of support that a great author group provides, you can also benefit in other areas. Authors in a group can cross-market their books for each other, building upon each other’s social networks and newsletter lists. This benefits all the writers in the group. You can also pitch in to share a booth or table at a large book fair or convention, sharing the cost for the booth and working together to sell your books. Having multiple authors at a booth can help to bring traffic to your booth, as the availability of a wider selection of titles has the possibility of appealing to more people. Once a potential buyer stops to look at one title, you can then pitch all of your titles, potentially increasing everyone’s sales.
Many authors are quite successful working their craft alone, but we have found that working together has made us better authors than either one of us could be on our own. Working with a co-author can be challenging, especially if both authors are attempting to steer the ship in different directions, but when authors have complementary skill sets and are able to work together, then the final result can truly be something heroic.