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Is it Worth the Risks?
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Collaboration requires a double dose of self-discipline.

It can be difficult to meet production goals week after week, month after month. What if you or your collaborator suffer from writer's block, or if one of you proves to more efficient than the other? The history of collaboration is littered with manuscripts that never got finished because Writer A had to wait for Writer B to do his share of the work.

Collaboration can raise tricky legal issues.

Let's say that you and your collaborator have been working on a book together. Your collaborator doesn't hold up her end of the bargain, and you're forced to complete the manuscript on your own.

What happens if you sell that manuscript? Your collaborator may demand 50% of the advance and royalties--or, worse yet, your collaborator may refuse to accept the publisher's offer.

Bottom line: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

Before entering into a collaboration relationship, ask yourself if you'll really benefit from working with another writer. If the answer is "yes," your first collaboration effort should be a written letter of agreement that defines each partner's responsibilities, how any profits will be divided (typically 50/50), what can lead to termination of the relationship, and what will happen if the agreement is dissolved.

Ideally, you should have the agreement drafted by an attorney. If you choose to write it on your own, be sure that you've covered every possible eventuality so that neither of you will be stuck with a half-finished or unmarketable manuscript if the collaboration relationship doesn't work out.

- Durant Imboden

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