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17 Questions to Answer with a Co-Writer or Collaborator

co-writer, collaboratorA loyal reader recently posted a question on my most recent blog post about co-writing a book. In his case, he’s written blog posts and the potential co-writer who approached him, a professional writer, would be turning them into book form. In addition to my reader’s question about a fair way to divide profits, there are many questions to answer with a co-writer or collaborator–to help insure that the collaboration stays positive and beneficial to both parties and to get the results you are both looking for.

I know this from experience as I co-wrote my first book with two brilliant women, Peaco Todd and Jane Middelton-Moz. We had our challenges but we also had thought through most of the important questions and challenges that could come up in co-writing a book.

Here are 17 questions to answer with a co-writer or collaborator Share on X

anger book written with co-writers
When Peaco Todd, Jane Middelton-Moz and I collaborated in co-writing this book, we brainstormed the issues that might come up and developed a process to address each one.
  1. Who is responsible for writing each chapter, section, etc. (be specific)
  2. Who is responsible for research?
  3. Who is responsible for providing ideas and content behind the book?
  4. How do we insure an even tone we both agree on?
  5. If we disagree on content or wording, how do we reach consensus? (what process do we use?)
  6. How will we market the book? (Have a very specific, detailed plan.)
  7. Who will implement each aspect of marketing?
  8. How much time will we each put into the project? Will this be equal or what will be the ratio?
  9. What kind of pace does each of us want to work at and how will that work?
  10. Does one person bring more expertise, credentials, connections or other benefits to the project? Is there a way to measure that?
  11. What are the anticipated expenses, including editing, proofreading, design, publishing (if self publishing) and marketing?
  12. Who will pay for those expenses or how will you divide them?
  13. What would be a fair distribution of royalties? (What do each of you want? What feels fair based on all the answers above?)
  14. What other ventures are likely to come from the book?
  15. Who owns the intellectual property?
  16. If you want to use the content in other ventures (teleseminars, webinars, speaking, courses), how will you develop these other ventures and how will those ventures be structured? (collaborative/not collaborative?)
  17. Will you need to compensate each other if one of you wants to use the book content for other ventures.

Are you thinking of collaborating on a book, you may want to read “Should I have a co-author?” which details the pros and cons of collaborating on a book.

Did I leave anything out? Share any additional suggestions below as a comment. Or feel free to share additional questions you have about co-writing a book or collaborating with a writer.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions


  1. Barbara Ganim says

    This was a great blog post. You identified the most important questions writers need to consider when they are going to work with a co-writer on a book project. Even if this isn’t the first book they’ve written together, it’s still important to answer the questions you posed, each time they start a new project.

    These questions are even more essential for co-writers who are close friends. It’s easy to let assumptions get in the way of clear and open communication. In the case of collaborating with a close friend, I would recommend that they take the time to write the questions down on paper, and then write their answers down as well. It might also be helpful to have each person sign and date a copy of the questions and answers, and file it for future misunderstandings. This is the only way to clarify miscommunication as it occurs. The closer the friends, the greater the possibility is that there will not only be misunderstandings, but also unspoken expectations as the project progresses.

    I co-wrote Visual Journaling: Going Deeper Than Words, (Quest Books, 1999) with Susan E. Fox, my best friend of nearly 50 years. This was the first experience either of us had co-writing a book. Although we had no idea what to expect when we got into this project, we had a wonderful time working together. However, there were some difficult experiences we hadn’t anticipated. If these questions had been available to us back then, taking the time to answer them would have made this project so much easier. We are now working on a sequel to that first visual journaling book. This one is called Visual Journaling With Your Best Friend: The Friendship Memoir Project. You can be sure we will be using your questions and recording our responses, so there will be no miscommunication or unexpressed expectations as we continue on with this project.

    Thank you for all your great insights,

    • Lisa Tener says

      Thank you for weighing in Barbara,
      That’s a good point–with friends it’s easy to think you don’t need an agreement, but it can be even more important to have an agreement with a friend, so that it never gets personal and misunderstandings are nipped in the bud.

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