Writing with a partner

Current word count: 23,886

New words written: 811

Words til goal: 16,114 / 403 words a day til the end of September

Finished the chapter I was having some problems with this morning. Yay! Looking forward to getting a bunch more done this weekend.

But now, I have a treat: an interview with picture book author Doris Fisher who has a number of books on shelves, some she wrote by herself and some with a partner. I haven’t written with a partner, and I’ve wondered how it works. Does one write and another revise? Do both write during meetings together? Doris will fill us in.

First a little about Doris. She wrote her baby animal rhyming book Happy Birthday to Whooo? by herself, and she has a series of math picture books — One Odd Day, My Even Day and My Half Day — written with Dani Sneed.

Now, onto Doris:

Did you write your first book by yourself or with a partner?

I wrote my first published picture book, Happy Birthday to Whooo? by myself. It is baby animal birth announcements involving word play. Guess which animal has been born, then turn the page to see if the guess was correct. The words and illustrations provide hints.

How did you get together with your co-author, Dani Sneed, for the math books?

My co-author, Dani Sneed, and I had been going to conferences and children’s writing events together for three years. In that time, I discovered I could write rhyme and write it well. Dani had written a math book about odd numbers in paragraphs. One day, she asked me to try to write it in rhyme. Luckily, it rolled right out and became our first book together, One Odd Day, about odd numbers.

How did you and Dani work on the picture books? Did you write only when you were together, or did one write, the other revise?

Because I was writing the entire book in rhyme, by myself, Dani and I got together when the stanzas were basically complete in a first draft and discussed the meter, rhyme and the beginning, middle and end of the book. It was a lot of fun for both of us. She provided the idea and the text, while I put her words into verse. Of course, we went back and forth a lot, until it was what we both wanted.

Our first book, One Odd Day, led to the requests from our publisher, Sylvan Dell, for our following books, My Even Day and My Half Day. They introduce odd numbers, even numbers and fractions. They are not textbooks, but math with a laugh!

What are the differences between writing a picture book by yourself as opposed to writing as a team? Are there benefits/challenges to each?

 When you write with someone, you consider each other’s ideas and comments. The book is not totally your own. Patience and diplomacy are good qualities to have for this type of team work. Give and take and cooperate!

The benefit to writing alone is a complete feeling when finished. With a co-author, there may always be changes and suggestions made in the text, by one of the authors. Co-authorship is fun, but not for everyone.  

On the other hand, two creative minds are always better than one!

What advice do you have for writers who are writing, or considering writing, with a partner? 

Be sure to lay out the groundwork for partnership. How the income will be split, the expenses, the submitting, the author events (hopefully to come) and unexpected bumps in the road. 50/50 for everything is usually expected by a publisher, otherwise, the payments, etc., become too complicated.

Be aware of differences in writing habits, amount of time devoted to the project and the determination to succeed of your partner. Hopefully, both authors have similar goals for the book.

Thanks so much, Doris. Great books and great info.

Anyone else writing with a partner? How are your experiences? Got any other advice or comments?

Write On!

5 Responses

  1. Janet Fox says:

    Great interview!

  2. Brit says:

    This is a great interview!

    I know of someone who writes with a partner for screenplays for film and a TV show. I always meant to ask how that works, so this is very interesting to me! Thanks!

  3. I’m glad you guys found it interesting. Doris has some great advice.


  4. Vonna Carter says:

    This was nice; I haven’t seen an interview on this subject before.

  5. Great interview with Doris Fisher. I have co-written several books and Doris’s remarks about setting goals/expectations for the writing team resonated!Great blog/website Amanda. Good luck meeting your writing goals!

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