How Collaboration Can Make You A Better Writer
I don’t make a secret of the fact that I credit my writing group with making me a better writer. I’ve written and posted a lot about how other writers can provide invaluable critique and encouragement, but what about the idea of collaboration?
Can a truly collaborative project make you an even better writer? Can working together on one project bring out the best in each other’s work? Can collaboration kickstart your author platform and open publishing opportunities?
The short answer in my experience is: ‘Yes’ to all of the above.
Fifteen heads are better than…
Nearly twelve months ago, I attended GenreCon – a leading genre fiction conference held in Brisbane by the Queensland Writers Centre. A light-hearted dinner conversation about our different writing projects sparked an idea for a collaborative, multi-genre anthology. We chose the common setting of ‘lighthouses’ for our anthology after one writer mentioned her real-life interest in lighthouses.
We saw the anthology as an opportunity to get our work out into the world and have some fun.
Each member of the initial group invited at least one other genre writer they knew to join the project and in no time we had fifteen writers on board.
A ‘Collaborative’ Anthology
Most anthologies, writers are familiar with, have a submission or application process, driven by the person or organisation planning on publishing the anthology. Typically, writers are invited to submit their story for consideration, and their work may or may not be selected for inclusion.
The authors featured in this kind of anthology usually engage directly with the ‘publisher’ about their work. It’s not uncommon for the writer to be unaware of who the other featured writers are, or have any communication with them.
A collaborative anthology such as ‘Lighthouse’ employs a different approach.
It works on the assumption that everyone in the group will have their story published (as long as it meets agreed quality guidelines) and will work collaboratively with the group members to review and edit each other’s work.
In practical terms our collaboration consisted of:
- A private Facebook group for discussion, information sharing and decision making
- Assigned editing buddies (each writer had two buddies within the group who reviewed their work before it went to the Lead Editor). There were two rounds of editing buddy and Lead Editor feedback
- Proofreaders (each writer was assigned two proofreaders who weren’t their buddies)
- Final review/checks by Lead Editor and Project Team.
In total each story was reviewed by a minimum of six people within the group.
The Value of Multiple Sets of Eyes
Having multiple people review each story, meant there was a better chance of spotting any potential issues with a story, but more importantly it meant getting different perspectives.
Of the fifteen authors, we had crime, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian and speculative fiction writers. Each writer had their own individual strengths and brought something new to the stories they reviewed.
We had established rules of engagement at the beginning of the project, to ensure all feedback was given respectfully and was constructive. The result was that each writer and story evolved to be its best.
The collaborative editing process also saw writers hone their editing skills. I for one, recognised common issues with my own writing and learned, from other writers, how to avoid those same issues in the future.
Spur Each Other On
Our team approach to this project meant each person took on a role in marketing the anthology. Some writers who hadn’t had a chance to set up their author platforms yet, felt motivated to do it for the anthology, so they wouldn’t let the team down.
The group encouraged and supported each other’s marketing efforts, sharing and engaging with group member posts and content.
Being part of an anthology sees your core marketing team go from one person to the whole group – in our case we have fifteen people supporting and cheering the rest of the group on.
The Results Are In…
For me, collaborating with other authors has definitely been a rewarding experience. The proof, I believe, is in the final product – our anthology.
Lighthouse, published by Lorikeet Ink, is now available to purchase. To secure your copy go to www.lorikeetink.com/lighthouse
Lighthouse – An Anthology, is a unique collection of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, crime, historical fiction, dystopian and paranormal short stories from established and emerging Australian authors.
Each of the fifteen stories is set in a lighthouse – some real lighthouses readers will recognise, others imagined.