Friday, May 8, 2015

More than just's CO-EVERYTHING!

Welcome to Part Three of Jen and Gail's Amazing Adventures in Co-Writing! We’re walking you step-by-step through our experiences co-authoring the new middle grade series You’re Invited, which launches later this month with Simon & Schuster/Aladdin M!X.

Last week, Part One, which covered the concept and sale of the series, went up on Amy Trueblood's blog. Part Two, which covered the drafting process, ran on Kidliterari and now I’ll (hey, it’s Jen this time. *waves*) wrap things up by chatting co-authoring revision and promotion.


So far we’ve been a happy twosome, but here’s where we add in a third person--our editor. Luckily, we have a great one who earnestly uses words like awesomesauce, which is very endearing! When we get our edit letter, we typically read through it a few times together and identify areas we’ll each tackle. It’s a no-brainer if the note pertains to a specific character because whoever wrote that character will handle that revision. It gets trickier when the comments are broader and relate to an overarching storyline. We generally try to divvy those up as fairly as possible, discuss possible solutions together on the phone or via text, and then retreat to handle our own assigned edits. We work in GoogleDocs so that we can easily see what changes each person has made and can even work simultaneously in one document.  I won’t lie though, from my perspective, this is one of the more difficult aspects because it’s hard enough for me to keep a story straight and remember what I did and didn’t cut during revisions when there’s only one hand in the cookie jar. I find that I do full rereads more frequently than I do when working on my solo manuscripts, just to keep the thread of it all. Copyedits and first pass pages also take a bit longer than they do on single-author projects (at least for us) because we do them together on the phone. Copy editor queries that one person working alone would “okay” pretty quickly often get discussed and debated. But that’s okay. Because where this might take more work, the trade-off is more than worth it, especially when it comes to the next part, which is promotion.


It can be pretty “icky” to promote your own book, shouting out into the great wilderness about something that feels so intimate. BUT with two of us, it somehow seems more organic. I worry less about coming across as arrogant (which, trust me, I’m an author so… no) because I can praise all of Gail’s contributions to the story while glossing right over mine. Plus, I don’t want to let her down by not doing my fair share of promotion and publicity so that spurs me on during periods when I feel shy or (worse) “overpromote-y”, as I’ve so eloquently named it. Also, I should note, it’s exceedingly nice to share the cost of swag. Although we have a lot of the same friends in our online writing communities, because we live in different parts of the country (Kentucky and Massachusetts) we can cover a lot of geographic area between the two of us taking to the road separately in support of one book.  Also, if you thought one proud mama was a force to be reckoned with, just add in another. The whole world probably has a You’re Invited bookmark by now. Thanks, Mom(s).

In all, the experience of co-writing has been so positive I now understand firsthand why so many authors are embracing it. I hope I get to write a million more books with Gail and one day I may even cheat on her with another co-writer. Though she may have spoiled me…

Hey, so speaking of promotion, Gail and I are running a pre-order contest through May 25th. Order a copy of You’re Invited in any format (paperback, hardcover, or ebook) and let us know. In exchange, we’ll give you your choice of fun stuff (an MP3 of a song one of our characters wrote, a query critique, or a Behind the Scenes annotation which lets you in on more secrets that went into the writing of our book) plus you’ll be entered into a grand prize for even more swag and cool things—like naming a character in You’re Invited Too (out in February) after you or the child of your choice. *crosses fingers said child isn’t named Snarflegus. More details are my website and Gail's website.

Thanks for joining us and feel free to leave any questions on co-writing below!

You're Invited cover high res
You’re Invited

Four best friends start a party-planning business in this fresh, funny tween novel from the authors of At Your Service and Breaking the Ice.

Twelve-year-old Sadie loves helping her mom with her wedding planning business, and with Sadie’s mad organizational skills, she’s a natural! That’s why it’s so devastating when her mother “fires” her after a Little Mermaid–themed wedding goes awry.

Enter Sadie’s best friends: sporty Vi, ace student Lauren, and boy-crazy Becca. The girls decide that in order to get Sadie’s mom to reconsider, they have to make her see how amazing Sadie is at party planning. Except no one’s gonna hire a twelve-year-old to plan a wedding. A birthday party, though? Definite possibility.

Before long, RSVP—your one-stop shop for the most creative parties in town—is born. Of course, Sadie can’t wait to prove herself to her mom, but the other girls also have their reasons for enlisting: Vi has her eye on the perfect gift for her hardworking dad, and Becca’s all aflush at the thought of connecting with Ryan, the new Irish cutie in town. And though Lauren thinks she’s too busy with summer studies to “officially” join, she’s willing to help out in any way she can.

But in this particular party-planning business, nothing goes according to plan! Sadie’s mom is a perpetual no-show, Vi’s archrival is dead set on ruining her summer, Becca can’t seem to get Ryan to glance in her direction, and Lauren keeps choosing studying over her friends. Is the girls’ friendship strong enough to survive a business? Or does RSVP spell the end of these BFFs?

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