At the beginning of the year, a friend of mine told me she had agreed to collaborate with a male published author on his current book They were acquaintances and he said he was having difficulty with his storyline. They’d hit it off and it seemed like a great opportunity
Then I was slightly envious, but wished her well and said, ‘let me know how it goes.’ I could see the benefits, she was working with a published author, one who knew the ropes and had several books published. She would gain a co-author credit and a chance to get her name known.
Last week she told me the deal had turned sour for her. He was now changing the characters that she had created and dismissing her input. From what she said her contribution was roughly half of the book, but he was claiming the credit for it all.
Their combined story was a detective novel -the villain and his family were her ideas, as were the victims. He wrote the detective. She now says he has taken her work and is claiming that she gave it to him. She also said that she had emails from him acknowledging her input.
I asked for opinions from a writer’s forum that I belong to and it turned out that her experience was not uncommon.
The advice was if you do collaborate – have a contract drawn up specifying what each person will contribute and how that work will be recognised. Who is responsible for which part of the book, its promotion, marketing etc.
They didn’t say but I would think that even if you are working with a friend it wouldn’t hurt to draw up an agreement between you. After all, friends have been known to fall out.It need not be too formal, even an email agreeing who will do what might be sufficient.
Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer, I am simply expressing what I think is a common sense view. If you have any doubts you should consult a writers’ organisation or a lawyer familiar with creative contracts.