Sharing Sandcastles: Professional Collaboration in Publishing

watching the clock~ By J. A. Coffey

As summer draws to a close and the tide ebbs on lonely, abandoned beaches, I’m reminded of how Anne Lamott described writers in Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life:

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand.”

Much like these lonely beaches, writing can be a solitary business, doubly so for those who pursue indie publishing as a career. But rather than looking at each work as an individual construct trying to withstand the tides, what happens when authors form professional friendships to create a more solid foundation?

The premise is the same. Each author labors at building their arsenal of stories, a series of castles in the sand. But instead of standing alone, the castles become linked, grouped in a network that overlaps. That is the art of sharing. Those powerful collaborations can propel us further faster than we could do for ourselves.

Some ways that authors collaborate:

  • Product—Whether you choose inclusion in a boxed set, coauthoring a novel, participating in anthologies or creating traveling tale woven in episodes, authors can cross promote through sharing their creative work in combinations to entice readers.
  • Promotions—Blog hops, tours, bundled giveaways or cross promotion of new releases are all ways that authors can work together to increase and enhance readership. A successful sales technique is to build “brand trust” by offering readers either what they want or directing them where they can go to get what they want. If you don’t have a new release ready to promote, why not form a professional collaboration to offer readers something until you do? Authors who cross-promote with “trusted” brands have more to offer because they create a network of available products with which to entice readers.
  • Price tags—You’ve heard the adage that many hands makes light work? When authors form professional collaborations, they often share expenses such as formatting, covers, promotional ads, digital image subscriptions or prizes. For example, I recently participated on a promotion that netted several hundred romance newsletter subscribers for the cost of a $10 contribution to a prize pot.

How can you leverage professional friendships to boost your career?

  • First, identify authors you respect, trust and enjoy. While similar styles, heat levels and topics may be best, sometimes variety can work to your advantage.
  • Next, identify and approach targeted authors with a single concept for collaboration. Is it a boxed set? A joint tour? Think of this as a trial period. Explain your concept, intentions and their necessary contribution.
  • Third, determine if you are well-suited to ongoing professional collaboration and why? Does each of you bring something to the table? Is there a strength a collaborator possesses that fills a need in your own skill set? The key is to “complete” each other, not compete. How can you share the work to benefit all?
  • Finally, approach with caution. Collaborations may not be for everyone. Don’t take it personally if an author isn’t interested. And don’t be afraid to turn down future collaborations if the offer doesn’t suit your goals or timeframe.

The best professional friendships will continue to change and grow. Remember that just like a true partnership, there may be some pitfalls, but the benefits can shore up author platforms in an isolating industry. Ensure you have protected yourself and your interests by starting off small and working up towards larger collaborations as you gain experience. And keep building those sandcastles.

J.A. Coffey’s books are both sizzling and heartwarming with compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. HELL ON HEELS is the latest release in her Southern Seductions series and she has a new novella, A Daring Desire, slated for January 2016 in Carly Phillip’s “Dare to Love” Kindle World.

A complete cupcake addict, when she isn’t writing or reading, she can be found in trying to convert her front lawn to an edible landscape, test baking desserts, or “feathering her nest” with spruced up flea market finds. J.A. is currently working on her latest novel and trying not to get cupcake batter on her keyboard. She loves to keep in touch. Catch up to her on the web at or on her Facebook Author page.

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