When you agree to write a book with another author, you’re agreeing to collaboration and, in some instances, compromise. Collaboration and compromise are similar, yet they are very different. When you compromise you may give up or reluctantly agree to changes.
Though compromise can resolve short-term conflict, it can also be frustrating for an author. If we’re honest, we admit that we don’t want to give in or up because we believe in ourselves.
Blake Flannery explains compromise in his Internet article, “Conflict Resolution to Improve Relationships: Compromise and Collaboration.” He thinks compromise is a process of meeting in the middle. “You don’t need a good working relationship to compromise,” he comments.
Collaboration is different, according to Flannery. It takes longer than compromise and builds on diversity. Nobody gives up and everyone provides input. “Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision,” he advises.
James Robertson shares workplace tips in his Internet talk, “Ten tips for Succeeding at Collaboration,” posted on the Slideshow website. His first tip: Someone needs to take ownership. Other tips address preconditions, boundaries, relationships, and support. His last tip; Don’t forget this is all about people.”
Intermediate District 287 in Plymouth, Minnesota developed a Collaboration Checklist for teachers. The list is posted on its Practical Resources for Education Professionals Center (PREP) website. ’m a teacher turned writer and read the list with this life experience in mind. Education professionals are asked to rank their collaboration skills.
Numeral one means “I have trouble with this.” Numeral two means “I don this reasonably well.” Numeral three means “I see this as a strength of mine.” The ranking system and checklist made me think about the collaboration skills co-authors bring to a project. Are you good at collaboration? Use the same ranking system to find out.
Co-Author’s Collaboration Skills Checklist
1 2 3 I understand who owns the book idea. (Owning is not the same as joint copyrighting.)
1 2 3 I helped to set the ground rules for this project.
1 2 3 I try to keep us on schedule and moving forward.
1 2 3 I listen to my co-author and try not to interrupt.
1 2 3 I ask my co-author to explain if I don’t understand something.
1 2 3 I do all I can to stay focused on the topic.
1 2 3 I am respectful of my co-author’s time.
1 2 3 I often compliment my co-author.
1 2 3 I keep my eyes on the goal: producing a top-notch book.
1 2 3 I find joy in the work and collaboration.
Don’t be discouraged about your low numbers. Co-authoring a book is a skill that develops as your personal relationship develops and the manuscript progresses. Establishing work rules and boundaries ahead of time will make collaboration easier.