How Does It Work to Coauthor Books?

Guest Post by Jo Noelle (Canda Mortensen)

Jo Noelle

Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids.

She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains.

Jo Noelle has lived in CO, UT, ID and CA. Oh, and she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.

Deanna Henderson and I coauthor romance novels under the pen name Jo Noelle. We have four published novels and two novelettes contributed to Sweet & Sassy Anthologies.

I think the question we get asked the most is, “How does it work to coauthor books?”

Well, it’s kind of like dancing.

That might bring up images of a ballroom filled with colorful formals, swirling around men in black tuxedos with perfectly synchronized steps.

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Or maybe your image is more like a mosh pit or any number of other scenes that could possibly be called dance. But whatever the image, I think they all work.

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Sometimes Deanna and I work with a carefully thought out plan, and sometimes we just go with whatever comes out of our discussion at the moment we type. It seems like the process changes with each story.  Some ways we have worked together are:

  • We each wrote independently on different stories, then when we got bored or stuck we traded and wrote on each other’s story. Then we revised and edited together.
  • We plotted together and sat side-by-side, working out every sentence and word choice.
  • We plotted together, wrote separately, revised together, edited separately.
  • At times we have picked scenes and roughed them out before we got together to write them into a story.

Whatever process we are using at the time, perhaps the most important part of coauthoring is listening to and respecting the contributions of the other person, as well as presenting the ideas you have yourself. We don’t agree on everything and have to hash things out sometimes. Other times we laugh ourselves silly while brainstorming ideas.

So: “How does it work to coauthor books?”

It depends on the book.

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About Bonnie Gwyn Johnson

Bonnie Gwyn handles all guest bloggers on this website. Contact her if you would like to volunteer your time to share writing advice for The Authors' Think Tank.