Q & A: Collaborative Writing & Editing

Categories: Academic Writing Month, Focus Series, Other, Publishing, Writing and Editing


Using the tag #AcWriMo, writers around the world discuss their goals and progress, and share resources throughout November.  Find the entire series here. If you log into MethodSpace, you will be subscribed and receive new posts by email.

Lots of questions were posed during the Write a Book! From Acquisition to Publication webinar. Find responses on MethodSpace by following the Q & A tag. Use the comment area to area to add your questions about writing and publishing books.

What about collaboration?

A couple of people asked about collaborative writing and editing:

  • How is the process different when you co-author a book?
  • How is the process different for edited books where every chapter is by a different author?

See this Q & A post for MethodSpace posts and links to SAGE Research Methods resources for co-authors and co-editors.

These questions point to the need for two different skill sets: 1) writing together, and 2) organizing and managing projects. In general, co-authoring is more about collaborative writing and co-editing is more about managing a book project. However, there are a lot of overlaps, because co-authors might need to allocate time to the management of the project and co-editors might write introductions or contribute chapters. As it happens, I am completing two different co-authored books and have also co-edited books, so would like to discuss the practical side of collaboration constructs.

Each of us is a part of many groups, the term I will use broadly to include the many identities and affiliations that characterize who we are, and how we work. These can include:

  • Discipline: Such as education, business, sociology, humanities.
  • Field or Profession: the kind of work we do within (or across) disciplines. Within the discipline of education, for example, we have a wide range of fields and professions, from grade school teachers to university professors, superintendents to college presidents, instructional designers to educational technologists.
  • Culture: In addition national and ethnic cultures, we are part of organizational, institutional, disciplinary, or professional cultures.

When we collaborate within familiar groups, we can rely on common understandings and ways of doing things. We speak the same language, and we use the same acronyms. We can refer to familiar literature or knowledge frameworks. If we are in the same institution, we might have access to the same software and technology tools we all know how to use. In such a small, intragroup collaboration, we can just jump in and get to work on the project at hand.

When we start crossing boundaries, the just-jump-in approach might not be enough. We’ll need:

  • Time to define our goals and the purpose of the project,
  • Time to determine our roles and expectations,
  • Consideration for leadership or shared leadership,
  • Agreements about the logistics of the work, including:
    • meetings, live or online,
    • communication forms and timing,
    • external communication with the editors, and others associated with book publication,
    • decision-making,
    • meanings for discipline-specific terminology,
    • use of tools such as shared folders or team platforms,
    • styles and formats for drafts,
    • review protocols to ensure respectful feedback, and
    • checkpoints to make sure the project is proceeding as planned.

I’ll be discussing strategies for peer collaboration across boundaries in a TAA member webinar. After the webinar, I will post notes and tips here on MethodSpace. Sign up to join in!

Logo for Textbook and Academic Authors Association
Practical Strategies for Collaborating With Peers
Date: Tuesday, December 3, 2-3 pm ET, global time zones
Click here to register
Non-members: Join TAA. Please note that the Textbook and Academic Authors Association is offering webinar attendees and MethodSpace readers a $10 off for membership discount using the promo code SAGEAWM at www.taaonline.net/join. You can also do a trial membership. You can also do a trial membership.

Relevant MethodSpace Posts

Leave a Reply