Tips for Co-Writing a Book

Categories: Academic Writing Month, Tools and Resources, Writing and Editing

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November is Academic Writing Month #AcWriMo at Methodspace! The theme of week five is: Publishing and Presenting. This guest post by Steven E. Wallis, PhD and Bernadette Wright, PhD describes lessons learned from their co-authoring a book. Practical Mapping for Applied Research and Program Evaluation will be published by SAGE in 2018.

writing togetherWe are currently writing a new research textbook for SAGE focused on accelerating the practical benefits of research through knowledge mapping. Here are a few tips for emerging book authors based on our success in this endeavor aimed at revolutionizing research:

  1. Find something worth saying – then say it!
  2. Gain broad experience by writing in the academic world as well as writing for practitioners.
  3. Create and build a relationship with co-authors by working on multiple projects together.
  4. Be sure that you appreciate each other’s knowledge and productivity (this is not a high school project where one person can shoulder the load while the whole team gets credit).
  5. Also be able to accept each other’s insight, feedback, and suggestions (sometimes challenging, but ultimately beneficial to the project).
  6. Be highly motivated to make the world a better place, so your writing project is a top priority in your life!
  7. When working with a co-author, email frequently to hand work to one another – and review each other’s work.
  8. Talk on the phone to consider deep and challenging questions. We like collaborations because two minds are better than one and those challenging ideas lead to new insights that our readers appreciate.

Our proposal included an outline – a detailed table of contents. The first step was to create a new doc for each chapter, and place the relevant outline text into each doc. That makes it easier to “fill in the blanks.” Each person serves as a kind of “primary author” for certain chapters. And participates fully in the other chapters. There is plenty of back-and-forth as drafts are emailed, revised, and re-revised. So, a consistent system is critical for file names and keeping track of who is doing what. We’ve been using Dropbox to organize files of chapters (and related documents).


Learn more about Wallis’ and Wrights work here.


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