My guest blogger today is author Sally Shields, who’s going to explain how to fix three common mistakes when you collaborate on a project with someone else.
But first, I want to tell you that RIGHT NOWwe are all celebrating the official launch of Sally Shields’ new and highly acclaimed book, The Collaborator Rules!
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Now here’s Sally with tips to get you started–
3 Big Mistakes You Can Make in Collaboration and How to Correct Them
by Sally Shields
Writing is a lonely and difficult business. When you’re all alone with a computer in the middle of the night and you can’t decide if your character should get married or throw herself under a double-decker bus, it would be nice to have someone to ask. When you’re pretty sure that what you’ve just written is either the worst rubbish any mind ever conceived or a stroke of Shakespearian genius, you might feel the need for a second opinion. When you know exactly how the screenplay starts and how it ends but you’re missing that teensy part called “the middle,” the thought may well cross your mind that what you need is—a collaborator!
Lots of writers work with collaborators. From screenwriting comedy teams to textbook authors, writing is not always best done alone, wallowing in self-pity. And so, many innocent, doe-eyed writers enter into collaboration, without thoroughly considering the consequences of this monumental decision. If your writing is important to you, you must make sure that the collaboration is right for you. And when you do find someone who seems to be that perfect partner, is it always smooth sailing? Absolutely not!
Below are three mistakes that you can make inadvertently when collaborating, and some of the steps that you can take to avoid them, and safeguard yourself from potential disaster. Let’s begin.
1. Mistake #1:
Rely on friendship to carry you through a collaborative process
Solution: Never trust anything to smiling handshakes (no matter how much you like your collaborator!). Co-authoring is a HUGE nightmare if one party ends up working harder than the other, or not delivering content promptly, or if your collaborator suddenly does a 180 and ends up boiling a bunny. (For those of you innocent bunnies who were born after 1987, consider adding “Fatal Attraction” to your Netflix queue.)
Fail to copyright your original work
Solution: You have a great idea for a project, (or, if you’re the one who came up with The BIG IDEA), write it down, work on it as much as you can on your own, and apply for a copyright with the US Copyright office. It doesn’t matter how raw a form it’s in, this is your brainchild, your hobbyhorse, your magnum opus, your intellectual property, and anything else that comes from it can be labeled a derivative work and will safeguard you from any future parties who may try to claim your efforts as their own.
The main points are (1) that ideas can be and are easily stolen and (2) writers must protect themselves. Although you cannot copyright ideas, you can copyright expressions of ideas i.e., writings, drawings, musical compositions, etc.—tangible forms or expressions of this nature. So if you have a great idea, write about it and register it for copyright protection. However, someone else can also write about that same idea and register the copyright provided he or she doesn’t express it the exact same way you did. As well, copyright exists from the time of its creation, so if you have a great idea and write about it, the time of its conception should be documented on your computer. Then be circumspect; discuss it only with those you completely trust and keep those discussions to the bare minimum until you’ve reduced it to paper and registered it with the US Copyright Office.
Get sloppy with your email communication
Solution: Communication in which human beings would get in the same place and speak in such a way that they could hear each other directly. True story! Then Albert Einstein or Marie Curie or one of those smart inventor types (Edison?) came up with a new tool. It was called a “telephone.” Now, people could talk to each other without leaving home, and without having to smell each other’s cooking! Later, everyone started sending emails. You don’t have to see anyone, you don’t have to talk to them. It’s perfect, right? LOL! However, one of the great dangers of email is that it’s too fast. Case in point: you read a message from your collaborator suggesting you revise the third chapter. You, on the other hand, think it’s a masterpiece. Also, the third section is in your area of expertise and your collaborator knows nothing about it. Not only that, but you stipulated in your original written scope of work that the third episode was solely your responsibility. So you fire off an email: “3rd. chap fine, leave it.” Guess how much respect your collaborator feels from this missive? Guess how nicely she feels about it. Maybe you meant it in funny way, so you added a smiley. Think that caused her to grin? Think again. Once the context of full human communiqué is stripped away, meaning is lost. You have to go out of your way out to explain what you mean, to imagine yourself receiving the email. Is it truly clear? Is it respectful?
Learn more in Sally’s new book. Please share this offer with your friends and family. It’s easy… just share this blog post with your social media lists and they can get in on the many gifts we have made available for them today: http://www.collaboratorrules.com/specialoffer
your happiness guru,