1. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    Is it weird that I want a co-author?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sarvoth, Jun 20, 2011.

    I am curious if anyone finds it weird that I am looking for a co-author. I have been wrestling with a story world for over a decade now. It started off with me and my at the time, best friend, working on it together. We would go back and forth on chapters. Things ended up bad for me and my friend after a while and I adopted the story since and have been improving on it over time, but have never finished any actual work to present to anyone. It is a huge backdrop, that moves with a family lineage through multiple worlds. It is high fantasy and involves a lot of history.

    While I have this wonderful story that is just itching to be presented, I got the most done and felt the most creativity when working with a like minded person on it.

    I almost feel like I need that again to finish it and that if I just do it on my own it will be missing something. Is this odd? Should I just give up trying to find a co-author and do it on my own?

    By the way, I am new poster, but old time lurker of this community. I am going to try and figure out something here and hope those wiser than me can help. I don't want to go to the grave without telling this story somehow.

    Thanks for reading.
     
  2. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's okay to work with someone else.

    A problem I foresee in your case is that you have already been working on this story with a co-author, therefore if you do find another co-author and manage to finish this book and get it published, you may have problems with copyright from your original co-author. It's worth thinking about.
     
  3. CottonCandi
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    CottonCandi Active Member

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    I know what you mean Sarvoth. It does seem to be easier with two heads better than one and I don't think it's odd at all. I had a friend I was working with but we had differences and we split. Now we don't talk at all and all over a stupid book. Try it yourself for awhile and see how it goes. Good luck!
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    No one can tell you for sure what you should do.

    But since you asked, from my perspective, since the work is nearly finished, and if it is complex and filled (world/history wise) who would know it as well as you? What could the person add? How long would it take them to get up to speed? If they suggested something, would you be more often than not saying, "Yeah, but..."

    Finish the work on your own. Then proof read/edit/revise to get it as smooth and well-written as you can make it. Find a reader or two that you trust--well read, or writers, or both that can tell you what they feel is working and what needs attention. Take in their opinions, evaluate and modify if what they say makes sense to you. Then iron out any minor concerns you may yet find--then seek representation (an agent) or begin the submission process directly to publishers (editors).

    While you're waiting, write something else.

    That's my two cents.

    If you do decide to go the co-author route, do so with a contract between you and the co-author (there are other threads that discuss this).

    Good luck moving forward.

    Terry
     
  5. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    You make a great point, but I am pretty confident I would win in a court case against the old co-author simply because it has been over a decade since he and I worked on it and most of the material is stuff I thought up. I have some proof with poor man copyrighting I did and published short stories on the deviantart, and finally artwork that I had commissioned for myself for the story itself.

    He contacted me a year ago to ask if he could use the story and characters as apart of a new online game he is working with a game company on (he works in the gaming industry). I told him No (that would most assuredly copyright it to said gaming company) and told him that the rights to the story and characters now belong to me. He did not respond.

    I have to admit, a deep part of me that is evil would be very happy if one day he saw the book at a book store and me as the author.

    Anyways... thanks for the replies so far. Do you think this site is a good way to also maybe try and find a co-author? My problem is that the story is so developed that it might turn authors away from it. That is why I try to make it clear that the co-author would have complete design rights to the story along with me so it can be their story too in the long run.

    If this isn't the site for it, do you know of any others?
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just because you have been working on it recently doesn't mean that it is now your work, does it? Did he relinquish part of it--in writing?

    What would your court case consist of:

    Sure, we worked on it together, but then I finished it so it's mine. What he did doesn't count because we stopped writing together and after a few years I decided to take the world we began together and finished the book.

    How will he take it if you published the work after telling him no he could not use it (which he helped to create) with respect to an online game?

    This is an example of why a contract between co-authors is an important thing to have.
     
  7. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I just went and pulled this clause from a contract:

    I bolded a portion of the contract clause. Sarvoth, would you be able to sign a contract with this clause or a similar clause under the current circumstances? It is a standard clause in every contract I've ever signed with respect to having my works of fiction published.

    I am not trying to be rude or confrontational. I am trying to provide information so that you can have a better idea where you stand before you continue with the work and/or attempt to find another co-writer.
     
  8. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    I appreciate the feedback on all of this. I am glad to be fleshing this out with someone who knows more than I when it comes to this. The issue is complicated, for sure. Namely, we were young teenagers when we worked on this story. Bits and pieces were collaborated. We worked on other stuff other than this story (probably like 3 or 4 other projects) that I have not touched since.

    I guess we didn't consider contracts at that young of an age, but the fact that he came to me to ask for permission a year ago does concern me, but at the same time, I am at least happy he respected me as much to do so. If I had to quantify his work now with mine, it would be obsolete. The characters he did help developed in the very very early stages of the story have been changed enough they no longer would be recognized by him. I am in love with this story and have been working on the strands to this tapestry for so long I would be hard pressed to give it up because of fear of him and what he believe he might have rights too after all this time. I still think his case would be very very weak if any, but your points do cause for concern.

    As for a future co-author, I most definitely would have them agree to a clear contract so both parties are protected.
     
  9. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    Another thought... should I just write something up that the previous co-author can sign that relinquishes his rights to the story and any claims to it? He might actually do it...
     
  10. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not an expert in writing/preparing and interpreting contracts. I don't know your experience with contracts. If you're not experienced with them, consulting with or having a literary attorney do the work is probably a wise idea, especially if you're very serious about moving forward with this project.

    Sarvoth, you may feel or believe the world and characters are now yours, and entirely of your creation. Your previous co-writer/co-creator may not. If it would go to court, a judge/jury may not either. I can say as a neutral observer, from what you've presented, I'm not convinced the world and characters are fully, 100% your creation. (Of course, you did not go into great detail and there may be a lot more to be said supporting your position--just pointing it out)

    If you warrant to the publisher who accepts your work (should come to happen and you're offered a contract) and your former co-writer puts up a stink (before, during or after publication), it could cause you to be in violation of the terms of the contract, and the publisher won't represent you if it goes to court. The publisher may even have a claim against you, especially if you settle or lose. It costs money to bring a book to print (editing, hiring for cover art, advertisement, print runs, etc.). It could get messy.

    I am not saying that all of this will happen. First, the odds are against finding a publisher, even for a well-written novel--nothing against your writing--it's just the way it is. Although, self-publishing does guarantee something being published. Second, the co-writer would have to find out about it and put up enough of a stink--find a lawyer willing to take the case and then file it. But, if it would happen, things won't be as happy as they might've been whatever way it turns out.
     
  11. Sarvoth
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    Sarvoth New Member

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    You do put a dark overture on this whole thing that I just never expected to occur. I don't really want to go into too much detail here as that wasn't the point of the post, but while you have brought up great points and I am questioning on how to proceed now because of it, at the same time, I am overly confident that I own the rights to the entirety of the story. I can't go into details without writing a book here to just explain it in this thread. I care too much about my own story out of this, that I am not gonna let it go in fear of him. I am not in this to make money, I just want to get the thing out of my head. I probably will self publish.
     
  12. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    I had a co-writer the last year and a half, so I have some experience with it. Personally I think it can be a great thing, as you get to discuss the ideas with someone and help each other stay focused, and although you have different ideas for the story, you both aim for the same goal. But at the same time, you better be damn sure you can trust your co-writer. My co-writer was a cop, of all things, so you would think she could be trusted. Turned out she couldn't. She stole all our work and fully intend on publishing it for herself, and there isn't anything I can do about it now. I accepted the loss and moved on, but it still sucks. Just a little warning.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    STOP!

    you have serious legal issues here and need to consult a literary attorney, not members of a writing site...

    i've had mentees who lost all rights to their own work, because they didn't take my advice and 1. have a collaboration agreement in place before writing a single word with a co-author and/or 2.seek legal help the moment their former friend/writing partner raised a rights issue...

    yes, you are 'overly' confident... and that can see you becoming yet another sad, good example of what not to do... stop posting and find a literary attorney in your area who'll advise you properly... if you don't, i have no doubt you'll eventually wish you had...

    and before you do that, drop all thoughts of tying yourself to another co-author who'll only make a bad situation worse...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  14. CottonCandi
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    CottonCandi Active Member

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    Now I'm scared to get another co-writer. Thanks for the insight, Mammamaia.

    And so sorry about your co-writer, Dude. You would think you could trust a cop! If you don't mind me asking, how did you find out about it?

    I never thought about all the legal problems. Thanks for this post Sarvoth, it has helped me a lot!
     
  15. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I think coauthoring is a good idea, provided you both have the same goals for the story in mind and get along, of course. :) I've always preferred to fly solo, though.
     
  16. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I'm moving away from the legal curve on this thread, and going back to what was originally asked. :rolleyes:

    I've co-authored with 5 guys on one story. Some put in more than others - I think one guy only had 2-3 lines used. There was no contract in place, and although I did not put in the majority of the story, the guy who did gave me permission to use it as I wanted and improve upon it.

    I have done nothing with it, as I have my own story, and the co-author stuff for me was just a bit of fun that helped me develop my writing.

    As a designer, it is key to bounce ideas off of others inorder to develop the best most original ideas, designers openly discuss their ideas with colleagues, and it is a totally different environment to most professions where you seek to look after 'number one'.

    BUT maybe you have just lost that initial spark when starting a book, and now you are slowing down? I always find a new idea incrediblily appealing and exciting. I love my current novel, but some days its hard to focus on an old idea.

    My girlfriend became my substitute co-author, and I'd talk and talk about ideas for my book - she had no input - she just listened (up to a point, after which I was told to shut up :D), but thats all I needed, just to think aloud. Its like reading out loud your final draft, instantly it becomes clear what doesn't feel right.

    PS My girlfriend was very sweet about it and said the reason she didn't want to hear anymore about my story was she didn't want the ending spoiled when she read the finished thing hehe.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the point is that if any of you want to be professional writers, you must learn how to run a business like one, since that's what writing for money is... and that involves having contracts and legally-binding agreements for everything, whether you like it or not!
     
  18. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    Hi Sarvoth,
    Is there another option? I'm not sure how you classify co-author so please excuse me if I have misunderstood but perhaps you could find someone who would discuss the story with you and help inspire you without needing to be part of the writing process? This may just be that they are happy to listen to you work through your thoughts and question you rather than helping creating new material....
    Best of luck with everything.
     

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