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Want to Write Your Book Faster? Check Out Collaborative Writing

As I am writing this blog post I am thinking about how incredibly fast the past three months have flown by and yet how much progress I have made on a powerful novel series I am currently co-writing.

The more amazing news, however, is that this series will be done within the next few months. The series is a romance based on the lives of four young, shy women looking for love and romance in the windy city of Chicago. The title is Shy Town Girls. But how this came about and how you can benefit from my experience writing more than fourteen books is the core of this column.

How It All Began

When I met Jennifer three years ago she was finishing up her Freshman year at The University of Wisconsin, Madison. She speaks several languages, travels to different parts of the world almost every six months and has been working for me, helping me market books exceptionally well as she travels and works toward her degree.

During the time I have known Jennifer she has been asking for more and more insights into publishing.

Through the last fifteen years that I have been writing books and over the last five that I have been helping others write, publish and market their books, I have become more and more focused on helping young professionals get better starts in life. With Jennifer’s request followed by a recent email from another young woman, Katie Leimkuehler, and yet another young woman Kate Clinesmith, I started to see that there were a number of young people who really could benefit from some sound mentoring.

I thought about the how best to support their interests in publishing in this new digital world wrapped in a social media package. They were all very strong writers, great at social media and two of them, Katie and Kate, seasoned young professionals in different industries—Katie in Interior Design and Kate in shoes (she worked at Zappos). About the same time I started seeing books like 50 Shades of Grey  blast off into the stratosphere as well as Hunger Games  and others that were a series. I started to read everything I could get my hands on successful publishing currently and discovered that one of the best keys to success in this new world is through digital publishing using a fiction book series. In essence, it’s all about a great story.

I also knew being a social media trainer over the past decade years, most recently having the privilege of training more than 500 sales professionals at a large company here in Chicago on LinkedIn, that there is a definite window of opportunity to achieve unprecedented success for those of us who embrace social media today to build one’s brand, specifically through writing great content and publishing it online. It occurred to me that the best and fastest way to teach these three amazing young women how to be successful would be to collaborate with them as co-authors on a book series.

From this decision I went to Jennifer, Kate and Katie, individually, and made them the following offer:

1) work with me on a novel series (I named it Shy Town Girls), 2) accept the novel’s concept, 3) write one of the four books in the series and 4) promote the books using social media. Within a week I had a unanimous acceptance and within a couple of months we have already met face-to-face three times.

Jennifer who is in Madison, Katie is in Chicago and Kate is now in San Francisco, developed extensive character traits for each of our characters, plotted out all four books, bought the Shy Town Girls domain (www.shytowngirls.com), chose a wordpress theme for the site and are getting our site up within the next week, gotten our Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest pages.

We have also built out a project plan and are blogging and tweeting regularly. Jennifer is taking the lead on the first book with Katie working on the second, Kate on the third and me on the fourth. We decided that all the books be written in first person. We tested this out by asking others to read the books and found they preferred first-person writing as it helped them identify with the characters much more.

We are all learning together and more importantly, perhaps, I have truly never had so much fun writing a book.

We are learning so quickly because four of us are working on a common passion instead of just one. This experience is amazing and I have so much to share. This blog post is just the beginning of an on-going case study. I’ll share all the “behind-the-scenes” strategies, tactics and insights we develop. You will know what worked well and what didn’t work.

Through the years I have come to be known by my clients as  “the straight shooter.”

I will work to do the same for you. I’ll share what I believe can best help you write, publish and market more successfully in today’s world. I have never seen a time like this for people who have something they want to write inside of them just screaming to get out. But it’s a glutted world so you need to be very focused on what you want to write and get as much help as possible.

I hope my column will be your launch pad for success. I will also share as many insights I can from the top authors I follow and who are currently working with me. Finally, I welcome any suggestions you have as to what you would like to see me write about the process. In the meantime I look forward to a great journey!


Melissa G. Wilson is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire.