This is the sixth in a series of posts about how to leverage The 7 Systems of Influence to become a better author. If you want to start from the beginning or find links to all the posts in this series, go here.
Harper Lee, the Pulitzer-winning author of To Kill A Mockingbird, is perhaps the quintessential portrait of the lone-wolf author, typing away in isolation to create her work. In reality, Lee could never have written her masterpiece on her own. Most people don’t know it, but she had collaborators.
It was the Christmas of 1956, and Lee, a native of Alabama, was working in New York City as an airline reservations agent. Although an aspiring author, Lee found it difficult to find the time to write with what little rest she had from her full-time job. Lee had mentioned this to her friends, Michael and Joy Brown (whom she had met through their mutual acquaintance, Truman Capote), but she could never have expected how they would react.
That year had been kind to the Browns, and they were in a mood to be generous. Lee spent Christmas morning with the Browns and their children, and after the children had opened their presents, the Browns told Lee they hadn’t forgotten her, and to look in the branches of the Christmas tree.
As Lee wrote in a McCall’s Magazine article in 1961, “There was an envelope on the tree, addressed to me. I opened it and read: ‘You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas.’”
To Kill A Mockingbird has sold over 30 million copies in 40 languages, but it might never have been, were it not for Michael and Joy Brown.
There may be a masterpiece in you, but can you bring it to light on your own? Of course, you could write a book on your own, but The Book may require more. Not that you need a year off to write it, but there are many forms collaboration may take, and there are many aspects of creating your book that may benefit from outside help. Give yourself permission to still call yourself the author of your book, even if others assist you with it. If you start a business, you call yourself a founder, but that doesn’t mean you did it by yourself. If you start a book and make it happen, you can call yourself the author, even if you have lots of help.
5 PRIMARY COLLABORATORS FOR AUTHORS
There are five primary collaborators all authors need. Each one will help you stay accountable and improve your work.
- The Editor. A professional who knows how to take your writing and turn it into art.
- The Peer. Another author or fellow expert who can provide an experienced-yet-outside perspective.
- The Coach. Experienced with all aspects of book writing and publishing, this individual is your expert guide through all the ins and outs of the process.
- The Assistant. Your assistant takes care of what anyone can do so you can focus on what only you can do.
- The Reader. The reader is the ultimate judge of your work and therefore it makes sense to involve them in the writing process.
We explore these and other potential collaborators in more depth in the Published Author Workbook (which you can get for free by joining my free masterclass).
HOW TO FIND COLLABORATORS
When searching for any type of collaborator, use these steps to identify them quickly and easily:
STEP 1: WHO DO YOU SHARE YOUR VISION WITH?
Who do you share your vision/dream with or at least parts of your dream? Who shares your vision?
STEP 2: WHO SHARES YOUR GENIUS ZONE?
Who do you share your genius zone with? Who are other experts doing what you’re doing whom you admire? Who shares your genius zone?
STEP 3: WHO SHARES YOUR EXPERT ZONES?
Who do you share core expert zones with? They may not be doing exactly what you’re doing, but their knowledge and experience overlap with yours. Whose expert zones overlap with yours?
STEP 4: WHO ELSE TARGETS YOUR IDEAL AUDIENCE?
Who else is targeting your ideal audience? They may or may not compete with you, but because you have the same audience, there may be a win-win opportunity. Who else has the same ideal audience as you?
STEP 5: WHO ELSE?
Are there any other individuals, groups, organizations, or events that come to mind as collaboration opportunities for content? Who or what else?
COLLABORATION MAKES THINGS EASIER
When I teach the 7 Systems, people often become excited as they gain insight into their vision, genius zone, and ideal audience. As they dig into content, they begin to see how much progress can be made, but as they move towards action, they can sometimes become discouraged.
The next thing I hear is, “Josh, I’m sooo excited to jump into all this content creation but…I’ve got seven phone calls to make today, and I’m flying out for a week of on-site visits tomorrow, and when I get back I’ll have to catch up for a week, and then there will be meetings, and more calls, and…when am I going to get all this done?!”
That’s one more reason to collaborate with others—it might be the only way to fit everything into your schedule.
PONDER, ACT, & ASK
Think about what you have learned from System 6: Collaboration, and consider what you can do with it. Answer the questions below:
What are the most meaningful things I learned in this section?
What will I do as a result of what I learned in this section?
SYSTEM 6: COLLABORATION — ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
The Collaborative Habit by Twyla Tharp
Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson et al
WEEKLY BOOK COACHING
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- What book you should write
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What you’ll get:
- Your own copy of the Published Author Workbook
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