Writing a book is hard work, requiring strong research, organization, and composition skills.
Co-authoring a book is hard work halved, but requires the additional skills of cooperation and partnership.
My recently released book, Digital Legacy Plan, A Guide to the Personal and Practical Elements of Your Digital Life Before You Die, was released by Self-Counsel Press in March and co-authored by Angela Crocker.
It is the result of both hard work and true partnership.
To be successful, good partnership requires, first and foremost bucket loads of goodwill and positive intention, but more than that it requires the partners to create clarity around expectations, and to bring near equal amounts of talent, time and resources to the equation.
While our writing partnership was supported by the great blessing of enabling technology — a shared Google drive for organizing and filing research and hosting the master manuscript, Skype and Zoom platforms for remote discussions, either locally in our pajamas, or while traveling — the most significant contributor to the success of the project was time invested at the beginning, developing and designing our partnership agreement.
In coaching parlance, this is called a DPA. This agreement had nothing to with specific contractual agreements. Legal obligations were laid out largely by the publisher in our individual author contracts.
The DPA had everything to do with how we wanted to work together during the process. It required us to name and anticipate strengths, challenges, preferences, and fears.
In any new situation, it is human nature to begin by imagining best and worst-case scenarios. In my coaching modality parlance, we call this the high dream and the low dream.
In the first flush of the excitement of a new project (a book contract, for example), it is natural to hold real optimism and confidence in success. In fact, this perspective helps to get us engaged in a project and can provide positive momentum to keep partners moving forward.
The caveat here is that, often in the first rosy glow, we forget to think about what could go wrong. We fail to acknowledge or express our fears.
A key part of designing a strong alliance is the articulating of both the high dream and the low dream. Beyond simply naming them, though, it is critical to talk about what defines each.
What does success look like? What does it feel like? What could go wrong? Where are the potential landmines and pitfalls? And most importantly, what do we plan to do about it?
This is where the DPA gets meaty. Each partner offers their strategies for achieving the high dream and mitigating the low dream — and makes a commitment to the process.
An agreement is made about how to move forward with the high dream as the goal and safeguards in place should the low dream begin to emerge.
Technology is a great blessing, enabling us to work on projects across time and space, but it is committed human interactions and agreements that will ensure their success.