Wednesday, September 9, 2020

How We Wrote a Multi-Author Series by A. M. Heath

Multi-author series are nothing new, but the Librarians of Willow Hollow was my first time participating in one. Thanks for giving me the chance to share my experience. I’m going to address some commonly asked questions. Maybe this will encourage you to step out into a multi-author series.

How did you choose who to work with?

The four of us were already friends, and while our writing styles are different and our sub genres slightly differ, we each had produced content we could easily recommend and associate our name with. 

We knew each author to be dependable. 

Content and dependability were key factors in what I wanted to find in co-authors. 

How did you work together?

We started a Facebook group so each discussion could have its own post. This made it easier to go back and finish or refer back to conversations we’ve already had. We had posts open for plotting, setting details, marketing ideas, etc. 

We also had a chat open in messenger for quicker conversations. 

Once we were further into the plotting process, it was vital that we hammer out several details. So we scheduled meetings and sat down with a list of concerns and addressed as many as we could in a single session. This was the biggest help because we were never all online at the same time and when you have to discuss every detail, those conversations could last for several days. The group meetings allowed us to discuss at once. If we couldn’t come to a conclusion, we put a pin in it and returned to the topic later. 

Was it difficult to plot your stories without stepping on the toes of another author?

Not at all! Our characters worked for the same town library, so there was a lot of crossover in the timeline and setting. Other than where they worked, they had very separate lives and stories. 

We hashed out what our story would need (ex: I had a blacksmith and someone else needed a teacher) and were able to naturally divide up the duties of developing crossover areas. We assigned whatever was leftover and kept all of our details in a file so we could refer back to them.  

Drawing out a map was a vital step. 

We gave each author the power to rewrite their character in someone else’s book. We never changed the meaning and purpose behind the scene but we tweaked the character’s responses so our characters could remain consistent throughout the series. 

What was the hardest thing?

Marketing. Our styles were different so we struggled a little more to understand where we should work together and where we should work separately. 

Our project didn’t have a leader, meaning we discussed and voted on all everything. While I thrive in that sort of environment, there is a perk to having someone who heads up the project and has some preconceived ideas and requirements in place before the project is started.

Maybe this will encourage you to step out into a multi-author series. via @AuthorAMHeath #SeriouslyWrite


Besides being an Indie Author, I’m a wife, mother of four, Sunday School teacher, sweet tea drinker, history fanatic, romantic, bubbly, lover of broccoli, and a retired cake decorator who has a soft spot for Christmas trees, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, and sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

What I’m not is a laundress (or at least not one who keeps up very well), a duster, tall, or patient in a doctor’s office.

Can two lonely people find more than a fleeting friendship or will a prejudiced town keep them apart?

When Ivory Bledsoe left the city to minister to the people of the rural mountain town of Willow
Hollow, she never expected to be shunned rather than welcomed. Seeing the town as a lost cause, she’s eager to return home, but when the bridge leading out of town is washed away during a flood, she finds herself stranded in the last place she wants to be.

Ben Thrasher was content with his quiet life until he met the new librarian. He can’t help but be drawn to the friendly and lively Ivory Bledsoe, despite her being at the center of the town’s latest superstition. It’s only a matter of time until she captures his heart, turning his world upside down in the process.

Has Ivory gotten God’s plan for her all wrong or is there still a way she can serve these people? And can Ben ask her to stay in a place where so few are willing to embrace her?


  1. I've been wanting to collaborate like this for several months now, but I'm still not sure I want to be the leader. Thanks for the insight.

    1. You're welcome!
      In order to be the leader, you'd want to have some strong opinions up front. Otherwise, it might work best to follow someone else's lead ... or create a mutual group like we had done. We didn't have a leader. This worked for and against us at different times. Basically, we were 4 friends with the same idea and we just collaborated.
      Here are some questions to consider if you want to toy around with the idea a little more:
      If you could pick your dream team, who would be one it? Could you imagine working well together? And what sort of story idea could easily lend itself to a variety of novellas?

  2. How exciting for you and the other authors to work on this project! Congratulations!

  3. "We knew each author to be dependable. Content and dependability were key factors in what I wanted to find in co-authors." This seems like it would be number one for a successful collaboration.

    This is great info, Anita. I've considered being a part of something like this, but like Lola, I'm not the take charge type. I guess, unlike a box set situation, each person handles their own financial end of things, right? Did you do any group marketing, or was it all individual? What type of marketing did you do together? I know you pretty much did a rapid release on these. Did you find that helped, or would you recommend waiting a little longer between releases?

    Okay, I'll stop with the questions now. :)

    1. :) Ask away!!

      There's certainly plenty of room in a group for the happy followers. If you're wanting to kick start an idea, you might consider who you would like to work with. Consider what you know of their personality. Even ask what their strengths and weaknesses are. We didn't ask that question but it was only a matter of time before they emerged. Thankfully, one was strong in design, that's key unless the group opts to hire out. I was a decision making queen. Lol Or maybe Nazi. ;) I kept issues in front of the group and pushed for either conversation or decisions. And everyone's opinion fell together in a way that allowed each of us to grow in our approach to marketing/releases.

      We did choose to skip the box set and release as individuals so we didn't have to split the profits. In the beginning, I would have been in favor of a box set or a single paperback copy but in the end, I'm glad we chose to work individually. It was one less thing to navigate.
      It wasn't a requirement to set the prices the same but we ended up choosing to set the same ebook prices (even keeping them on sale for a set period) but we chose to adjust our paperback prices to better match our personal prices.

    2. Marketing was certainly the biggest back and forth conversation aside from developing the fictional town. We were all over the place for a while there. But in the end, and I do believe we've chosen well, this is what we settled on:
      We decided to market and release as individuals. Obviously, we're together but we're very separate too. We chose to host 4 separate launch teams and blog tours.
      My book (and this is where we found most of our hiccups in marketing) was actually the only romance of the collection. In the beginning, this didn't appear to be a big deal but as we grew as authors and in our understanding of our audiences, this became a bigger issue. We collaborated together because we are all solid Christian (conservative) historical storytellers. Two of the authors in particular feature little to no romance at all. So their audiences aren't always as accustomed to the falling in love plots. This created some read through issues. We started off with the idea of hosting a single launch team but as we began looking at the various needs for each audience and the time spent in a larger team, we chose to break them down. Since we each had personal launch teams and were considering hosting a personal one alongside the group one, it made a lot of sense to just work separately instead. We did have members who were active in multiple groups. Some chose to exclude a book or two and others worked on all 4. But that allowed the team members to be more involved in which books they wanted to promote. This also gave each of us the ability to let our personalities and "brand" shine through as we led our own groups.

    3. Because a rapid release blog tour was proving to be a headache to organize, we chose to handle those separately as well.
      Our giveaways were all separate, but we'd pitch in and offer an ebook when asked.
      There was a lot of talk about doing a group FB party. Things were getting hectic as the release dates drew new, so the idea fell through the cracks. But I think this would have been the best place to work together vs attempting 4 separate parties.
      We were back and forth on whether or not to do a joint giveaway. Some of us were planning to do a personal grand prize as well as a joint giveaway. We ended up deciding to do one joint giveaway (preferably with other Appalachian authors) but the current plan is to attempt it a few months after the release. The idea here was to try to reach a wider audience instead of fishing in the same pond.

      We did rapid release the books. We were back and forth on this as well. Originally, we had planned on releasing a week apart. We decided to release 2 weeks apart in order to give readers enough time to complete a book before the next one released.
      I think this was a wise choice. We could have done them a month apart, and if we were dealing with full sized novels, I would probably recommend releasing with at least a month in between.
      For street teamers who were in multiple groups, releasing 4 weeks apart might have be a little easier. I haven't heard any complaints. But I can see how that wouldn't hurt.
      But two weeks apart kept them close and fresh on the mind and allowed us to release within a 2 month time period. The group effort and rapid release certainly helped with sales. With each new release, there was a boost in pre-orders as readers wanted to collect the entire series.

    4. One of the other factors was that we were 100% committed to supporting each novel as if we were releasing together instead of separately. There was some concern that we'd lose steam by the time we reached the 4th book, and this is something that we have to strive to work against because you're naturally tired after a release. But when we made the tough decision to approach marketing as individuals (which allowed each of us to handle a release in our set pattern or to try new methods without restrictions) we formally committed to be there for one another. In the same way the members of the Fellowship of the Ring (from Lord of the Rings) were divided, they were still working toward the same goal. They would just have different areas in which to work. In the end, I think this was a good move. Especially for me as the only romance author. The separation allowed me to gather an audience better suited for my book.
      Here are some of the things we made a point to do for each other:
      Share street team applications
      Be a member of each author's street team (this was a great way to glean new ideas too!)
      Step in wherever we were needed (whether in a blog tour or offering to help out with last minute details)
      Encourage one another
      Brainstorm ideas for the launches
      Spotlight the book on our blogs and newsletters the day of release
      Share the giveaway or other big promotional opportunities
      Ask our street teams to share about the other releases
      Ask our street teams to support our posts concerning the other releases so the posts could reach more people
      *We did feel that it would be a conflict of interest to review the books so we decided not to review.

      In the end, this was a great way to be exposed to new readers. The intimate collaboration allowed for areas of growth as we each examined how we market and what worked best. The thing to remember is this release is one of many in our lifetime. It was a great opportunity to learn from other authors as well as borrow their audiences in the hopes of using what we've gathered for future releases.

      I hope that helps. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!

    5. Wow! You've just given us the equivalent of a couple more blog posts in your responses, Anita. Thank you for all that information! It's so helpful!

  4. Thanks, Anita! I appreciate you sharing your experience and helpful tips!


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