Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Interesting description of the challange of co-authoring

Shel Israel has written a lengthy and illuminating post about the challenges of co-authoring, specifically pertaining to the newly release book Naked Conversations, by Shel and Robert Scoble.

Not that I'm co-authoring a book, but BlogHer partners Lisa, Jory and I are often working together on communications, and I can relate to much of what he discusses.

Shel's point about each contributor bringing something skilled and unique to the table is right on-point, and will be echoed in the article I submitted to Ethan Johnson's new e-zine, Vision Monthly, when that gets published.

But Shel also contends that, in the end, a single voice must be allowed to emerge. I'd have to think about this one in the context of a non-fiction book. Lisa, Jory and I work on and review each other's blog posts and emails and newsletters to the BlogHer community. In the end a single one of us emails or posts, and that person includes little sayings or colloquialisms that are unique to us. Jory's sign off is "Peace, Love & Links." Lisa says "Let's be clear" and often expresses praise or thanks by talking about building shrines to said person/group we appreciate. I'm sure I have my little things too. But I think we can each contribute to and improve upon general paragraphs of informational content and create a synthesized voice. Would it be harder to keep up for an entire book? Yeah, probably. I can see the tension Shel describes being inevitable. Writers feel pretty damn protective of their words.

He's been there; I haven't, so I consider the post to be chock full of good advice to collaborating writers.

Thanks for the pointer to my post. My comments were intended to apply strictly to co-authoring and is based solely on my experience with Naked Conversations. In a book, it is hard on the reader if the voice moves around. I would not apply this to a blog. In fact, I collaborate with Gary Bolles and Stowe Boyd at the new Conferenza weblog. And even, in books there are some very strong exceptions to what I wrote. Have you ever heard of something called Cluetrain Manifesto? They had four voices, and the book turned out OK.
Thanks for commenting Shel. Of course in Cluetrain they had four voices, but each chapter was pretty much attributed to one of the authors, and they traded off. I was interpreting your remarks to be more about trying to write content with one synthesized voice between multiple co-authors.
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