We continue our series “Experts Talk” with a conversation between speaker, author, and digital storyteller Danielle Smith and Bookgirl founder Aliza Sherman. Danielle is Aliza’s co-author on two books: Mom, Incorporated and Social Media Engagement for Dummies.
Aliza on how she and Danielle became co-authors: “When editor Mark Chimsky approached me to write a book for moms about starting a home-based business for Sellers Publishing, I was just coming off of writing my 8th book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Crowdsourcing, I asked if I could bring on a co-author to write the book with me. When I got the green light, I made a short list of female bloggers I wanted to approach as potential co-authors, and Danielle Smith was at the top of my list. I emailed her to ask if she had a book deal and if not, if she would be interested in one with me. And…she said no…and yes!”
NAME: Danielle Smith
TITLE/ROLE: Digital Correspondent, Lifestyle Entrepreneur, Author, Host, Speaker, and Spokesperson
COMPANY NAME: 330 Media
WEBSITE URL: ExtraordinaryMommy.com/ DanielleSmithMedia.com
Bookgirl/Aliza: Why did you decide to accept my offer to be a co-author for your first foray into book writing and publishing? (You know I’m so grateful that you did, of course).
Danielle: I couldn’t have been more surprised, honored and delighted, and admittedly, a little bit skeptical when I received your email asking, “Do you have a book deal? And if you don’t, do you want one?’
First of all, writing a book was a ‘life-list’ item for me, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that you had to have written me by mistaken. Me? You really wanted ME to co-author with you? I accepted your offer for a few reasons: you had a plethora of experience in this field and I felt you would be a beautiful guide in the process, I was enamored by our topic: moms starting business from home while juggling the family life they love, and in the few times we had met or connected in the social space, I believed we would be a good pair. I was right.
Bookgirl/Aliza: What surprised you about the book publishing process?
Danielle: Book publishing is an arduous process. It turns you inside out. You put your heart and soul on to a written page and then allow others (editors) to do their work—molding, shaping, cutting and at some points tearing pieces out. I was floored by how rapidly we moved from idea to framework to written book and then through the editing process and to bound, finished product. Three months—that’s how long we were given to write and we did it. I had no idea a book could be written in such a short period of time and become something that makes me so proud.
Bookgirl/Aliza: How did working with a co-author help you navigate writing your first book?
Danielle: I believe my experience was unique in that you (Aliza) came to our union with so much experience. I was lucky in that I had someone who, quite literally, held my hand and guided me through the process, making sure I understand how everything worked, what the industry-specific verbiage meant and how to breathe when the edits were first returned (I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry). You and I, being both so alike and so truly different, made the experience beautiful. We often explained our relationship as yin and yang—we completed in the other what one might be lacking. For me, it meant, my first book-writing experience was both all-consuming and all positive.
Bookgirl/Aliza: What was the hardest part about being a co-author? Be honest about it–I won’t take it personally! Or if you’d rather answer: What do you think would be a hard part about being a co-author if it wasn’t the right fit?
Danielle: The hardest thing about being a co-author was maintaining my own identity. It was often easy to allow your vast experience to overshadow my personality and voice, as mine is so very different from hers. In our first book, we adopted a cadence within the chapters that, I believe, allowed both of our styles to shine….but in our second book, that was more of a challenge as the format of the book didn’t lend itself as well to my personality. I sometimes found I was pushing the “traditional style limits” of the book to add a bit of ”me.” Fortunately, you were willing to listen.
Bookgirl/Aliza: What qualities make someone a good co-author?
Danielle: You must have the same vision for the book you are writing, believe in each other, respect each other, and agree to a similar writing process. If one of you is a procrastinator and the other rabid and obsessive about deadlines, you may run in to some troublesome moments. Fortunately, while you and I have vastly different writing styles, we mesh beautifully in every other category from patience with each other to a deep mutual respect.
Bookgirl/Aliza: What advice would you give someone who is thinking about writing a book with someone else?
Danielle: We were lucky. I’d like to tell you to KNOW your co-author before you commit, but you and I really didn’t. We just had a feeling. We just knew we were meant to share this path and it worked very well. Our “getting to know each other and really bond” time happened AFTER our first book was on shelves and we were on a six-week book tour together. Know a potential co-author’s tendencies toward procrastination, their “goals” for a book and beyond, and decide who will write what. The last thing you want is to feel abandoned (writing more than your share) or for a potential co-author to feel the same.