Fast Company

Why writing a book needn’t mean going it alone

Most books have only one author’s name on the cover. And most people think of those authors as solitary creatures working alone in a dim room, surrounded by books and clutter and haloed in the glow of a computer screen. Although a bit clichéd, this idea is often untrue, as this type of creating works for few people. Our clients come to us because they are too busy, not writers, can’t find the damn words, or just can’t seem to get the job done—that approach it isn’t working for them. So we’ve created a different process, one that is constantly evolving and always challenging and inspiring. And it involves a team.

The idea of writing a book as a team blows some people’s minds. They just don’t understand how it can be done. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not sure how it’s done any other way. But the team has to be right.

For us, the right team is usually comprised of three distinct parties: the expert, the storyteller, and the writer. The expert is the client, the person with the unique story, experience, or knowledge. The storyteller is the role I usually play, and my job is to draw the story out of the expert and then shape the experience the reader is going to have as they turn the pages. I ask questions, press for details, and really challenge the client to go deeper. And then there’s the writer, whose unique art and responsibility it is to put ideas on the page and deliver that work back to the team for additional brainstorming, feedback and discovery.

The process is amazing. It’s three minds working together, bringing different talents and responsibilities to the table, working toward the same goal: creating a reading experience that’s powerful enough to change lives. Often, that reading experience involves a very different story than the one we began with, and that’s one of the best things about working with a team. Together, we find the real story, the one that was meant to be written all along.

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