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Collaboration Poll

[poll id="142"]

Slate and MixedInk offered the internet the opportunity to collaborate to write an inaugural address. There are other online communities that offer collaborative features for authors. Jennifer Crusie famously (or infamously) collaborated on two books and Crusie continues to collaborate with other authors. Janet Evanovich planned to collaborate with Steve Cannell but that was ultimately canceled. I’m not a big fan of collaboration, but what’s your opinion?

If you would could choose authors to collaborate, who would you put together?

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

32 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 12:40:19

    Well, for me it’s all about the story. Is it any good? I really like Crusie’s collaborations. So in general, I take ‘em as I find ‘em.

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  2. Laura K Curtis
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 12:43:41

    Very occasionally, there’s a collaboration that works. Mystery writer PJ Parrish comes to mind–”she” is actually a pair of sisters, not a single author. The original Stephen King/Peter Straub collaboration worked for me, as I recall, but it’s been so many years since I read it that I don’t really remember.

    But most collaborations, for me, don’t hold up. Especially when the writers come from different genres. I couldn’t stand the first Crusie collaboration, glanced at the second and saw it looked much the same, so I never read it.

    So I guess it’s not that I am against collaborations per se, but they make me very wary.

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  3. Angela James
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 12:53:06

    Does J.D Robb and Nora Roberts count as a collaboration novel? :P

    I like some collaboration novels a lot and read a few I can think of off the top of my head, I’ve edited some author pairings that I really enjoyed, but I’ve also read some that didn’t mesh for me. I think it depends on the pairing, their relationship, and how well they’re willing to go to give up ego and blend their voices.

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  4. che
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 13:01:12

    My dream collaboration team would be Nora Roberts and Linda Howard. If they wrote a 100-book series, I’d so stay with them till the end.

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  5. Marianne McA
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 13:07:12

    I’m not sure I’ve read enough to have a firm opinion. One of my favourite reads last year was Freedom and Necessity by Steven Brust and Emma Bull – and I’m fond of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s collaboration ‘Good Omens’ as well. I quite liked Sorcery and Cecelia: Or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevener – though not enough to buy the second book.
    Equally, I’m sure I’ve read a few I didn’t like – for instance, I think I read a couple of Anne McCaffrey collaborations that weren’t for me.
    So sometimes I like them, sometimes not.

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  6. theo
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 13:15:49

    I didn’t pick an option because it depends on the author(s). I too really enjoy PJ Parrish and it was, I think, the third novel before I learned it was in fact two sisters. Also there’s Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child who have the best quirky detective, Pendergast, and I devour those. But others, not so much.

    So, I vote for It Depends :D

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  7. Kalen Hughes
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 13:49:37

    I’m going to say rarely. Prachett and Gaiman did a great job, and I know there are lots of duos out there that write and publish as one “person”, but mostly it bugs me in that I can see your slip kind of way.

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  8. Renee
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 14:19:09

    One great collaboration is Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette’s A Companion to Wolves. They just announced last week that they’ll doing 2 more books in the same world, and I’m really excited.

    I’d love to see a collaboration between Charlaine Harris and Patricia Briggs. Harris’ wit and characterization with Briggs’ pacing and plotting would be awesome.
    Also, Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison would be amazing together. Both are amazing in their world building and ability to develop characters.

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  9. GrowlyCub
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 14:27:38

    I don’t know about collaborations, but as for couples writing together, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller produce good stuff. :)

    Go check out their Liaden novels here.

    I didn’t vote since I don’t think I’ve ever read a collaboration in the sense described by others.

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  10. Keri M
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 14:46:19

    P & C to me are awesome collaborators and some of their past books have been phenomenal, but they have worn out poor Pendagast and I think that is reflected in their current writings as a team. There individual works still continue to be very strong. I didn’t particularly care for the pairing with Crusie, it was just ok and wasn’t as strong as when she wrote by herself.

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  11. Keishon
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 14:50:02

    Don’t even get me started. Simple answer: don’t like it. I know collaboration fulfills the need for an author to continue to “work” when they have nothing else on their plate but – I would prefer to wait years for a new release of their new book rather than have them write with someone else. A minority view, I’m sure. However, I will read the Crusie one that I bought based on a reader’s review of it sometime last year or the year before, but I have an overall distaste of collaborative work and give it a wide berth.

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  12. ms bookjunkie
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 15:06:53

    C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp do a great job with the Kate Reilly/Thrall trilogy.

    Generally, I’m with Rebecca on collaborations.

    Well, for me it’s all about the story. Is it any good?

    Maybe it’s more about the fact that some authors start out and make a ‘name’ for themselves collaborating (which is fine), and other authors become known for a specific kind of ‘voice’ that feels missing or diluted in a collaboration (which is disappointing).

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  13. Moth
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 15:19:55

    At first I wanted to say I like collabs, but the more I thought about it, the more I had to swing my opinion the other way and say I do NOT like collabs.

    For example, I’ve read all of Crusie’s collabs. Don’t Look Down was unreadable. His parts. Her parts. The thing’s a mess. Unfortunate Miss Fortunes, Crusie’s parts are enjoyable but not as fabulous as her normal, Crusie by herself stuff. The other two writers’ parts are unreadable. The world-building in that book is uneven, inconsistent and downright bad.

    Now, I do enjoy Agnes and the Hitman a lot, but what I realized in my last read-through was I actually skip most of the narration from Shane’s perspective. It’s not bad, per se, but most of it isn’t actually my cuppa.

    Good Omens by Pratchett and Gaiman is another good example of this. The book is excellent. Hilarious. And yet… it is uneven, and there are several parts I don’t enjoy (the Witchhunters comes to mind). Further, I simply do not enjoy that book as much as I enjoy Pratchett and Gaiman’s singular efforts. They are just better writers to me apart, then they are together. And if those two can’t make a collab sing, I doubt any other pair or authors really can either.

    The conclusion I draw from this is that collabs just do not work for me. Without fail I am bound to enjoy one writer’s sections over the other and, therefore, the books can’t help but be hit and miss for me.

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  14. Jinni Black
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 19:09:13

    The Crusie collaborations killed my love of Crusie. But husband and wife Blaze authors (can’t remember their names) work for me.

    Wait Tori Carrington, I think that’s it.

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  15. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 19:38:32

    I just read an ARC of Taking Care of Business, by Lauren Dane/Megan Hart. It was excellent.

    I think I’m the only one who didn’t like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Did not compute!

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  16. rebyj
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 19:39:36

    The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes is really the only collaboration I can think of that I enjoyed somewhat.
    I’m not big on anthologies and if there are two or more authors listed on the front, I’ll pass it by without examining it closer to see if it’s a collaboration instead of an anthology.

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  17. Jennie
    Jan 20, 2009 @ 21:08:40

    The answer is sometimes collaborations work, sometimes they dont.

    Wrede and Stevermer’s first collaboration, Sorcery and Cecelia, was delightful. But the sequels were mediocre, at best.

    Brust and Bull’s Freedom & Necessity is one of the ten best books of all time. I saw Bull at Loscon in November and said she and Steve were just doodling around having fun, exchanging make-believe letters; they weren’t planning on writing a book, but it ended up being one. (She’s really neat in person).

    But the Cruise collaborations were a complete mess. I only finished them because I just knew they had to get better. Sadly, they didn’t and I really really miss the old Crusie. I gave the duo two tries and won’t waste my time reading any more. I hope she gets off her duff and starts writing by herself again.

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  18. Kimber An
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 07:37:55

    All I care about is a darn good story, or several packaged together. I don’t care if it took one or a dozen people to create it.

    Some writers excell at collaboration and, in fact, are lousy writers all by the themselves. And others really do best flying solo. Many are in between.

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  19. JulieLeto
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 08:45:55

    I think it’s the same with all books–hit or miss. I loved Agnes & the Hitman, but didn’t like the earlier collaborative effort at all. Other than Tori Carrington books (which I love) I can’t think of any other collaborative novels that I’ve even read, much less enjoyed or not enjoyed.

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  20. karmelrio
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 09:50:24

    I think the best Crusie/Mayer collaborration is their writing workshop, which uses a “he said/she said” approach to describe their individual, and joint, writing processes.

    Many aspects of Bob Mayer’s process resonated with me, and he fleshes them out in his excellent non-fiction book “The Novel Writer’s Toolkit.” Highly recommended.

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  21. Jane A
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 10:04:42

    I think it depends on the writing team. Someone mentioned Miller and Lee writing the wonderful Liaden books. And then there is Laura London, aka Sharon and Tom Curtis, who wrote a number of very good books including The Windflower. IMO these collaborative efforts have worked very well.

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  22. Jane O
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 10:15:39

    Well, in mysteries, Emma Lathan was a pair of authors and I always loved those books. But the Crusie collaborations were a major disappointment.
    Perhaps a collaboration works better when a pair of authors start out working together and is less successful when two established authors try to meld.

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  23. Jane
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 10:17:47

    I think where the Crusie books failed for me was the attempt at the individual voices to be recognized. There’s a certain in joke quality to the writing, particularly in the Dogs & Goddesses and the first threesome (can’t remember the name right now) wherein I felt that the three voices, instead of becoming one, was challenging the reader to guess who it was doing the writing.

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  24. Bev Stephans
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 11:26:25

    The only collaboration novel that ever worked for me was Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini’s “Double”. They took alternating chapters and made the story work.

    Every other collaboration novel I have read was a stinker, so I had to vote that I didn’t like them.

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  25. Keri M
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 12:20:07

    @ Jane A, I had completely forgot about Sharon and Tom Curtis as Laura London, I still have all those books and I loved them. They did a great job of writing together.

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  26. jillyfae
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 12:44:04

    Well, I liked the Robin Paige historical mysteries, which was really Susan Wittig Albert and Bill Albert. I am another fan of Liaden, and I enjoyed If I Pay Thee Not In Gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey. (Though I have never particularly liked his style on his own, he tempered her writing well.) I never would’ve discovered Neil Gaiman if not for Good Omens. (Or, at least, it would’ve been several years later when my friend Andy would’ve been horrified that I’d never read him at all, rather than the fact I’d somehow missed book 2 of Sandman, which suddenly made many odd characters from later on make much more sense, as they’d been previously introduced and I’d missed it.)

    I have never considered reading or not reading a book based on the number of authors. Well, I might get nervous if there were a lot, since writing by committee sounds like a horrendously bad idea, but two can help each other past their separate weak points. And single authors are perfectly capable of uneven characterization/world building all on their own.

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  27. MaryK
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 14:29:52

    I’ve always thought there’s a difference between collaborations and partnerships. Writing partners pretty much always write together like Sharon and Tom Curtis or Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Whereas collaborations are separately successful writers who decide to collaborate for a lark. I’ve read partnerships that are good, but I’ve never read a collaboration.

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  28. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 16:15:16

    I need another option…depends on WHO is doing the collaborating. Some collaborations I’ve hated, others I’ve loved.

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  29. SonomaLass
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 18:02:10

    I couldn’t vote, because some work for me and some don’t. C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp’s books have been really good so far (the third one is in my TBR pile), and I think that’s the most recent collaboration I’ve tried. I agree with Moth about Good Omens — I like Pratchett and Gaiman much better separately (love them, in fact).

    Marion Zimmer Bradley had to collaborate on most of her later works, due to age and infirmity, and some of those work well for me, while others really don’t. Hard to say if the qualities I dislike are due to the collaborative nature or something else.

    Bottom line, if a book is written by an author I like and one I don’t know, I’ll probably give it a try. If it’s written by two I don’t know, I will read it if the reviews make it sound like a book I’d like — the number of authors involved won’t matter.

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  30. valor
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 19:59:20

    You know, I really like both Crusie/Mayer combos, in part because I can tell who writes what. It helps that I like both styles by themselves, I suppose. To me, it was more genuine to have a male writing a male and a female writing a female. Everything was right; sometimes a woman writing a male can seem… wimpy, or over the top, and a man writing a woman is usually more about appearance than emotion.
    On the other hand, there are some books I didn’t like: The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes would have been better as three seperate, longer stories, for instance. I think a lot depends on the dynamic between the partners.

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  31. Janine
    Jan 21, 2009 @ 20:43:57

    I think it depends on the authors, as well as on the individual book. Tom and Sharon Curtis famously collaborated as Laura London. I didn’t care for one of their most beloved books, The Windflower, but I liked Sunshine and Shadow very much.

    I have also heard excellent things about another collaborative effort, Michaela August’s Sweeter Than Wine. I haven’t read it, but friends of mine love that book to bits.

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  32. maygirl7
    Jan 22, 2009 @ 12:42:23

    I agree with MaryK. Partnerships where the writers regularly write together generally work much better than two established authors with their own distinctive voices trying to cobble together separately written sections. Also, collaborations of very well-known writers with newbies when they are (presumably) either too old or written-out to write solo are pretty much horrible to read. I couldn’t stand the first Crusie/Mayer collaboration — total DNF and it almost killed my love of Jennifer Crusie. After seeing the many good reviews of “Agnes and the Hitman,” I read it against my inclinations and was surprised to like it.

    In general, I come down on the not liking collaborations and trying to avoid them. One exception was “Caught Running” by Abigail Roux and Madeleine Urban. A great read — a fun and sweet m/m story.

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