Office-for-OneHappy Super Bowl Sunday — thought it fitting today to talk a bit about teamwork…

We all know writing is a solitary endeavor. We crawl into the cave of our office or closet or favorite coffee shop corner and, with only the company of words and our imaginations create works that are meant to communicate, (which is somewhat ironic, isn’t it)?

Then, suddenly, there’s a BOOK, and instantly we’re expected to turn from hermit to party animal, from creator to marketer, from soloist to an authorpreneur working with a team of professionals.

I recently had the privilege of contributing to a book for solopreneurs called Office For One: The Sole Proprietor’s Survival Guide, a project created and edited by frequent WWW contributor and media relations expert Christina Hamlett.

The book is an excellent resource for any entrepreneur who wants to go it alone without getting lonely. Over 30 experts from around the world offer tips and advice on topics such as tuning out  naysayers, handling legalities and financial challenges, courting clients, marketing on a shoestring budget, networking, and cracking the media code.

In reading the final product (and it’s one I also recommend for any author) I was struck by just how LARGE a winning author team each lone writer might assemble to be successful: from your initial beta readers to your developmental and copy editors, from your attorney and insurance agent to your accountant, from your marketing and PR team to fellow authors and fans who’ll help you shout your message to the world!

Five Tips to Create a Winning Author Team

1. Vet your teammates. A little time researching and interviewing will save a lot of time trying to extricate yourself from an unpleasant situation, or worse, paying two or three times for the same task until someone gets it right. Clearly state your goals and expectations and allow them to clearly state how they can or cannot deliver on each.

Look at the tryouts athletes endure before they get to be a member of the team. And still they may not work out on the team in the long run. As the “coach” you may need to recognize when they don’t and change the lineup…

2. Don’t set your team members up for failure. Unreasonable expectations can whittle away at any team’s effectiveness. Your publicist isn’t going to know how to build a website or create a book cover, just as your cover creator won’t know the first thing about editing your jacket copy!

Make sure you know the skill set that each team member brings to the table before they arrive, and avoid trying to jam that round peg into a square hole. Your quarterback will never be a kicker, and vice versa…

3. Steer clear of “Negative Nellies.” We all enjoy a bit of snark here and there (we’re human). But really, over the long haul, you’ll want to work with the glass-half-full folks. Consistent negativity and criticism will only wear you and the rest of your team down, murdering enthusiasm and wounding productivity. The nay-sayer can be like a cancer; cut it out before it spreads!

4. Challenges Will Arise! Borrowing from Tom Hanks’ Jimmy Dugan character in A League of Their Own — “If it were easy, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” So, if a situation or problem or even crisis occurs (no, running out of stamps is not a crisis) then bring the appropriate members of the team to the table to brainstorm solutions. You must also be willing to share your own ideas: “What are we going to do about this?” works better if you’re not just waiting for someone else to “fix it.”

5. And of course, have FUN. Look, there will be parts of the book production process you don’t particularly enjoy, and that’s okay. And if you hate every bit of it, by all means, just walk away.

Yes, writing and editing and publishing a book can be incredibly challenging and super hard work, but again, the hard is what makes it great.

ShariStauch Improve Your Author Marketing with Teamwork!Creator of Where Writers Win, Shari Stauch has been involved in publishing, marketing and PR for 30 years. Shari is a founding member of the PubSense Summit, the principal author of the WWW blog, and speaks at conferences around the country. The Where Writers Win team’s Winner Circle offers vetted book reviewers by genre, access to hundreds of LIVE book clubs, indie bookstore listings, calendars of conferences, festivals, discounts on vetted partner services, and other curated resources for emerging authors.

6 thoughts on “Five Tips to Create a Winning Author Team

  • February 1, 2015 at 5:49 pm

    If anyone needs a sample template for contributor authorizations or a sample contract for working with co-authors, just email me at and I’d be happy to share the ones drafted by my lawyer hugsman.

    • February 1, 2015 at 9:26 pm

      Love that — send me samples to put up on our Winner Circle Templates & Tutorials page!

  • February 1, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    To this great list of Shari’s, I would also emphasize the importance of having written contracts with your team mates whether they are co-authors or contributors. When a contract delineates upfront your expectations, your project deadlines, and specific remedies for terminating partnership agreements, it can save you an enormous amount of grief and vexation. In a project such as OFFICE FOR ONE (which tapped the insights and advice of 35 experts around the world), it’s critical to determine whether you want to supervise everyone yourself or assign “middle managers” to coordinate and oversee portions of the work. If your middle managers aren’t up to the tasks inherent in project management, however, it can potentially jeopardize your time frame. For as many experts as I had on board – an exercise that might whimsically have been compared to herding cats – I’m very proud to relate that every single one of them was a true professional, a joy to work with and a colleague I can’t wait to cross paths with again.

  • February 1, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Hi Shari,

    This post is right on target, as is your recommendation of Christina’s book.

    Too many authors think self-published means solo-published. On the contrary,
    the successful self-published assembles the same type of providers the traditional
    publisher has in place. Even though we may be new at , gathering the right team is
    made a lot easier using the tips you’ve shared.


    • February 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Flora! Very true… when I think to my own author journey, it really did take a village – the attorney to check the publishing contract, the graphics guys, the cover designer, the awesome editors at Human Kinetics, the publicists… the list goes on and on. I remember the day our publisher sent us the first bound copies, with signatures of ALL the people at the publishing house who’d worked on the book — over 20 had signed it — so YES, being an author really is a team sport 🙂

    • February 1, 2015 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks, Flora — you bet! Can’t imagine not working with a great team. I remember receiving our own first book, signed by all the folks at the publishing house who had helped make it happen — editors and artists and photographers and proofreaders — it really “takes a village” to bring an author’s words to the masses. Write on!

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