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When and who qualifies as a co-author? How do you decide?

3 ways to bring a book to market:

  • co-authoring a book
  • having someone else write a book in your name while you provide the content = ghost writing,
  • writing a lousy book and having a highly accomplished editor turn it into a real work of art

When does someone qualify to be a co-author? When is one person taking too much credit, not giving enough credit to someone else or giving too much credit when not so much is due?

Can these questions be answered definitively?

I don’t think so.

Mia and I like to say we co-authored our book – The Giant Forest. We did.

How much of this book is me and how much is her? Is this measured by percentages, by original ideas contributed or by who spent the most time thinking as opposed to who spent the most time behind the keyboard?

How do you answer?

In our case, dad (that’s me) did the clacking on the keyboard. Mia provided me with ideas, her own, and feedback on ideas I had come up with – a hybrid. Then there were plot twists we came up with together while talking over the story during our drive to and from school or to the pool before/after swim practice, or on a bike ride or while walking the dog.

She and her friends were the target audience.

I don’t count words, nor do I punch a clock to determine who gets what and how much credit. I weighed in how much time and effort she contributed … that’s it. The last thing I want is for her to have a false sense of accomplishment. That would not be beneficial in many ways.

She helped out a lot on the project. She’s even more involved in book 2 – The Camelot Labyrinth – (still in the writing process).

I am of the mind when she is old enough to take over completely she will do one of three things:

  1. abandon the site/work/books altogether
  2. build on the site and make something better, more her own, less me, then none of me
  3. create some sort of hybrid product

I don’t know. But for now, I am happy to be working alongside my 11-yo, having her involved as much as her school schedule and young life will allow, and giving her due credit … but not too much.

Happy writing!

Bill Belew

Professional Blogger, social media marketer, professor of marketing, Christian and dad.

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Growing Up Aimi Series