Helping authors publish

Tag: Collaborating

Account sharing with Draft2Digital

If you have a virtual assistant (VA) or someone else helping you with your books, they will need to access your account to upload new files, change prices, etc. One way to do that is to give them your password, but that’s far from ideal. Draft2Digital‘s account sharing feature allows you to give them limited access to your account.

Our clients use this feature to allow us to upload new books for them or to make other changes. It’s easier and more secure than sharing passwords, and the client can revoke our access easily at any time.

How to set up account sharing

Account sharing is switched off by default. To enable it, log in to your Draft2Digital account, then go to Account -> Advanced User Options. Tick the Enable Account Sharing tick box under Site Settings, then click the Save button at the bottom of the page.

Screenshot showing how to enable account sharing on Draft2Digital
Enabling account sharing

Once it is enabled, you will find an Account Sharing option is available on your Account page. To share your account, go to Account -> Account Sharing. The person you wish to share your account with will need a Draft2Digital account.

On the account sharing page, enter the email address of the person you wish to share your account with. A message will show whether the email belongs to a Draft2Digital user. If it doesn’t, check with the other person that you are using the correct email.

Once you have the correct email entered, choose which permissions to grant. If you share access to your reports, they will be able to see how many books you have sold, where they have sold, etc. If you share book management, they will be able to change your existing books’ files, metadata, pricing, etc, and add new books. Currently, it is not possible to grant access to payment information, but that may become available in the future.

Screenshot showing a person being added to account sharing on Draft2Digital
Granting permissions

Only grant the permissions that the other person will need. For example, if they are updating your covers, they’ll need the book management permission, but there’s no need to give them access to your reports. You can change this at a later date if need be.

Finally, tick the box to acknowledge that you accept the responsibility for sharing your account, and click the Share My Account button. Draft2Digital will email them to let them know that you have given them access to your account.

When they log on to Draft2Digital, they will have a drop-down at the top right of the page that allows them to switch between their own books and yours.

Screenshot showing a user managing a different user's books on Draft2Digital
Managing another user’s books

Changing and removing access

Once your account has been shared, the people that have access will be listed on the Account Sharing page. This also shows what permissions you have granted. Simply click the relevant icon to grant or revoke a permission.

Screenshot showing how to change permissions in Draft2Digital account sharing
Changing permissions

If the person you granted access to does not need it any more, click the Revoke Permissions icon to remove their access to your account entirely.

Co-Writing Across Genres

Note: this post was written by myself and Andrew Knighton, and was first published on the Alliance of Independent Authors‘ Self-Publishing Advice Centre.

Co-authoring a book is relatively unusual, and for our military thriller The Bear’s Claws, we wanted to do something even more unusual — a collaboration between a novelist and a non-fiction author. For both of us, it’s been a very successful project. So why did we do it? And how did the collaboration work when we normally write such different things?

Why Work Together On A Book?

Book cover - The Bear's Claws

For several years, we’ve followed Joanna Penn’s advice to improve productivity with an accountability partner. We meet online once a month to discuss our writing goals and urge each other on. Accountability worked so well, it made perfect sense when Robin suggested that we try another collaboration — writing a book.

It’s tricky finding a shared project for a speculative fiction writer and a military historian, but there was a writing niche that interested us both — stories about the Cold War heating up. Ever since the 1980s, this strand of fiction has been popular with a small but devoted band of readers, and with the Cold War over it’s moved from future speculation to alternate history.

Robin already had a story in mind — telling one of these alternate histories from the Soviet point of view. It was a project that would let each of us reach a new audience while finding out how co-authoring works in practice. So we set out to craft what would become The Bear’s Claws.

Splitting the Work

The first important decision in the project was how to divide the work. Fortunately, there was a natural way to do this — playing to our strengths.

The sort of readers who enjoy war stories are interested in the details of military equipment and tactics. As a writer on modern military history, this was something Robin had the skills and knowledge to get right. Robin is also a more experienced marketer and self-publisher, so better placed to deal with that side of producing a book.

Andrew, on the other hand, has over a decade of experience writing fiction, from steampunk short stories to ghostwriting novels. The bulk of the work on bringing the story to life went to him.

Co-Writing a Novel

The story started with a novel Robin had begun for NaNoWriMo. A rough draft of the first few chapters, it provided the core story around which The Bear’s Claws was built, the story of a Soviet soldier invading West Germany and of his sister at home in Leningrad.

Based on that beginning, we worked together to flesh out the plot. Robin developed a plausible scenario for how the war might play out, including interesting details for the action scenes. Andrew fleshed out the characters, their personal arcs, and their journey through that war. Put together in a spreadsheet, this became the outline we wrote from.

As the more experienced fiction writer, Andrew took the plot and set to writing. He wrote a chapter at a time and sent them over for Robin to check the military details, problems with the story, and the inevitable typos. That ongoing feedback let Andrew write something more convincing and engaging, improving the work as he went along.

Getting the Details Right

Robin paid particular attention to the minutiae of the military equipment and tactics, often making small but important corrections to terminology or the details of how things work. This is a genre where the readers know the difference between an AK-47 and an AK-74, so the details are important.

Once a draft of the novel was complete, we read over it and sent comments back and forth, refining what we’d written. Then Robin recruited a group of beta readers, who let us see beyond what we’d been caught up in, picking holes in our beloved book. Their insights provided plenty of areas for improvement, with more rewrites for Andrew and more fact-checking for Robin, to get the novel as close to perfect as we could.

Production and Marketing

Although we’ve known each other for a long time, we understood the value of having an agreement in place so that we both knew what to expect. We used ALLi’s sample co-authoring agreement as a starting point.

Robin is a techie and runs an author services business, so they created a shared Dropbox directory for the book files, a wiki for notes, and an online task manager to keep us organised. Once the book was finished, they created the ebook and print interior files, including a large print version. We hired a cover designer that Robin has worked with before.

Neither of us wanted to deal with splitting the royalties, so we set up a collaborative project on Bundle Rabbit. They distribute the book to the major vendors, take a cut, then split the royalties. As well as less work for us, it means that we both have access to sales reports.

Robin has taken the lead on marketing. They promoted the book on a number of Facebook groups related to the Cold War, and we have an interview lined up on a Cold War podcast. Robin used their knowledge of military history and hardware to write a blog post about the vehicles described in the book, and one about the change we made to history that ultimately led to war.

Conclusion

We both found the process enjoyable, and we’ve each learned from seeing how the other works. There was little crossover between our readerships, so we’ve both gained exposure to new readers. The book is selling steadily, so the project has been an all-round success.

Co-authoring isn’t going to be for everyone, but if you can play to your strengths then it can be a great way to create something new and interesting.

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