• S. E. Burr

The Power of Collaboration

Last weekend, I went to this interactive art attraction in Santa Fe, called Meow Wolf, and I was blown

away by it. It's a little hard to explain, but I would say that it's all the magic of Disney Land without the rides and cartoon characters. You walk through amazing worlds. It was really a world class attraction and I thought it was incredible that it was in Santa Fe, a city of 70,000 people. After spending a couple hours there, I snapped this picture of all the people who helped create it. OF COURSE, it took the efforts of that many people. We talk about Michelangelo, Einstein, Leonard Da Vinci, these solitary, singular geniuses, but all of those people were collaborators. Almost all of the great human accomplishments, creations, discoveries, and inventions have been the result of multiple peoples' efforts, not just one.

Years ago, when I was first starting to experiment with indie publishing, I went to this presentation on

entrepreneurship. I remember that the presenter said that the biggest indicator of how successful your business or project will be is how capable your are of inspiring other people to join you, of sharing your vision with others, and getting them to help you. I remember sitting there feeling just so discouraged, thinking that I'd never anyone to do anything and that I didn't know if I'd ever be able to.

The trick, at least for me, has not been getting people to share my vision. It's been offering them the opportunity to do something that they want to do. Last year, when Shad Wilde and I did a KickStarter campaign that paid for the creation of our picture book, The Everything Puzzle, I asked him if he'd like to illustrate it because I saw how passionate he was about doing his art, and I saw how ready and willing he was to do a single illustration for me when I asked for a visual display when I was doing a reading.

Another "trick," if you can call it that, is trying a lot of projects with people and having most of them never go anywhere. In general, you earn your successes with lots of failures.

This year, I'm focusing a lot on collaboration.

  • Shad and I may do another KickStarter project, and we may involve a couple more collaborators. That's too early to announce, so I won't give you any of the details about it, but I'm excited by the idea.

  • I'm collaborating with someone right now, who's helping me plan a launch party for The Everything Puzzle and a picture book I'm about to release, 1% Clean.

  • I've contacted a couple old friends about narrating some of my books. I'm really hoping to release an audio version of one of my novels this year.

  • I'm interacting more with other authors online, and making a few friends. One's helped me with the blurbs for my books, and another's given me great advice about my Facebook author page. (I'm posting a question a week on it for the next four weeks. If you answer in the comments, you get a chance to win autographed books.)

  • For a long time, I've been really taken with the idea of collaborating with another author to write a book together, and I'm on the lookout for an opportunity to do that, but of course, I'd have to find the right person, someone whose writing style and method of working match up well with mine.

When have you experienced the power of a good collaboration? What experiences have you had where it didn't go so well? (I've had plenty of these, but still believe in the concept.) Comment below.

(I don't know whether I'll have a book of the week this week. The one I was planning to do, I ended up not liking, and I don't want to write about a book I can't recommend. I'm reading Leviathan Wakes in "The Expanse" series, but I'm only a few chapters in. I love the TV show. This is a great example of a collaboration, because James S. A. Corey, is actually a pen name representing two people. )

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