But recently I've found two wonderful co-authors and they both bring something unique to the table. It helps that they are both good friends as well.
Here's what I've found that works and what doesn't when it comes to finding and keeping co-authors. Now, this is just my experience so take it as you will.
A good co-author must
Be available to write. Sounds simple, right? Well, not quite. We all have lives, obligations and things we're dealing with. But finding someone that can't devote more than an hour a month to writing probably won't work out well if you plan to have the book submitted anytime soon.
Have the same goals as you where the book is concerned. This means wanting to go to a similar publisher, having a back up publisher, knowing the market that you want to go into and knowing what outlets they want to use. Or at least having some idea. If you're hoping to write a historical romance and they think they're pairing up with you to write a sci-fi horror novel it simply will not work.
Know how publishing works. Editing can be a pain in the butt, rejection letters happen, writing a synopsis can be headache inducing...whatever the issue is we as authors know how this all works. Even if someone is new to publishing make sure that they have a realistic view of the process before jumping into co-authoring with them. I had a MF series that I adored a few years ago but after my co-author got one rejection letter they decided they were never going to try to get published again. Lovely, right? Sigh.
Along that same line make sure they know what sales are realistic. Your book could be an overnight sensation. You could make millions in the first year. But there is a realistic side and you know what the market is and what your sales are already like. It's a hard reality but it will save problems down the road.
Have a written contract with each other as well as with the publisher. In the event that something happens with this professional relationship down the road or if you want to leave the publisher once the contract is up and they don't you'll need this. Now, a contract is only as enforceable as you're willing to make it so don't put in extremes that you have no intention of enforcing. But decide what happens to the characters and the world if someone dies. If you're no longer friends who gets to keep the world? The characters? Can you still work in that world but not use those characters or is the book simply dead in the water and whatever happens is just that? No one likes to think about these things but often when a book is popular readers will ask for a sequel. Decide how this is going to happen in the beginning stages, not when the book has been out for six months and you have all these ideas for a sequel but your co-author doesn't want to touch it again. Many co-authored books stop in the middle because of a lack of time or interest or differences in the authors. Decide beforehand who will get the book or if no one will in that situation.
Have similar writing styles. This should be a given but just in case it isn't let's go over it. I write in third person. I can't write with a person that only writes in first person because that's not how I write. I know what I'm comfortable with and while I will push myself to try new things, co-authoring is not the time to do them. In my opinion.
Make deadlines for yourself and for them. But make them realistic. Getting the book done completely in a month is great if its doable for you both. Talk about it, set goals and stick with them.
This is a collaboration, a chance to grow as an author and to get new ideas. Pick someone else that works well with you and that you already know fairly well. There's a lot of trust in being a co-author and it is stressful at times. But it can also be extremely rewarding.