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Conception to Completion: The Collaborative Writing and Publishing Process

By: Katie Leimkuehler

The art of writing has notoriously been a solo act. Most writers find their laptop and cup of coffee to be their best friends. But working with writing partners changes the game entirely. In our new book series Shy Town Girls, that I’m co-authoring with three women authors M.G. Wilson, Jen Yih and Kate Clinesmith, we work together on characters, plots and story outlines. Yes, sometimes we want to pull out our hair, but overall the process is much more enjoyable than venturing down the path alone.

Part romance, part urban adventure and part transitioning to adulthood, these books are an enticing mix of gritty real life and active imagination, all based in the vibrant setting of Chicago.

The novel series is truly different – from its inception to its storyline. “Collaborative publishing” is an effort that starts with multiple authors who work together to flesh out characters, story lines and surrounding detail.

Instead of having a single author pass along a story to review, we work together through the entire process. This gives the characters an incredible life-like dimension. The key we found in working as writing partners was to develop a strong overall concept, but keep an open mind about directions we could go in from the story development to the design of the book cover. We started off this collaborative writing project by writing up detailed character sketches including family background, education, lifestyle and past relationships. This helped us become familiar not only with our own characters, but all the main characters in the series. The daunting task of writing a whole book series became much easier when we could envision each one of these characters as friends and think “Of course Ivy would say that!”

In the beginning of this process we all got together to outline each book. We outlined four books in a few hours and ran with it. We’ve also all been writing simultaneously since we know how book one, two, three and four begins and end. As far as writing goes we each have a different and unique style, which is a great asset since we’ll each be writing one book in the four-book series from a different character’s perspective. This gives each author the freedom to write a whole book without seventy-five different clashing opinions and ideas from the other writers. In the editing process we each read the book and offer feedback and insights, but let the author of that book make the final decisions and directions of the story.

Our goal as writers is to entertain, engage and emotionally connect with our readers. And our goal in this collaborative writing and publishing process is to develop a method for working together from an initial idea to final product and then share that with others. We’ve also learned to play to our strengths as individuals whether that’s in marketing, graphic design or social media—we all bring something to the table that enhances our novel series.

In addition to writing the series in a collaborative way, we are also producing the book by crowd funding it through PubSlush, essentially a Kickstarter for books where authors share a summary and excerpt from their book and set a fundraising goal while readers back their favorite submissions in exchange for a reward, such as a first edition of the book. This is another way we’re trying to collaborate with not just each other, but our fans as well.

One of the biggest benefits of working with writing partners is that ideas flow much easier and more quickly. Instead of playing out the possible scenarios in my own head I was able to voice them and someone else could jump in and have a great idea where a scene could lead or what could happen to the character next. It never felt like work, it felt like going to drinks with your girlfriends and laughing at all of your dating horror stories. I think that’s when we knew we had a great idea, because we were sharing relationship insights, frustrations and hilarious moments that we all could relate to and knew our readers would be able to connect with as well.

The Shy Town Girls series is about four beautiful, shy but brave young women search for love, friendship and success in Chicago. They share insights on work, dating, their sex lives (or the lack thereof) and find new ways to deal with being women and dating in the digital age. You’ll learn about Bobbie, Ivy, Ella and Meryl, four women in their twenties who are as passionate about their careers as they are about their love lives. Join us for the book launch party Dec. 8 at Akira in Lincoln Park wh. For more information about the authors or to get a copy of the book visit


Kaite Leimkuehle

Katie Leimkuehler is a Professional Blogger, Social Media Strategist, Trainer and Speaker who coaches businesses and individuals on how to utilize social media marketing. She is a co-author in the new novel series Shy Town Girls that debuts in December. She is also the founder and editor of Conquer the Edge that helps people overcome and fight their fears.

Previously she worked as the Manager of Social Media and Communications at the International Interior Design Association and prior to that was a Community Manager at the Chicago Tribune. She was also chosen as a social media panelist in KI’s NeoCon Social Media Webinar. You can find her on TwitterLinkedIn and on her website.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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