How to pick a collaborator who won’t disappoint you

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Picking a collaborator is hard and it’s a decision you shouldn’t take lightly. But the reality is that there’s only so much you can do to completely shield yourself from being disappointed by a partnership.

Lately, some community members have been sharing tales of their worst partnerships. So here are some quick tips and triggers to look for when proceeding with a collaboration, elaborating on a list provided by @maartin.

You both need to agree on a timeline

You are not doing yourself any good if you impose a timeline your partner can’t and won’t meet, or that you can’t and won’t meet. Agreeing to a collaboration is one thing, but agreeing on a timeline is another, and it’s just as vital. You might have found the best collaborator in the world on paper, but if the timeline you’re setting isn’t good for them, they may not give you their best work, or any work at all for that matter. Start your collaboration with a collaboration; a timeline that you’ve built together, and then stick to it.

Be in contact on a weekly or even daily basis throughout the duration of the project

Throughout the project you and your partner need to be talking consistently, and these days email isn’t the best way to do that. Consider using a platform that makes it easy to talk back and forth and send photos and files like Slack. This will make communication with your partner more immediate, and makes both you and them more accountable as you can see if they’re online or not and know you’ll get an response to what may be an important question relatively quickly.

If they break their word more than once, end the partnership

You can only hope for the best for so long, and while everyone deserves a second chance, they don’t necessarily deserve a third. Limit yourself to allowing them to fail at keeping their word once, but keep in mind that if it happens a second time, it’s a trend that you can’t ignore and should use as a trigger to take action. The odds of someone breaking their word twice and never breaking it thereafter are not in your favor. If they fail to get something done by a deadline they’ve agreed on more than once, it’s time to pull the plug.

Don’t expand the timeline if not done mutually

Why should you expand the timeline if both you and your collaborator have agreed on it? If you’ve managed to stick to it, why should you adjust it to make it work better for them? Expanding a timeline means that they have failed to keep to it, and although everyone deserves the chance to fail, if the expectation is that something will be done by an agreed upon date, there should be no compromising on either end. Either they do whatever they need to do to get back on track with the timeline, or they should be dismissed as a partner.

If this shared project is not their priority then they need to go

Make this part of the initial commitment. A collaboration is not a one sided affair in terms of who profits from it. So, if it’s your number one priority but it’s not theirs, then wish them good luck and advise them they’re no longer needed in this collaboration. Authors are always going to have other projects or their mainstay items to look after. But one can assume that a collaboration should be considered a special project that involves just as much commitment and ownership by both authors. So, if one is less committed than the other, then that partnership is not going to work.

It doesn’t matter who they are

What good does it do for you if they’re an Elite Author, but aren’t contributing their fair share to a collaboration? It doesn’t matter who they are, if they’re not good to work with and aren’t contributing, they’re of no use to you.