Take note of the personalities of your collaborators. We’ve all heard horror stories about writing partnerships that don’t go well. In some cases, you will have the option to refrain from working with someone who drives you crazy. In other cases, you will have to work with the co-author no matter what. Try to learn a bit about your co-author’s personality and work style. Is your co-author a person who waits until the last minute to write, or does she finish everything a week in advance? Knowing this will help you adjust your expectations and plan appropriately.
Assign tasks: Be very clear about who does what, and make sure everyone stays accountable to a timeline. This will eliminate redundancy, and save you a lot of hassle down the road when you discover that nobody has written an introduction.
Create an outline: When you are hunkering down working on your section or portion, it can be easy to lose sight of the larger project. Keep some type of outline, no matter how rough, that is shared among all members of the group.
Schedule Check-Ins: Do this in the beginning. The check-ins should be consistent, and occur even when there is very little to report. Some of your check-ins should be via phone call or face-to-face, so as not to misinterpret one’s email message.
Choose a “team leader”: this does not have to be the lead author. It should be a person who is organized, and willing to do the work to keep all collaborators on task. The team leader should also track the progress each collaborator is making, in case the schedule needs to be adjusted. Which leads us to the most important point:
Allot more time than you think you’ll need: You know that the best-laid plans often go astray. Now, multiply that by the number of collaborators involved in the project. With a little advance planning, you can make sure that you’re prepared to weather any roadblocks you encounter in completing your project. You’ll never regret having extra time.