My buddy Max Allan Collins talks on his blog today about his collaborations with Mickey Spillane. Here's an excerpt:
The truth is, these are genuine collaborations, all of them. I would put them at 50%/50%. I usually take Mickey’s work, expand upon it, and extend it so that it takes up at least half of the finished product. Probably about 60% of the wordsmithing in these novels is mine. But the plot idea, and various notes, and sometimes rough drafts of endings, plus the other 40% of the writing, are all Mickey’s. That’s how it’s done. I don’t believe anything like it has ever occurred in mystery fiction, a writer of Mickey’s magnitude leaving half a dozen substantial manuscripts behind, having designated a trusted collaborator (me) to complete them.
He also talks about his collaborations with his long-time researcher Matthew Clemens, who is uncredited on the covers of Max's C.S.I. tie-ins. Max is very candid about why his name is so much bigger than Clemens' on the cover of their new "standalone" thriller, even though they equally divided the work:
A good collaboration is synergistic – two plus two equals fourteen. While there are plenty of Matt’s sentences in YOU CAN’T STOP ME, it is about as fifty/fifty a project as you can imagine…and neither of us could have done it alone.
[Bill Crider's]comment that my bigger byline on THE BIG BANG may indicate a bigger contribution by me is at odds with the truth of publishing. Often times, the bigger name of a dual byline did the least amount of work. YOU CAN’T STOP ME is very much a fifty-fifty novel by Matt and me, but my name is much larger, because I am the bigger name (at the moment). But usually with such a situation, you could safely guess that the smaller name did most or even more of the writing.
The blog post is worth reading… it's a very interesting look into the work habits of a professional writer and, to some degree, the business of writing.