Co-author credits (pt. 2): "And" vs. "With" meaning?

Mods: I understand there’s also an element of opinion-requesting in this post, so if it should’ve gone to IMHO, my apologies!

*Disclaimer: This is not about screenwriting credits. I know the difference between “and” and “&” when it comes to the WGA rules (where “&” indicates a collaborative partnership and “and” indicates two writers working on separate drafts of the script). But this is for fiction, where there are no such rules. *

This is somewhat related to a question I posed off in Café Society last year, but I think it’s more appropriate in GQ since I’m looking for a factual answer… assuming one exists.

Question 1: In general, what is the difference between a co-author/collaborator credit that reads:


as opposed to


I’ve looked up some sources and most references appear to indicate that the former is an equal partnership, whereas the “with” credit indicates that the first person is a non-writing expert in some field, while the second person listed is the actual author.

So if I’m translating that correctly, in my examples above, the first credit indicates that Sally and Jane wrote the book together. In the second version, Sally is some sort of professional expert but not a writer, who provided info to Jane–and Jane did the heavy lifting in writing the book.

Question 2: Is “with” ever used in fiction? If so, does anyone know of examples?
Question 3: The Opinioning: This question was inspired by a different set of circumstances from my original thread. In this case, I was developmentally editing one of the author’s old trilogies, and since things in Book 2 were in grievously bad shape, she needed more than standard help there, to the point where she needed me to develop the entire new book outline. As with the other set of books, she has offered me a co-author credit on that second book, which is extremely generous of her and I would indeed like to take her up on it.

So the plot/character developments are all mine, while the author is doing 95% of the writing (I’ll eventually just go through and do line editing afterwards, before sending it to a separate proofreader).

This being the case, is this a “with” or “and” situation? If I’m Jane and she’s Sally, I would think what’s most fair would be having her name first in bigger letters, with mine second in smaller text (and an “and”).


The other two books in the series are hers alone and she should get primary credit, no doubt.

What would be correct in this situation? Is there a “correct” when it comes to fiction?

I’m not sure about fiction, but with screenplays, the use of “and” and “&” have different meanings.

One is for writers who collaborated, the other is for when I screenplay is rewritten (beyond minor editing) by someone else.

Heh, thanks, PorchePine. That’s what my disclaimer was about–I know that screenwriting has its own rules (at least acc. to the WGA – other countries’ screenwriting unions/guilds may be different).

For the record, “&” is the one for true collaborators/writing teams. “And” indicates that a script was written by one person, then redrafted by another. There are a bunch of other situations that require still different credits when it comes to TV and film production, e.g. when someone just writes a treatment, then that’s scrapped and another person writes an entire script, etc. Then you start getting into “Story by” and other related credits.

But that’s TV and film. Books are, fortunately, a whole other ball of wax.

Cool. Everybody who has ever been on the Internet knew that your disclaimer would be ignored at some point in the thread, but the speed at which it occurred is a state, regional, and time zone record. :slight_smile:

I don’t think there is any formal or even universally recognized way “and” and “with” are used. I know I once wrote a book for an expert who wasn’t a writer and got an “and” credit.

When I read a “with” credit on most nonfiction and even most fiction, I normally assume that the second party had done enough work to warrant a name on the cover but was not in any way an equal partner. Maybe they wrote one chapter or one section or contributed to the initial idea.

On a celebrity biography, however, I might conclude that “with” signaled the ghostwriter, as you suggest. Context certainly would play a role.

“And” always looks better than “with.” If you are offered an “and” grab it. The details are nobody’s business.

Ah, Exapno! I had a feeling (and hope) that either you, Ascenray or RealityChuck would be peeking into this thread. Like bees to honey.

I wish I could adequately express how much this cracked me up. :smiley:

See, now that’s exactly what I would assume. All the sources I found that said the opposite really surprised me. Here’s one example of a source that led me to confusion:

From on Ghostwriters, Joint Authors & Collaborations Agreements:

But as you say, this is the case where it’s a celebrity/expert whose name is likely to be the one selling the book, rather than the writer. Unfortunately the only articles that discussed credits in collaborative works focused solely on such cases of experts/celebrities & writers – never just two joint authors. That’s why I’ve been a bit stymied. There probably aren’t that many “with” credits in fiction. Maybe the James Patterson Blockbuster Factory™ uses it? I’ll have to check on that.

(As an aside… one link took me to a ghostwriting company that charges $0.25 a word for fiction. Dayum! Had no idea ghostwriting could be that lucrative for those with a talent for it. Good for them.)

Heh, true. I guess I just want to be fair to the author, and don’t quite feel I deserve an “and.” But you’re right, and I’m delighted to be included since it wasn’t part of our contract (then again, neither was the amount of work I did, so she’s getting a steal there!). It’ll feel appropriate if my name is second and smaller than hers.

Thanks, Exapno Mapcase. You’re reliably helpful in publishing-related threads, and I’m grateful whenever your name shows up.

It is intended to be ambiguous and duplicitous. If there was no intent to deceive the readership, it would just say “Ghost-written by [hack writer]”, and/or “Based on anecdotes from [super star]”.

I :frowning: the Internet.

That’s probably true in context but it becomes misleading if you don’t know the jargon.

A work-for-hire is a specific term of art. Since the Copyright Law assigns copyright to the author as soon as the work is in a tangible form, some provision must be made for a preemptive assignment of copyright to an employer. A work-for-hire contract must be signed that specifies that the work will be copyright in the employers name. Those cases are separate from other types of collaborations. In fact, the copyright on my collaboration reads Expert and Me. I did not sign away my rights.

Your situation is obviously also different. How you decide on copyright if you register the book is subject to negotiation between the two of you. Even if the other author retains copyright, this is totally separate from any author credits.

Much appreciated.