collaboration: a key to success

I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993, and over the past 20+ years, time and time again I’ve realized that collaboration is and continues to be the key to my success.


Whether you’re old or young, experienced or a novice, we can all benefit from collaborating and the helping hands of others.

Indeed, freelancing can be a solitary life if you let it. But that gets you nowhere. Joining professional groups such as the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) or a similar group in your country if you’re outside of Canada is a great place to start if you’re a non-fiction writer. Those more interested in fiction, or who haven’t yet accumulated the necessary credits to join a professional association should look into joining a local writers’ guild. In Manitoba, we have the Manitoba Writers’ Guild and the Writers’ Collective. Each organization has its own personality and programming. Find the one that suits you best.

One of the highlights of collaboration in my freelance writing career was to be a co-author of the Manitoba Book of Everything, a local bestseller. I and two other writers were asked to choose which chapters we wanted to write in the book–part of a country-wide series published by MacIntyre Purcell of Nova Scotia. I received word of this project via my membership in PWAC.

The next major collaborative moment in my life was my crowdfunding campaign last year during which I raised $8,000 to help cover the editing, design, and printing costs of my new book, Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate.  It was with the help of 120 donors that we collaboratively funded this amazing book that is now opening up the doors to other collaborative activities.


It was fun having my brother (centre) and husband (right) in the crowd at the first chocolate dinner at McNally Robinson in November, 2013.

I’ve been giving chocolate talks based on my research into the world of chocolate and cacao in the Community Classroom of McNally Robinson Booksellers in Winnipeg. We’ve had a half dozen sold-out dinners so far, and have another scheduled for September 19th which I understand is already half full. Do join us if you can make it. They’re always educational, fun, and a delicious chocolate-based menu is created by the culinary team at the Prairie Ink Restaurant to satisfy and entice us.

I’ve now extended my collaborative reach further abroad, and am planning many more exciting chocolate events for the remainder of this year. Stay tuned for further details. And I’ve begun the process of seeking corporate sponsorships for Chocolatour, to enable me to continue travelling the world in search of the finest chocolate, most innovative chocolate makers and chocolatiers, and most exciting chocolate events to share with all of you in volumes II and III of Chocolatour.

All this talk and sentiment about collaboration brings me to the Beatles song, “With a Little Help From My Friends.” There is no way I could have accomplished any of the above without the help, inspiration, and encouragement from my friends, family, and colleagues in my professional networks.

How has collaboration affected your professional life? Have you had experience dealing with corporate sponsors? Please join the conversation and let’s celebrate the successes of our collaborations, and collaboratively learn from the challenges.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

36 Responses

  1. Congratulations on your newest book! I am a passionate chocolate lover! I have already featured another author and her book and it was well received. I would love to feature you and your book on If you are interested, please email me and we can explore the possibilities!

  2. maxwell ivey says:

    HI Doreen; Read this title in the comments section of another post and just had to check it out. I agree with you that very little that is special occurs without it being a group effort. I have been lucky enough to meet lots of great people such as yourself, adrienne smith, lorraine reguly, ashley faults, mitchell walker, and kelly corbin to mention a few. and I’d love to hear about your crowd sourcing efforts as well as your experience courting corporate sponsors. thanks and take care, max
    maxwell ivey recently posted…Six steps to a safe bounce house partyMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Max. Yes, the “Bloggers Helping Bloggers” group truly is special, and has helped many of us take our blogs to the next level. Several members have also become collaborative partners with me on my book and other projects, and several others have supported my crowdfunding campaign and purchased my chocolate travel book. So I’m really grateful for the support of all of you.

      I am now working with a coach to help me solicit and secure sponsors to help take my chocolate travel projects to the world at large. Stay tuned!
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the impact of colour in our livesMy Profile

  3. I couldn’t agree more with your sentiments on collaboration and what a tremendous difference they make in our professional and personal lives. Bloggers create great communities and I’ve also benefitted from collaborations with other association staff in my day job.
    Debra Yearwood recently posted…Do You Plan For Serendipity?My Profile

  4. Hi Doreen,
    Collaboration is one of my favorite words. From the Latin, it literally means to co-labor, to pull together. The Latin word colabor means refining.

    I have collaborated on a number of projects and have dealt with corporate sponsors. I organized an inaugural golf tournament at a private golf club for a chapter of MADD, had many businesses donate many quality prizes including a local car dealership risking giving away a car on the 18th hole for a hole-in-one. They all believed in the cause which easily made the event wildly successful.

    Kind Regards,
    William Butler recently posted…Maya Angelou: Her Love, Her Life, Her LegacyMy Profile

  5. Lynda Lippin says:

    Doreen, I was a solo player for so long (especially when I was in the Caribbean), and now I relish collaboration. I am lucky to be surrounded by interesting folks to collaborate with. We have all grown as a result. By the way, thanks for stopping by my blog!
    Lynda Lippin recently posted…The Changing Face and BodyMy Profile

    • Thanks for your comment, Lynda, and for finding me on Twitter! I love how the web works!

      Yes, it’s interesting at how at some points in our lives, we may be more solitary, and in others, we need to reach out more. Being a Gemini, I am a naturally collaborative person and am refuelled by the energy produced via interpersonal comm’ns. Hope to see you here again soon.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…collaboration: a key to successMy Profile

  6. Susan Cooper says:

    Little did I know when I started down the path of blogging a few years ago just how important collaboration is to being successful. Being part of blogging groups and learning from each other and helping each other grow has been very rewarding.
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Clay Station Winery Pinot Grigio: #WineMy Profile

    • Right on, Susan! You are a natural at collaborating. You are supportive, a great listener, a good team player and leader. Thanks for being an example we can all follow with pride.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…collaboration: a key to successMy Profile

    • I have to agree with both of you, Susan and Doreen!

      Being a part of something larger than yourself allows for so many more opportunities. Take me, for example. I was an unknown blogger a year ago. Then I found Bloggers Helping Bloggers (and all of my other groups and online friends) and now I have my own website for Pete’s sake!

      It took me a while to figure things out, but I did it. Now I can focus on my dreams – writing books. The only problem standing in the way is knowing how to do it all. Same old story.

      That’s where collaboration comes in. People need people, plain and simple. For help, for support, for fun, for friends. It’s hard to become accepted into a group when you have certain limitations, but I’m doing my best. I comment when I can. I support when I can. I try to connect with others when I can. It’s tough, sometimes, watching others succeed when I am stagnating. But learning how to do things so late in life (I’m 42 and have owned a computer for just over a year) is hard. I feel like am an outsider looking into a locked room and I don’t have a key.

      Collaborating with others in the sense you are referring to, Doreen, may mean something different to you, but for me, right now, it means connecting with others on some level and strengthening those connections.

      You are two nice ladies, and I’m happy to know both of you. 🙂
      Lorraine Reguly recently posted…A Sneak Peek: Which Ebook Cover Is the Best?My Profile

      • Thanks for joining the conversation, Lorraine. I think you will find your success will blossom if you truly become supportive in a sincere and substantive way. You know what they say about good karma.

        And collaboration comes in many forms. It can be as simple as what we do in BHB by helping promote one another’s posts, to becoming partners in a much larger project. Good luck with your upcoming e-book!
        WizardOfWords recently posted…the impact of colour in our livesMy Profile

  7. Jeri says:

    It’s hard to really grow at any task without opening yourself up to the possibilities of collaboration and mentoring. A person can only go so far on their own. I see so many writers who think they will be the next big thing, but they aren’t being pro-active in their planning. You are a great example of how to go about it correctly 🙂
    Jeri recently posted…#CreativeWriting: Life in a BagMy Profile

  8. Thanks for your comment, Jeannette. I love hearing about collaborations that started via LI and other social media platforms. Congrats on your mini e-book! I hope it does well for you and Pat.
    WizardOfWords recently posted…the impact of colour in our livesMy Profile

  9. Doreen — I love collaborating with other colleagues, too. Pat Weber and I wrote a mini ebook on sharpening your elevator speech. I have a couple of other friends I work with on a regular basis. In terms of coming up with creative ideas, I do think that two heads are better than one, four heads are better than two, and so on.
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…Inc. 500 Increase Use of Pinterest and Instagram to Tell StoriesMy Profile

  10. I’ve always believed in collaboration, especially with people who think they are competitors. I have created some amazing projects and partnerships this way. We work in the travel and photography industry and we have been able to create partnerships around the world to put together our tours. We couldn’t do it on our own!

  11. What a great read Doreen. You are spot on with emphasizing how critical it is to collaborate with other writers helping each other achieve success. There’s room for all of us and that’s what makes writing so great. Thanks for sharing.
    Phyllis I Turner recently posted…It’s a Blog Hop!My Profile

  12. Christina says:

    I haven’t thought about crowdfunding as way of getting a potential book off the ground and going. I’m inspired by your chocolate venturing. My goal is to publish a Washington travel guide through photography from the blog I started. I’ve attended the chocolate conference in Seattle the last few years and visited a cocoa plantation in Costa Rica. I’m fascinated (and chocolate is so yummy of course) that I’m thinking of a spin-off in that direction as well while I travel around Washington.
    Christina recently posted…Photography Tip: Quick Tips for Zoom Effect Camera TrickMy Profile

    • Chocolate travel is definitely my niche, Christina. I’ve been studying chocolate and cacao for the past 5 years and have visited more than a dozen countries doing so. I’m hoping to be a speaker this year at the Northwest Chocolate Festival. Perhaps I’ll see you there!

      Good luck with your WA travel guide.
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the impact of colour in our livesMy Profile

  13. Meredith says:

    That’s so neat to hear about your crowdfunding experience! It’s a good example of collaboration. You did the hard work of writing the book, but it probably wouldn’t have been published (at least in that way) without all your supporters. I think our BHB group has been a great impact on my and my blog, and I’m so thankful for it!
    Meredith recently posted…7 Family Friendly Summer ProjectsMy Profile

  14. Lenie says:

    Hi Doreen – Right now, for health-related reasons (and also since I’m retired), I work alone at home and do miss the collaboration that is often so helpful. That is why I love the BHB group so much – interacting with the members and learning from their posts – even post about topics I never would have thought I’d be interested in. That is my collaboration and for me it works very well.
    Lenie recently posted…A Look at Washers -Top-Load vs. Front-LoadMy Profile

  15. Hi Doreen,

    I’m just beginning my journey into freelance writing, but the very first thing I’ve learned is that I have to put myself out there if I want work. I can only do that by having people read my work. So collaboration is vital to my beginnings in this, as in most areas of life.

    Thanks for an eye-opening post!

    Lynnette O’Keefe recently posted…Scam Alert!My Profile

  16. Tim says:

    The key to any great success is collaboration and sharing. As you correctly point out Doreen the enjoyment comes not only in the finished product but also in the journey and that is achieved via other people.
    Tim recently posted…Beckoned Skyward by an EarthquakeMy Profile

  17. Paul Graham says:

    Hi Doreen. Great thought on collaboration ! As a new blogger I particularly appreciate the reference to the different writers associations and their functions. My CEO experience heavily emphasized teamwork within but we also gained much from collaborative ventures with competitors in trade associations, professional associations, industry standards groups and technical development groups. Certainly some of these have a large social component but even that is helpful and one soon learns which ones give the best payback on ones contribution.
    Paul Graham recently posted…I Just Bought A DressMy Profile

    • Hi Paul: You know what? Some of the best contacts and information I gleaned was made during social time surrounding the writer’s conferences! It’s during that off/down time that people are relaxed, and can share thoughts more freely. The title for my chocolate travel book came to life during several such sessions. 🙂
      WizardOfWords recently posted…the impact of colour in our livesMy Profile

  18. A.K.Andrew says:

    “No man/woman is an island”, and in the book & blogging world, that is most surely the truth. You did an amazing job with your crowd funding Doreen, and frankly I see you as a natural collaborator. You have been very helpful to me, and it seems in your nature to work with others. We all have different skills, and I feel sharing those skills is the secret to success on both a personal and professional level. Thanks for the post Doreen.
    A.K.Andrew recently posted…Kickstart Your #Flash Fiction With #PhotoFlashMy Profile

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