The art of collaboration

In 1997, I helped journalist Kara Swisher write her first book: AOL.COM, the story of a then-small tech company that was changing the way we communicate. This launched my career helping people to write nonfiction books, from ghostwriting to co-authoring and everything in between.

Book collaboration is a fascinating and ever-changing art. Each author is different, and each book a puzzle we figure out together. I love exploring authors’ motivations for writing their books, diving deep into who they are, then guiding them in how to get their thoughts on the page. I’m a storyteller at heart, and I feel lucky to have helped some of the most intriguing, accomplished and eminent people in the world tell their stories.

My clients have come from all walks of life, including the worlds of music, business, politics, movies and TV. From First Lady Jill Biden to jazz great Herbie Hancock, from California Governor Gavin Newsom to gospel singer (and mother of Whitney Houston) Cissy Houston, from entrepreneur Sheila Johnson to the actor Patrick Swayze, I’ve had the good fortune to meet and work with some truly inspiring people.


Selected acknowledgments from authors:  


George Stephanopoulos, The Situation Room: 

“Lisa Dickey is the Platonic ideal of a co- writer. Curious, diligent, always upbeat. She has a quick pen, a clear mind and an open heart. I couldn’t—and wouldn’t—have written this book without her.”


Tammy Duckworth, Every Day is a Gift: 

“There’s no way this book would have gotten written were it not for my collaborator, Lisa Dickey, who devoted so much energy to learning my voice… No one else could’ve made this book speak the way you have. Thank you.”


Jill Biden, Where the Light Enters: 

“Thank you to Lisa Dickey, who listened to my stories for hours and hours and hours. She skillfully shaped the framework for all of my stories, providing invaluable perspective. Lisa is a master of her craft. Ultimately, she offered friendship, and for that I am grateful.”


Patrick Swayze and Lisa Niemi, The Time of My Life: 

“It took a lot of work to bring this book together, and it wouldn’t be what it is without the help of Lisa Dickey. Her focus, suggestions, and skill at helping shape a story are fantastic. She is a joy to work with, and we’d work with her again in a heartbeat.”


Cissy Houston, Remembering Whitney:

“Lisa Dickey – thank you for giving yourself to this book just when we needed you. I appreciate your tireless efforts more than I can say.”


Gavin Newsom, Citizenville: 

“I had the joy and delight of working and collaborating with Lisa Dickey – I could not have asked for a better partner throughout this project.”


Roberta Kaplan, Then Comes Marriage:

“This book would never have happened had Lisa Dickey not come to me a year ago and proposed to help me chronicle our journey on the Windsor case. I am so grateful to her for creating order out of disorder and for helping me to find my voice.”


Cathie Black, Basic Black: 

“Lisa Dickey, my collaborator, was the perfect choice. She sat with me for dozens of hours, attended speeches and meetings, and talked to friends and colleagues, all the while pulling stories and ideas from the far reaches of my mind, some of which were cobwebbed over. But she was always there with a ready laugh or a shake of the head, and she always told me when something didn’t make sense or when there wasn’t enough of a lesson in the story. She kept an even keel throughout it all and somehow managed to deliver the book on time, despite a move to Los Angeles during the final editing.”


Bob Baer, The Devil We Know: 

“This book could not have been written without Lisa Dickey, editor, book doctor, skeptic, and invaluable scold. Every morning I turned on my computer to find an email from her challenging one thing or another. “Why should the reader care?” she’d ask. Lisa made sure that irrelevant trivia, which so often find their way into books written by people who spend their lives in the Middle East, stayed out, and she put everything neatly in order.”

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