Friday, July 30, 2010

Meet Danish Authors Lina Lauridsen and Line Morkbak: Be Inspired By Their Collaboration

Hi Everyone, Some time ago, Lena Lauridsen and Line Morkbak wrote to us and told us their 'good news story' of across-the-globe collaboration to write Verden Kalder (The World is Calling), an inspirational guide for Danish families living abroad.  Their book shares the experiences of more than 100 Danish expat families from 69 countries, and covers a wide variety of expat issues, including: culture shock; life as a trailing spouse; pregnancy and childbirth abroad; raising children; and repatriation.

Unfortunately their book is not yet available in English, so we are not profiling their book on our main Expat Women site.  However, we thought that Lena and Line's online collaboration was a real inspiration to other expat women wanting to write/collaborate with co-authors abroad, so we wanted to profile these two great ladies here on our blog instead...

Expat Women: Lena and Line, congratulations for your great achievement of collaborating long-distance to write your book. Whose idea was this book and how was the idea conceived?

Line: The idea was conceived while Lena was living in Mexico.  Lena and her husband had just moved abroad, and Lena went from having her own career to being a 'trailing spouse'.  After navigating the transition, she became pregnant and gave birth to her first child.  During this whole experience she wished she had some sort of resource or guidebook to help her through the process – a book that would reassure her (and other trailing spouses and new mothers abroad) that all of her thoughts and feelings were “normal.”

Expat Women: How did you meet and/or know of each other?

Lena: We were both members of an online Yahoo-group: Danish Mothers Abroad. We “met” during an online discussion and started e-mailing each other.  Line was about to start up her consultancy firm “CultureCrossing,” so we had many mutual interests and shared ideas.  I asked Line to co-author the book, with the idea that two writers’ perspectives could create an even better book.  At this point we had not yet met face-to-face – we communicated primarily through e-mails and Skype conversations.

Expat Women: What were some of your challenges and how did you overcome them?

Line & Lena: Our first challenge was the time difference (Lena was living in the United States and Line in Slovakia) and the fact that it was difficult to meet in person. (We only met twice during the writing process.)  We had to establish some ground rules for communication very early on.  Misunderstandings are common in a virtual environment and the collaboration could have very easily turned disastrous.  We always asked for clarification when in doubt; we explained everything to each other in detail.  We had all our plans, deadlines and so on, in writing, making it easy for us both to keep track simultaneously.

Once we had the structure for the book in place, we divided the chapters between us.  When one of us completed a first draft, the other took over the editing.  We sent the drafts back and forth so many times that it is difficult for us to know now exactly who wrote what!

Expat Women: What efforts have you made to gain business support for your book and what has been the reaction?

Line & Lena: Going to publishers was a learning experience. We got three “no’s” before we settled on an agreement (it is difficult to publish a Danish book, as the market for Danish books is quite small).  During a meeting with Boersens Forlag (which is the publisher in Denmark on business issues) the editor first turned down the project, but then came up with the idea of getting Danish international companies to support the book financially, making it a smaller risk for the publisher.

After some negotiation, a deal was made that if we could find approximately US$35,000 in sponsor money from Danish companies, they would publish the book.  We managed to find four companies who said 'yes' and we achieved the required sponsorship in only three months. We even got an offer from one of the most influential CEOs in Denmark to write our book's Introduction!

Expat Women: Where do you each live now?

Lena: Line still lives in Oregon on the West Coast with her husband and two children.  I repatriated back to Denmark however in September 2008.

Expat Women: Thank you very much, Lena and Line! We look forward to seeing the English version of Verden Kalder in the future, and wish you and your book the very best success!

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