In the final year of my graduate Written Communications program, I was writing the first draft of my memoir about raising three children with autism. I worked the special education discussion groups on LinkedIn to build up my platform. In one of these discussions, a parent “expert” with a chip on his shoulder kept haranguing a guy with a doctorate – a real expert in special education. On a whim, I sent Dr. Lauer an encouraging private message. Little did I know what I was getting myself into!
We exchanged a few messages before Dr. Lauer asked me if I’d be willing to share a story of my experiences with special education services. He was compiling a book full of parents’ stories and his analyses. The book was called When the School Says No, How to Get the Yes! As I was sharing my story, I mentioned my own academic accomplishments. Before I knew it, I had my first major editing client!
We worked together for several months. Even though we were not able to meet in person, we came to know each other very well. We touched base once a week using Skype. It seemed every other week I had a new special education experience to regale him with and he was always eager to listen. These stories didn’t make it into the book, of course, but I learned a lot about special education from his responses. In turn, I taught him a lot about publishing and marketing his book. When the book was finally finished and on its way to the publisher, we realized that neither of us wanted this collaboration to end.
We had so many ideas! It took us awhile to figure out which joint project we should tackle first. After a few false starts and a few health crises, we settled into our new project. This time, I’m not just the editor, either. We’ve been working together from the very beginning and I will be credited as a co-author of this next book. Our friendship has been fire-tested by all the ups and downs. We know we can get through whatever happens next because we’re a perfect fit. We make a great team. And, it all started with a few comments on a LinkedIn discussion board.
Stephanie Allen Crist is a writer, advocate, and marketer. Stephanie’s first two books, Discovering Autism / Discovering Neurodiversity: A Memoir and First Steps – Understanding Autism, are available now. Learn more by visiting https://www.StephanieAllenCrist.com and be sure to check out Caressing the Muse, Stephanie’s writing blog.