1) Only co-write with someone whose writing you enjoy. It doesn't matter how much professional success, confidence, admiration from others someone has - unless we were genuinely proper fans of each other's work, this sort of project would be a difficult, argumentative and dissatisfying slog. (LT)

Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

2) Have a funny answer to the question 'Are you a couple?' And if, like us, you always have and always will be just friends, be prepared for no one to believe you. Seriously, it's like being in Broadmoor and trying to prove you're sane. (JR)

3) Before you write, plan! I guess you could say that's important with any writing task, but a million times more so when you're co-writing. You can't improvise or it makes the other person's version nonsense. We spend a lot of time together creating detailed character bios, plot outlines and chapter plans before we head off to write individually. (LT)

4) Learn how the other person has their tea for those planning sessions. Laura had particular difficulty with this, so I helpfully took a photo of my perfect brew and emailed it to her so she could perform a colour check every time. (JR)

5) Keep a thick skin and be open to criticism from your co-writer. Not necessarily about tea - in hindsight I should have poured Jimmy's over his crotch - but about writing. If they tell you something isn't working, trust them. Why would they lie? It doesn't mean you're crap at writing, it just sometimes needs a fresh pair of eyes to make sure it's coming across like you want it to. Jimmy once returned a chapter of mine and next to a particularly meaningful scene that I'd poured blood, sweat and time into making pretty much near-perfect, he had simply written Yuk. So I changed the entire thing. I wasn't offended. No, I'm NOT crying… I have something in my eye. (LT)

6) Good communication is vital. Particularly in the editing stage, I can barely change a thing in my chapters without it impacting on Laura's. Which is why she has sent me more than 3,500 emails over the last five years. (JR)

7) Following on from that, keeping all your correspondence in one place is an important one when you email as much as we do. Jimmy will email me as soon as something occurs to him so it's easy to miss something within the trail of emails. I now have a 'book' folder with a 'Jimmy' subfolder within it, and an 'action' subfolder within that. (LT)

8) Every author dreams of selling enough books to give up their jobs and write full-time, but few make it happen. The reality is it's even harder to realise that dream when there are two of you sharing advances and royalties. But just because you're at work, doesn't mean you can't get things done. You just need to wangle yourself a desk where no one can see your screen, and learn to use Ctrl-tab shortcut so that if anyone does come along when you're working on your manuscript, they'll think you've been beavering away on the latest company project. (JR)

N.B For the benefit of Laura's current employers in relation to the final point: Jimmy Rice's opinions are his own and do not represent those of his coauthor.