I'm an established full-time author - willing to answer questions if you have them

question

#442

Very true. I will be starting a new one soon.


#443

Hi! My biggest question is, how do I properly write and format dialogue? This really does my head in, because I like to convey what a person may be feeling, as well as what they might be doing when they say a particular line.

Here’s an except from a story of mine that I’m currently editing for the umpteenth time:

“How was your scouting trip today Scar?” Ruth queried.

Scar returned the question with a half shrug and a huff. “There is still no sign of Rick or Lord Fear. My best bet is they’ve both skipped town.”

“They won’t stay hidden for long,” added Ace, the leader of the Lightning Knights. “Soon they will have a new plan for attack and if I know Fear, he won’t want to keep his maniacal ego waiting.”

Sparx playfully rolled onto her side so she could face Ruth. “Yeah, and when Rick and that bag of bones do show their faces, we’ll be ready to kick both their butts back into White Hot Oblivion!” Sparx slammed her closed fist into her other open palm to emphasise her point.

I know about the separate paragraph rule for each speaker, but I get confused when it is a multi-layered paragraph, with actions and verbal cues all mixed together. Take the last paragraph as an example:

Sparx playfully rolled onto her side so she could face Ruth. “Yeah, and when Rick and that bag of bones do show their faces, we’ll be ready to kick both their butts back into White Hot Oblivion!” Sparx slammed her closed fist into her other open palm to emphasise her point.

Is this the correct formatting, or should it be all separate like this:

Sparx playfully rolled onto her side so she could face Ruth.

“Yeah, and when Rick and that bag of bones do show their faces, we’ll be ready to kick both their butts back into White Hot Oblivion!”

Sparx slammed her closed fist into her other open palm to emphasise her point.

This is what really keeps me up at night. Help!


#444

Bacon and brown correct answer! Also you added 10 years on me :face_with_raised_eyebrow:, well I’m writing horror / supernatural and it’s the first one, starting now to fill in those evenings working away.


#445

We’ll I had several “runs” at publishing so I guess it depends on when you start counting…

  • 1980 - 1992 - I wrote 13 novels, submitted 7 - 8 of them through queries (about 100) and got no where so I stopped writing altogehter.

  • 1992 - 2004 - I was on hiatus from writing, but stories still came to me and filled my head.

  • 2004 - 2008 - I started writing again but only on the condition that I wouldn’t publish. Somewhere along the way my wife read the books and decided they SHOULD get “out there” so she started querying and got her own pile of rejections. Eventually she did land me an agent, who shopped my series around, but it went no where, my agent left the business (had a terminally-ill husband) and my wife submitted my first book to a few small presses. One picked up the series - no advance (and never earned a dime) but it was “released” and 2,200 copies were made and sold.

  • 2009 - 2010 - I started self-publishing the books (because my publisher didn’t have the money for a press run for book #2), At some point, book #1 sold out and the rights reverted so by the end of 2010 I had 5 books self-published of a six-book series. Book #6 was due to release in early 2011, and my wife thought it would make sense to “try New York” one last time before we did that. I had a foreign rights agent (we had sold a few translations over the years) and between her and my wife they submitted to 13 acquisition editors. About 50% came back with “we’re interested and we’ll start pulling together our propoosal” - before they could do that, one of the big-five (Orbit, fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group) made a pre-emptive six-figure offer, which we accepted.

  • 2011 - 2013 I published 5 books with the big-five

  • 2014 - 2015 I self-published 2 books

  • 2016 - 2018 - I traditionally published 3 books with a different big-five publisher (Del Rey, fantasy imprint of Penguin Random House) and self-published one book.

  • 2019 - and beyond I have a seven-figure audio deal for my next series, I’ll be releasing the final 3 books in the Legends of the first Empire series (originally published by Del Rey and fully written now) because I pre-sold the audio rights for those books and PRH has changed policy regarding signing contracts for new projects (must now have audio + print + ebook).

As far as when I started earning decent money? The end of 2010 I was making about $45,000 a month in self-published income. I didn’t have a day-job but my wife had one. By April of 2011 we had enough money “in the bank as a nest egg” that she quit her day job. So since then I’ve been earning six-figures each year solely off novels. And because of pre-sold books I’ll have at least another 5 years at six-figures even if I don’t write anything else past what I have now.


#446

I salute your wife for being supportive on your passion and I’m now interested on the books you had written. I wanna read the stories you have put your heart into and soul and other things… I googled it, seems interesting. I’ll try to find your books in my local bookstore if I can.


#447

You are welcome - ranking in categories mean nothing. There are some very narrow categories where you could be #1 but your book is ranked 100,000+ across the whole store. You need to be in the top 100 to make any of the Amazon best-seller lists. Some harder than others to get on (based on whether they are a small pool or not).

For an example…I’m considered a “top seller” AUTHOR in fantasy

  • #20 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy
  • #27 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy

But my Best ranked book is ranked 7,055, which is good but not great as there 7,054 books that sell better than mine! That “best ranked” book is currently:

  • #77 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
  • #107 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Historical > Fantasy
  • #181 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Which means it’s on just one Bestseller list (Historical Fantasy) for kindle and it JUST misses the list for Books for Historical Fantasy.

One thing that helps me is I have books with “strong legs” so while no single book of mine is doing amazing, I have 11 titles that are ranked from around 7,000 - 18,000 which means I’m selling about 1,200 books a month on Amazon for ebooks. When you look at my sales across all platforms and all formats (ebook, audio, mass market paperback, trade paperback, hardcovers) I sell about 8,000 books a month.


#448

There are a lot of good guides online for formatting dialog. Here is one

Here are some things that helped me. Remember there are ACTION tags and DIALOG tags. Action tags will punctuate as a new sentence whereas dialog tags are part of the same sentence so…

  • “I don’t like you,” he said and then stormed away >> has a comma in it (the said makes it a dialog tag)
  • “I don’t like you.” He stormed away >> has a period (This is an action tag).

As to your specific examples:

  • “How was your scouting trip today Scar?” Ruth queried. >> correct (although there should be a comma before Scar - as it is a direct address.

  • Scar returned the question with a half shrug and a huff. “There is still no sign of Rick or Lord Fear. My best bet is they’ve both skipped town.” >> This one is a bit tricky because “returned the question” could be considered a dialog tag but “half shrug and huff” is definitely an action tag. If it were me - I’d declare it an action tag and keep it with the period so you are correct. There are some things in English that are subjective and so using a comma would be seen as “a better choice” for some editors, but I think the majority would say it’s a action tag and so a period should be used.

  • “They won’t stay hidden for long,” added Ace, the leader of the Lightning Knights. “Soon they will have a new plan for attack and if I know Fear, he won’t want to keep his maniacal ego waiting.” >> this is correct because you have a dialog tag. And you have two complete sentences. But…if the first dialog was the start of a sentence, and the last part was the end of one then the period after knights would be a comma and the s in Soon would be lower cased.

  • Sparx playfully rolled onto her side so she could face Ruth. “Yeah, and when Rick and that bag of bones do show their faces, we’ll be ready to kick both their butts back into White Hot Oblivion!” Sparx slammed her closed fist into her other open palm to emphasize her point. >> correct in both cases. You have two action tags so periods should be used in both cases.

As for combining the paragraphs or splitting them up. Keeping them together is the right choice. Why? Because it’s all one person speaking multiple sets of dialog (and doing actions at the same time). If there had been a second speaker in that, you would have to break them up to show the other speaker, but in this case, having all three sentences together makes sense.

I hope this helps.


How much work is involved in getting traditionally published?
#449

Since it seems 80% of ebook sales are on Amazon, I didn’t see the need to spend the time going wide so I’m exclusive to Amazon. But not always in KU.

When my novel is released, I do not put it in KU. I don’t write 150K fantasy novels so my novels are more like 70K–75K words. So I make more when someone buys my novel than when they read all the pages in KU. That’s why I don’t put it in KU when I release the book.

Now once it’s been out there for a while and the sales slow down, I put it in KU. For my most recent novel, which is the first in a series (series as defined like a series of James Bond books — same character/different stories), I will put it in KU when I release the 2nd novel in the series. It would normally have gone into KU by now, but I’m waiting for Book 2 (and I’m an incredibly slow writer). And being exclusive to Amazon, I can easily enroll in Select when the time is right.

So that’s my logic for being exclusive to Amazon and not in KU.


#450

As @MichaelJSullivan said, you need a comma before “Scar.” I believe the following example will help you remember that rule forever.

“Let’s eat, Grandma.”
“Let’s eat Grandma.”


#451

It helps quite a lot. This kind of guidance you all have have given me, here at Wattpad , is crucial. For example, I didn’t even know about Reedsy, will check that site right now. But mostly, even knowing the other two places (I’m not a member, but I have been avoiding to register at Deviant for many years, due to the more younger/hobbyist audience, and neither at 99designs as is, “kind of”, spec work. But if writers go to those places, I guess I’ll do so , too) and your advice and views are very helpful : It’s very key knowing which path has more actual options. As well as confirming other points. I’m finding quite some advice in general in the writing community, which is quite more welcoming and friendly than I would have ever expected (from any community) :slight_smile:

About adapting to what users are expecting, and niche/genre, not to what the artist would love to do… That is a very important point. I have a natural resistance in me for that. And yet…sadly, is spot on. I resisted to that while doing the art for certain game… And it took me a second round to really target our niche players’ preferences, and so we succeeded, finally. I might do covers were I’ll artistically might want to express myself in my preferred way, but at least I know now those wont really be picked by the big audience, no matter how good they would be, so, wont be my gross production, in any case.

This is exactly what happens in board/card games. Which is as well similar in that is also printed stuff, and similar in some other aspects. In my case, tested to be pretty difficult to get their attention for a gig, and once I finally was able with one of the biggest ones, had the crazy finding that I was better off with the indies: Better payment (the big company paid really low) and overall treatment, and many more papers to sign (I’ve worked at software developers, great companies, and never seen so strict NDAs ). I stayed in good relations, but it was a revelation; my idea of the big companies being “the place to go” was pretty wrong, or I wasn’t/am not willing to check if it was the odd rare case. One of the most surprising wake-up calls I’ve ever had inside a professional field.

I’m slowly trying to adapt the advice from all of you to my own circumstances. :slight_smile: Thank you very much, and to everyone else, once again. :slight_smile:


#452

Hey thanks.
Most of my books are still “in print” so if your bookstore doesn’t have them, they can order them. (or you can get signed copies from my website). The only exception to that is Age of Swords in hardcover – it is still in print in paperback. I have three series: Riyria Revelations, Riyria Chronicles, and Legends of the First Empire). When starting I recommend Theft of Swords (Riyria Revelations #1) or Age of Myth (Legends of the First Empire #1).


#453

Congratulations on your first! Unfortunately, several “first books” are good enough for publishing (either self or traditional) but that’s okay. It gets better with practice, learning techniques, and honing your craft. Stephen King says you should treat the first 1,000,000 words as practice, and Malcolm Gladwell says it takes 10,000 hours working on something to become proficient. I think those metrics are about right (and the first book I published was #14 – and I was 46 at the time).

If I were you…I’d do my best to polish it as far as you can take it and then start having others take a look. This could be alpha readers or critique partners. Until others lay eyes on it and start giving you constructive feedback on what needs work it’s impossible to say what the next step should be.


#454

I think you mean few first books…


#455

Yeah had someone have a look on here, good feedback which made me rewrite the first and second chapters, but I’m good with rewriting and rewriting again, find it hard getting someone to read it and feed back with out the transfer of hard cash (that should tell be something really). I’m only 3 chapters into the book and currently writing my 4th, still very early days. Well thanks for the advise and I’m already looking forward to book 14! Have a good Christmas pal


#456

Hey thanks for the reply - That makes a lot of sense. I’m always wide so I’m not an expert on KU - but I like the strategy you laid out…especially for you and your books. That said, though, for the OP (who has only 1 book and a really long book), I think KU would serve him better because it significantly lowers the bar to entry. For you, you already have a readership and people are going to buy a new copy because they like your stuff, and yes, in that situation, you need to maximize income per sale and being out of KU will do that for you.


#457

You are very welcome. I wish you great success! I used to do covers myself (for me and a few authors). I always enjoyed doing them.


#458

I do indeed. Metrics I use is first 1,000,000 words and 10,000 hours shouldn’t be taken too seriously. And my first pubished book was #14…though I’m a slow learner.


#459

Critique partners don’t charge - and you are probably a ways away from needing copyediting – although you will learn a lot by seeing what they correct and how. So no outlay of cash will be necessary - but it will take some time on your part to do a “quid pro quo” (reviewing their work so they will look at yours). But this time will be well spent. Usually you can see “problems” in other’s work so critiquing helps you build critical reading skills. And while telling author “x” - you shouldn’t do xyz, you’ll realize that you did EXACTLY that in your own work and then you can go correct it. When I was starting out I found reviewing other works taught me a great deal.


#460

Do you live off being an author or do you have another job to keep stable?


#461

Right I will look into it, thanks