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



Yup, sure


? Most boards police the TROLL, not responsible people trying to defend themselves and others from the troll.


@MichaelJSullivan I would actually have a question for you, on behalf of somebody who has not made it into the community yet.

I believe I read something in your post on how to structure your day as a writer. Now, you are a fulltime writer, authoring is your profession.
What advice would you have for a hobby author? What strategy can you recommend that goes beyond the simple “You MUST write X words per day”.
Thanks, as always, for your help!!



I plan to publish an e-book, and I’m wondering if this type of formatting is “unacceptable” or not.

For inner thoughts I use single quotation marks and italic ‘This is inner thought.’ It’s a habit I got from another site and since Grammarly deletes all types of formatting, I do it to mark it for myself too.

I use indent for every paragraph as it’s normal in my country, but the book is in Engish and thus made for the whole world. I was told by one person I shouldn’t do that and keep the indent only for the first paragraph of each chapter.

Also, if I use a famous name as a part of a joke or puns like Schwarzenegger or Jackson, am I violating copyright? Can I use words like Twitter, Coca Cola or names of fictional characters (from anime, TV series, Pixar movies) in my book at all? Do I need to go and change Koka Kola for it to be okay?

Thank you so much and have a wonderful day :heart:


How to format inner thought depends on what POV you’re using:

  • In First Person all of the narrative is technically inner thought, so you don’t need any special formatting.
  • In Third Limited direct inner thoughts are usually italicized, but they don’t have quotes (single or double).
  • In Third Omniscient there technically shouldn’t be any inner thoughts because you’re in the narrator’s pov, not a character’s. To include inner thoughts is to head hop.

In the US we indent every paragraph, but we do not have extra space between paragraphs. Pick one or the other – an indent OR extra space between paragraphs. Either will work all right.

You may reference famous people and use names like Twitter or Coca Cola or names of movies. Just don’t include quotes or have their characters appear in your story.


Okay I have only two questions.

  1. How do I go about self-publishing my book? or getting a publisher?

  2. What platforms are best for using social media marketing?

I appreciate any and all answers and advice


Some of your questions are style questions (verses grammar). The publishing industry seems to follow the Chicago Manual of Style or some modification of it. That’s what I do.

Inner thoughts are put in italics without quotes: Where are they? he thought.

You indent each paragraph except the first one in a chapter or scene.

A company name is trademarked, not copyrighted. You can use them as long as you capitalize them. Words like thermos used to be a brand name, but after being used as a common noun (not capitalized) the company lost the trademark. That’s why companies might go after you if you don’t capitalize it. You also can’t make the product look bad. For example, Mercedes might come after you if you have the Mercedes in your story constantly breaking down.

One other thing about trademarks. You can’t have characters like Harry Potter in your story. Disney, for example, is one company very protective of their characters.


Even though I write everyday, I do read what I wrote the day before to get me “up and running” in short order. And I also am an outliner, although the outline will sometimes change as I write the book when I discover a better ending than I started out with. The important thing for me, though, is I don’t make the switch until I’m sure where the new endpoint is.


I obviously missed some stuff…so I don’t know the entirety of your original post. But let me chime in on some aspects that should be important for all writers.

No book will be 100% perfect from a standpoint of grammar. Sometimes, we break the grammar rules for a dramatic reason - a one word, or several word “non sentence.” Other-times, it’s because there are some rules that are “flexible” - or vary between style guides. For instance the use of the Oxford comma (desired according to the Chicago Manual of Style) but not used by the AP style guide. Then there are judgement calls. An opening prepositional phrase should be offset by a comma, but if it’s short, sometime the comma is eliminated. But how short is short? Some will use 5 words as the cutoff, other three. So if your threshold is 3 and you see 5, then you might see it as an error when it’s actually a question of style.

Then there is the fact that for any book there are literally millions of ways to make a mistake. Anything from wrong capitalization, to typos, to punctuating a dialog tag as an action tag. There are even more obscure aspects (such as question tags) that an author may not even be aware of. That’s why we have copyeditors but no matter how good a copy editor is, they can’t catch everything. The enormity of the task is just too great. If there is a million ways to “screw something up” then even an error rate of .005% will yield 50 mistakes. In a book of say 400 pages that’s 1 every 8 pages which sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t. For instance, a missing period at the end of dialog or a comma where a period should be will be overlooked by most.

Because no editor can catch everything I often suggest that authors hire 2 “lower priced” editors than 1 “expensive one.” The cost of the editor is NOT going to necessarily determine how many or few errors they find, but having a second pair of eyes is always a help.

Now, in the case of SchuylerThorpe, he’s often mentioned how long and how much his editing cost, which, of course, has made people look to see if he got his money worth. This, combined with his assertion that his book has very few errors (I forget the actual number but I think it was something like 32 or so), has made people look at his book with a fine-toothed comb. And yes, there are mistakes, many more than there should be given how much time and effort he and his editor but into the work.

So, what can we learn from this? (1) don’t go around claiming your book to be “the best-edited novel in history” (because it’s not going to live up to that standard) and (2) that people are wrong about it having errors because that makes matters worse.

If I were SchuylerThorpe, I’d stop doing both of these thigns and I’d send the book for another round of copyedits. Will it get everything out? No, but it’ll get closer.

Now, I’ve not read the book myself, but I did look at the sample, and I did see the errors so I can see wher ethe 1-star review is coming from. To me the bigger problem with this book is that it has ONLY 1-star reviews (at least the last time I looked). We all get 1 star reviews, but having 1 or 2 in a sea of 100 is one thing, having 8 out 8 – ouch, that’s going to be a problem so you need to improve the quality.


I obviously missed a lot of drama…let me weigh in on a few thing.

SchuylerThorpe has a tendency to (a) hijack threads (b) post very inaccurate information about the business of publishing and © bring everything back to his book (as if we didn’t know it existed). I, and others, tend to “sweep behind him” to counteract the false statements (so that others don’t get the wrong idea. I’ve noticed as of late that the mods are editing his posts, and berating those who are trying to clear up the misconceptions. Personally, I think they should remove his threads, but I’m not the mods and they can monitor their site as they think fit.


Hey there. you are correct in that writing is my full-time gig, so I do it everyday…just like others who “go to the office” except that I’m 7-days a week and I can’t tell the difference between a weekend and a weekday.

For people who have to balance work and writing, I have a few suggestions, but keep in mind that each author has to find what works for them, and you might have to do things a bit differently.

  1. Carve out a set time each week - it doesn’t have to be every day but make sure you are writing for at least 5 hours a week. Maybe 1 hour on Mon, Wed, Fri, and 2 on the weekends.

  2. Get up early or stay up late to get your writing in. This is especially helpful if you have family responsibilities (spouse and kids) who will be asleep during the wee or late hours of the day.

  3. Make a pledge to your significant other. Explain to them how important your writing is to you and ask them to do some extra lifting so you can have your time to write. Maybe that means they do the grocery shopping, or the dishes, or the laundry or some task that has historically been yours. But, and here’s the important thing.You MUST WRITE during that time. No playing games, watching television or hunting around the Internet. When you get your novel done, give back by taking over a task from the significant other for a while to give back for them picking up the slack.

Personally, I’ve never had this problem. Even before I was a professional writer I had a wife who was the sole income provider for our household, so I didn’t have to balance work and writing, but I realize that was a luxury that not everyone has.


The convention I use for "direct inner thought is italics WITHOUT any quotations. This is also what I’ve seen in other novels. Whether anything else is “acceptable” or not, I can’t say because there are many “style guides” and I’m sure your approach is probably used by at least some of them. But if you want to go with “the norm” I’d say remove the single quotes.

In the US we use indents for each paragraph as well, I’m not sure who told you otherwise. Now some books DO NOT indent the first paragraph of a new chapter (and sometimes use drop caps to make it stand out. Bottom line the way you are doing it now, where you indent each paragraph is the norm.

Yes, you can use names of people and products in your writing. The thing to be careful about is “direct quoting” in particular with regards to songs (the music community polices this pretty strictly. Having one line from a song, or a few lines (no more than 3) is fine. And you can even use catch phrases, like “I’ll be back” for Schwarzenegger. Just don’t quote large segments of something that exists elsewhere.


If you want a publisher, you should start by getting an agent, which is done through the query process. Here is a link that should help you. Writing Query Letters & Where to send them

If you want to self-publish, you need to learn all the tasks that a publisher does, and then determine how you can get those tasks done for your book (this generally means hiring freelancers for things such as cover design, copy editing, layout, and ebook formatting). This: APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book
is a pretty good book for that.

As for social media – I think Goodreads is the best place to be, because it’s 100% dedicated to readers. An author’s guide to goodreads is a good place to start to learn more about it.


That is super feedback (as always), thank you. I will pass that on pronto. The bit with the “significant other” is actually very relevant.
I’m the breadwinner in our marriage (only in the last three years, mind you). I’m also the “budding author”. haha.
Well, my husband is the best coach I could ever dream of. he reads my stuff (with a VERY critical eye) and is my first beta.
This sort of support, even if one is not a pro, is worth a fortune.


Hey, @MichaelJSullivan I’m having a hard time searching for a literary agent, would a small press company that accepts submissions directly from the author themselves be possible?


Small presses accept submissions without an agent. But what can that small press do for you that you can’t do yourself? That’s the question you need to ask.


I’d like to do Traditional publishing, but I can’t find any agents that take NA fantasy (Yes there’s fantasy but it’s mostly the protagonist searching to be free from being bullied by his classmates. So since he’s 18 it’s considered NA. (I think as I don’t remember if the age was 18 or 21 to late 20’s, correct me if I’m wrong please?)


Just call it adult fantasy. Actually at that age, you could get away with querying agents who rep either adult or YA.


Really? :open_mouth:


Well, that doesn’t make much sense on their part. When a troll is bothering people, mod your board so the troll isn’t bothering people.