Last night I had a back and forth AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit.
Q: What is your muse?
A: I'm a big gamer. I love open world RPGs: Kingdom Come, Assassin's Creed series, ect.
I am also into Game of Thrones and other medieval fantasy TV series and movies.
As I'm writing, I listen to a lot of Celtic instrumentals, as well as violin and sad orchestra soundtracks on YouTube to get me into the dark and gritty mindset to write the more intense scenes.
Q: What authors do you like best?
A: My all time favorite would have to be Stephen King for sure. I love a good story with dark elements. As for indie and self-published authors, I would have to go with Jenna Moreci. Her story The Savior's Champion is so amazing and captivating.
Q: How long does it take to write, publish, and bring a book to market?
A: That varies from author to author, and from book to book. I'm finally getting ready to publish my first novel, The Battle For Metagore. I first got the idea of the story and started to work on writing it in August of 2015; and now I'm looking at having it published in "hopefully" May 2019. So, from concept to publication, it will have taken not quite 4 years.
From creating a concept and writing the first draft, it took me almost 2 years. Then with the second draft and the beta process, it took only about 3 or 4 months. Then another 3 or 4 months on writing the third draft. I started the editing phase in April of this year, and it lasted until the end of September. In mid-October, I had a cover designer start on the cover; and at the time, she is finished with the front cover and is currently working on the full wrap. My formatter just started last week, and he should be done "hopefully" sometime this month or in January. After all of that, it will finally be ready for publication, but I will be doing some marketing and building the hype up for the story until the May release date.
Q: I have always loved writing myself. Have started books, but never finished them. How do you stay motivated?
A: I was the same way. I started a book back in 2004 or '05, but never finished it. I think what helped the most to stay motivated was the community over on Booksie. I had always let my friends and family read parts of my other story, and they seemed to like it, but there's always the possibility that they just liked the story because it was my story and not because it was any good. So, when I started to write The Battle For Metagore, I posted the first 2 drafts up on Booksie to get feedback from complete strangers. And the love and support that I received on it really helped motivate me to keep at it. Even with only posting early rough drafts, I received over 43,000 views and over 300 reviews. It also at one point became the second most recommended story on the site out of almost 400,000 stories. So, those numbers and the support of authentic readers and supporters, together helped me stay motivated.
Q: I’m gathering Booksie is a site for enthusiasts of amateur writers? And is it necessary to be financially secure prior to committing to a project?
A: Yes, Booksie is a site for writers and readers to go and find free works of writing of all genres and lengths (kind of like Wattpad, if you've ever heard of that site). As far as being financially secure, it's not a necessity. I am far from being "financially secure". During most of the spending stage, my wife was a stay-at-home-mom to our 3 children, but with a good budgeting plan, we made it through all right. And when it comes to getting started at looking for an editor or designers, I would not go the cheap rout. It cost me about $1,100 for an editor, which is on the low end of the price range (I had talked to some that wanted roughly $6,000 for a story my size, which is more on the high end). An average copy editor will usually run you about 2-4 cents a word. As for my cover designer and formatter, I went through the same company and got a bundle deal for paperback and ebook, and it ran me about $500 dollars (which I have some author friends who have paid just that for a cover, which I think they got it in hardback as well). Plus there are other expenses, such as purchasing ISBNs and copyrights and such, which can run several hundred dollars as well.
Most professionals and organizations will work with you on the payment, to some regards. For my editor, I just sent him small portions at a time instead of sending him the whole thing at once, running me around $50-100 depending on how much I had available at the time. And for my cover and formatter, they require half the payment up front when you make a purchase, then later on, once they finish, they require the second half of the payment before they send you the final product.
Q: I assume it was a leap of faith in some rights to even take up such a risky investment. With the rise of the tech age, are ink on paper books sales still profitable? And do you have audio and digital forms of your work for greater mass appeal?
A: It is a risky investment, but in all honesty, an author makes a higher rate of royalty from an ebook or audiobook than they do with physical copies. And yes, I will have it available for ebook once it comes out, and I plan to eventually have it in audiobook format as well; but that will be later on in time (probably once the series is completed).
Q: You seem to really enjoy writing. How did you first decide that was your calling?
A: In 2004/2005 when I started my first book, it was just a class project that I had to do. Then over the years I just goofed off and added to it, not really doing it for the purpose of publishing it. But it 2015 when I started The Battle For Metagore, I wanted to do a fantasy story about a war that wasn't just elves vs goblins vs whatever. I wanted all of my races intertwined with the others and all fighting side-by-side and against each other.
It wasn't until I had completed about half of my first draft that I really started to fall in love with my characters and the story. And by the time I started my second draft I knew that I wanted to see it through and get it published. It was around that time in which I decided I wanted to be an author, a builder of worlds so to speak. And for the past few years, I've been slowly striving to be a published author.
Q: I’ll be sure to look for your book myself. Knowing a bit of the journey and sacrifice is inspiring. I truly hope you receive the success you desire. Do you have plans for a follow up to this story?
A: Thanks, that means a lot to me. It's not out yet, but I'm planning to release it on May 21st, 2019 (hopefully), but that is subject to change. You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates (@DLStewartAuthor). I post regularly on FB and Twitter, and I plan on posting more on Instagram in the new year to help promote the release of the book. Also I have a website and a monthly newsletter I send out with the current status of my works and any events that I'll be attending for the month. www.dlstewartauthor.com/mailing-list.
And yes, The Battle For Metagore is the first in a 4 book series, and I am currently working on chapter 5 of the second book. As well as, the story takes place on a fantasy world that I have created with multiple continents, and I plan on writing other stories in the future that takes place on the other lands once I complete my Metagore Series.
Q: Do you have a word of advice for any aspiring authors? Something you wish you had known from the start that would have been beneficial?
A: I would say to never stop writing. It doesn't matter if you hit a road block in your story or can't think of the right word to use, just type up some ### and keep going. I have personally done this quite a lot; I have even done this with entire scenes. But the key is to never stop. Throw some ### in there and keep going forward with your story. If you stop, it takes you out of the rhythm and flow of your story and it is difficult to get back into the same state-of-mind afterwards. You can always go back and fill in the right words, or write any scenes that you skipped over later whenever they come to you, but don't stop and stress over it while you're drafting.
I think Robin Stevens said it perfectly: "First drafts are always horrible and ugly. Don't worry about that – it's the same for everyone. Just remember that the first draft is as bad as the book is ever going to be, and if you keep redrafting, one day you will look at your horrible book and realize that you've turned it into something actually quite beautiful."