I am John Arthur Betts, I write and publish Fantasy books for children and young adults, Ask Me Anything.

John Arthur Betts
Dec 2, 2017

Are you writing your first book or have you finished the manuscript but don't know what to do next.

We have all been there, I can point you in the direction of some helpful sites, templates and podcasts that will help.

Do you have to pay out loads of money to make it work? how do you decide which path to follow?

If these are things you want to know, just ask. 


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How many of your creations have been published?

Dec 8, 10:54PM EST0

9 are published as eBook's and 8 as a paperback, next one probably Jan/Feb 2018

Dec 9, 3:40AM EST0

How long is your writing career and who is your role model type author in your life ?

Dec 6, 2:22PM EST0

I started writing at about age 5 that's 62 years ago but I didn't publish until 2013, I like a varied assortment of Authors Tolkien, Stephen King, Alan Dean Foster, EA Poe, Enid Blyton, I think my role model is a mix of them all.

Dec 6, 3:16PM EST0

What literary genres attract you the most? Who is your favorite author?

Dec 5, 2:58AM EST0

Fantasy and Sci-Fi, Alan Dean Foster and Edgar Alan Poe

Dec 5, 3:56AM EST0

Who is the first person who read your complete manuscript?

Dec 4, 8:23AM EST0

As soon as it is complete it is always my wonderful wife, The Boss has to be first.

Dec 4, 8:36AM EST0

What era are your novels usually telling about?

Dec 4, 12:36AM EST0

An era when Dragons ruled the world, it is up to the reader to decide they are Fantasy.

My latest work in progress is set at the end of the next Ice Age.

Dec 4, 3:40AM EST0

How long does the final revision of the book usually take?

Dec 3, 9:21PM EST0

Usually  5 or 6 weeks depending on how quick my beta readers are, I work on 4 weeks beta reading and revision and 2 weeks formatting and cover design.

If it takes longer that's fine, I'm not in a rush.

Dec 4, 3:37AM EST0

How did you understand first that you wanted to write a book?

Dec 3, 8:16PM EST0

I have always written stories ever since I was a child but finding a publisher was impossible, a few years before I retired I found Smashwords.

Now I have 9 eBooks and 8 paperback books published and another one almost finished.

Dec 3, 8:33PM EST0

How many bookstores cooperate with you in selling your books?

Dec 3, 6:46PM EST0

I haven't tried bookstores but my books are available in some supermarkets and newsagent via Kobo.

Dec 3, 6:56PM EST0

How do you feel about criticizing your work? How do you cope with it?

Dec 3, 6:11AM EST0

I am all for constructive criticism, it helps you become better, I may not agree with some but I will always make a note of it.

I also give it when I beta read and I hope it is taken in the way it is meant.

I do get annoyed when I see another Author being attacked with destructive comments, there is never any justification for that.

On a personal level, it doesn't affect me, I note down comments and if I agree I will make changes if not I won't.

Dec 3, 6:20AM EST0

Who became the prototype of the main characters of your stories?

Dec 3, 5:38AM EST0

That's difficult to answer, I think it's fair to say they come from people I have met in the past, it's a colourful world out there.

Someone once said, "I want to give you a big tip", I thought "great, money in the bank", then they continued,  "wear a mac in the rain". it was a great tip but not what I was expecting.

You can draw from all sources to make a character and mix them up, it amuses me to put someone in a position that would really make the base character squirm.

Dec 3, 5:52AM EST0

How do you feel about poetry? Have you ever tried to write poems?

Dec 3, 5:38AM EST0

I like poetry and I have written some but I am not confident enough to publish any, Who knows, I might at some time.

Dec 3, 5:41AM EST0

I have several ideas for the novel but I don't know where to start. Could you give me some advice?

Dec 3, 4:51AM EST0

That's easy, pen on paper and write, seriously, once you write chapter one, let your ideas flow.

It doesn't matter if it makes sense, just let your mind go and write.

Which idea is the brightest light in your mind, write it down, does it contain any characters? are they good or bad? write it down, let your mind play with it but write every thought down.

Always have a notebook with you, you never know when that link you need in your story will hit you, write it down.

When you finish the first draft the hard work starts, you must read through and get the story to make sense, get it to flow even re-write some sections.

Good Luck, I can recommend the #SmartAuthor podcast by #MarkCoker available on Itunes and Smashwords, it may help you form your stories and give you an insight into Indie Publishing

Dec 3, 5:17AM EST0

Why did you choose this genre? Have you ever tried writing in other genres?

Dec 3, 4:42AM EST0

My first love in writing terms is Dragons, Magic, Elves and adventure, I have a second, Sci-Fi with its spaceships, distant planets and mystery.

I have an idea on the back burner that could be a Horror but I am not sure yet.

Yes, I would write any genre if the ideas pop into my head.

Dec 3, 5:01AM EST0

What literary genres attract you the most and why?

Dec 3, 4:35AM EST0

My favourites are Fantasy and Sci-fi, it is so easy to get lost with Dragons, Wizards or Spaceships.

I also enjoy reading Murder Mystery and Paranormal Thrillers and even Poetry.

If I can "feel" the book I am reading, the genre is not important.

Dec 3, 4:54AM EST0

How much time do you spend writing a story?

Dec 3, 4:09AM EST0

My present work in progress has been in the making for 12  months, I hope to publish in 2 months time, the fastest book I have written took just one month.

A lot depends on outside influences and coffee, editing and re-writing takes a lot of time but must be done before I start formatting ready to upload.

Now if you include thinking time, it could be years, I already have several other stories in my head (and notes on paper) but I like to get 1 published before I start the next.

Dec 3, 4:24AM EST0

How does your family relate to your creativity? Do they like your books?

Dec 3, 3:37AM EST0

My family always thought I was weird, they do seem to like my books.

 My sister writes murder mystery/ paranormal romance so I am in good company

Dec 3, 3:41AM EST0

Which do you think is catches a reader's interest?

Dec 2, 8:50PM EST0

I think it is probably the characters and how they interact, for me as a reader I want the story to flow, I like to vanish into any book I am reading and become part of it.

Dec 3, 3:37AM EST0

How do you come up with titles for your books? How do the titles reflect the essence of your stories?

Dec 2, 6:01PM EST0

The titles just seem to appear, I am usually on chapter 2 or 3 before I know what the title is.

I have only had two titles before I started writing, Christmas and the Snow Dragon and my present work in progress.

I think the title has to give a clue to the story, it would be no good calling a book "Coffee" if it was about "Cheese" now would it

Dec 2, 6:15PM EST0

How many hours per day do you devote to your creative process?

Dec 2, 3:51PM EST0

A lot depends on what else is happening but I write for a minimum of 1 hour and anything up to 12 hours 7 days a week.

Sometimes I just get lost in the flow and keep writing, it's fun.

Dec 2, 4:08PM EST0

Do you have creative crises? If so - how do you deal with it?

Dec 2, 2:35PM EST0

I think that happens to every writer at some time, I do something else, bake bread, go shopping or read a book.

If it still hasn't returned I will write notes on another story then try again.

Dec 2, 3:20PM EST0

Does anyone help you to write your books or maybe inspire you?

Dec 2, 10:42AM EST0

My wonderful wife always inspires me, the only help writing I get is from the voices in my head and yes that Dragon is one of them. 

Dec 2, 10:53AM EST0

Curious about what you said. What's your answer to this? : Do you have to pay out loads of money to make it work? How do you decide which path to follow?

Dec 1, 11:01PM EST0

No, you can self-publish for FREE Smashwords, Createspace and KDP are free to publish, they have free style guides that you can follow to format ready to upload and a free ISBN.

You can spend money on editing and cover design but that's up to you, I use beta readers, a program called Grammarly and edit until the beta readers are happy, so far I have either designed my own cover or modified the free templates from each site.

If you want to go the route of "traditional" publishing with an agent, it can take a long time but they should pay you an advance, if they want you to pay them it is vanity publishing and should be avoided, never pay a vanity publisher.

For years I dreamt of publishing but it always seemed out of reach then one day I was reading an eBook and saw that it was published through Smashwords, I checked them out and the rest is history, my paperback editions are published through Createspace an Amazon company which pointed the way to KDP (Kindle).

Dec 2, 1:35AM EST0

How did you get the idea?

Dec 1, 12:49PM EST0

Ideas just seem to pop into my head, it could be something somebody said or something that happened.

I do have a resident Dragon running around in there which can be annoying at times especially as my latest work in progress doesn't have Dragons, she is sulking at the moment.

Dec 1, 1:49PM EST0

Is this you passion?

Nov 30, 9:00AM EST0

Yes, I am passionate about writing and getting children to read, there is so much satisfaction in publishing and finding out that someone likes your books that's a big bonus.

Nov 30, 11:00AM EST0

Are you a fulltime writer or you have other jobs.

Nov 30, 7:50AM EST0

I was still working when I first published but I am now retired, I suppose that qualifies as a full-time writer although I still bake my own bread when I get a chance.

Nov 30, 11:03AM EST0
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