ChoiceScript a good option for a professional author?

I’m a professional author with sales well into the six figures. I’m interested in creating interactive works based on my novels and possibly some unique stuff. I’ve drafted the first arc of a storyline in ChoiceScript and it seems super intuitive, but I’m hesitant to go all in. It looks like the App stores take a large cut of the sales, and then I would have to commit another quarter of my royalties to Choice of Games, iirc. I have no clue how it’s going to sell, but I do know that my reader base is interested in this sort of thing. If I sell a thousand copies then losing 25% is nbd, but the thought of selling 10,000 and losing the app cut and another 25% makes me cringe. Are there any other professional writers that have gone this route and can recommend it, or are there better options if you’re assured of at least a modest amount of sales?

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Not sure if you’ve seen this but it may be relevant to you.

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You have the percentages wrong. You are going to earn 17.5 percent of gross sales. 30 percent goes off the top to the platforms and of the remaining 70%, CoG/HG takes 75 percent of that.

This is obviously much lower than the 70 percent you can earn as an indie author with Amazon if you price in their sweet spot. So you’ll have to make up the difference in sales volume. The good news is that is possible, as CoG has a pretty large and dedicated fanbase. It’s a niche market still, but it’s also a global one. Frankly, selling 1,000 copies would be a huge flop. It certainly wouldn’t be worth it for you (or CoG, if you published through them). If you sold 1,000 copies as a Hosted Games author, you’d likely net something like $700. (.175 times $3.99 sales price times 1,000 copies).

Honestly, if you are earning six figures off your novels alone, you are doing a lot of things right already. I guess it depends on your expectations. If you have a really popular story or series, than really the hardest part (a compelling story) is already done; you’d have to be willing to give up some control of the plot though, and create some alternative paths to provide meaningful different outcomes. Do you have a story that is friendly to that?

And yes, official CoG writers get the $10,000.00 in installments as outlined on the page and later in the contract. Whether you earn over that obviously depends on you earning out. I’m guessing a lot of authors would love for their books to earn $10,000.00 each, but remember this project will likely require a lot more of your time than would a traditional novel, so you need to figure out what your time is worth.

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Right, except we seldom do $10,000/10% contracts anymore. The standard contract is a $7500 advance against 25% royalties, which we hope will earn out within a year or 18 months of publication.

There aren’t many (any?) traditional publishing contracts as remunerative as we are on a royalty basis, most first novels don’t earn out blah blah publishing financial stuff.

Arguable. Most novelists I know have spent multiple years on their books; while we vary from game to game, I’ve turned around at least 3 or 4 of my games in < 400 days from contract to publication.

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Welcome to the community @DanySnow.

I’ll provide another perspective, that of a gamer and game designer. This perspective might help you decide if Choice Script is a good choice because the IF story-game is at the intersection of both a story and a game.

@Eric_Moser and @Mary_Duffy touched on the marketplaces from an author’s royalty viewpoint but I’d also like to point out another benefit of publishing under the CoG or HG brands.

Choice of Games, as a company has been involved with the gaming community for a few years now and so they can help you navigate the pitfalls of that industry that would otherwise trip up an author. They have experience in understanding the nuanced differences between the various store-fronts. They have established relationships with the gate-keepers of those store fronts and they already have established a great reputation within the various gaming communities.

Choice Script, as you note is pretty intuitive, so it makes more sense than some of the other engines out there available. In addition, you have a thriving community of users that provide support for your projects. In addition to a pool of testers, some community members have made Choice Script tools like CSIDE, a productivity tool that helps many successfully produce a game.

Of course, if it is your wish, you can use tools you may already have; I use Scrivener but other authors/designers use nothing more than Note++ to write their projects in.

There are authors that are currently translating their novels into games here … @Elena_H and @rinari are both currently working on projects for HG publication.

Other published authors such as @HannahPS and @GreekWinter have published games under the CoG banner but they both are active in the community forums, so perhaps they might share their thoughts.

There are others that have published in academia, such as @adrao and @Havenstone, then came here and published games. I’m sure that they also have perspectives that can be of use.

Whatever you decide, I do hope you stay a part of this community and perhaps people like myself that are learning to write can benefit from your knowledge and experiences.

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I don’t think there are many full-time novelists who spends years on a single novel. The economics of that are just absurd (unless a runaway smash hit or something). The “new norm” for indie authors especially, is a new novel every 90 days. It’s a constant stream of new content to keep the Amazon gods happy.

To me, writing an awesome CS game requires everything that a novel requires, plus a whole lot more (coding, multiple paths, stats, multiple endings). I just don’t seem them ever being comparable, time-wise.

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Hi, @DanySnow, glad you decided to stop by and ask questions!

The others above are generally correct: CoG offers a $7,500 USD advance in installments as you write, and 25% royalties. Most traditional publishing houses actually offer similar or worse deals to non-famous authors. In today’s market, getting 25% of the sales from an established publishing house is a pretty big deal. I’m going to assume that you are a self-published author?

My perspective: My book for Choice of Games, “Werewolves: Haven Rising,” was released this year at the tail end of July, and in the first 3 months has sold over 10,000 copies across all platforms, earning out its advance and then some. This was far more successful than my earlier work outside of CoG, in my opinion entirely because of the massive reach and established fanbase CoG has. I consider this to be a very successful launch, as would most traditional publishing houses.

The long and the short of it is that you’re not going to find a better revenue sharing deal in the interactive fiction world. Period. Trust me, I’ve looked. If you want to write interactive fiction professionally (and get paid) this is really the only game in town. I’m not saying that as a fanboy, I’m stating it as a fact. There are downsides to writing for CoG as well, which (imo) include a rather strict house style, design ethos, and structure. I would suggest contacting them and inquiring about their design documents. Give them a read and see whether that’s a framework you’re willing and able to work within.

I’ve heard that before, and it’s as insane for me to hear now as it was back then. Who are these monsters who can publish so fast? Incredulity out of the way, my understanding is that this type of author is often publishing very short works, books that would in the printed world be considered novellas.

I write exclusively in Notepad++ with the ChoiceScript syntax highlighting plugin. I’ve tried CSIDE, and it just doesn’t work for me, despite the excellent testing options available.

Most novelists these days spend around a year between full length novels, and often less between smaller releases as @Eiwynn mentioned above. There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. I think it took me a little over a year and a half from contract to publication of Haven Rising here at CoG. To give the OP perspective, my game ended up being approximately 280,000 words long, almost 3x the size of a traditional novel.

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I will also add, that even if you choose to publish through Hosted Games, which allows you more freedom to shape your own story, CoG are still super helpful when it comes to the whole publishing bit, and if you sell well, you can earn just as much money. It’s just all dependent on sales, and you need top provide more material, like a cover and so on.

Coming from the fiction/comics side, this is the most lucrative thing I have done, mostly because my readership is greater than what I ever reached before. But I’ve never had it as anything other than my side-business.

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Wow, I don’t know where I got the 25% figure from. That makes this seem much more dismal. I’m a little bummed, because after a practice run in ChoiceScript I managed to do about 3,000 words (script excluded) in a day. Granted, I was working off an existing novel, but I only used the concept, all of the text was new. I imagine I could do about 5k once I get a bit more proficient.

I write in romance and the standard is a novel per month for us. I’d love to spend two years working on epics, but I’ve got bills to pay. With my pricing, I typically earn $2-4 per sale with a few thousand sales per month, depending on how actively I’m promoting. While I could just keep doing what I’m doing, I think my readers would really appreciate a choose your own adventure game. I’ve toyed with the idea of just making one for free, but I’d be leaving a lot of income on the table as a project like this would take me 4-6 weeks, wherein I could be writing a novel.

The contracts would definitely make it worth the upfront investment, but I emailed Choice of Games about two weeks ago and haven’t heard back yet. Maybe I just need to wait longer? I have no clue how long I should wait. I’m entirely self-published, so I’m not in the habit of twiddling my thumbs while I wait to hear back from a publisher. When I get an idea, it’s full speed ahead.

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Thanks for the advice, I’ll look into that if I don’t hear back from Choice of Games. For the time invested, 4-6 weeks, I would ideally like a $3,000 upfront return (first 30 days of sales), with a modest monthly return for the first year. Do you think that would be realistic, given that I already have a fan base and a mailing list to promote to? Sorry if that question is a bit nebulous, I just don’t know how well these games sell.

Hi @DanySnow, I’m actually quite fascinated! If I may be so bold as to ask, what is the average word count of your novels if you’re able to publish a novel a month? That blows my mind! And that revenue? Are you self-published? Print or only digital? Specialty store? My partner used to write erotic fiction for a specialty store online and he made decent money.

As for publishing here, CoG is starting a new sub-label, Heart’s Choice, specifically for romance interactive fiction, so that may be an avenue worth pursuing.

As for getting their attention, let me give it a try: @jasonstevanhill

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Based on the fact that you have a 3,000 word test already produced, you can take the approach others have and set up a WiP (Work in Progress) thread that has a link to a hosted version of your sample and see the reception it gets within the community.

As a romance writer, your stories will be popular - @Seraphinite’s The Wayhaven Chronicles series took off very successfully and she comes from the Virtual Novel gaming world.

There is a site, called Dashingdons that offers free hosting for Choice Script games that most authors here utilize and the WiP thread will be a great introduction to the community as a whole for your writing.

Even if you decide to keep this as a side project that you periodically work on it, it can become something that eventually pays off.

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Thank you so much, that’s insanely valuable information. I write about 90k per month. It’s sadly the standard in the self-published romance genre. Before I was a parent, I could churn out a new novel every month and make six figures a quarter. Now I struggle to get a novel out every two months and the income drop off between one and two months is steep. I know fellow romance authors that clean bloodstains from their keyboards on a regular basis, no exaggeration.

Can I ask how long it took you to hear back from CoG after sending an inquiry? I’m not sure if I’m being impatient after two weeks.

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Wow, I didn’t consider posting a demo. I’ll definitely do that next month. I think I need to do market research first and get a feel for how the stories are structured, stylistically. Right now, I’m just pantsing it. I’m ashamed to say that the only CoG I’ve played is Choice of Dragon.

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This is a great community. I never expected to get so much helpful feedback. Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. I’m feeling very amped to get back to coding this story.

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I dunno if it is comparable, I am a first time author on here without a fanbase when I started, but my game turned out pretty popular and I reached those numbers. Think my first payout (15 days of sale for me) was $3075 and then they had forgotten the iOS store. So it sounds realistic to me.

There should be some threads in the forum where people are talking money, and I am always wiling to share details if you drop me a DM; but I can’t tell you if my situation is normal.

The biggest thing will be that it is a LOT more work than a book, but I also find it a lot more fun. And, the more work you do, the more you tend to get out of it. The forums are a great way to feel things out.

EDIT: It really is the best community, it has been amazing to me.

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Whew… 90k per month is monstrous. I can’t even imagine… My average is 25k per months, but I also have a full time job and significant family obligations.

Re: inquiry time, I actually heard back from them in less than a day when I sent my first email back toward the end of 2016. I’m not sure if things have changed since then, but I know they’ve been very busy here. That said, you’ve already got the attention of @Mary_Duffy here and I’ve tagged @jasonstevanhill, so it’s just a matter of time, really.

That sounds…unpleasant, heh.

I’d be interested in sampling your work if you’d be interested in providing a link. I attempted a cursory Google, but I mainly came up with a Dan Snow who writes military books.

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If I were to direct you towards applicable titles in the romance field, I’d start with Affairs of the Court: Choice of Romance and I would recommend the previous mentioned The Wayhaven Chronicles from the HG library.

One thing to keep in mind that most every title in both HG and CoG libraries include romantic arcs and you can experience some very good romance writing in titles like: Choice of Robots and even in action-adventure titles like @GreekWinter’s Werewolves: Haven Rising title.

Every published titles has a free demo, so you can always pick a few that look interesting to you and go from there with the demos.

Also, if you have questions you want to ask in private, you can always PM me or others as well. Most everyone here are pretty easy-going and very approachable.

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Since I started the project, I’ve had to force myself to drop it in favor of other things. I figured if I didn’t hear back from CoG then it wasn’t worth the time investment I could have been putting into other things. Now I wonder if I should dive back in, regardless. It was insanely fun. I found myself getting into flow almost instantly when I opened the IDE. The only thing that’s stopping me from going ham is that I’m planning an international move in May and my income will take a big hit if I don’t keep with my current publishing schedule.

I’ll PM you my website. This is my real name, I try to keep my pen name separate from real life, as I’m a mom that writes salacious romance.

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