Monthly Archives: September 2012

Writing in the First Person

I recently read a post by a Twitter user who bemoaned the fact that it was hard work to change the narration of her novel from first person to third person. Hard work? It must have been pure hell. Imagine the agony of laboriously amending thousands of personal pronouns and verb endings.

She didn’t say why she had made this huge decision. Maybe she had been advised to use the third person by an editor or a well-meaning friend. If so, I wonder why. I know there is sometimes debate in literary circles about whether novel X should have been written in the first or third person but it’s a debate that goes over my head.

I’ve written my first novel, The Girl with the Haunting Smile, in the first person because, frankly, it didn’t occur to me to do anything else. My main character, Greg, has a problem which affects how others view him and how he relates to them. My aim in using the first person is to portray this poignant situation through Greg’s eyes so that the reader can empathise with him more directly.

In my second (nearly completed) novel, Spring Chicken, I’ve employed the same technique. It’s about an over-70 guy who, on his wife’s death, is urged to put his feet up until the grim reaper calls. He refuses, injects new buzz into his life (including a search for a second wife) and sets out to enrol the stagnating older folk in his community in his get-a-life campaign. I would like readers to feel close to this guy and to understand what makes him tick, so a first person narration seems a no-brainer to me.

Is I versus he/she ever an issue for you?

Going to market – is Christmas good or bad?

The helpful responses to my last blog show that there are kind writers out there, folk who are always ready to share their experience. Okay, they’re not all so generous – I’ve met some who take all the retweets I give them and offer zilch in return. Maybe I should name and shame them on a new hashtag like #SelfishMiserableSods.

Still, they’re a small minority and I know where they live, so I’ll deny them any more RTs and move on. Never one to spurn good advice, I’m shamelessly on the lookout for more of the same. Christmas is only three months away and Xmas puddings are already on the shelves of my next-door Sainsbury’s (and, probably, your local supermarket). How good an idea is it to launch an ebook in, say, November or early December?

On one hand, it could be swamped by the millions of festive offerings, so maybe it’s better to delay it till the brouhaha dies down. On the other hand, Amazon vouchers are highly popular Xmas gifts and countless folk will use theirs to buy ebooks, so there will be a big one-off boost to sales.

All in all, my inclination is to go for it as soon as I’m ready and ignore the time of year. Any thoughts will be very welcome.

Marketing? Is there any time left for living?

Twitter, bless its tweeting heart, is awash with authors who generously share with you their tips on how to market your novel. Now that I’m ready to publish The Girl with the Haunting Smile whenever I wish, I’m working on a marketing plan. The problem is in deciding which tips to follow. Adopting them all would consign me to the cuckoo’s nest.

Here’s a quick digest of the main tips I’ve had. Build your presence on Twitter. Build your presence on Facebook. Build your presence on LinkedIn. Build your presence on Pinterest. Set up a blogsite. Join in on the Goodreads, Kindleboards, Nookboards, Amazon Kindle and World Literary Cafe forums and the Facebook Indie Author group. On Twitter, use multiple hashtags to connect with authors and readers and get industry information. On some or all of these platforms, start a chat thread about any theme from your novel e.g. football, flower arranging. Nearer to publication time, create a personal website. Go in search of professional book reviews, promos and interviews. Arrange blog tours, contests, Q & A sessions and book giveaways. Write and distribute a press release. Pay for short promos on sites like The Kindle Book Review.

All these ideas are highly sensible but life is short and I plan to keep the cuckoo at bay, so I’ll cut corners. I haven’t yet got off the ground on Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest, so they will be sacrificed. I’m not convinced the time spent on forums like Kindleboards and Nookboards would repay itself, so that may not happen either. Nor do I see myself getting round to blog tours, Q & A sessions or contests, though I don’t doubt their value. I’m prepared to have a real go at the rest and hope that will do the trick.

Okay, many writers will no doubt disagree with me (the harder you try, the more you deserve to succeed etc). But that’s a risk I’m ready to take in the interests of sanity and life-extension.

That’s my thinking, anyway. What’s yours?