POV, Smashwords, Kindle

I”m nearing the end of The Darkest Prison and still wrestling with point of view. It’s third person omniscient and since there’s very little dialogue, it’s almost all “tell” and very little “show.” I keep thinking that readers are going to get bored very quickly because even when I get into the character’s head, it’s from the point of view of the narrator. I never use “I,” so it’s impossible for the reader to do anything but look on from the outside.

Every time I decide to shift the POV somewhat and let the reader inside Bran’s head I find that I just can’t do it. I didn’t think about POV at all when I started the story, but I feel more and more that it’s exactly what I want for this story. I want readers to feel as if they’re on the other side of a glass wall and the narrator is forcing them to watch what’s happening to Bran the way you’d watch a car wreck as it’s happening — helpless to do a damned thing about it.

Because the point of the story is the horror. The narrator wants the readers to be voyeurs, not sympathetic participants. It works for me. I don’t know if it will work for anyone else.


As some of you know, I fought a long, hard battle to remain true to Smashwords, and only recently began adding my work to Amazon’s KDP. It turned out to be a good move, and just in time, because my Smashwords sales fell through the floor and there’s no sign that will change. My Kindle sales are very, very slow, as befits an unknown writer with books that don’t fit comfortably in any genre, but they do add up.

With another novel due to be finished in the next month or so, I may make another shift, as an experiment. Instead of publishing it with Smashwords first, I’ll put it on Amazon, and sign it up for the Select program. I’ve been reading an enormous amount about how Select is or isn’t working for other authors, and I feel that I’m in the right position now to give it a try. With several other published stories behind me, there’s a chance that the program will give them a boost. Whether it’s successful or not, I’ll put the book on Smashwords when Select’s 90 days are up. Smashwords is continuing to add new accounts to its retail distribution, and that may pay off eventually.

The most important pattern that seems to be developing, for new writers with only one book, is that Select is unlikely to do much for you. The time to use it is when you have a backlist, even a small one, and you’re beginning to develop a readership.


10 thoughts on “POV, Smashwords, Kindle

  1. Good luck with Amazon. Let us know how that goes. I’m no where near being ready to publish, but good to know about all the options out there.

    1. My first book went on Amazon a little over two months ago, and the rest have been added slowly, so it’s too early to say how well I’m going to do there. I expected sales to drop off after the few weeks, but they keep trickling in and have even picked up a little bit, lately. My fingers are crossed, but it could dry up completely until the next story or book comes out. Anyway, it’s an interesting experience.

  2. Re POV and ‘telling’, Catana, as long as the telling evokes a visual or a feeling in the reader, it’s not the telling we’re all supposed to avoid. That ‘Show, don’t tell’ has done more harm than good to a lot of emerging writers in my opinion: they end up writing dialogue instead of good narrative in the mistaken idea that all dialogue ‘shows’ and all narrative ‘tells’. Really, it’s the old, ‘It aint what you say, It’s the way that you say it.’

    Thanks for the news on Amazon and Select. I’m sure there’s a pattern there that will only emerge when a writer’s got quite a few books up and out there. So thanks for the trail blazing.

    1. ‘It aint what you say, It’s the way that you say it.’ Yes. The “rule” can be a help when you’re just starting out, but if you stick to it rigorously, it can wind up being a handicap. Learning the craft includes having a sense of when breaking the “rules” is appropriate. I’ve reached that point where I can start consciously thinking about which one fits the story better, and how POV makes a big difference in the effect the story will have on the reader. I probably won’t always get it right, and I know that some readers will be turned off any story that doesn’t have plenty of dialogue and action. But that’s one of the risks I think a writer should be willing to take if they’re going to grow.

    1. I don’t deny that it’s possible to benefit from Select if you have only one book, but there are several ways in which Chopra’s experience isn’t typical. First, she has a recognizable name that would arouse curiosity, even though there’s no relationship. Second, the book is non-fiction, on a subject with a built-in audience. Third, she uses a great many promotional devices, along with the Kindle promotion. Given all these variables, there’s no way to know which was most decisive in garnering sales, and certainly no way to determine whether her approach would be useful for an unknown fiction writer. I’ve seen quite a few blog posts and comments here and there that indicate very limited benefits from such promotional blowouts, even when the author was willing to go to that much trouble. For most writers, the time is better spent writing the next book than expending major amounts of time and effort on promotion. Realistically, most are never going to be huge sellers, no matter how much promotion they do. The sales will increase as they have more to offer readers.

      1. The best way to find out if KDP’s free promo days will work for you is to try it – there are many fiction writers (Becca’s book is fiction with chakra wisdom woven in) who have seen a huge increase in sales during the days following a free promo. Kindle readers are hungry for fiction, and you can simple add the Amazon tag, Kindle Freebie, and publicize your promo on your blog and social media sites. I’ll do my next post tomorrow on the best ways to promote your free days whether you’re writing fiction or non-friction… check out blog.indieauthorcounsel.com – I’m moving our blog to a new host site.

  3. Thanks for the tip on the tag. I’ll make a note to watch out for that post. It sounds like something we can all use.

    I got the impression Chopra’s book was non-fiction. I tend to skim too quickly sometimes.

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