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If that is the format you've chosen, I don't think you can do anything to make it any clearer.

That said, as a reader, I can't stand multiple 1st person POVs (but give me a cast of 10 3rd Person POVs, and I don't mind), and the one time I read one with a split 1st and 3rd, I pretty much threw it down.  Maybe if I'd been more invested in the  1st Person narrator, I wouldn't have.

Caveat:  If it's several short vignettes mixing stuff like journal entries, breaking 4th wall, etc, to tell one complete story, I might be intrigued.  An example of this is The Odyssey of Gilathas; but as a Dragonlance fan, I was already quite invested in the character.
 

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It isn't the sales of this book that are going to show whether the change in POV is an issue. That's down to how you package and advertise book 1. It's the sellthrough to book 2 that tells the story. So if this book is selling really well, but book 2 isn't, then that POV issue is killing you. If Book 2 is also selling well, then the reviews commenting on the POV issue can be somewhat safely ignored. (Although you might get even more sellthrough if you didn't do that.)
 

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People get annoyed by everything! As long as it sells and it's not something everyone complains about, I would totally ignore it. I have a series told in first and third and over 200 reviews (combined). No one ever complains about this. They complain about other things, though, haha.
 

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Catana said:
There are a lot of ignorant readers out there who can't follow anything that deviates from a purely chronological, one-point of view format.
Having different taste from yours doesn't make someone ignorant.

I have no problem with more than one POV but don't care for switches back and forth from 1st to 3d. I have read some books written that way where the story is so compelling I continue with them, but it's generally a turn-off. It's also often a way of getting around the limitations of 1st when writing the whole thing in 3d would be a better solution.

That said -- a book that's selling well but inspires a few negative reviews? Would you rather have a book with nothing but great reviews that hardly sells? You really can't please everyone, but pleasing most rather than the few is a better plan.
 

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I see this in quite a few books lately - like the later Mercy Thompson books. I wouldn’t worry about it. It might not be to a few readers’ tastes, but most probably won’t care.


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Great writers have done it. Some modern massively-selling writers do it too. Liane Moriarty for one. Her books tend to be somewhat complex in structure, and sell in the millions. Occasional one star reviews don't matter. In fact, all the best books have plenty of them after awhile.

If you want to change it, use the Name of the 1st person character as chapter heading for those, and name the other chapters, either using something from the chapter or another system -- for instance, a single word that relates in some way. Time. Space. Air. Water. Earth. Sand. Dust.

Yes, there are people who don't like it, and there are genres where there are many such readers. But if your book is selling well, and most readers love it, don't go changing much at all. Especially not your blurb etc.

Write for the readers who love your books, don't change things for the vocal minority who don't. Those are not your readers.
 

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Designist7 said:
Hi everyone,

I have a book that sells well. However, I periodically will get a one star review because the reader didn't realize that
a following chapter will go from 1st to a 3rd person point of view. The character is not in the chapter that switches to 3rd person.

Does anyone have any ideas to fix this?

Thanks!
I recently read a book by a trad published (one of the big NYC houses), best-selling author who wrote the first several chapters in 3rd POV. Then, he started dropping in chapters of nothing but 1st POV, in which every single word was italicized. But the 1st POV person was not identified, nor were any clues given about the identity...until the last chapter.

I have not read so many I
s, wes, and ours
clumped together since our grade school essays of What I Did Last Summer. Regardless, the author's book hit the top of the charts.
 
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Catana said:
There are a lot of ignorant readers out there who can't follow anything that deviates from a purely chronological, one-point of view format. Switching POV with a new chapter is so common that you can ignore the complaints. Add this to the can't-please-everyone list.
There are also a lot of poor writers out there that can't do these type of non-chronological, switching of POV stories well..

And, frankly, if you are getting MULTIPLE reviews that complain about the same thing, the problem is the writing. Not the readers.

If one person complains about something, that is a matter of preference.
If two people complain about something, maybe you ended up with a bad batch of non-core demographic customers.
If you are seeing the same complain over and over, it isn't the readers. It is the writer.
 

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I was never so disappointed in a book than when I read All Quiet on the Western Front (Im Westen nichts Neues). I'd spent days getting invested with this soldier, only to discover on the last page that the first-person narrator was killed on the last day of the war! How, I wondered, did the write the danged book if he was dead?

But that was before I went to college and learned how naive I was. Still, there are times when authors just go too far for me, and I throw down the book in disgust. The most recent was Anthony Horowitz's Magpie Murders, in which we get to the penultimate chapter and bang! Suddenly a perfectly ordinary Brit mystery turns into a supposedly non-fiction book telling how the book's publisher sat down to read it and found that the last chapter was missing. Blech. I followed it for a while but then deleted it from my Fire tablet. That's especially easy to do with library editions. Probably a third of the books I download from the state e-brary are never finished, though most of those get dropped after the very first chapter.
 

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Discussion Starter #30
Bards and Sages (Julie) said:
There are also a lot of poor writers out there that can't do these type of non-chronological, switching of POV stories well..

And, frankly, if you are getting MULTIPLE reviews that complain about the same thing, the problem is the writing. Not the readers.

If one person complains about something, that is a matter of preference.
If two people complain about something, maybe you ended up with a bad batch of non-core demographic customers.
If you are seeing the same complain over and over, it isn't the readers. It is the writer.
Actually, I've had only two people complain out of thousands of copies sold. But for me, two is still too many. So I plan on fixing it.
 

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Take a look at the 2009 book by Robert Crais--LA REQUIEM. It was groundbreaking at the time for his use of first and third. The POV choices serve the narrative structure of a story from the past T-boning the present day of the story. It also works by highlighting what one character *thinks* he knows or assumes compared to the hidden reality.
 

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Designist7 said:
Actually, I've had only two people complain out of thousands of copies sold. But for me, two is still too many. So I plan on fixing it.
If it were me, I'd want to be sure it's a problem before I fixed it. Assuming there was a compelling reason you used this technique in the first place, and you executed it well, there's nothing to fix IMO.

N.K. Jemisin's The Fifth Season uses first, second, and third-person POV, along with multiple tenses. After the prologue in third-person omniscient present tense, we get Chapter 1 - you, at the end: "You are she. She is you. You are Essun. Remember? The woman whose son is dead." Won a Hugo, as did the sequel. Plenty of one-star reviews.

My advice: Whatever you're doing, have a reason for it and do it well. You'll gain and lose different readers no matter what you do, and that's fine. Figure out who you're writing for and make them happy readers. Forget everyone else.
 

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Patty Jansen said:
Stop right there. Everything else is unimportant. Number of reviews, review average yada yada. Unimportant when the book sells and keeps selling.

For as long as this happens, I suggest you only glance you your reviews occasionally and maybe think "Uh. I won't do this thing with the next series."
This! This, this, this!

Write in the way that not only feels natural to you but also for the story, since each story is different and requires a unique approach. If it's selling then you've done your job. Move on to the next. I have a novella that does well but the reviews are mixed. People either hate it or love it. The ones who hate it say that it's written weirdly (weird is the one word that seems to creep up on these reviews the most). I write in and out of 3rd/omniscient and it's not for everyone. So just stick to your own style and don't worry about the people who don't get it. Let the sales record speak for itself. :)
 

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I use this approach. Most of my chapters are from the first-person POV of the main character, but selected chapters are from other characters' POVs, and those are in third. I've never had a complaint about it. The more experimental thing I tried early on, with other characters' POVs sort of filtered through the main character's POV, so she became a third-person narrator of others' experience? *That* I got complaints about! But since I revised the books and replaced that weird approach with straightforward first/third switches at chapter breaks, I heaven't heard a peep. I think readers are pretty used to it, at least in my genre. Maybe it's less common in your genre, OP, or maybe there's something about the way you're handling it?? Though you said you do it at chapter breaks so ... dunno.
 

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Scott Pratt, who is probably the top indie writer in the legal thriller genre, and most likely makes 7 figures a year, easily, mixes third and first in all of the novels of his that I've read. I'd say he's doing pretty well for himself. I've seen it plenty in other legal thrillers as well. I'm reading a John Grisham that does it, for instance.

Maybe it's a genre thing, I dunno.
 

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The Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson. He writes this way. There are four main women in the storyline, but it is mainly woman #1's story. Her chapters are in first person, the rest is 3rd person, usually including the villain. Many urban fantasy, zombie apocalypse, and suspense novels  are written this way.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Jill James said:
The Women's Murder Club series by James Patterson. He writes this way. There are four main women in the storyline, but it is mainly woman #1's story. Her chapters are in first person, the rest is 3rd person, usually including the villain. Many urban fantasy, zombie apocalypse, and suspense novels are written this way.
This is where I got the idea to write in this alternating style. I'm a big fan of Patterson. Although the book in question was me trying out a new genre.
It's a little bit historical fiction, a little bit Sci-Fi/time travel, with the majority taking place in present day and with a young adult feel.
I originally wrote the book as an inspiration to younger readers. But it's the adults who are buying it. For me it's actually been a harder book to market due to it crossing different genres.
 

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Catana said:
There are a lot of ignorant readers out there who can't follow anything that deviates from a purely chronological, one-point of view format. Switching POV with a new chapter is so common that you can ignore the complaints. Add this to the can't-please-everyone list.
They're not ignorant because they don't like books that switch back and forth from first-person to third-person. Many readers find that annoying. Many don't. Although this back-and-forth is becoming more common it's still not what most readers expect or are used to so they might react negatively. As long as it's not hurting sales and average review rating remains decent then it shouldn't hurt the book. It's actually a good thing because it warns others who don't like that style to stay away.
 
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