Monday, 29 October 2012

Using people you know in fiction

Jason from Devon is writing a novel based on people he knows, but is concerned about possible legal implications. He writes: I live in a fairly small town and the people here range from the slightly odd to massively eccentric. I’ve got an idea for a book based on these people (you wouldn’t believe how out there some of them are) but I don’t want to end up in trouble if someone recognises themselves. Apart from changing the names, how can I disguise the fact that I’m using real people?

The best way of doing this so that people in your life won’t realise you’ve used them is to combine two or three real life people into one fictional character. If, for example, the pub landlord is a misogynist and the vicar has a drinking problem, you could easily put the two together as one character and make him the local magistrate.

What I suggest you do is create a profile for each composite character. Put down as much factual information as possible, but also change anything which would enable the person to recognise themselves. 

So, for example, if you intend to use the man who works in the petrol station and he has brown hair and brown eyes, give him a different job, change the hair to red and give him green eyes. Make him taller or shorter than the person you’re going to base your character on, or make him fatter or thinner, give him more hair or make him bald, depending on how much hair the actual person has.

If you change the way he looks and where he works, he is unlikely to associate himself with that character, meaning you can still use his eccentricities without fear of recognition. Few of us recognise our own eccentric habits, but are quick to spot odd behaviour in others. 

At the top of each profile make a note which character/characters they are in real life to remind you of the foibles and traits you want to incorporate.

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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Marketing outside the box

Today I have a post from Trevor Ripley, a fellow Crooked Cat Publishing author, who is sharing with us some of his marketing ideas.

Trevor is the 46 year old father of two lovely girls, Aniela aged 11 and Kazia, 14. Each night, as his girls were growing up, he created bedtime stories for them, which is how Lily Lovebug and the Unconquered Planet came to exist!

Let’s hear what Trevor has to say regarding marketing.

"It is important to say that I believe myself to be a novice at the book promotion game – however, I have some novel ideas. Working in a large hospital has brought me into contact with many charities, the largest of which has taken on one of my ideas.

In exchange for my share of the royalties, my hospital charity has agreed to promote the book across all the 5,000 hospital staff. They have also decided to exhibit the book at events such as Christmas fayres which they will be hosting and similar events. I will be present for book signings.

The hospital also promotes these events on the multitude of computer screens, both in the hospital itself and also in community sites - imagine this colourful flyer on the right showing on every screen.

This is only the beginning of our relationship - the best part being, the team of charity workers are full of ideas and have access to various resources, such as a graphical design team.

I have extended this offer to other similar charities and am negotiating how to proceed.

At this stage, my main aim is promotion and not profit and, as such, I have recently contacted a local pub who are hosting a Halloween party event. I have proposed that I attend, read a few pages, and display my book. Hopefully I will gain a few sales, the pub adds a free attraction to their event and again, a charity of their choice receives my share of the royalties.

Like every other author, I often advertise on Facebook and twitter - however, I believe social networking sites are flooded with books that are often free. I also believe that unless your network is extended into other fields, then you are only going to connect with like-minded people who are too busy with their own marketing to sit up and take notice of your efforts.

This is why I have attempted to think out of the box. I do not yet know how successful my actions will be - however, I do plan to extend into schools and other establishments."

Thank you, Trevor, for sharing your ideas with us.

For more information about Trevor, visit his page on the Crooked Cat Publishing site: TP Ripley


Paperback version                     E-book version

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Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Tab Off

Sorry the blog has been a bit quiet recently, but I've moved countries yet again and packing up to move and then settling in took up quite a bit of my spare time. Anyway, I'm now able to share another reader's letter with you.

Mark Buchannan’s question relates to page formatting: I get confused about when to indent and when to leave spaces on manuscripts. I also never know whether to use single or double line spacing – is there a definite rule on this? And one last point, if using indents, should I just press the tab key? 

When submitting for a print publication, it is usual to format using double line spacing with indented paragraphs and no additional white lines in between unless it’s to signal a change of scene. Opening paragraphs (including those signalling a change of scene) shouldn’t be indented. Each new line of dialogue should be indented.

However, if submitting to an online publication it is better to send in the manuscript using single line spacing with no indents. Leave a clear line of space between paragraphs and signal any change of scene with three asterisks between paragraphs. As with the double line spacing option above, each new line of dialogue should be treated like a new paragraph.

With regards to tabs, I would advise against using them as an editor would need to remove them all prior to formatting work for inclusion in a magazine. It is far better to set your indents using the paragraph menu on most word programmes. Any formatting to the manuscript done via the paragraph menu can be easily reset if needed, whereas each tab would have to be searched out and dealt with individually.

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