Some thoughts on writing The Alpha Group as a trilogy
I had a conversation with a couple of readers recently about the way The Alpha Group is structured, and I wanted to make a public post about it. It’s no secret that there’s a lot of animosity out there for trilogies and the general serial storytelling that has become so popular in this genre lately, and I completely understand that. I can see how it looks like a money grab, and I can see how it interrupts people’s reading experience and pulls them out of the story. I really do get all that, and I totally respect it.
Every author is different, and their reasons for writing these sorts of stories vary. I can’t speak for any other writers, but I can give you a little break down of why I’ve written the story the way I have. Maybe it will help give a little extra perspective.
First, there’s the very simple fact that I actually quite like cliffhangers. I’m a fan of TV shows like The Shield and The Walking Dead, where most weeks you’re left wondering. I enjoy that feeling, and I know there are readers who do too.
Secondly, when I sat down to plan the plot, I eventually realised that this book was going to be an awkward length. At the moment, it looks like the entire story is going to be about 115,000- 125,000 words, which is about 1.5 standard romance novels. I didn’t want to pad it out, or cut anything, since I felt like that had the right rhythm for the plot to unfold how I wanted it to. Adding excess words just for the sake of it is a good way to ruin a story. I could have made it a single book all the same and tried to sell it as one unit, but bear with me, because that relates to the last point.
Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m a totally no name author. This is my first book and I have no name recognition at all, which makes it mind bogglingly difficult to get my story noticed. Many fantastic writers struggle for years to build enough recognition to even have a shot at making a living in this game (which is my eventual goal). I’m not a particularly fast writer either, so the odds are even longer for me. I can’t produce four novels in a year like many other amazing indie authors, so I need to make each of my works count.
One of the best ways to have a shot at taking off is to have a super low price point. That way when people take a gamble on you, they’re not risking too much. Most readers are unwilling to spend $3.99 or $4.99 on a story from an author they’ve never heard of, but if it’s $0.99, they’re much more relaxed.
But then you have a problem. Authors who charge $0.99 for their story make about $0.30 a sale. It’s essentially nothing. I firmly believe a book is worth more than that when the writer is pouring hundreds of hours into it. I’m not talking $10 a copy, but a couple of dollars at least. I think that’s fair to the author, and to the readers. Also factor in that this particular story is longer than a normal novel, so charging $0.99 for it hurts even more.
So considering all of the above, I decided that writing the story this way was my best shot at building a brand. I could price the first part at $0.99, at least initially, and that would give people a chance to see how I write and whether they enjoy my story, while still presenting an opportunity for me to make a decent amount of money on later parts. I have done everything in my power to make sure readers aren’t misled about the way the story is structured. I’m not trying to trick or exploit anyone, and I’m deeply sorry if anyone missed my warnings and bought the book anyway.
I’m also working to ensure parts two and three are out as soon as possible. If this sort of writing does bother you, I wholeheartedly encourage you to wait a few months, because if everything goes to plan, by the end of July, all three volumes will be out.
I freely admit that this does have the potential to make me a little more cash than it would if I just bundled the whole story and charged $3.99 or $4.99 straight away, but that’s not my primary goal. This is just the best way I can think of to get the most eyes on some part of my work. I know some people won’t believe me, but it’s the truth.
The good news is, so far, my approach appears to be working. If sales hold at their current rate, The Alpha Group is going to do extremely well. And that means I’ll have the security and name recognition to concentrating mostly on full length stories in the future, which is what I really wanted to be doing in the first place.
Anyway, sorry this was so long. I just wanted to give you all a little insight into my logic. To those who have supported Locked so far, I’m grateful beyond words. To those that are waiting for the full series, I’m working as fast as my fingers can handle! And to those that are pissed off because I’ve produced yet another trilogy with cliffhangers, I’m sorry, and I totally get it. Hopefully I might entice you with my next, full length piece.