Maya Cross | Some thoughts on writing The Alpha Group as a trilogy
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Some thoughts on writing The Alpha Group as a trilogy

Some thoughts on writing The Alpha Group as a trilogy

Posted by Maya Cross in Uncategorized

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.

05 Apr 2013 49 comments
  • Jane Housley April 6, 2013 at 6:49 am / Reply

    Hi Maya, just finished first book, feedback left on Amazon. For what it’s worth I appreciate your taking the time to write blog on why a trilogy – it helps this reader to understand the why’s etc of trilogy. If the next two are as good as part one my view is that your name will be “up there” and author cred will be realised. Good luck and thank you. Jane

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:21 pm / Reply

      Sorry I never replied to this. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog. I’m glad the explanation made sense.

      Thanks for taking the time to reply!

  • E Fazendin May 2, 2013 at 7:09 am / Reply

    Keep up the great writing, I loved the first book. Can’t wait for the other two. But, I will :-)

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog! Glad you’re enjoying =)

  • Kelley May 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm / Reply

    Hi, Maya. Thanks for explaining your process. As an oil painter, I understand trying to balance the finished product & price against followers expectations. Enjoyed the first book and look forward to the reading the rest. Best of luck. Kelley

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog! It’s certainly not easy juggling artistic endeavours with commercial concerns, but ultimately it benefits everyone when we get it right, since we get to do what we love, and readers get more work from us.

      Glad you’re liking the series.

  • Julia May 27, 2013 at 8:18 am / Reply

    I don’t mind a trilogy. I really don’t and I appreciate your explanation. I enjoyed the first two books and look forward to the third, if I remember to watch for the last book in this trilogy; however, I will most likely forget the characters/story, and then forget to watch for the last book. Unfortunately, It seems more and more books are written without disclosing we are not reading a finished product. I do not mind cliffhangers during the telling of a story; BUT, hate a cliffhanger at the end of a book. Each to his own. Had I realized this was a trilogy, I would have waited until all the books were available and read them all at the same time, especially as short as the first two were.

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Yeah, I completely understand that sentiment. I tried to mark it as clearly as I could, but I know for some people those warnings will slip through the cracks. I’m sorry =( Hopefully it’s still in the back of your head when the final book comes out!

  • Kathryn May 30, 2013 at 8:34 am / Reply

    Hi Maya,
    Loved the first and second books. Can’t wait to sink my teeth into the final book. Its great that you have explained your side of the “trilogy” issue. I personally agree with everything you mentioned and making the first book at an introductory price should encourage readers to give struggling new authors a go!! Its the Aussie way, lets hope the rest of the world agrees!! Keep up the writing!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Glad you’re liking the series =) And thanks for seeing things from my point of view.

  • Stephanie May 30, 2013 at 5:34 pm / Reply

    Ms. Maya,

    I have enjoyed your books tremendously and I look forward to book 3. Thank you for the explanation, but I would have purchased book one without it. The depth in which you have shared your characters has caused me to long for more. Please keep writing!!! ;-)

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:26 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog! Thanks for the kind words! =)

  • Jennifer June 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm / Reply

    The first two books are great. Cliffhangers drive me nuts. But in the second book, I truly enjoyed this cliffhanger and I speculate that Mr. Lock has something to do with this. I will wait for the third book to find out. I think I’ll enjoy it when it comes out. I am greatly curious about your characters. I’m really into this well written book. A well written book deserves a good price for it. Keep on writing! May your books do really well in the future!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      I love reading all the speculation after that ending =) I was very happy with that cliffhanger. I know it hurts on some level, because it was a bit of a killer, but it sets up the mystery perfectly.

      Anyway, glad you’re enjoying!

  • Robin June 10, 2013 at 9:58 pm / Reply

    I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE your first 2 books, I read them both in less than a day! I personally understand where you are coming from, but I hats cliffhangers. Had I known I would love your books so much I would have waited to read them when all 3 were out. Only because I am an impatient person, when I am engrossed in a book I don’t come up for air until its over. Waiting until July,for the next book is going to be pure torture. Believe I will be in line to purchase it though;) keep up the great work!!!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Thanks so much for the kind words. And sorry you bought them without realising the structure. I tried my best to mark them appropriately, but I know sometimes people miss it.

      Hopefully you can wait just a bit longer for the story to wrap up!

  • Nel June 15, 2013 at 11:30 am / Reply

    Loved the first two books and eagerly awaiting the third. Since I am an avid reader, I find myself having to re read some of these trilogies but no harm as I get to enjoy them twice. We have a large group of readers here in the states and we pass authors names to our friends and I have definitely passed on the Alpha series. Can’t wait to see what you bring in the future as you have made my list of authors to watch. Thank you!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Oh wow, thank you! Word of mouth is an author’s best friend. When people share their favourite stories with friends, it’s the best advertising we can possibly get. I’m so happy you’re enjoying the series enough to tell other people!

  • Kathi June 21, 2013 at 4:49 am / Reply

    Thank you for explaining the process behind the trilogy. I enjoyed the first two and cannot wait for the third! Heck, if I don’t remember the plot line, I am more than happy to re-read books 1 & 2 for a refresher!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:29 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Glad you’re enjoying them =)

  • DiAnn June 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm / Reply

    I totally agree with Jennifer who posted her comments on June 2nd! I got an e-mail from Barnes & Noble about the Alpha series and couldn’t purchase it fast enough! I read the first book Friday afternoon and finished the second book Saturday morning – love the characters and where this story might be going. Thanks for this wonderful series Maya!

    • Maya Cross June 22, 2013 at 3:30 pm / Reply

      Sorry I took so long to reply. I completely missed that people were commenting on my blog!

      Awesome. So happy you’re enjoying it. Thanks for taking the time to drop me a line. I really do appreciate it!

  • nella June 25, 2013 at 5:34 pm / Reply

    Thanks for the explanation, I have to admit I hate waiting but it is my own fault as I knew book 3 wasn’t out yet. Loved both books and would recommend them. They were worth the money as I enjoy rereading them. Can’t wait for 3.

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm / Reply

      Glad you’re enjoying!

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm / Reply

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad you’re enjoying =)

  • Rose June 26, 2013 at 2:25 am / Reply

    Hi Maya
    I was hesitent in reading another bdsm book even though it was recommended by B&N. I had read 50 shades and Crossfire series. But of course I took the chance and so glad I did.

    I love what you did with the characters. There is so much mystery that I can not wait to get to the end. I cried so much at the end of book 2. Reading the letter Sebastian wrote to Sophia broke my heart. What a great cliffhanger in book 2.

    I really hope you find a way where Sophia gets back at Jennifer. What a B****.

    Keep up the great work. You have a new fan in me.

    THANK YOU!!!!!
    Rose

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:12 pm / Reply

      Yeah, that letter was painful to write. And I have to say, I’m pretty happy with that cliffhanger.

      And don’t worry about Jennifer. I suspect she’ll get what’s coming to her =)

  • Amber June 26, 2013 at 2:20 pm / Reply

    I adored the first two books in your series. I don’t mind waiting for the finale because I know it’s coming soon and that I don’t have to wait a year. I hate that.
    I really appreciate the way you focused on making the best profit for you, but keeping us very happy at the same time. I would gladly read any new books you write as well, especially if they are as great as the first(:

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:13 pm / Reply

      Thank you for understanding! I’m lucky to have such awesome fans.

  • Traci June 26, 2013 at 6:29 pm / Reply

    Personally, I like the cliffhanger books. I have enjoyed both books and look forward to the third. If you continue to write like this, I will be buying many of your books!

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm / Reply

      Thanks for the kind words. Hopefully I’ll be writing some things in the future with no cliffhangers. I have plenty of ideas, so it just depends how they turn out when I sit down and try to expand them. Stay tuned =)

  • Becky June 27, 2013 at 11:52 pm / Reply

    I have read both 1 and 2 and took a chance on them because of how you set up the trilogy. I keep looking every day for the 3rd book. I am so excited to read it I can hardly wait and I can’t wait for your next book to follow. I have a hard time finding new authors to read and you have been the best money I have spent in a long time. Keep up the good work. I am now a fan for life and will be buying everything you put into print. Even though when I really get hooked in a book I will read it through as fast as I can just so I know how it finishes. I am not a really patient person so cliff hangers aghhhhhh but I love your writing so much I will force myself to be patient for book 3 and all that follow that. God bless your talent. Becky

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm / Reply

      Wow, those are some awesome compliments. Thank you so much! So happy you’re enjoying them that much.

  • PJ June 28, 2013 at 12:55 pm / Reply

    Absolutely love this series! The only down side to finding a new author to add to my favorites list is that it means another favorite author whose books I have to wait for. Life can be so difficult at times. I check almost every day to see if the third book is out. Oh pleaaaaaaassssseeee hurry up. And keep up the great writing. PJ

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm / Reply

      Haha. I’m writing as fast as I can. Glad I made the favourite author list =) That’s awesome!

  • Marcy June 28, 2013 at 4:42 pm / Reply

    I have read 1 and 2. LOVED THEM!! I fully understand how your writing and your feelings towards trilogies. As far as cliffhangers – both love and hate them! That said I am anxiously waiting the 3rd book. Keep up the good work!!!

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:15 pm / Reply

      Thank you!

  • Sassy June 30, 2013 at 11:57 am / Reply

    I love love love this series but reading your blog truly helped understand where you are coming from when doing this trilogy. Until recently I was strictly a sci fi mystery type and then I attended a party and a book was being discussed and I have been addicted to the Erotica genre since then. I love this trilogy, cannot wait for Unlocked to come out and you my darling have been added to my list of authors!!! Keep up the great work, keep it coming and please don’t make us wait too long for Sebastian and Sophia…I’m just saying…

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:16 pm / Reply

      Not tooo much longer! I’m glad you’re starting to enjoy this genre. There’s lots of genuinely great books. Thanks so much for taking the time to message me. Sorry I was a little slow on the replies. I always lose track of these blog comments.

  • Robin July 1, 2013 at 5:01 pm / Reply

    When is Unlocked coming out? I know that book 2 says July 2013.???

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:10 pm / Reply

      The release date is now August 18th. I wrote another blog explaining the delay. I’m really sorry to keep people waiting another few weeks, but it’s for the best.

  • Becky July 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm / Reply

    My husband is not in to erotic type books and makes fun of me for reading them. I got him to read the first book. The suspense in the story so hooked him he told me that he would read the rest of the series.

    • Maya Cross July 13, 2013 at 3:11 pm / Reply

      That’s very cool. Thanks for sharing that with me. Made my day =)

  • Tammy August 28, 2013 at 12:10 am / Reply

    Thank you for taking the time to explain your reasons for the trilogy. I myself love them although sometimes I hate having to wait a year for the next book. The worst part of it is that I read, read, read and so ocassionally I forget that I’m waiting for the next book. I love authors that have websites and newsletters that remind me. So also thank you for that. On the Alpha books, I came across you on Amazon and was lucky that all three books were out when I found the first one and I read them all non stop. I’m also someone who will re-read books that really grab me and I can say that the Alpha books will be re-read. I really loved the story and will go back to visit again.

  • ely tabita October 1, 2013 at 3:04 pm / Reply

    I must say, being bold enough is highly appreciated. I have never seen a writer or author gives so much concern about her work and her readers. I totally agree the price of the book is really unfair because I for one enjoyed reading your work that everytime I have to put my nook down is an agony. Bless your heart from all the haters and bad judgements. But you’ve done this trilogy so bloody brilliant as I should say. WELL DONE YOU! Ely.

  • Renee October 5, 2013 at 4:04 pm / Reply

    I actually LIKE trilogy series. iTunes allows the reader to download a sample book (first 25-30) pages. If the book grabs hold of me, I’ll spend up to $12.99 . My biggest complaint is the continual delays in releasing the next book. The Locked series was very good…but wished each book/story was a little longer. Nice job Maya, I’ll look for your next erotica release :)

  • j g cooper November 4, 2013 at 10:11 am / Reply

    i got book one free and i must admit the end sort of caught me off gaurd. Totally understand what yor saying. We have our first book on free and almost ready to release book two. Between hubby and myself its 2years work. It’s nice to get some reward for your work

  • Katie November 25, 2013 at 9:01 am / Reply

    Loved the first half way through the second and can’t wait to start the third book. I love trilogies and find nothing wrong with them. I got the first book for free so I was happy to pay $2.99 for the next two. Will be looking out for more of your work. Love the way you write. Keep up the great work.

  • Maralee February 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm / Reply

    I bought the Locked series as a set and thought it was one book as I read and wondered why there were headings “Book 2″ and “Book 3″, now all is explained. I love cliff hangers too, although waiting for the next book can be agonizing. I’ve only recently begun to read erotic novels. 50 Shades got such scandalizing press that I held back for a couple of years before reading it. I’ve actually created my own cliffhanger segments while reading it because I hate to come to the end. My memory is poor enough that I can re-read sections running up to where I left off and enjoy it again (it seems vaguely familiar but only occasional plot points trigger real memories). Anyway, I enjoyed this series very much and look forward to your next series. I appreciated the quality of your editing, there were only a few places where tenses disagreed. I was an English major briefly and find many “indie” books to be so poorly edited that it breaks the story for me. So thanks.

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