THE STATE TRILOGY A-Z GUIDE: A

My A-Z theme this year is a guide to my trilogy of novels called ‘The State Trilogy’. Set in an unnamed island country known only as ‘The State’, in the imagined near future, the books follow the intertwining stories of a number of characters, principally a State police detective named Danny Samson and an assassin, Gabriella Marino, over a period of six years. It begins with the assassination of an elected official and spirals into revolution and civil war. Part political thriller, action story, war story and dystopian science fiction, the trilogy took three years to complete and the books are available to read now – you can find links to purchase them HERE

In The State Trilogy, ‘A’ stands for:

Assassin: At the start of the first book, the character of Gabriella Marino is introduced. At this moment she is an assassin for hire. The character of a female assassin, and the opening image of the novel, were actually originally in a short 100-word story I wrote for a prompt on my blog. At the time I had no thought of fleshing this character out and expanding on her, but unbeknown to me, with that story the seeds of the entire trilogy began. You can read the original short story on my blog HERE

Amazon: Once the first novel was complete I briefly toyed with trying to publish through the traditional channels. Once I had sent my manuscript off to a handful of literary agents and received no acknowledgment or reply, I realised I did not have the time to invest in chasing this dream (alongside a full-time job and parenthood). Rather than give up, I looked for an alternative and decided to self-publish. By far the easiest and most accessible place which provided the biggest market was Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), via Amazon. I have since expanded to sell on other online sites – B&N, Kobo, Google Play, Smashwords and Apple iBook – but Amazon remains the place that does the most sales. The downside to all these places and self-publishing in general – getting yourself noticed in a crowded market. I still haven’t figured out the answer to that one, but I keep trying (see also Advertising below).

Appalachia: The Civil American States, the continent previously known as the United States of America, is split into two halves by a nuclear explosion which triggers the First Strike War. The eastern seaboard is known as Appalachia. The name is taken from the name given to this area for prehistoric times (taken from the Appalachian Mountains), when dinosaurs walked the Americas and the middle of the continent was a vast sea that split the continent in two. That sea is now a vast area of land that is inhospitable due to radiation fallout. Although mentioned, the novels don’t visit Appalachia. The western seaboard is known as Laramidia (see the letter ‘L’ post).

Archie Cancio: Archie is a detective who appears briefly in the second novel, ‘State Of Denial’. Always intended as a minor character I grew to like him. He’s a sort of dogmatic, honest detective, not spectacular or flamboyant, but good at what he does. I would have liked to have included him in more of the story but there wasn’t room in the plot to bring him back. Perhaps he will feature somewhere else in another story one day!

African Union: In the imagined geography of the near future world that the story is set in, the countries of Africa have come together into a bloc called the African Union. There is such an organisation at the moment, but it is limited in scope and influence, and I imagined it developing to bring together the continent and make it more of a powerful player on the world stage. Although none of the action in the plot takes place in the African Union, it is involved in the global First Strike War that provides the backdrop to the story.  It is also an Africa that is much more politically influential and powerful in the world, and which is seen as a peaceful and tolerant place, as opposed to the war-torn Civil American States or the intolerant and isolationist State.

Architecture: I don’t pretend to be an expert on architecture, but in the future world I wanted to create, I imagined what might happen in a country, and a world, that was dealing with overcrowding, sustainability of resources, and a commitment to provide all citizens with accommodation. The answer to all those questions seemed to me to lie in a uniform solution – row upon row of identical dwellings, built with simple design and sustainable materials, which take up limited space. So, in the State, all modern buildings are simple white cubes, no more than two or three storeys high. There still exist some of the old brick buildings with decorative exteriors – the City Parliament or the Old Town castle – and one or two high-rises – police headquarters and the hospital, but the white cubes gave a possible solution and a striking visual for the megalopolis of the future.  

Advertising: It’s quite simple in one way – you get back what you put in. I have very little spare budget to pay for advertising my books. I use all my social media channels and this blog and garner a few sales that way. Occasionally I will splash out and pay for adverts to run on Facebook, Instagram and Amazon. The Amazon ones are the best value, delivering decent results and a sale here or there. I’ve yet to experience any uplift in sales from ads run on Facebook. Their targeting just isn’t focussed enough to attract the right buyers. It’s much more complicated if you have a budget and want to drill down into the real detail of advert placement, targeting and so on. There are guides out there to help you, but again, it’s time and money and effort and a full-time job in itself.

Next up – B is for: Beginnings, Bruce, Byron ‘Buzz’ Mayfield and Billings, Montana

All the entries in the A-Z of ‘The State Trilogy’ can be found HERE

The books are available from a wide selection of online retailers, including AMAZON

91 thoughts on “THE STATE TRILOGY A-Z GUIDE: A

  1. I absolutely love your challenge theme. How wonderfully clever! The mix of details from your novel interwoven with practical tidbits about the business end of writing while working & parenting IRL is truly creative & interesting. Well done!

    Cheers to you for a fun & fruitful month.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Linda. A few more readers would be wonderful of course, and it’s also good to talk to other bloggers and readers about their writing and publishing experiences 🙂

      Like

  2. From everything I have read and talked to others about the only way to get an publisher is by having an agent. Everyone I know who did that got a publisher. It is all a bit of a racket if you ask me.

    Molly

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Molly, you’re right, having an agent is a must and, it seems, almost impossible unless you are a celebrity or know someone in the business. I think racket is the right word. It amazes me that many agents treat writers with apparent disdain – like being unable to even acknowledge receipt of a manuscript, or not reading beyond a limited summary. Very disrespectful to someone who has worked hard on something. And of course, without the writers, the agents would have nothing! Still, me next book is ready to be sent to prospective agents, so we’ll see if I have any better luck this time! Thanks for the comment 🙂

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  3. This all sounds so intriguing! I love the fact that one of your characters grew from a 100-word story. That’s what’s so fascinating with creative work, you never know where ideas will bring you. For you, it’s an entire trilogy, wow! Great start of the challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – glad it has you intrigued! I never expected it to become a full trilogy from that one little story – but I’m glad it did! 🙂

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  4. Hi Iain – Amazing how a 100-word response to a prompt has grown into a trilogy.
    Loved this post not just for the peek into the book and the subsequent posts but also for the little nuggets of info regarding self-publication.
    I am told that even if one goes to a publisher their support for pushing sales lasts not more than a few weeks.
    So, I don’t think you have lost out on anything by doing self-publishing. Looking forward to your subsequent posts.
    Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Pradeep. There are definitely plenty of plus points for self-publishing, alongside some negatives. Certainly the freedom to write what you want and when you want is one of them!

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  5. I am really looking forward to this, Iian. I have the first two books on Kindle. They were/are great reads. Thanks for reminding me that there is a third. Sigh, sometimes I don’t know up from sideways. This will be a great way into the third book.
    Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Stu, very kind, and so pleased you liked the first two. If I do say so myself, I think the 3rd one is the best of the 3, so that bodes well. These posts should be a perfect refresher for you, and a little teaser of what’s still to come! Cheers, Iain

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck with the advertising part Iain. I did not know all that! I think Assassin the first one is my favorite of these A’s. I’ve often thought apart from being evil that has to be one of the most interesting jobs ever. Great idea for the challenge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Anne. The advertising part is a minefield, and can end up costing money rather than inspiring any sales, but it can help if done right, and if you have a lot of time! It certainly would be an exciting life to be an assassin!! 🙂

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  7. Characters are the worst, aren’t they? You think you know exactly what you want to do with them… and then discover they have totally different opinions on the matter.

    I went the self-published route mostly for the same reason you did, though I did try the traditional route for longer. But I think going traditional is particuarly difficult when you write multigenre stories. Creating our own readership isn’t easy (or fast) eiher, but I do believe it is possible.

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – The Great War

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s not easy. I’m trying with my next (just finished) book with the traditional route again, knowing that I can always self-publish if nothing happens. Being able to write what you want in whatever genre is a definite plus, having to put in the effort, time, hard work and patience to build up a readership all on your own is definitely one of the downsides. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  8. Hari OM
    Thanks Iain… I admit, there was just a bit or trepidation as I began to read, for fear of spoilers, given I have just added the books to my library… but fear was allayed and now I am excited to read all your alphabet as clearly, it will be as much about the experience of being an author as anything – as someone who has lots of writing but rarely gone beyond the blogs, I admire your efforts. It’s definitely a labour of love, isn’t it?! YAM xx
    (I have four AZs running – take your pick!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – have no fear – I have been careful not to include any big spoilers that will ruin your enjoyment of the books! 🙂 I’ve stopped by a couple of your blogs already – so many good blogs to choose from 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh, I do love the power of a character who insists on playing in a larger field. I love the mix of tantalizing tidbits about the trilogy and the practical aspects of publishing as well. I’ll certainly be following along.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like the white cubes as the main design of the buildings, and especially like the reasoning you’ve arrived to this choice. It’s always interesting where people find the details of their fictional world.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hello Iain! Thanks for stopping by! I love a good action novel, and I feel that I’ve come across your name before. I believe someone recommended you on their site! 🙂 Happy blogging and I look forward to learning more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is dystopian, but not full on dystopian – if that makes sense – the letter D post will explain more! Pluses and minuses self publishing. I’m trying the traditional route again with my latest book, but happy to self-publish again if nothing happens. It’s a lot of hard work, and it feels like little reward at times!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, definitely true. The more you publish, the better sales, but I do think it affects quality, particularly in the editing and proofreading stage. I consciously am limiting myself to one book a year and no more, and making sure I do that book right. Others are less fussy! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I haven’t found it to be the editing so much (I think they do hire someone) but it’s the fact that sometimes the books begin to sound the same. Now, mind you, this is the romance market. If you’re writing thrillers that all sound the same, even your dearest fans might erupt. Or not.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Your theme for the A2Z Challenge this year sounds so cool. It’s great to know so much about your books and also your experience with publishing. Looking forward to read the other posts.

    Your books seem quite interesting and by the looks of it, I guess I would love to give them a read especially cuz their theme sounds right up my alley :). As far as self – publishing goes through Kindle, good to hear about your experience as I was planning to embark on the same journey soon enough. While not with trilogy, but just with my first book of a few short stories :).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aseem, hope you get the chance to check the books out and that they appeal to you. Any questions about Kindle publishing just ask. Once you get the hang of it, it is quite straightforward – it’s the selling and advertising part that will give you the most work!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Iain :). Yeah I can definitely understand that selling and advertising must be quite a challenge. But I am sure with your theme for the A2Z Challenge this year, you should definitely get some new readers :).

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Wishing you all the best best with your books! Self publishing is not something I have ever tried, but if it works for you, go for it. If they sell well enough, you might find it a good platform to launch a trad career.

    I can’t seem to log in via Twitter as I usually do on a WordPress blog, and I made the mistake of trying to do a WordPress blog once, so it insists on my WordPress log in. So, I have put in my name.

    https://suebursztynski.blogspot.com/2021/04/a-to-z-blogging-challenge-2021-b-is-for.html

    This year’s theme: Greek Myths

    Sue Bursztynski

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sue, that would be the ideal plan, to have a little bit of self-publishing success and maybe move into trad after. It will be a long journey either way!

      Like

  14. How interesting! So in this A to Z, you’ll be sort of de-constructing your worldbuilding. Pulling apart the world you’ve created in your books, to look at every individual piece. That sounds neat, and even potentially useful for you as a writer. I will definitely be back, to look at the pieces!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So far, I’m pleased that in pulling it apart it all seems to hold together! Definitely a useful exercise going forward too, a bit of a review to see what worked and what didn’t. Thanks so much.

      Like

    1. Thank you! Yeah, that’s where I thought it might go, but I’m not a fan of bland architecture either! ‘A’ was one of the easier letters – some posts will be a good bit shorter! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to see you again! Three years in total, but with some rest in between – I reckon about 6 months on writing each book, with space for trying to sell and market in between!

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    1. Good question. I think publishing part of your novel, or little snippets and teases is a great way to grow readership and get people interested. I would be wary of publishing the whole thing though. It’s just human nature – if you can read something for free, no one is going to pay for it after that. Good luck with the book, enjoying the posts so far.

      Like

  15. This is great! I like how you’ve done the short pieces about your books according to the alphabet. Sorry to say I haven’t read them … yet … but will definitely put them on my TBR list. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The options are the main thing, it means no matter what there is a way to get your writing out into the world! Also, self-publishing is the place that can allow for things like a female assassin, before traditional publishers can pick up on the trend. Thanks so much for visiting.

      Like

  16. Love your format Iain – brilliant idea! Delighted to hear you had the same problem with a minor character as we did & hope you do get the chance to build on Archie in future work. As you know, I think you’re an absolute master at writing detectives.

    Liked by 1 person

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