Monday, August 02, 2010

Guest Blogger Stacey Cochran on “Sequels” and eBooks

Stacey was one of a few who took me into his house when I was on tour with the Rusty Nail 500. He's probably the only guy on the planet who has more rejections than I do, and his persistence and dedication to getting his work read is an inspiration to all. He's also one of these "pay it forward" type of writers who extends both hands in helping others and shining the spotlight on them.

Stacey is currently doing a blog tour for his latest ebook, CLAWS 2. It's $2.99. You should check it out.

Now, here he is...

STACEY: Thanks, Joe, for having me at your place in the midst of my CLAWS 2 Blog Tour. For folks unfamiliar with me, CLAWS 2, or a Blog Tour in general, you might check out my website for more info.

The goal of a Blog Tour is for an author to visit a number of blogs over a set period of weeks in order to promote and spread the word about his/her book. I launched CLAWS 2 on July 1 as an eBook-exclusive available through the Kindle store and have managed to set up 18 “tour stops” with blog proprietors for the months of July and August. It is one of the most cost-effective forms of marketing I’ve ever used, and so far July has been my most successful sales month in a year.

What I need: 1) customers to buy my book, 2) customers to write reviews of the book, 3) other bloggers to host me during August and September.

If you can host me on your blog, drop me a note as a comment or via my website. We’ll set it up.

CLAWS 2 Cover

Amazon Link:


So I thought I would write today about my observations regarding sales numbers for CLAWS 2 and CLAWS. The main point that I’d like to make for newbies is that I have seen a dramatic increase in sales of CLAWS with the launch of CLAWS 2.

Joe could probably speak to this subject as well, as he is the author of a great series of books.

As naïve as it sounds, I had not considered that CLAWS would see any bump with the release of CLAWS 2. When I wrote these novels five years ago, my main reason for doing so was that I thought it would look cool. To my knowledge, no one has ever published a series of novels so similarly titled. Of course, filmmakers do it all the time (Nightmare on Elm Street, SAW, Friday the 13th, JAWS, Piranha, etc.). With writers, the fashion seems to be to change up the titles around a catchy theme (drinks, alphabet, colors, numbers, etc.), but no one just calls their series TITLE 1, TITLE 2, TITLE 3, etc.

I thought it would look cool, and I’d never seen it done in the publishing world. That was the height of my expectations and rationale.

So far in July, the original novel (released in summer 2009) has actually outpaced the new book at a roughly 5:4 ratio. When these novels spiked in July, CLAWS actually peaked in the 100s overall in the Kindle store whereas CLAWS 2 reached only #213.

It’s worth noting that the price-point for the books is different. CLAWS has been at 99 cents all along, and CLAWS 2 is at $2.99. Some folks are likely hearing of me for the first time and so are willing to give the 99-cents book a shot before purchasing the new title.

Whatever the case, the books have worked in tandem to drive up overall sales in a way that I simply did not anticipate.

I’ve had a number of folks ask me if there is a CLAWS 3 in the works. The truth is I outlined some preliminary notes back in 2006 for a third book regarding spotted leopards in the American Southwest and the border fence issue.

What I’d like more than anything else is to sell the series to a major publisher. I could easily write a CLAWS 3, 4, and 5, and it’s likely that such a filmable series would get optioned and could see move adaptation.

I may have to find traditional success with another novel altogether before I’m able to sell the CLAWS series. Or I may not be able to sell it at all. That definitely seems to be where we’re at with it now.

The sales numbers for my eBooks have been nothing short of a career break-through since May 2009 when I launched CLAWS.

If there’s a lesson to be taken from this, it is that readers will buy closely-linked series books in tandem. For newbies considering how to develop a career, it might be worth thinking through how you might publish a series of books and exactly what kind of series seem to do well with publishers.

Thanks so much for your time and for reading, and thank you, Joe, for hosting me today at your blog.


Author Photo

Stacey Cochran was born in the Carolinas, where his family traces its roots to the mid 1800s. In 1998 he was selected as a finalist in the Dell Magazines undergraduate fiction competition, and he made his first professional short story sale to CutBank in 2001. In 2004, he was selected as a finalist in the St. Martin's Press/PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Contest. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife Dr. Susan K. Miller-Cochran and their son Sam, and he teaches writing at North Carolina State University. His books include CLAWS, CLAWS 2, Amber Page, The Colorado Sequence, and The Kiribati Test.


JA Konrath said...

Claws is currently ranked 16,580. Claws 2 at 37,547.

Let's see where they're at by the end of the day.

Author Scott Nicholson said...

Joe, thanks for posting and hosting, and thanks for sharing, Stacey. Your tale is as inspiring as your fiction.

I'll be stopping here on Sept. 3--I think blog tours are a great way to cross-promote and expand the book and indie community (and also to challenge the serious book bloggers to open up to indie authors, which is where the future is). That's what I am doing with Indie Books Blog, featuring new releases every weekday. The theme is "We're all in it together."

Stacey, I don't even think you need to sell the Claws series to a publisher--Claws 3 will bump the sales of the earlier two books. All the rules have changed and you can release them as fast as you write them instead of waiting for permission! Good luck with the tour--you can swing by my blog in September if you want.


Jon F. Merz said...

Stacey, I'll be happy to host you over on my blog if you're interested:

Drop me a line via Facebook and we'll set it up.

Dave said...

Keep up the good work Stacey!

David Wisehart said...

Great work, Stacey. Your example is an inspiration to so many beginning writers. Love what you've done with this series, and how you've actively promoted it, and would encourage you to keep going with the series for at least a few more books.

Oh, and of course stop by the Kindle Author blog again for another interview when the next one is out. :)

Moses Siregar III said...

Congrats on the new release, Stacey. I'd be happy to host you on my blog.

JA Konrath said...

#7,206 and #15,799 for Claws and Claws 2. That's a few ebooks sold. Apparently marketing works. :)

Stephanie said...

Congrats!!!! When I wrote my debut, A Bitch Named Karma, I'd always had ideas for a sequel...but in my genre (contemporary women's fiction) it's rare for someone to write a sequel..ever. And I was not going to spend the time and energy to write a sequel until i had at least sold the first. So that's what I did...once it sold..the sequel ideas began to flourish and I am not working on it. And I often wondered how much of an effect sequels had...thanks for sharing your journey! I'm very optimistic now!!

The Remembrance Tree said...

...happy to have you at my house, blog, whenever. Candidly, it surprises me what you think a trad publisher can do for you 'now?' Looks like you're on a roll with a series. Nice of you JK for doing this tour. --gg

Cameron Lewis said...

1989's sequel to "Rendezvous with Rama" was called "Rama II." I have to think there are other examples as well, but that one immediately came to mind. :)

Kadi Easley said...

I would love to host you at KdBlog. Drop me a note and we'll work something out.

Ron Scheer said...

Series fiction seems really right for ebooks. Glad this is working for you, and thanks.

Linda Acaster said...

Good for you, Stacey, and for this blog to help you along. I hope the rankings keep going down, and the sales up.

Jude Hardin said...

Best of luck with the series and with finding a publisher, Stacey.

Likari (LK Rigel) said...

I'm not a horror reader -- I get too scared! -- but I love to support independent authors, so your Claws 2 just arrived at my PC for Kindle.

If I get up the nerve, I might even try to read it, ha.

Best of luck with the blog tour. This is a great way to get the word out about what's out there.

wannabuy said...

Amazon claims 70% to 80% of e-book market share:

Topic, sequels are key. They inherently build links from others who enjoy the same genre.

I know if I enjoy a novel, I'll chew through another 2 to 5 by the same author quickly. :)


Anonymous said...

Congrats Stacey. I loved Claws and just got Claws 2. Can't wait to read it.

Sean McCartney
The Treasure Hunters Club
Secrets of the Magical Medallions

Esther said...

Interesting premise. Can one read Claws 2 before Claws? I live in Colorado and love to read about places I've lived. I've downloaded the free sample and will check it out tonight. I take it this is something I may not want to read backcountry camping in two weeks. I'm a weenie with an active imagination.

Brian Drake said...

Stacy, You can have a post on my blog, too, if you're like.

Email me at

Coolkayaker1 said...

Stacey--does a reader need to read Claws before Claws 2 to understand/get the most out of it?

Douglas Dorow said...

Stacey, I picked up both to read on vacation next week. Two great books for less than I spent last night at Dairy Queen for treats for my son and I. And less fattening.

Best of luck on the tour. I'm looking to follow in a similar path in the near future.

David Ebright said...

Okay - just bought Claws & Claws 2 AFTER I read a sample. Look like good reads.

So what makes a guy from North Carolina write a story set in Arizona? Just curious.

I like sequels - Flynn, Child, Cussler, Coben, Konrath, Bell & others manage to keep it fresh using the same primary character. I have a sequel of my own coming out soon - might even put it on Kindle.

Checked out the website - you've met plenty of my favorite authors & since it didn't look like you had 'em in a stranglehold to pose, I guess that makes you alright.

You're welcome to be a guest on my blog as a stop off for your tour, but I write for kids so that probably won't be so helpful.

Good Luck. Thanks Joe for the introduction.

Anonymous said...

To my knowledge, no one has ever published a series of novels so similarly titled.

The pulp "Crabs" series by Guy N. Smith comes to mind. The Caustic Cover Critic posted the entire series of covers about a week ago... hilarious.

Apparently, you could get away with a lot if you wrote horror in the seventies.

Colin Matthew ( said...

A blog tour. That's an interesting idea that never occurred to me.

Stacy, you said: "I may have to find traditional success with another novel altogether before I’m able to sell the CLAWS series. Or I may not be able to sell it at all. That definitely seems to be where we’re at with it now."

I'd be interested in hearing more thoughts as to way. Mayhaps on one of your other blog tour stops?

Stacey Cochran said...

Thanks, Scott. You're probably right. Nonetheless, I've been trying to find a traditional publisher since I was 16 years old (20 years now) and it's become my full-time occupation these past 10 or so years. I'll probably stick with it, even though I'm making pretty good money.

Thanks, Jon. I'll drop you a note in a few minutes. You rock.

Thank you, David Wood and David Wisehart. Thank you for having me at your places.

Thanks, Moses. I'll drop you a note in a few minutes.

Thank you, Gary.

Cameron, I'm sure there's probably a series that was just TITLE 1, TITLE 2, etc., but I haven't come across it yet. I'll keep reading.

Thank you, Stephanie. Sequels are really cool because you get to know the characters and their world so well. Before the CLAWS series, I wrote a series of books that started with Culpepper, Amber Page, The Colorado Sequence, Dr. Plant, and Maggie Redcrest. So far, I've self-pubbed Amber Page and The Colorado Sequence. I still think those are the two books I had the best time writing.

Stacey Cochran said...

Thank you, KD Easley. I'll drop you a note in a few minutes. Thanks.

Thank you, Ron, Linda, Jude, and Likari. Yes, a blog tour is a great way to help launch a book... particularly in the eBook world. Like if all of your action is online, why not do a blog tour? It has certainly helped sales of my books.

Thanks, Wannabuy (Neil). I totally agree.

Thank you, Sean! Good luck with Treasure Hunters. Let's do a Book Chatter Interview sometime to help spread the word about it.

Thanks, Esther. Personally, I would vote for total immersion. :) If you're going camping, you should totally bring along both books. Interestingly one of the unanimous praises the series has received is 1) how well researched the material is, 2) how well I integrate the "land" into the stories. Setting is a big deal to me, so I wanted to get it right. For CLAWS I lived in Arizona for five years. For CLAWS 2, I visited southwest Colorado as many times during that five years as I could... often staying in the back-country.

Stacey Cochran said...

Thanks, Brian Drake. I'll drop you an email in a few minutes here.

Thank you, Douglas Dorow. Enjoy your vacation!

Great question, JaxPop, and thanks for purchasing the books. I completely fell in love with the landscape of Arizona. After graduating from grad school in Creative Writing, I moved to the remote town of Oracle in order to write my first few novels and to try and get my professional writing career off the ground. During the first year there, I lived in total isolation and spent a lot of time jogging and hiking the mountains south of Oracle. I wanted to try and capture that period of my life in the novel because I knew it was a special time. Similarly with CLAWS 2, when I visited the Ouray, Telluride, Silverton region of the state I was blown away by the natural landscape. I wanted to capture that sense of awe in a book.

LOL, Christy. Crabs. That is hilarious. I love it!

Colin, that's a great comment. Unlike Joe, Scott, and Jon, I haven't had a traditional publisher for my fiction (though I am currently under contract for a textbook on writing to Macmillan), and so I have gotten dinged by some readers and critics (okay a lot of critics) as somehow being "less than a real" author. So in terms of career strategy, it would be wise to publish with a major publisher in order to lay to rest at least some of the credibility questions. Additionally, every novel I've written was written with an eye toward film adaptation. That's been my end goal since I was sixteen years old working as a projectionist at a movie theater. Only, major movie studios tend to option books that come from traditional publishers. It's pretty rare to see a self-pubbed novel get film treatment. My theory is that a successful film adaptation is the #1 way to ensure bestselling author status. So logically then, I've been trying to sell a novel to a major publisher.

For whatever reason, I have not had luck on my side. I just finished novel #11 in ms. format. To date, I've received somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 rejections since the mid 1990s, and have never had a single piece of fiction accepted for publication from a paying source. (I've published a few short stories but never got paid).

Stacey Cochran said...

BTW, if anyone was wondering the reason I am a couple days late responding... I was in the back-country Black Mountains of North Carolina.

Just got back to Raleigh late last night after five days with 1) no computer, 2) no cell phone coverage, and 3) no electricity and hot water. I feel fucking born again.

David Ebright said...

I read half of Claws last night. Mind boggling that a traditional publisher hasn't picked up your work. Helps lend validity to my choice of bypassing that submission/rejection hamster wheel from the git-go. BTW -You should start your own blog - your responses to comments are as good as the original post.

Anonymous said...

@Stacy You don't have to be in the mountains alone to get that effect. Just a nice cool afternoon without all that can really rejuvenate the mind and body!

Good luck. :)

Moses Siregar III said...

Stacey, I love that part of SW Colorado. I lived in Durango for a year, but our favorite vacation is to drive up to Ridgeway, CO and chill out at Orvis Hot Springs for a week or so. I live in Prescott, AZ, up at around 6,300 feet and it's magical, but that part of Colorado is something else.

Stacey Cochran said...

Moses, I totally agree. The drive from Silverton to Ouray may be one of the most stunning drives in the U.S. Certainly in the top 10.

If you've got 4-wheel drive, I would recommend to anyone trying to make the Ophir Pass at least once. That is the heart of where CLAWS 2 is set, and is probably the closest thing to the Himalayas as we have in the U.S.

baron said...

Stacey, i wonder if the covers might factor in to the difference in sales between 1 & 2 . What do you think?

Jens H. Altmann said...

Stacey: if you like, you can guest-blog on my blog, The Way of the Word. I don't have that many readers, but if you're interested, leave a comment there somewhere.

Stacey Cochran said...

@Baron, covers definitely factor into purchase power. I've had a number of people tell me they like the first CLAWS cover better than CLAWS 2. It certainly has cooler font and is more suggestive of what the book is about.

My most successful cover is The Colorado Sequence. That book just continues to sell and sell and sell, and I suspect a lot of it has to do with the cover ('cause the reviews are downright cruel).

Darrell B. Nelson said...

I'd love to have you do a guest blog on my site

Stacey Cochran said...

@projectsavior Drop me a message through and we'll try and set up a Tour Stop date by your blog.

Thanks so much.