peeps: Russell Blake
Russell Blake is the best-selling author of twenty novels to date, including Fatal Exchange and The Geronimo Breach, and a whole slew of other thrillers. But Russell’s writing isn’t limited to adrenaline rush inducing page turners — he is also the author of the non-fiction international best-selling animal biography An Angel With Fur, and a parody of all things writing-related, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated).
Russell lives on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and spends his time enjoying his “dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns.”
How Russell Got Started Self-Publishing
In June 2011, several of Russell’s friends who had read his early efforts had successfully goaded him into putting his work out there on the Kindle. Although he had already been writing seriously for over a decade, Russell says it was “for pleasure, and to practice my craft — I don’t have the temperament to spend years querying and then waiting a year or more for a book to come out, so the traditional route was never a big draw for me.” When reader feedback on Amazon started pouring in, Russell was hooked.
Russell’s sales curve, however, wasn’t smooth or easy. “In my first 7 or 8 months publishing, I released almost a dozen books, and sold very few — maybe 1,000 in all of 2011. To put that into perspective, in 2012 I sold over 100,000.”
Some claim author success has mostly to do with luck. True — somewhat. “I got very lucky,” Russell admits, “but I also work 12 hour days, seven days a week at this, so perhaps the extra effort caused Lady Luck to smile a bit more kindly at me.” And maybe Lady Luck also appreciated the fact that Russell “insisted on a quality product from the first day — professional editing, a pro cover, and pro formatting. I lost money doing those things until Feb of 2012, but I think that it played a part in my success.”
Well, sir, it worked! Lucky you…
Self-Publishing Observations and Tips
- “The good news is that it’s never been a more exciting time to be an author. For the first time ever, an indie can make a better than fair living writing and publishing their own work.”
- “I am also heartened that the big traditional publishers are recognizing indie efforts and signing them — who can deny the sales power of a 50 Shades, which started out as fan fiction, or a Wool, which Hugh Howey self-pubbed, or a Hopeless, Colleen Hoover’s latest smash hit. Indies are no longer the punchline to a bad joke, although there are still plenty of regrettable offerings out there that should never have made it onto the virtual shelves.”
- “If I had any tips to offer other authors interested in self-publishing, I’d start by saying that writing is a different skill and job than book selling, so you need to divide your time intelligently and do both. I do about 80/20 writing to marketing, but I’m very disciplined about ensuring I allocate my marketing resources intelligently.”
- “Contrary to a lot of well-intentioned but awful advice, books don’t, nor have they ever, sell themselves. You need to write a great book, but you also need to work hard on discoverability — letting the reader know that it exists. Great books won’t sell if nobody knows they exist. So part of the job of a self-publisher is to make sure people know it exists.”
- “Invest in your self-publishing business like in any other business, and don’t expect to make any money for a long time — just like most other businesses. Pay for editing, covers and formatting — don’t cheap out or try to cut corners, or the readers will skewer you and you’ll sell few or no books. Every day I hear from authors who are selling horribly, and most have the same idiotic philosophy: ‘I can’t afford editing or a pro cover. I’ll get to that when I’ve sold some books.’ Wrong. You won’t sell any books, because your product isn’t worthy of someone shelling out their hard earned money. You need to invest in making it worthy, and then maybe someone will buy it. If you don’t have the money, save it and wait to release till you’ve done a proper job. The alternative is a recipe for failure and guarantees a short or non-existent career.”