I just typed “The End” on my 40th book in 46 months of self-publishing.
It felt pretty good. And I think it reads better than the first book I wrote, but that’s debatable, because that first one (Fatal Exchange) still sells well when I promote it, and still garners great reviews. It would suck if I’ve gotten worse, but that’s also possible. Guess I’ll have to wait to see how the reviews come out on JET – Escape to know for sure.
I’m taking a month off in April to recharge my batteries, and then will be knocking out another couple of novels in May and June.
A buddy of mine asked me how it feels to have written a solid 4 million words in about four years, not counting blog posts or message board missives, which probably easily brings it to 5 million.
I responded honestly that it feels like I’m starting to get the hang of it.
For those who’ve missed my prior posts on process, here’s a quick reminder of the habits I follow to write an awful lot of books in a relatively short period of time (BTW, there’s plenty of historical precedent for this output – look at some of the pulp greats, or even authors like Asimov, Cartland, Bloom, Inoue, Roberts, etc. There have always been, and always will be, prolific authors who can sustain reasonable quality at a rapid pace.). And before we get into the usual debate about quality dropping with speed, I’ll share this observation: Most who believe this are aspiring authors who can’t or won’t produce regularly, and who sneer at commercially successful genre fiction, or who can’t do it themselves and so assume everyone’s abilities must be similar.
Here’s the truth: If it takes you 250 hours to pen 120K novel first draft, it doesn’t matter whether you spread that 250 hours over 25 days of 10 hour writing days, or two years of navel gazing with a few words dashed out here or there. It still takes the same number of hours. So the quality shouldn’t suffer, unless it’s a function of fatigue, or lack of craft.
So my advice, from a message board post yesterday:
1) Plan on writing a lot, every day, whether your muse is working or not. I shoot for 7K a day, and on a lousy day force myself to write 4K. The reason I force myself is because, as with all jobs, I go to work whether I “feel” like it or not. I don’t go to work, I don’t get paid. Just as a Hollywood writer working on a series writes every day regardless of their mood. If you aspire to be a pro, behave like one, not like a teen girl on a shopping spree trying to decide which shoes to buy. Your job, should you decide to accept it, is to write well, and write a lot, and demand more out of yourself, regardless of your “inspiration” or your mood or your biorhythms or whatever. You want to be a writer? Then get to it, and stop whining about life getting in the way. Life will happen whether or not your write, and nobody’s holding a gun to your head, so you need to be your own motivation, and be unrelenting in your demands on yourself.
2) Outline. If you don’t know where you’re going, it’s going to take a lot longer to figure out how to get there. Couple days of serious thinking and knocking out a chapter by chapter single-sentence summary goes a long way, and speeds the writing along.
3) Turn off the internet when writing. Turn off the phone. The text messaging. All of it. It’s a distraction you can’t afford. Research after you’re done, or before, but when it’s writing time, write, don’t screw around.
4) Write as though your life depends on it. You only get one life, you’ve decided this is how you want to spend a few hundred hours of it, so do it like you mean it, or find something you can muster that zest for, and don’t bother trying to write. Life’s too short to do shit you don’t have passion for, and I guarantee you when you’re looking back at your existence all the soul sucking BS you spent time on won’t give you any satisfaction. If you’re going to do anything, keep it real, do it with 110% of yourself, and take no prisoners, or you’re letting yourself down, failing your obligation to yourself to be the best you can be.
5) Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s a first draft. Lots of it will probably suck. That’s fine. Fix it on rewrite. Don’t try to edit as you go along, or you’ll lose your momentum. Edit on second draft, and then edit that on third. If you fixate on trying to get it perfect on first draft, you’ll kill your muse deader than Elvis before you’re at chapter two.
There’s more – a lot more – but these are the basics.
In closing, pretend you are working on a TV show, where every week you have to turn out polished product at a high quality level. Because that’s what pro writers in Hollywood do, day in and day out. If you’re busy rationalizing why you can’t or don’t work that way, or are unwilling to, or feel you shouldn’t have to because it’ll hamper your creativity or voice or whatnot, fine, but don’t complain when you aren’t able to compete in the marketplace with those who do. Because like it or not, in the new world of self-publishing, being able to hit the HNR lists with regular releases is a game changer for many authors, and to ignore that phenom is dangerous to any career aspirations beyond that of hobbyist.
And it wouldn’t be a Russell Blake blog without exhortations to buy my crap. If you’re looking for my newest, it’s JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, which is moving a few copies. And Ramsey’s Gold, the first book in my new series, is also shifting a copy or two on pre-order. As is JET – Escape.
I’m thrilled to announce that the exciting sequel to JET – Ops Files has just gone live! JET – Ops Files, Terror Alert, chronicles Jet’s early years in the Mossad as she races to stop a terrorist attack of epic proportions that would claim thousands of innocent lives.
It’s everything you’ve come to expect of Jet, with a racing plot, twists, reversals, evil villains, conflicted good guys, and an ending that will leave you breathless.
Hope you enjoy the book. It was a blast to write and moves like a freight train!
The ninth, and possibly final, installment of the JET series, JET – Escape, is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and soon, on B&N, iTunes, and Smashwords.
Believe me when I say that this one is a juggernaut of a book. It picks up from where JET 8 left off, and follows our hero from Colombia, to Venezuela, to Cuba, as she and the family dodge villainous hit men out for blood.
JET is always a hoot to write, and this one has been no different. I hope you enjoy it.
Here’s a cover reveal. I liked the woman from the old JET 6 cover, so used her for this with the new background treatment.
I read a post by Hugh on his blog, and felt compelled to add my spin on KB – my first post in a year.
I’m linking it because it states my view of the author/self-publisher duality that self-pubbed authors face, and addresses complaints from those who are finding it to be barren economic soil.
Rather than repeating it, here’s the post (scroll down): http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,211162.150.html
Much has changed in the market over the last year, but my view of the best approach for authors to take, that of two separate disciplines recognized as such, hasn’t. Like a student attending a bilingual curriculum, part of your studies will be in one language, the rest in the other. They are different languages, so excelling in one is unlikely to do much for your success in the other.
Many authors dislike my take. That’s fine. There are many ways to skin a cat.
Every author I know who is operating a financially successful self-publishing venture does so as both author, and publisher, and they’ve all developed the business skills to make the book selling business work for them, while honing the book writing skills necessary to create compelling, and more importantly, commercially successful, content.
Anyone who believes this is an easy way to make any kind of a living knows little or nothing about it. Those entering into it with the idea they’re going to earn money at it would be best advised to consider my post, and the merits of my argument, and prepare for a butt-load of thankless hard work in one of the most competitive endeavors I know of.
On the new release front, I have the second JET – Ops Files novel going live at the end of March, and my first installment in my new series, Ramsey’s Gold, at the end of May. I’m currently writing the final JET novel, JET – Escape, which will go out in June, and will be available for pre-order shortly.
Next up you can expect the second installment in the Drake Ramsey series around Sept, the final Assassin in Oct, a BLACK in Nov, and TBD in December. Maybe another Ops Files. Dunno.
Now back to work for me. Damned books don’t write themselves…
I have a new series that will launch at the end of May. The first installment, titled Ramsey’s Gold, is a rollicking adventure yarn that fans of Raiders of the Lost Ark are sure to enjoy.
The story chronicles the adventures of twenty-something Drake, who decides to follow his deceased father’s footsteps into the Amazon rainforest when a journal comes to light that describes his father Ford Ramsey’s search for the lost jungle metropolis of Paititi – the legendary Inca city of gold.
It’s a fun action romp that moves like a freight train, and features wheels within wheels, villainous baddies, morally ambiguous good guys, a love interest that scorches the page, and a denouement that is one of my favorites to date. I foresee it as episodic, one or two installments per year, with the gang embarking on a new adventure in exotic locales whenever the call of the wild sounds.
It’s available right now for pre-order through Amazon, and within a few more days, on B&N and Apple.
Here’s the cover. I’m super excited over this new series, and already have the second one outlined and scheduled for Fall release. Tell me this cover doesn’t say action adventure in a big, big way!
And for a sneak preview of what the book reads like, well, look no further than here. I’ve posted a few sample chapters for your amusement.
I have another bundle going on that’s a no-brainer buy – it features six outstanding novels for .99, and is in Kindle Unlimited, so can be read basically for free. The books include novels by not only yours truly (BLACK), but NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors like Diane Capri, Cheryl Bradshaw, Jack Patterson, Mark Dawson, and Emma Jameson.
The bundle’s called Six Feet Under, and should be on everyone’s must-read list.
Download it if you’re in Kindle Unlimited, and read the books for free. A deal like this only comes along about once a century, which may be a slight exaggeration, but only a slight one. It’s an incredible deal. If you love your country, care about puppies, kitties, or the warm smiles of newborns, want to deal a body blow to those who would crush our way of life beneath their sandals or boots or whatnot, you’ll download it without hesitation. If you have any sort of faith or belief in a higher power, whatever it might be, you will download this bundle. If you want to change the world in small increments and build a better future for everyone, you’ll download it – a portion of its earnings goes toward my bar tab, which should be reason enough to read at least 10%, as though any more reasons were necessary.
Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.