08 January 2014 by Published in: Interview, Jet 38 comments

I’ve been promising to unveil my big news for what seems like forever (November’s big news became December’s big news, and, well, here we are), and it’s finally time.

This week, oh nobody, just the Wall Street Journal, broke the story on page one.

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NEWS: A new blog on how to be a prolific writer, at All That’s Written. Worth taking a look at if you’re an author.

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The article itself is humbling in and of itself, but the news is also big: I’m co-authoring a novel with none other than the legendary Clive Cussler, appropriately monikered the “Grand Master of Adventure.” It will be the next installment in the bestselling Fargo series, and I’m excited by the opportunity to work with a master of the genre.

My name will be on the cover, along with his. I’m arguing to make it almost all me, in raised, neon red lettering, but it remains to be seen how persuasive I am. As always, please, those at home, no wagering.

Why is this news significant, other than because it will be published by a Big 5 publisher? Because an indie author has been selected by a household name to collaborate on a novel. As you might imagine, someone like Cussler can have whoever he likes – he has authors begging for the opportunity.

But for him to have teamed up with lil ol me…well, you get the point. It’s a watershed moment for indies, because there has long been this sentiment that the reason authors are indies is because they can’t cut the quality at the trad pub level, and so have to release their material themselves. This handily rebuts that belief.

The truth is that there are plenty of terrible indie releases. And there are plenty of great ones. Just as there are plenty of good and bad in any of the arts. But with authors like Hugh Howey, Colleen Hoover, and H.M. Ward scorching the charts, indies have clearly arrived, and the market’s embraced them -  or at least, some of them.

I went the indie route because I’m impatient. I didn’t feel like waiting years to find an agent that would “get” my work, and then another year for a publisher to decide whether it fit in one of the slots they had for that season. Not to mention another year for it to actually reach readers. That just didn’t seem worth it to me. For others, it did, and I have no issue with their choice. I just didn’t see it as a productive use of my time.

When Amazon broke big with 70% royalties, I understood the game had changed. Now I could release books written the way I wanted to write them, on a schedule that worked for me, and I could keep most of the money, assuming I made any. After hearing about authors like Hocking and Locke breaking the bank and selling tons in this new paradigm, I decided to jump in. Now, 25 books in 30 months later, I feel like my decision was vindicated, not the least because I’m writing with one of the most successful authors in the world and having a ball in the process. If you’d told me years ago that I’d be writing with the author of Sahara and Raise The Titanic I would have laughed you out of the room. Now, not so much.

What a long, strange trip it’s been. 30 months of basically non-stop work on a crippling schedule of my own devising. Has it been worth it? Absolutely. No question. Will I keep it up? Not a chance. You can only run an engine in the red for so long, and it starts to come apart. 2014 will involve fewer Russell Blake releases and more attention to each, with forays into romance and NA as RE Blake (following my own counsel to brand different genre offerings differently so Russell Blake fans don’t mistakenly pick up an RE Blake “Lust on the Range” tome, or RE Blake readers don’t buy an Assassin or JET book and go, “Where’s the sex, and why is everyone getting killed?”) By branding each genre’s offering in an unmistakably distinct way with a different name, I hope to avoid that, and build a readership in other genres based on the merits of my stories. Only time will tell whether that’s deluded or brilliant.

The WSJ article is a must read. It’s a good capsule summary of some of the high points of my career, such as it is. I wish it had mentioned that I take considerable pride in the plot and prose, and not just the rate of release, but hey, everyone’s a critic. The only thing I dislike about it is that my privacy is now going to be harder to maintain, but I can always get plastic surgery or wear a fake nose or move to Ecuador or something. A sex change isn’t out of the question, either. Small price, I suppose.

Hrmph.

For those who are new to my work, I’d suggest taking a look at JET, which is my most popular series. Pure escapist action adventure with a female protag battling for survival. Think Bourne crossed with Kill Bill seasoned with a little Bond, and you’re not far off.

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Comments

  1. JD Adams
    Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 4:48 am

    Good for you! You deserve it!
    As I told co-conspirator Ada Trace, “…this guy (you) has figured it out…he’s been in business before. You can tell. He’s done the analysis and doesn’t lie to himself…”
    Turns out we’ve ALL been in the same business! (Not just books / publishing.) Our last Design / Build was in 2007…;-)

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:01 pm

      It’s a small world, ain’t it? Thanks for the support.

      Reply
      • JD Adams  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:15 pm

        It’s funny in the sense that Ada and I have often discussed how similar building a novel and building a home is… (a series might be a shell and core…) :-)
        Congrats again!

        Reply
  2. Ken
    Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 7:22 am

    Congratulations! Knew you would be one of the break-out writers at some point. Glad I got to communicate with you and get advice while I could. Oh, and you’re books are pretty good too ;)

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Thanks, Ken. Very kind of you.

      Reply
  3. S Kesling
    Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 10:51 am

    First heard about you this morning…read the Wall Street Journal article. Because I’m in a book club I’m always on the look out for a good read. That being said… I’m also new to writing and just starting out. I’m from an older “Baby Boomer” generation and just helped my mother with her memoir. I think there is still room out there for anyone to write and get noticed. I like Hugh Howey’s attitude….basically saying if you don’t try to self publish you’ll never know what will happen. I think that is what you did initially. I’m optimistic and don’t want to just put my toe in the water….for fear of no results.
    All the best to you…you’re on a roll!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Thanks.

      We were all just starting out at some point. Every year there are new breakout authors who started exactly as we do – with the first words.

      Never know till you try.

      Reply
  4. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:02 am

    Not only can you cut it at a trad pubbed house, you can cut it with dead legends. I still say you’re channeling Somerset Maugham.
    The article didn’t mention your attention to plot and prose, but readers will know it after they’ve read one of your books.
    Congrats Russell! You’re my favorite author and your hard work proves dreams can come true.
    As for privacy, if the screaming girls become too much and you want to hide out in Ecuador, let me know. My father-in-law owns an apartment building in historic downtown Quito! :)

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:06 pm

      Hopefully I don’t have to take you up on that, Kim. Thanks for the continued support!

      Reply
  5. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:18 am

    Russell, CONGRATS! It couldn’t happen to a more deserving (or certainly hard working) guy. However, it’s a bummer about your secret identity being outed, but now you know how Bruce Wayne felt. :)

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:06 pm

      I’ve hired two young lady bodyguards (at least that’s what I call them) that remind me of JET to look after my safety. So far so good, although tiring…

      Reply
      • Tasha Turner  –  Sun 19th Jan 2014 at 10:15 pm

        Glad to see you’ve thought about protection now that your becoming a household name. Maybe they should wear Kevlar instead of bikinis? ;)

        Congrats again on the deal. To think I can say I knew him when… And had email arguments with him over one of his books. My mom will be so proud…

        Reply
  6. robert
    Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Congrats!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 12:08 pm

      Gracias, Robert.

      Reply
  7. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Hi Russell, it’s good to see your success but I could never be as prolific a writer as you are what with having a ‘day-job’ and volunteering for cancer research too. I do admire your stamina and the quality of your work.
    I can imagine with your writing schedule you wouldn’t have the time for an interview, but if you could manage to fit in answering few questions I would love to do a feature on you for my blog All That’s Written
    Lucy

    Reply
  8. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I’m so pleased for you.

    We read the article in WSJ this am and were inspired by your impulse to do it on your own. My husband and I are in our 60s, both come from a communications background and have a wealth of technical knowledge in different areas. I’ve written a couple of screenplays and have maintained a political blog for eight years. So the skill set is there. Since my husband is unemployed, it seems a natural next step–and you’ve proved self-publishing is an alternative for us. Thanks so much.

    And great things are ahead for you, my son! Best wishes. BTW, my daughter lives close to you in La Ribera. What a perfect place to write.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 1:59 pm

      La Ribera is growing leaps and bounds.

      Yes, there are worse places to write.

      This is a very tough business to make it in, so be prepared for a lot of adversity. Just the way it is. But it can be done. And the journey’s half the point…

      Reply
  9. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Congrats! Proof that dedication and hard work pay off. A little insanity doesn’t hurt either!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 7:06 pm

      So far so good!

      Reply
  10. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 7:01 pm

    This is great news man :)

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Thanks. I’m pretty stoked about it.

      Reply
  11. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Congratulations to Mr. Cussler, for making such a good choice!

    Reply
  12. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I am in awe of your level of writing output ( wish I had even a fraction of your energy, determination, and skill) and I just wanted to offer congratulations to you with your co-author project. A dream come true and well deserved! Well done!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 10:08 pm

      The booze and desperation help. Just saying.

      Reply
      • Dianne Greenlay  –  Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:20 pm

        Well that’s one of the best author success strategies I’ve ever seen shared! Well then, I’m off to the hottub (even though it’s -24) with a tea and Bailey’s to plot out my next chapter. :-D. ( Booze and desperation! Ha ha! I think I’ve got it…)

        Reply
  13. JD Adams
    Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Russell,
    One of the great things about being a thriller writer is that readers eat them like M&Ms and thus your sales only help the sales of the other capable thriller writers.
    You’ve been an inspiration to me as a writer, and a source of many hours of guilty pleasure as a reader.
    I can’t think of anyone else that’s worked harder for a breakthrough, or is more deserving!
    Congrats again!

    BTW Did *you* out yourself, or did the WSJ track down your name somehow?

    JD

    Reply
  14. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:23 pm

    Huge congrats, Russell, and much deserved.

    I’ve really enjoyed seeing this journey as it’s unfolded, and I appreciate that you have shared so many of the highs and lows on your blog.

    And for the record, I thought it was an amazing article.

    Reply
  15. Wed 08th Jan 2014 at 11:36 pm

    My mom just read the WSJ article and emailed me. She was happy for you but confused. She was 100% convinced you were a secret agent before. “He just knows too much,” she said. “I can’t believe he wasn’t a spy.”
    I have a feeling she’ll get over it as she enjoys catching up on the Jet series while sunbathing in Florida for the next 6 weeks!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th Jan 2014 at 2:03 am

      The article just describes what my latest vocation was. For the record.

      Reply
  16. Thu 09th Jan 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Congrats! The WSJ article is tremendous but I’m most excited about your co-authoring with Clive Cussler! I’m a huge Cussler fan and not all of his co-writers have been created equal. I’m excited and looking forward to your collaboration!

    Reply
  17. Sat 11th Jan 2014 at 6:03 am

    Congratulations, Russell!

    My fantasy has always been to meet Clive Cussler…now that this includes you, I hope you’ll only go for the fake nose and not the sex change job.

    Looking forward to see the Fargo book go off the charts; naturally, because now your name is on it (blazing in neon).

    Reply
  18. James McCormick
    Sun 12th Jan 2014 at 5:40 am

    My dad cut out and sent me the WSJ article. Grats! And inspiring read!

    Reply
  19. Mon 13th Jan 2014 at 1:51 am

    Are sure this isn’t a setup by PETA for what happened to the donkey?

    You have kept your eye on the ball, covered all the bases and deserve this grand slam. Congrats.

    Reply
  20. Tobias Humbled
    Mon 13th Jan 2014 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Mr. Blake,

    I’ve been recently coming in touch with reading digitally through the Storybundle Thriller Bundle and found your beginning of the Black Saga to be the gem in this little collection. I’m looking forward to get ahold of Black 2 and 3 and maybe also have a look into the rest of your work, which brought some questions to mind:

    I’ve not come yet to fully embrace digital formats. Will there be haptic editions of Black 2 & 3, too?

    In case there won’t be (or I find myself unwilling to wait for them) do you prefer your readers to buy your ebooks from any special source? I definitely like the open approach of Smashwords over this kindle locking that Amazon does, but since that Wall Street article stated Amazon is giving unusally high royalties to authors (and since they’re the far more popular platform I guess buying there might snowball into additional readers for you through better chart positioning) I might be willing to overcome my distaste for their unpleasant kindleness for once.

    I just found a fancy looking package of most of your previous work selling the bunch of 15 novels for 5$, which strikes me as a too good offer too be strictly legal. Due to my suspicion I ‘m rather hesitant to link to them in the comments, so I’ll just send you that last bit over email if you don’t mind.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 13th Jan 2014 at 7:43 pm

      Please do send it via email. Books (at) russellblake.com

      Smashwords would be fine with me. They pay me the same royalty as Amazon does if you buy it directly from them. Glad you enjoyed BLACK.

      No plans to do any haptic editions of BLACK 2 or 3 at this time. Sorry.

      Reply
  21. Mon 10th Mar 2014 at 2:43 am

    great goods from you, i actually like what you’ve acquired here. good job!

    http://www.n8fan.net

    Reply

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