07 May 2013 by Published in: Uncategorized 135 comments

Over the last week, because of my burst of posts on the Kindle Boards, I’ve gotten a number of PMs from authors asking for counsel on one matter or another, so I thought I would take the time to lay out my thoughts so that the info is available to everyone. Obviously, this is intended for authors. Readers, just skip over this, it’s all technical crap you won’t be interested in unless you’re a masochist.

This does not represent the only way to do things, but it’s my way, and is the synthesis of everything I’ve learned over the last 23 months of self-publishing:

1) Pick one genre that’s popular and with which you are extremely familiar, and then write in that genre. Stick to it. Don’t hop around. It confuses your potential readers and muddies who you are in their minds, and will hurt your sales. If you want to write different genres, use a pseudonym, and if you like, let your readers know that moniker is you. But stick to one name, one genre, because you’re building your brand, and brand building is a function of clarity – clearly communicating what you do, and what your product is.

2) Write a series. Why? Because readers like series, and you want to give readers what they like. Or you won’t sell as much. You can try stand-alone – I have – but my series outsell my stand-alone books 4 to 1. Once you have at least three books in the series, make the first one free. Earn your income from the rest, but give readers a whole novel to decide whether they like you or not.

3) Write a lot. By that I mean try to write at least 3 novels a year. Don’t bother with short stories or novellas (40K or under) if you’re writing fiction – erotica, romance and non-fiction reportedly to do better with short form, but I don’t know from personal experience. Write 60-90K installments in your series, and release them AT MINIMUM every four months. Every three months would be better. Every two, better still. Momentum breeds success, and readers have short memories. The current market is a hungry animal, and you need to feed it, or risk being forgotten by the time your next one releases. Sorry. It’s the truth. And don’t start whining about how X famous author only puts out one book every Y years. If you’re Dan Brown and you sell tens of millions of novels each whack, then do whatever the hell you like. If you aren’t, listen up, or chock your strategy up to, “Become the next Dan Brown” and stop reading this blog.

4) Read a lot. To write well, you need to read things that are well-written, and that serve to inspire you to greater heights or provide insight on how to improve your work in some way. You are what you eat. If you aren’t reading a decent amount, start, because otherwise you’re unlikely to write nearly as well as if you do.

5) Allocate time every day to write, and be disciplined. I suggest minimum one hour per day, or 1000 words. I actually ignore that and shoot for 5000-7000 a day when writing a novel, but that’s just my approach, and it’s not for everyone. My point is that you must be disciplined about your writing and develop that muscle. If you don’t make it a habit, you won’t write enough to put out one novel every four months, and you’ll already be way behind the curve.

6) Allocate time every day to market. I recommend a 75%/25% writing to marketing mix. So spend an hour writing every day, and fifteen-twenty minutes marketing (social media, blogging, interviews, message boards). Two hours writing, half hour to forty minutes marketing. And so on.

7) Stay off the internet when you’re writing. Set aside the writing time, and do only that. Leave placeholders for stuff you need to research later (XXX city is Y distance from ZZZ city, etc.). Stopping your writing to research breaks your momentum. Don’t do it. Checking your e-mail, checking in with your Facebook group, reading a tweet – none of these are going to write your book for you, so stop it already.

8) Get professional help. Do pro covers. It’s the first thing your potential readers will see. Put out something amateurish, and they will go to something that looks worthy of their time, and it won’t be you. Get pro editing. You are asking people to pay for your product. They won’t, and shouldn’t, if you haven’t ensured it is a pro product, which means it must be edited and proofread. If you’re too cheap or too broke to pay an editor, barter something of value to get someone qualified to do it, or (gasp, here’s an idea) save some money so you can do it right. Skip these steps and you won’t sell much, if anything. Or if you do, it won’t last very long, because word will spread, and then you’re dead.

9) Make sure your product description rocks, is short and compelling, and sucks the reader in. After your cover, the product description has to sell the book. Don’t give too much info, don’t spell out the plot like it’s a test. Give the high points that will interest a reader in knowing more. And make sure it’s coherent and there are no typos or bad grammar, as that will kill most of your sales out of the gate. A product description is ad copy, nothing more, so it should be the ad for your book, and with advertising, whatever makes the reader click buy is good advertising.

10) Now for the actual book. You have five pages to hook the reader. The first five. Make those amazing pages that demand the reader continues.

11) Know your audience. You do that by reading a fair amount in the genre, and by looking at the reviews of your competitors/the bestsellers in your genre. If you’re writing for a genre that’s 90% cat ladies, you need to know that going in. If mostly older males, know that too. Teen girls, ditto. Whatever your audience, figure it out before you start writing. Do a little research. It will pay dividends later.

12) Brand yourself as the go-to author in that genre. Become synonymous with your genre. Define it, if possible. Even better would be where your name is shorthand for the genre in your readers’ minds. As an example, Dan Brown is synonymous with a genre Umberto Eco pioneered with Foucault’s Pendulum – the theology-based conspiracy treasure hunt. Nowadays, when readers try to articulate that, they say “it’s a Dan Brown kind of book.” You should live so long, but make that your goal.

13) Price competitively and intelligently. Look at your genre. Where are most books priced? Are you undervaluing/underpricing your work? Price to sell, but don’t go cheap, no matter what Locke or Hocking did years ago. Use low prices occasionally to move product, as promotional pricing. But price your product consistently with the rest of your peers. Over time, you can increase prices, if your product warrants it and your readership is willing to pay it. My advice here is don’t price too low, or too high. Obviously, if you are racing up the charts at $3.99 and believe that moving to .99 will get you into the winner’s circle, go for it, but that’s rare. Price intelligently, and constantly play around with. By way of example, I tried $2.99 and $3.99, and then $4.99, and my sales were basically the same. So my readers are willing to pay up to $5 with no issues. My new releases are always $5.99. I do that because I want to brand myself as a quality read, and also because that’s still a bargain compared to my trad pub peers. I’m nosebleed level for indies, but I’ve only been pricing there with success this year. All last year, $4.99 was the ceiling. Something shifted, probably due to my introduction of the JET series in October, and I haven’t seen any fade at $5.99 vs. $4.99, so I price at what I consider to be reasonable for my work. The point is not to gouge readers, but rather to deliver good value, whatever the price is. But my genre is different than yours (probably) and it took a while to get there. I mention this not so you price however I do, but rather so that you see that pricing isn’t static, nor engraved in stone.

14) When writing, write as a craftsman/artist, and strive to improve every day. Force yourself to constantly up your game. Make your early work look like crap compared to what you’re writing now.

15) It’s okay to go back and rewrite your early work once you’ve evolved past it. I’ve rewritten probably half my novels by now. I will continue to do so. As I get better, I want all my work to get better.

16) There is no such thing as “not my best work.” Imagine that every book you write is the only one anyone is ever going to read, and they must make a decision to read the rest of your backlist or not, based only on that one book. Or imagine that a big 5 trad publisher is considering doling out a seven figure advance, and will only read one book, and it is your weakest. Ensure even your weakest is as good as you can write, because if not, you’re screwing your most important resource: your reader.

17) When finished writing, put on your business hat. This means that when done with your artistic work (writing), you are now a book seller. Your business is selling books, not being an author, at the point you ask someone to buy your books; to part with their money in exchange for the product you created. As a business person in a commercial enterprise, you need to be dispassionate and make smart business decisions, or you will fail. Book selling is a highly competitive business, and you are up against people who work tirelessly at it. If that’s daunting or gives you pause, you might want to reconsider whether this is a business you want to be in. In the book selling business, saccharine bromides of “just go for it” and “follow your dream” are about as useful as a bowling ball to a fish. Writing is art and self-expression, something beautiful and intensely personal. Book selling is a commercial enterprise. Confuse the two, and you hurt any chances you have of success, if success to you means selling a bunch of books.

18) Businesses require investment. All businesses, whatever the industry. Nobody with a brain goes into business with no money, no research, no plan, and no time or effort. Expect to spend some money on product development (cover, editing). Expect to spend either money or effort on marketing (preferably both). If you don’t have the money to properly edit your work or get a pro cover, you aren’t ready to be in business. Save some. Then try. Or borrow some from investors (which would be an eye opener, because most would want to see a business plan, which would force you to actually think all aspects of your new business through). Alternatively, become a graphic design/book cover whiz people would gladly pay $200-$500 to design their covers, do it for about a decade, and then do your own cover. Or spend 20 years editing, and then try your hand at editing your own work, going over it at least three times. If you don’t have 20 years of germane acumen, you probably aren’t qualified to edit your, or anyone else’s, work, so you need to hire professional talent. If you don’t, you aren’t investing in your business, and you’re radically reducing your chances of success. Not too many businesses that have no budget or acumen succeed. That’s the harsh truth. If you believe this one is different, knock yourself out and let me know how that goes. Until then, my counsel stands. Treat this like a business, not a dream of winning the lottery.

19) Have realistic goals. Look at what the average person does in their first year, and their second. That’s average. It ain’t pretty. If you want to be better than average, you need to do something better/different, and you need to make your own luck. Don’t get bummed because you haven’t been an overnight sensation. I sold $300 of novels in November, 2011, after six months of 15 hour days and seven releases. In December, 2011, I released five novels I’d been working on for months, to create a massive Xmas surge. I leaped to $1450. With a dozen books out. That’s not exactly a ton for the big Xmas season. But I continued writing as though my work was in hot demand. And I kept investing in my product, losing money, until it turned the corner and I started making decent money in Jan of 2012.

20) Book selling is a retail business, and retail businesses are promotions intensive. You’re only going to be as good as your last, and next, promotion. Promotions are a necessary fact of life in retail. You have to generate noise – the product won’t do it by itself. There are millions of books out there. Yours are just more books. Figure out how to get some visibility. I won’t advise you on how – there are plenty of ‘experts’ that will charge you $5 for a book on what worked two years ago. Simply put, it’s constantly changing, so you need to experiment and push the envelope, share information with others and stay ahead of the curve. But if you aren’t promoting, you’re stalling. In business you’re either shrinking, or growing. If you aren’t promoting, chances are you aren’t growing.

21) Assess what will be required to make it (and define what make it means to you in a coherent, attainable way), and then decide whether you are willing to do it. That doesn’t mean figure out what you can comfortably do, or think is reasonable. It means evaluate what it will likely take to get where you want to go, and then calculate what it will cost – in time, effort, money. If you can’t afford whatever that is, then you either need to scale back your goal, or you need to increase what you’re willing to invest of yourself and your resources. Hoping you make it while putting in 30% of what you estimate will truly be required is delusion. It’s like hoping you live to be 100 while smoking two packs a day, never exercising and being 50 pounds overweight. It could happen, but the odds say, not so much. This is called getting real with yourself. Lie to everyone else if you must. Don’t lie to yourself. Life’s too short, and you’re the best friend you’ve got. Oh, and BTW, if you think the secret to operating a successful book selling business is to just write and hope people discover your products, your strategy amounts to, “Once upon a time.” Not in the real world. I mean, anything’s theoretically possible, but so is marrying a billionaire. Don’t make that your business strategy. It’s a non-strategy.

21a) Decide whether making it is worth the cost. See #21. Now that you know what it will realistically take just to have a shot at the brass ring (whatever that is to you), determine whether it’s worth it. If not, do some soul searching and come up with a better objective for yourself – one that won’t make you miserable and unhappy. Ideally, writing should make you happy, and should be its own reward. If you decide to start a self-publishing business to sell books, that’s a commercial enterprise, and most commercial enterprises exist to sell things, not for self-actualization. If you can be happy and sell lots of stuff, so much the better. But the first goal of any commercial enterprise is to sell products, not to coddle the owner and make him/her feel warm and fuzzy. The business world is competitive. The book publishing business is one of the most competitive I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a few. It will take extraordinary luck, effort, commitment and drive to make it, even at a nominal level, much less a big level. If you are only able or willing to invest part time effort into it, don’t expect more than what you might make at a part time job. If that. Even if you are willing to go full time and give it your all, it is still no guarantee. Sorry. Know that going in. Don’t mean to be Mr. Buzzkill, but better you know the truth and look it squarely in the eye up front, than figure it out over time. And folks? If you’re an outlier and put in 4 hours a week and are making five grand a month, hat’s off to you. Take a picture. Write a how-to book.

22) Be true to yourself. Don’t try to act. Don’t create a personality that is what you think others might like. Be yourself all the time. People can smell insincerity. If you suck, that’s okay. Could be there are plenty of others who also suck, and might enjoy hanging out with someone who sucks. Maybe even buy your books.

23) Pay attention to what works, and what doesn’t. This is so obvious, and yet is so often overlooked. Everyone is going to have an opinion of what you should do, and how. Most of those won’t have been successful at what they are advising you on. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it does mean you should be skeptical of all claims, and use your head. And pay attention. If the market is telling you that your books are poorly written, then you need to either improve them, or get used to being punched in the face by reviewers for wasting their time. If it’s telling you that your editing sucks, figure it out (and you have obviously not paid much attention to this little diatribe) and fix it. Ditto for your covers. And your blurb. And your marketing efforts. Pay attention. Modify your approach. Model those who are doing what you want to do. Model success.

24) Don’t try to be all things to all people. When you write, or when you brand and market. Be whoever you actually are when you write, and then brand and market what you are so those interested in what you are know you have what they want. Be clear at all times. Your job as a writer is to tell your story clearly, in your unique manner, as evocatively as you deem fit. Your job once you brand and market yourself is to honestly tout your product, and its strengths. Don’t try to please everyone or you’re likely to please nobody.

25) Nobody has ever heard of you. That’s cause for celebration. Even I, who sell a decent amount now, am unknown to 99% of my target readership. That’s a huge amount I can grow. It’s good news. How I go about changing that is contained in the prior 24 points. Every day I ask myself, “What can I do, TODAY, to increase my discoverability for my target market?” And then I figure out what I can do, and set aside time to do it. Today, I wrote this post, and will post it as a blog, as well, so it does double duty. Because as odd as it may seem, I’m fairly lazy. And if I can get one bit of writing to serve two purposes, that’s a big WIN.

26) Finally, don’t waste your time. Don’t do things that don’t work and are a time suck. I won’t tell you what those are. You will have to figure them out for yourself. Some advise tweeting a bunch, others say Facebook is the thing, some swear by Google +, others by Triberr…point is, there’s a universe of stuff out there to use, or not. My personal feeling is that many authors I speak with seem unable to make the distinction between what is effective and what is completely pointless. Maybe I’m wrong. But the authors I know who sell consistently, and who have built or are building sustainable careers, optimize their time and try to use it wisely.

26a) Having said all this, your best chance of making it is always writing your next book. You should always be working on the next one, and the next, and the next. Nobody ever succeeded by quitting. So if you’re going to do this, do it, stop whining, suck it up, and get to work.

That’s basically what I’ve been sending to those who have contacted me, but in snippets, because I’m currently finishing up my WIP, and figuring out my next one. I don’t have tons of time to respond to everyone personally, for which I apologize, but this contains about 80% of what I’ve learned so far. Take what seems useful, reject or vilify the rest. The intent from my standpoint is to offer a framework, an approach, that has worked well for me. It does not mean it’s the only way, but it does mean it’s my way. I can’t speak to what’s worked for others. I can’t even say that this will work ever again, or for most, but I sincerely believe it’s your best shot if you’re a beginning, or even not so beginning, author. Use it, or don’t, with my compliments.

The market is constantly changing, so be prepared to change with it. Nothing is the same as it was, nor shall it be a year from now.

The book is dead. Long live the book.

Russell Blake

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Comments

  1. Tue 07th May 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Russell, From one author to another, thank you for this thoughtful post. I first saw it at the Writer’s Cafe and wanted to send you a personal thank you. It’s authors like you who share their experiences so the rest of us can learn that make such a difference. All my best.

    Jason Varrone

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 07th May 2013 at 4:57 pm

      You’re very welcome. Feel free to spread the word.

      Reply
  2. Tue 07th May 2013 at 3:58 pm

    Russell, I wanted to add my thanks for the putting your thoughts and experience out there for the rest of us. I’ve had some success, but can get overwhelmed on where to spend my time. This was very helpful. Sincerely, thank you.
    Tiffinie

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 07th May 2013 at 4:57 pm

      No worries. I know the overwhelming part. Hopefully this helps at least a little.

      Reply
  3. Tue 07th May 2013 at 5:51 pm

    This information is more than awesome; it is priceless. It’s made me realize that I’ve been trying to bounce through several genres — with the amount of success that Russell says I’d have.
    Back to the basics!

    Thanks, Russell.

    Stuart

    Reply
  4. Lee
    Tue 07th May 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Where’s the tip jar, Russell? I’m grabbing a few more of your books to say thanks.

    Some of what you wrote is already ingrained. Some of it reinforces recent thoughts and/or lessons. And I see plenty in there to keep working on. Will give this another read through for sure.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 07th May 2013 at 8:13 pm

      Mostly common sense, but it never hurts to hear a little now and again.

      Reply
  5. Tue 07th May 2013 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you Russell, for taking the time and addressing people like me who hang onto every word, because my goal is to MAKE it as an author. I will take your advice and run with it.
    Someday I hope to pay it forward by also sharing with others in my shoes today, to help them along this path of being an author.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 07th May 2013 at 11:21 pm

      Just tell your legions of future followers to buy all my crap. That will be thanks enough…

      Reply
  6. Tue 07th May 2013 at 8:46 pm

    Russell, I’d like to also add my thanks. So many “how-to” articles are nothing more than barely-disguised sales pitches, so your post is both a delightful surprise and very much appreciated.

    I do want to ask a question about #3, however, and hope some other authors would also chime in with their thoughts. Novels vs. novellas. I tend to do them about 50/50 but, to my mind, novellas give a better ROI than novels; e.g. 38,000 words at $3.99 vs 76,000 words at $4.99. Your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 07th May 2013 at 11:24 pm

      That presumes you can sell a bunch of novellas at $4. If you can, and you’re in a genre where they sell, like erotica, or romance (I’m guessing here) then more power to ya, although the trend is towards wanting longer works pretty much across the board. The logic being, why would I buy a 40K novella for $4 when I can buy an 80K novel for that price? It’s not just what you are willing to sell a novel for, it’s also what the others in your genre are doing that will impact you.

      I’m chagrined that my sales pitch didn’t come through. Apparently I disguised it too well. Sigh. Buy my crap. There. I said it. I did. Just buy it. Please. Don’t make me beg. Which I will, you know.

      Reply
  7. Tue 07th May 2013 at 10:04 pm

    Simply put, you’re inspirational. Not because of your output (that’s inspirational too for a different reason) but because of your willingness to reach a hand back and pull others up. I aim to do the same everyday, help another author on the journey without any expectation.

    Thanks, Russell.

    And people, buy his books. Their fucking great.

    Reply
  8. Wed 08th May 2013 at 4:55 am

    A terrific blog, spotted on facebook in our author group. Loads of good advice there. Will share to my own author page and have tweeted. Thank you, Russell.

    Reply
  9. Wed 08th May 2013 at 5:27 am

    Russell, Thanks for sharing! That’s excellent advice that really means something since we’re all knocked out by your success and dedication to writing.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:07 am

      Thanks for the high praise, Seb. You’re a wonderful voice yourself, so that means something as well. Feel free to share it far and wide!

      Reply
  10. Car
    Wed 08th May 2013 at 6:04 am

    Great article full of common sense and truth. Time I stopped surfing and did some writing.

    Thanks

    Reply
  11. Wed 08th May 2013 at 6:13 am

    On the money! Great post. Loved the part about making sure the editing and blurb and cover are given as much consideration as the book itself.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:06 am

      That’s one authors nod along with, but when it comes to their work, they simply ignore it because it costs money, and god knows you shouldn’t have to invest a dime in the business you hope will make you a living or a fortune. Odd, that.

      Reply
  12. Wed 08th May 2013 at 6:37 am

    Always be writing your next book. I couldn’t agree more. The book business is tough. You need a thick skin and lots of persistence. The great news, in 2013, you don’t need to deal with rejection letters from publishers anymore. Just write, get better, and write some more.

    Reply
  13. Wed 08th May 2013 at 8:05 am

    Just wanted to say thanks for taking the time. I know a lot of this but there are some gems here and it’s nice to have it all in one place. Better’n most of those $5 How to sell a million ebook books.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:05 am

      You’re welcome. Hope it helps someone. Looks like I just gave up $5!

      Reply
  14. Wed 08th May 2013 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for this list of tips. Have a question on stand alone versus series. In women’s fiction there aren’t any series (that I’m aware of) and it is a bigger pain in the butt to make money. Of course there is Darcie Chan, who with one book makes more than my annual income at my regular job, and that could happen, but like you said, it’s unlikely. I’d probably need 5 to 6 full length novels out.
    I love series books, like yours, but that’s not what I’ve got in me. Instead have to spend more money on constant marketing. It appears one of the most time consuming genres to be successful in picked me. Any suggestions for non series writers other than write more books? Get involved in book clubs?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:03 am

      I didn’t know that women’s fiction doesn’t have series. Why not? Why not start? It’s certainly the most popular form in most other genres. You should pioneer it. I’m not kidding. I see no reason it wouldn’t work, and you could be the next Darcie.

      Reply
      • Pam Howes  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:23 am

        Just adding another comment here. I’m a series author, currently plotting my 6th rock’n’roll romance novel. I’ve noticed an awful lot of women authors now jumping on the series wagon. It works well for me, they buy one, they buy the rest and like Russell suggests, I made the first one long term free and it’s worked very well. That first has had over 50,000 downloads and sales combined and is ever present in the top 100 sagas. If even a quarter of those “buyers” reads and likes it, the sales follow with the sequel etc. A series is well worth a consideration and such a joy to do as your characters become so familiar to you.

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 12:01 pm

          Hear, hear. I can’t think of a single reason that a series wouldn’t work in women’s lit, whatever that is.

          Reply
    • K.L. Parnell  –  Wed 22nd May 2013 at 4:17 pm

      Chick lit.? Although a female, ,I don’t read it. But there is Stephenie Meyer. Why can’t there be series in women’s lit.? There are a good number of female authors who have written series, most notably, J.K. Rowling. Also, Agatha Christie, Louisa May Alcott and more recently, Holly Lisle and Elizabeth A. Lynn, among others. Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. I think women should take this as a personal challenge. Alas, science fiction is in my blood and I’m working towards a series in that genre.

      Reply
      • Kim Cano  –  Wed 22nd May 2013 at 5:22 pm

        I saw your comment about women taking it as a personal challenge to write a women’s fiction/chick lit series. Was thinking of it myself as Russell was an awesome cheerleader above. Found out my friend, Melissa Foster, has done just that. Her women’s fiction series will be out this summer. πŸ™‚

        Reply
  15. Wed 08th May 2013 at 9:48 am

    Hi Russell, Thank you for a very insightful post. Many great points of which I shall be using myself. Some I am already doing! I think one of the single most important points you made was, keep writing, keep getting those books out there, as readers do have a short memory and we authors can easily be forgotten. Fabulous advice. I have shared and tweeted…

    Reply
  16. Wed 08th May 2013 at 9:57 am

    Ah a breath of fresh air. Excellent advice. I write (and teach) non-fiction and my advice is basically the same as yours.

    One point to remember with the length of the work debate is that the length of the book often defines the quality of your ‘brand’. At the short end, you’re going to be competing with the old-style internet marketers who are focused on selling other products. Their focus is on cheap not good (so no editing). If you compete in that arena, you are going to get branded with the same iron for anyone who doesn’t know your work. The occasional short piece is fine but becoming known for nock-offs can destroy your reputation. Which is one reason you should always publish a print version as well as a Kindle version (Amazon states the actual page count if it has one).

    Second piece of advice is to make series look like a series. Once you pick a cover, use that cover as the inspiration for all your books in the series. A visual clue that it is one series. Doing the same thing for all books in a genre also works for the same reason.

    Overall, excellent advice that everyone should pay attention to.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:04 am

      Good additions. I didn’t intend it as an exhaustive list, rather a decent start, so your points are spot on.

      Reply
  17. Wed 08th May 2013 at 10:15 am

    Well said, Russell.

    And that is why I stopped by your place. I know I’m not there yet, so while sipping my coffee, I’m looking at what others do. I’ve already submitted my first book, which I price at .99 cents as an introductory to my other three books, to several book listing sites before this stop. I attempt to find at least one a day. Next, I am off to write for three hours, and then tonight I will beta read for an author friend in my genre. In between of course, while running errands, I listen to a popular author in my genre via Audible.

    I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in my long reading, marketing, and writing work day. If I want to make it, I know I have to do what it takes. Thank you for the “no whining” comment. I hate that and have no time for it either.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Carmen

    Reply
  18. Wed 08th May 2013 at 4:42 pm

    Thanks so much for your incisive tips. Taken together with your action-packed fiction, they carry a lot of weight. Amazing to learn you only started enjoying financial success in January 2012! Keep writing because your books are great entertainment.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Glad to hear you enjoy them. Yup. Took till then to break even after about $10K of covers and editing, and that one month’s revenues switched it from red to black, where I’ve remained since. Knock on wood…

      Reply
  19. Stephen Moran
    Wed 08th May 2013 at 8:40 pm

    Amazing article. Thanks to all you do being the voice of sensibility and straight talk in the confusing world of publishing options!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 08th May 2013 at 8:52 pm

      You’re welcome. Nice to see you around.

      Reply
  20. Wed 08th May 2013 at 9:26 pm

    Thank you for a very interesting and helpful article. The point you make about branding and using a different name for each genre that you write was especially helpful.

    Reply
  21. Barry
    Wed 08th May 2013 at 11:09 pm

    Hi Russel,

    Great stuff in your post! But what I would really like to know, is what are some good ways to get reviews? When I do get reviews, they are quite positive and highly rated, but I just don’t get that many of them. Got any suggestions?

    Barry

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 12:10 am

      Sure. But as with most of my solutions, they involve work. Spend hours researching who the top 200 book bloggers in your genre are, and then contact each, offering them a book in exchange for a review.

      My reviews are a function of my sales. I calculated it once, and I think for every 300 sales, I might see one review. I forget what it was. Maybe more sales per review. But it isn’t that many.

      Reply
  22. Thu 09th May 2013 at 1:03 am

    I feel like you are my inner voice saying “Focus!”
    Thank you so much.
    I sent out my first novel to several agents. I was excited to receive rejection slips! When an Agency took me on, I thought maybe I had something good goin’ on. I never heard from them again. I got discouraged.
    One letter from an agent really liked my main character and felt you would be great for a series.
    You’ve inspired me Mr. Blake. πŸ™‚
    Lynda

    Reply
  23. Thu 09th May 2013 at 1:24 am

    It’s too late to be posting. If you can understand my last sentence, good. And Ginger Martinis from Nicksan to excuse my lack of ….

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 2:22 am

      I’ve heard worse excuses. Nicksan. Mmmmm.

      Reply
  24. Thu 09th May 2013 at 1:50 am

    Excellent info as always.

    Reply
  25. Thu 09th May 2013 at 2:40 am

    Russell

    Loved the post – read it originally at the Writers Cafe – and also love all the replies and the time you took to share.

    I read in one of your replies…maybe over at Passive Voice…that you love talking to other writers about the creative process. I really like reading that too…one thing I’m not sure I’ve read in any of the comments is YOUR creative process.

    Do you outline? Do you sit down and let the characters lead you through the story? Do you know where you’re going? Be intrigued to read about how you do it.

    Again, thanks for the informative post.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 10:18 am

      I’ve discussed it in a number of interviews. I outline by writing two or three paragraphs that describe the story. Then I do the first fifteen or so chapter headings – one sentence descriptions of what happens in the chapter, such as, “Jet attacked by bad guys, gets away.” Then I start writing. By the time I get to chapter 15, I have a better idea of what the next 15 should be, so do those. That’s it for prep.

      Reply
      • J.J.Foxe  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 2:00 pm

        Thank you Russell….I’ve missed that in interviews you’ve done.

        Reply
  26. Thu 09th May 2013 at 6:47 pm

    Russell,
    Thanks for the insightful post! I enjoyed the straight forward advise and the humor. I’ll keep plug’n away…just published my first three weeks ago. Was sincerely disappointed when it didn’t become an international best seller overnight! Sigh….back to reality! :o)
    Jim

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 7:00 pm

      I share your pain. I’m still stumped on why I’m not burying Dan Brown this month. Go figure.

      Reply
      • Victoria Mixon  –  Fri 02nd Aug 2013 at 1:34 pm

        Russell, can I quickly plug one of my wonderful editing clients?

        Bhaichand Patel, whose beautiful debut novel Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers was published by Panmacmillan last October, just hit the Asian Age best seller list last week at #7 and this week climbed to #5, where he is. . .burying Dan Brown.

        If it’s discourteous of me to brag here, please feel free to remove this comment.

        I love your post and will comment on it down below.

        πŸ™‚

        Reply
  27. yoon
    Thu 09th May 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Hmm. I guess me, myself, and I would be the readers who should skip this post? But by telling me not to read it, you made damn sure I read it. And so now I know the real reason you didn’t want us to read it. Because it’s a load of crap! HOW TO SELL A GAZILLION EBOOKS BLAH BLAH contains the more practical and sound advices. You know I’m right.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 11:39 pm

      Truer words were never spoken. From God’s mouth to your ear. Problem is that would require most authors to read more than 2 pages, and they don’t like to do that. Being self-involved and all.

      I finished up my latest. Am now on second draft. Should release in June. Parts of it don’t completely suck. But the government is going to really hate me once I’m done. I mean REALLY hate me. More. Sniff.

      Reply
      • yoon  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 11:57 pm

        Which government? American? So what? What are they gonna do? Kick you out of the country and not allow you back in? Pshh…

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Fri 10th May 2013 at 1:26 am

          They probably won’t do anything except get annoyed at the data I present. It’s never a good thing when hard data showing you’re a lying sack of dung is presented in a clear, compelling manner.

          Reply
  28. Thu 09th May 2013 at 11:39 pm

    RB-
    Careful. You’re in serious danger of becoming a sage, or perhaps even a deity. If you keep giving us all this fantastic advice we (us indies, and there’s a boatload of us) are going to have to erect a temple in your honor. You’ll then feel obligated to grow a long-white beard, and wear funny-scratchy robes 24/7. Not good. No real dude wants to wear funny-scratchy robes πŸ™‚
    Joking aside, thanks again for this straight forward and thorough advice. I think your providing a valuable service to the indie author world by telling us, and showing us, what it takes to succeed.
    TY
    W4$

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 09th May 2013 at 11:51 pm

      I’ll let you know when I’m actually successful. Might be a while. Until then, do as I say, not as I do…

      Reply
  29. Fri 10th May 2013 at 7:16 am

    Great info. I laughed a bit when you touched on the subject of writing while being distracted( twitter, checking emails etc) My distraction is having the TV on…and believe me…IT DOES NOT WORK. I find it greatly diminishes the amount of writing I do during that time period. I am in the middle of writing the first volume in my second companion series, and it was slow going…until I figured out what was slowing down my brain power. Excellent point. The matter of promoting ones work…cough!, cough! uhg, ugh…my crime is immense in this area. I just haven’t done any. Buy hey, today I am taking my first baby step…I am doing a cocktail author signing event on Capitol Hill in Washington DC. Hehehe! Do you think I may be able to con a few senators? Or will they do the conning? πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ Yeah I read that Rolling Stone article. I’m with you on that one.
    Hoilett

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 10th May 2013 at 11:17 am

      You try to write with the TV on? Blimey, as the brits say.

      Retail is a promo-intensive business. Fact is books don’t sell themselves.

      Reply
  30. Fri 10th May 2013 at 6:22 pm

    Hello, Russell,
    Your great post just shot my “variety is the spice of life” theme in the foot; or even head. So, forget the cat-book, the novella, and the small satire.
    Thanks to you, I am now going back to the serious business of my devilishly windy Historical Fiction-modern-day sequels turning thrillers. Book 3 awaits.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, experiences and successes.
    (still would love to feature you and Lobo’s story on my animal blog under “Authors and their dogs”).
    Rgards,
    Inge

    Reply
  31. Sanoj Jose
    Sat 11th May 2013 at 7:38 am

    Good Post
    Sanoj Jose(Author, My Day Out With An Angel)

    Reply
  32. Sat 11th May 2013 at 11:40 am

    Outstanding piece of work, which just “happens” to be a perfect example of what manifests when you follow the steps you’ve outlined.
    Thanks for taking the time to share this priceless information.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 11th May 2013 at 12:04 pm

      My pleasure, Bert. Glad you liked it.

      Reply
  33. Sat 11th May 2013 at 2:08 pm

    Thanks Russell, just what I needed to hear! Much of what you say – nay, ALL you say – is directly applicable to what I’m doing now though I’m in the midst of a rather particular book promotion because it’s a serial novel (got it as a “double promotion”:Part One free, Part Two at 99 cents) It really is a slightly different baby from the kind of books you’re talking about here. But, marketing-wise, it’s the same sort of stuff: it’s essential to produce fast the next book, you have to write an episode basically every month…My first was out in April, my second now, my next in June…

    The drawback? It’s harrowing work because it collapses book marketing with writing, I end up doing the two together! Of course, there’s an advantage in that each part is shorter than a full novel (about 18,000 words) but how long the serial novel will be in the end will depend on my sales…LOL!

    Reply
  34. Sat 11th May 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Love the candor…and totally agree with you. I needed some of those eye-opening reminders right about now. Not sure I can meet the book quota but will give it a try. I do know that I’m more motivated now that I have three books up for the offering. The more you write, the more you sell, the more you write!! Right? Congrats on your successes Hope to see you at the top of the proverbial success ladder one of these days….real soon!

    Reply
  35. Sun 12th May 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned. It’s very timely for me, especially breaking down the business , and the retail business, aspect of book selling. Definitely worth printing out and tacking to the wall above my computer.

    Reply
  36. Sun 12th May 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Wonderful post! This is my first visit. I will be returning! I agree about being disciplined and writing at 1000, or more a day. Also, the marketing time is so important.

    Sara

    Reply
  37. Sun 12th May 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Excellent post! Thanks for all these great tips, Russell!

    Reply
  38. Fri 17th May 2013 at 2:51 pm

    Wow, Russell, great post. Exactly what I needed to read right now! Elle Casey pointed me to your article.

    btw, I read on the Elle Casey process post where you said you had a treadmill desk? I’m jealous. I SO want one, but don’t have space. πŸ˜›

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 17th May 2013 at 4:09 pm

      I do indeed have one, and I’ve lost 10 pounds since I got it. And I feel amazing, because I’m walking 4 hours a day and clocking about 10 miles – all while writing and editing. I spend another six to eight seated, but the cardio benefits of being ambulatory as well as the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle convinced me to find the space and the cash to get the best one I could find. I’ve recommended it to every author I know, and those that have gotten them tell me their lives have changed.

      I’d dump the TV stand or the easy chair and find space. Trust me on this.

      Reply
      • David Hudnut  –  Fri 17th May 2013 at 4:34 pm

        Oh, I have no doubt the benefits are awesome. It’s good to hear you’re not on it the entire time. I work as an illustrator, and walking while drawing is not feasible. But I can certainly do it while writing. If only my boxes of createspace books didn’t take up so much floorspace! I really don’t have the room. Yet. But thank you for the enthusiasm and inspiration!

        πŸ™‚

        Reply
  39. Robert Jones
    Sat 18th May 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Russell,

    This is an amazing post that covers so much ground in one sitting. Thank you for taking the time to compile all this material and advice!

    Reply
  40. Wed 22nd May 2013 at 10:43 am

    Such a wonderful post! It has been said many times in the comments already, but I wanted to say my personal thanks for saying all the things I’ve been screaming for a while now, yet no one seemed to hear or maybe I was presenting it in the wrong way. Russel, would it be all right with you if I reposted this to my blog as well? I would of course give you credit and I’ll share a bio or any links you’d like me to add as well. Make it look like a guest post!

    Great advice and I’m now following your blog. Thanks for a great start to my day. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go write my next book.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 22nd May 2013 at 11:07 am

      Feel free to repost with attribution. Glad it resonated. Feel free to grab my author page from Amazon and use that to tart it up!

      Reply
  41. Sun 02nd Jun 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Great post. I appreciate the honesty and up-front tell it like it is. Your insights are tremendous. I finally published my first book in Feb, and getting ready to publish my second by middle of July. Lastly, your books are great reads: fast, character and plot driven, and ones that I will definitely promote on my website in the months to come. Thanks again for your insights. (thanks for following me on Twitter the other day).

    Ernie

    Reply
  42. Fri 02nd Aug 2013 at 1:59 pm

    I followed you here from the Kindle Boards (which I’ve actually made a point of avoiding for years because they could so easily suck all the time out of my workday) after the marvelous M. Terry Green mentioned that she’d been learning a lot about self-publishing her fiction there. (If you aren’t familiar with her techno-shaman series, I seriously recommend checking her out. She’s amazing.)

    I get questions about self-publishing fiction from my editing clients all the time. I work largely with aspiring writers who are still apprenticing themselves to the craft, and many of them want to know:

    *) should they plan to go indie? or

    *) should they keep plugging away at the bottleneck of traditional publishing?

    I’m not a marketer, and I don’t have time to keep up with the lightning changes going on in the self-publishing world, so I haven’t had a lot of advice for them on that. I’m about the art and craft of writing. I self-publish my books on writing only because I figured out early on as an indie editor that most writers can’t afford to hire me by the hour.

    And I sincerely feel for those people. I was broke and writing fiction throughout the sad decades during the monopolization of traditional publishing houses, when we writers had no other publishing alternatives (besides paying for offset printing and then driving our books around the country in the trunks of our cars).

    I was there for the despair.

    And now I really want this Literary Renaissance to happen. I want it to make history.

    I appreciate so much finding you. It’s not just your advice on self-publishing—which seems absolutely solid and up-to-the-minute—it’s your voice and your values:

    “Be true to yourself.”

    “Ensure even your weakest is as good as you can write, because if not, you’re screwing your most important resource: your reader.”

    Finally, I have someone to recommend when clients ask me about self-publishing their fiction.

    Russell, I can’t thank you enough!

    Reply
  43. Tue 17th Dec 2013 at 4:33 pm

    I’ve read a lot of posts like this one, but none as comprehensive or…accurate. I have to say, you hit the nails on their heads. Promotion is the hardest part of writing for me. Which means it needs more time, not less.

    Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
  44. Thu 23rd Jan 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Pumping out a ton of work just seems like it will dilute your message, but fuck it, deep shit doesn’t get you fame or money

    Time to crank out the bigfoot porn

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 23rd Jan 2014 at 6:10 pm

      I think the point isn’t to crank out a ton of crap work. It’s to put out a steady stream of high quality work.

      Although much can be said for bigfoot porn. Alternatively, Raptor porn. You’re welcome.

      Reply
  45. Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I’m going to echo what the other posters have said. Thank you!

    I’ve been waiting until I’ve uploaded all versions of book 1 in the series before starting book 2. I just wanted to get it out of the way before plunging on. Now, after reading your post, I’m thinking I should have started book 2 already. Darn!

    I’m printing this out, signing up for your email list, and checking out your books.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  46. anna
    Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 4:06 pm

    THANK YOU!
    Russell, do you write in one document or do you write each chapter in separate ones to then put together at review/edit time?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 6:47 pm

      I write in one doc. Always have.

      Reply
  47. Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Thank you, Russell, for taking the time to write this important blog. Using time wisely between writing and social media has been difficult. I’m going to follow your suggestions and hopefully get more books published.

    Reply
  48. Rick Castagner
    Sun 26th Jan 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Russell
    Just published my 1st book.. see blog http://rcccabo.wix.com/richardcastagner#
    Love your genre.. just finished an old Cussler.. “the Serpent” and really appreciate your take in book publishing and promotion area.
    Also living in my Camelot in Mexico.. Cabo San Lucas.. No Bad days !!!
    Cheers
    Rick

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:37 pm

      Ah, good ol Mike’s place. Knew it well at one point in my life. There are worse places on earth.

      Congrats on publishing it. Big step.

      Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:39 pm

      Ah, Mike’s place. There was a time when I knew it well. No bad days indeed!

      Congrats on publishing. That’s a big step.

      Reply
  49. Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 12:39 am

    Excellent advice to both budding and experienced writers. I was pleased to see the emphasis you placed on obtaining professional assistance from editors and designers, and the need to develop each book as the best that a writer is capable of. Too many authors seem to be content with mediocrity, rather than striving for excellence.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:38 pm

      I’m absolutely a believer in pro editing and design.

      Reply
  50. Victoria LK Williams
    Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:47 am

    This was wonderful information. Thank you for taking your time to share it with us! I have read it twice (and will probably read it again!) and am walking away with some great advice that I will be able to use as I continue to write. There are some basic, common sense guidelines and the one I love it about putting away distractions while you write. I run a gardening business and often write between jobs, but I’m not all that sure that it is the quality writing that I do when I get away from the job/family and actually “write”. Looking forward to more insight from you. Thanks again,
    Victoria LK Williams
    PS I am on twitter and have a FB page (Citrus Beach Murder Mysteries)

    Reply
  51. Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 9:28 am

    I enjoyed your no nonsense, take it or leave it style of this post. Some really good advice, particularly that of always getting on with your next book.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:40 pm

      Yup. Nose to the grindstone.

      Reply
  52. Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 1:47 pm

    You completely burst my bubble. Sigh. I was hoping my amazing genius and artistic ability would cause me to rise blissfully over the hardworking masses. I’m left with nothing but the sticky, soap scum of reality on my fingers. Better wash my hands and get typing.

    I’m sharing this in all my social media forums. Misery loves company.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Jan 2014 at 2:35 pm

      That’s always been my experience…

      Reply
  53. Wed 29th Jan 2014 at 8:43 am

    Thank so much for this great info. I have pulled quotes to post on my writing blogs (with links back to your post of course!) and am evaluating what I need to do as an author based on your advice. It’s to the point, it’s basic and it’s actionable! And it’s superb!

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 29th Jan 2014 at 12:21 pm

      Glad it resonated with you. And yes, it’s designed to be simple to implement. No amorphous cheerleading from me.

      Reply
  54. Kristine Bizzarro
    Wed 29th Jan 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post this. Your thoughts brought a lot together for me.
    I am only the illustrator, but am passing this along to my husband the author.
    Thank you again!

    Reply
  55. Wed 05th Feb 2014 at 3:35 am

    Great post, all sound advice. Most of you successful guys have one thing in common. Rate of output. I think everything you cite is required, but rate of output is what makes it happen.

    Nice going, anyway.

    All the best

    MTM

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 05th Feb 2014 at 12:22 pm

      Well, yes and no. Output without acceptable quality won’t get you much. The trick is to balance the two.

      Reply
  56. Wed 19th Feb 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Incredibly valuable post – thank you

    Reply
  57. augie
    Thu 06th Mar 2014 at 2:45 am

    Thanks Russell, I enjoyed the suggestions. augie

    Reply
  58. Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 10:26 am

    Thanks Russell for the clear-headed and unapologetic advice. I’ll do my best to take it to heart and head!

    Cheers,
    John Hussey

    Reply
  59. [email protected]
    Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Russell – Came to this blog via Randy Ingermanson (who also writes a nose to the grindstone concept and throws in a physicist’s mathematical income calculations for the novelist). Signed up immediately for your email blog.

    I’m a newbie fiction writer. Love it and love the common sense, hard hatted approach to the business side of book selling you advocate. A big thank you.

    One question: How and when does an aspiring writer begin to market? Just started my first book. The ‘experts’
    say to start marketing via social media, website even if the book isn’t finished. That takes time away from my 5 to 6 hours writing every day. What is your advice? I have nothing to sell — yet. Or, to discuss.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 6:24 pm

      What you have to sell is yourself. Your personality. Not necessarily a sell, either. Just interact with people about things you care about or are interested in BESIDES writing. Be funny if you’re funny. Be smart if you’re smart.

      I started off posting mocking tweets. I mocked everything. I was funny. Bitter. Sarcastic. Acerbic. Because that’s my sense of humor. Cynical. I interacted. But mostly I mocked everything and anything, because that’s my nature. That won’t work if it’s not your nature. But the point is, you have a personality. You have shit that interests you. So get out there for 25% of your time (writing the other 75%) and interact with your fellow humans about anything or everything that interests you. As another example, I love animals, and think they get a raw deal. I give away thousands every year to animal charities. I have for years, and I’m passionate about our value as humans being measured by our treatment of animals. So I blogged about that, and still do from time to time, and share info about animals in trouble that could use a hand. I also have been known to comment on current events, chiming in with my spin.

      It’s like sitting in a cafe and starting a conversation. Some will roll their eyes and move to another area. Others will join in, arguing, or agreeing, or telling their own story. The point is not to market. You can’t do anything to market, because people don’t buy books by unknowns because the unknown is telling them about it. The way to get people interested in reading your writing is to write things that are interesting to them, and then when you release a book, they might want to see if you’re any good or not.

      That’s counter-intuitive to the “start marketing” BS you hear floated. That. Shit. Doesn’t. Work. All it does is ensure several hundred thousand authors will bombard social media with messages about their books that nobody cares about. Doesn’t. Work. So don’t do it. Do things that are all about you being a human being, and worry about the sales after you have something to sell.

      Reply
      • Dona General  –  Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 7:21 pm

        Thanks Russell for your response. A1. No one has ever told me to be myself to sell ideas. I was in corporate sales, a different world, most of my career. Yours is the best advice I’ve ever been given. I will follow it, trippingly, with bells on my toes and kicking up my heels.

        Best wishes.

        Dona

        Reply
        • Russell Blake  –  Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 7:32 pm

          Good luck. In the end, we’re always selling ourselves, every day. Our books are extensions of ourselves. Makes sense that if we have a following that finds us compelling or interesting, they might be amenable to trying one of our books. That’s been my strategy, anyway. Good luck with yours.

          Reply
  60. Sat 07th Jun 2014 at 5:51 pm

    Dear Russell

    Until reading your post (certainly like most other would-be writers) authors, etc, I desperately wanted to follow the ‘traditional book publishing route to success’ in order to validate my claim on becoming a successful, recognised writer. But really? Seriously? … Now I find that after reading your ‘artful, most fruitful, most sincere post on your pitfalls of becoming recognised’ i too want to follow you in your author-footsteps of publication …
    I find Russell your true-to-life script of becoming a recognised author inspires my inner burning desire (my writers eye) with the passion my work needs in order to become (eventually) a success. For me, writing relinquishes the artful soul; a make up that only experience can foretell – upon which you’ve foretold most brilliantly … Thank you so much. L.A.A Woodcock

    Reply
  61. Mon 14th Jul 2014 at 2:22 pm

    I have been writing books for 35 years and am published in three markets. Every writer should make a hard copy of this blog post and tape it to their mirror. I wouldn’t change a word.

    Reply
  62. Mon 14th Jul 2014 at 4:53 pm

    this is a must read for authors. There is so much SENSE here! thanks

    Reply
  63. Thu 31st Jul 2014 at 4:45 am

    Fantastic post Russell. One of the best single posts for someone wanting to succeed in self publishing I’ve seen.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 31st Jul 2014 at 11:05 am

      Glad you like it.

      Reply
  64. Sun 24th Aug 2014 at 2:40 am

    You know I thought that this was going to be a dirty trick of tongue in cheek advice and seizure-inducing gifs, but I’m bookmarking this post and retweeting. I’m about to indie pub my first novel, I’m halfway through the second, and I hired a pro to the cover and layout. This was awesome advice, thank you.

    Reply
  65. Fri 05th Sep 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Awesome post. Gret idea about being distracted by the internet when writing.

    Reply
  66. Tue 09th Sep 2014 at 11:25 pm

    I’m looking for the bit where you explain how you should give up your day job, family and all the other “distractions” that prevent me writing more than 2 books a year.

    Got any tips on that?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 09th Sep 2014 at 11:50 pm

      One hour a day = 1000 words. 365 a year = 365K words. If your novels are 80K, there you go. Call it 320K with some editing.

      You’re welcome.

      Reply
  67. Sat 20th Sep 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Thanks for this really very good advice. The Basic facts one should read before starting. Mostly it is common sense, but alas common sense is the most uncommon sense.

    Reply
  68. Fri 10th Oct 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Russell,

    Thank you for taking the time and trouble to give advice to fellow authors. It will be invaluable.

    Provided you have no objection, I intend to use the same copyright setup you have at the start of your books at the start of mine, since I feel my present (C) etc., to be inadequate.

    Reply
  69. Mon 27th Oct 2014 at 6:42 pm

    Having written three self-published thrillers, I guess I am a Russell Blake wannabe. My question: how do I find an editor good for thrillers? My previous stuff has been competently edited by a friend for plot inconsistencies, spelling and punctuation etc but not for the kind of brutal overall critique I know they need. BTW, echoing others, your dispensing of advice is insanely generous.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 27th Oct 2014 at 6:45 pm

      Ask other self-pubbed thriller authors whose work impresses you. My editor is booked for the next six months and isn’t taking anyone new on, so she won’t work, but just ask around. Referrals are the best way.

      Reply
      • Jeremy Stone  –  Mon 27th Oct 2014 at 6:59 pm

        In a past life I was a CPA and when people asked me how to find a good CPA I gave them the same advice — ask around! Thx for reminding me of the obvious.

        Reply
  70. Mon 07th Sep 2015 at 9:49 am

    Excellent post. Thanks. I have a follow-up question about pen names. In you first tip, you say: “If you want to write different genres, use a pseudonym, and if you like, let your readers know that moniker is you.” But you write in several different genres, all under you name.

    Was that always the case? Or did you switch you one pen name after you gained popularity? Or, is this something you wished you’d done differently?

    Thanks for the clarification, and sorry if you’ve answered this elsewhere (I couldn’t find it if you have).

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 07th Sep 2015 at 9:52 am

      I write in similar genres using Russell Blake. Mystery, thriller, action/adventure. For my YA romance, Less Than Nothing, I use R.E. Blake. I will continue to use that pen name for romance.

      Reply
      • Jeremy  –  Mon 07th Sep 2015 at 11:25 am

        Thanks for the clarification. I’ve written in Urban Fantasy, but I’ll soon be releasing some Thrillers. Would you use two different pen names for those genres? Or are they close enough? For context, my Urban Fantasy is very Thriller-ish. [And thanks for overlooking the grammatical typos in my last post.]

        Reply
  71. Gregory
    Sun 13th Sep 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I’ve found 1000 words a day to be manageable. I find, however, that one day I can effortlessly create a wave of “quality” content, while the next day, similar content may be uninspired and elusive. I’m impressed by your unwavering perseverance and consistent results. Do you have any advice or suggestions about solving this phenomena – Do you ever accept that some days are not going to be meaningful writing days? How do you emotionally disengage from writing, and transition back and forth from real world? Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 13th Sep 2015 at 3:18 pm

      I view writing books as a job. There are some days I don’t feel like going to work, but if I want to keep my job, I do so anyway. That’s how it works everywhere, and there’s no reason that writing a book would be any different than writing any other sort of content. I’m pretty sure the guys at Pixar or Disney don’t not show up to work because they feel uninspired and accept that today won’t be a meaningful writing day. They make every day a meaningful writing day, or someone better/faster/hungrier eats their lunch. Just as with all other businesses.

      Reply
  72. WilliamFelf
    Fri 06th May 2016 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks so much for the post. Want more.

    Reply
  73. Fri 08th Jul 2016 at 11:11 am

    This is a great post with a lot to think about. I am a new author with my first book (a paranormal romantic suspense novel) coming out with a small press in the Fall. I’ve been working on my second and third book as fast as I can because, as you state, you have to write the next book and the next. Honestly, the whole publishing world is overwhelming. I don’t seem to be able to read enough or write fast enough. I read the article in the WSJ on you as a prolific writer, which is what led me to your blog. I saw that you were thinking of writing romance, so was curious. Have you started that yet?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 08th Jul 2016 at 7:05 pm

      I wrote a three book series in NA, titled Less Than Nothing, which did okay, not great, because it broke right when Amazon rejiggered Select and effectively gutted purchases of NA books. I love the books, as did readers, but it never caught fire, which is why I advise that you keep writing the next, and the next, and the next. Because you have no idea which book will hit.

      Reply
      • Amanda Uhl  –  Sat 09th Jul 2016 at 12:12 am

        Make sense. Thanks for the good advice.

        Reply

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