29 March 2013 by Published in: Uncategorized 9 comments

It was the best of times…

Scratch that. But it certainly qualifies as some of the most interesting of times.

Goodreads found a buyer for their site – Amazon. A savvy purchase for a player who’s serious about the ebook market.

What does it all mean? Will Goodreads now become some kind of lockstep robot used for Amazon’s evil purposes? Or did Amazon invest in them to curate the review side of their business?

Probably some of both.

If I were one of Amazon’s competitors right now, though, I’d be sweating some pretty big bullets. You have the most credible and largest book reviewing site now owned by the most credible and largest bookseller, which has worked hard to disintermediate the traditional publishing chain. I can already hear the howls of outrage that the business of reviewing will be forever compromised due to corporate sponsorship and agendas. Ahem.


But my guess is that the cream will float to the top. Goodreads, like every other form of human interaction, has its flaws – one of the largest being that many of the reviewers there use the forum to push their agendas, bash those they view as competition or are simply envious of, and prove how overall smart they are. Just like pretty much all review sites – many have dogs in the fight, one way or another. And now that every third person in the country is writing a novel and publishing it through Amazon, you can bet that there are a lot of authors on there, some frustrated and eager to prove points rather than simply share books they liked or didn’t.

The truth is that I’ve never looked at Goodreads to select a new book to read. Maybe I’m deficient in that regard. Probably so. I generally go by word of mouth, go to Amazon and read the blurb and the first few pages of the Look Inside sample, and maybe check out a few reviews, which I assume are of questionable veracity.

I’m aware that many folks rate books lower on Goodreads than they do on Amazon. Beats me as to why. A crap book is still a crap book regardless of where you review it, and a great book is still a great one for the same reasons.

Having said that, from a channel standpoint, Amazon buying Goodreads is both smart as well as pretty obvious. What’s more surprising is that none of Amazon’s competitors thought of it.

On more mundane fronts, I’m back from vacation, and working like a madman on getting JET V out within the next 10 days. I have to say I love the cover. My guy outdid himself on this one, I think. Hopefully some of you will buy it so I can pay for my hefty bar tabs. I’ll post the cover in a new blog within seven or eight days, once I have the very final art. But it’s a stunner, I think.

Speaking of which, March was my largest sales month ever, with sales increasing by roughly 10% over my second largest month (January), and revenues increasing more like 20% due to a change in product mix as well as fewer borrows, which net lower than sales do. The final numbers will be in around tax time, but using the six week rolling tally I can say with a straight face that I’m extremely happy with the reception my work is getting, and am on target for hitting or exceeding my goal of doubling my 2012 sales. Thanks to all who have supported my scribbling. I’m a lucky fella. It’s pretty cool to be able to do this for a living. Although it would be cooler to just be rich and famous without having to work. That would actually be way better, now that I think about it. Too bad that only happens to reality TV celebs. Damn them all straight to hell.

April I’ll be reading screenplays to see if I can muster some enthusiasm for trying my hand at JET – The Movie! And then I’ll be diving into my trilogy, which was going to be called Gunner, but is now going to be called Black, for a host of obscure reasons I won’t bore you with as I’ll sound like I’m whining, and nobody likes a sniveling whiner, even if he does have a lovely singing voice and can lambada like nobody’s business.

Now go buy some of my crap so I can afford to get Bird a companion. I’m thinking a female canary to keep her company. Which she’ll probably hate, and will add to the seething resentment and barely-contained fury with which she regards me lately. Sort of like having an ex, without the sex. Never mind. I’ll go lie down now. I feel bloaty. I think I got some bad tacos or something. Urp.



  1. Fri 29th Mar 2013 at 10:48 am

    Funny this post would be about Goodreads. I finally made it over there to try and get more involved than just putting up an author page/reviewing books. I checked out the Listopia lists and added my book to some of them. All part of my brokista marketing plan.
    Also added Angel With Fur to Best Animal Books. Don’t forget to vote for yourself. 🙂
    Jet should be a movie. I just finished with Jet 3 and am starting Jet 4. My mom read Jet and left you a review. She’s now onto Jet 2.
    So glad you had a nice vacation.

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 29th Mar 2013 at 10:53 am

      Thanks, Kim.

      I think JET V won’t disappoint. Then we’ll all have to wait until the end of the year for JET VI, as I’ve got a few other irons in the fire.

      So glad you liked Angel. It’s a special book for me. If I can figure out how to vote, I will indeed, and thanks again for the warm words.

  2. Robert Jones
    Fri 29th Mar 2013 at 12:46 pm


    I’ve never gone to review sites either. If your regular reader…not to mention someone who is working on a novel…you basically always have a list of books and authors to check out and never enough time to get them all read as quickly as you would like.

    I’ve checked reviews on Amazon when an author is doing well, but that’s usually to get a comparrison of what people are saying, looking for common statements as to why a particular book is flying. But even there, it isn’t that often. Public opinion often means little. It’s often too gushing if they like it, or spiteful if they don’t. Hard to find objective facts as to why they go in one direction or another. It always comes back to pleasing yourself. If you spend time learning the craft, you just have to do your best in putting together a solid piece of work you can stand behind of the types of stories you would enjoy…hoping others who enjoy similar stories will feel the same way.

    And on that note, congrats for doing just that. I think Russell Blake can feel a certain degree of confidence that he officially has proven he knows what he’s doing.

    Of course, you still can’t relax enough to allow complacency a chance to set in. But if you feel like posting a pic thumbing your nose, dedicated to the naysayers (there are always more than a few), I think that would be almost as justifiable as it would be fun.

    Keep up the good work. You’ve been an inspiration 🙂

  3. Sat 30th Mar 2013 at 8:55 am

    Jet should be a movie. Go for it. Great to hear of your sales. Goodreads is a cool site. I’m sorry to see it was grabbed by Amazon. Great business move for Amazon. I think the reviews are lower at Goodreads because real readers rate lower that the indie authors that cross promote their books on Amazon…

    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 30th Mar 2013 at 10:42 am

      I don’t know. I think it’s rather the other way around. While there’s certainly plenty of fiddling at Amazon, I find that Goodreads has more of the film school thing going. You or I go to see a movie, we either like it, think it was ok, or think it sucked. A film student looks at what we would rate a 5 star movie and deducts points for things he/she would have done differently, or are technical flaws – look at the lighting, the angle of that shot, the story arc, etc. I think every other person on Goodreads is probably an author or frustrated aspiring author, whereas Amazon many of the reviewers seem barely able to write a single coherent sentence, which is much more representative of laymen.

  4. yoon
    Sat 30th Mar 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Can’t buy more of your crap. I’ve consumed all your crap. You need to produce fresh crap.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 30th Mar 2013 at 3:07 pm

      I am hard at work on issuing forth yet more crap. Maybe 10 days. Then will get to work on more crap so there’s a whole crapload for summer fun.

  5. Mon 01st Apr 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Like you, Russell, I’ve never bought a book from Goodreads, and I agree that B&N, Apple, et al, missed out on stealing Amazon’s thunder. The sale isn’t going to do indie authors any favours, though.

    Been waiting for Jet V for a while, so another week ain’t gonna kill me.

    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 01st Apr 2013 at 5:32 pm

      Ha! You’re selling so many in the UK I’m surprised you have the time to read anything!

      Just putting the finishing touches on it. I rather like this one.


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