05 April 2012 by Published in: Uncategorized 22 comments

I just saw a book in the top 40 on Amazon that is #32, with The Voynich Cypher at #31, in Action/Adventure, and it says in green: “Available for pre-order, release date May 15.”

Now, are we living in some weird world where you can’t just get instant downloads of infinite copies effective, oh, I don’t know, about eight seconds after midnight on May 15?


NEW: Another for The Voynich Cypher. Worth a gander.


In other words, what is the benefit, or even the concept, of pre-ordering an ebook?

Did I miss a memo here?

And how did it land at #32 of books SOLD ON AMAZON TODAY?

Does anyone view that as odd? Strange? Impossible, even? This is in the kindle ebook section, BTW. Not books. Kindle ebooks.

Now, maybe I’m just dim, or something really weird is going on. Like, as in, maybe the world isn’t fair, and maybe preferential placement is being granted to big publishing company titles that won’t be available for a month? Because otherwise, how does a book that you can’t actually buy yet, and for which no advantage to pre-ordering exists, land on that list of ebooks that actually sold? I could understand if it was advance orders for hard copy. But that’s not what the list purports to, well, list. I suppose it’s possible that the wires are crossed in the Amazon black box, and it automatically lists pre-ordered hard copy in the kindle ebook list, but if that’s the case, then what value does the kindle list have? Why not just have one list, if that’s the explanation?

Or perhaps people are just really, really stupid, and want to give Amazon their $12.99 for an ebook a month and a half before their goods are delivered? Sort of an interest free loan the likes of which you normally have to be a big bank on Wall Street to get?

Maybe an angry and vengeful God is singling me out for punishment, and filling my head with stupid questions?

Or maybe we should all do an Amazon Dr. Strangelove, and just lie back, close our eyes, and think of England instead of worrying about all this? Because I’m sure that Amazon has our best interests at heart. More on that in my next blog. Till then, just don’t lose your wonder at life’s little miracles. They happen every day.

Like #32.



  1. Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 12:57 pm

    You answered your own question: “Or perhaps people are just really, really stupid, and want to give Amazon their $12.99 for an ebook a month and a half before their goods are delivered?” How it lands at #32, however, is BECAUSE so many idiots paid $12.99 in a matter of hours for a book they can’t even download yet. : |

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 1:56 pm

      I will be uploading the covers and titles of my next eight books. I’ve been foolish thinking I had to write them first, then sell them. It’s silly. No, the moron money is there for the taking. Perhaps I’ll change my last name to Patterson, and then further obfuscate? Jimenez Patterson, AKA J. Patterson. I like it. Maybe I can get a really big boat off the advance sales, and given that anyone stupid enough to plunk down the money is probably too dim to remember when the book is scheduled to become available, I’ll be rich, rich, I say!!! It’s perfect! And I thought I’d have to work on Wall Street to be able to scam free money out of the American public…

  2. Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I have thirty new books (I’m still working on all of the titles and blurbs) that will be available on May 20th. Who wouldn’t want to pre-order an ebook? What if…or, maybe they’ll run out of…I have no idea, but I’d like to get my hands on the list of people who pre-order e-books. I could retire early with that list.

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 1:57 pm

      I could make you margaritas while you lounge on your private beach. Don’t forget about me, and getting my needs met…

  3. Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 2:22 pm

    As you said the world is not fair, plus there are far to many idiots in this world. I just know in my heart that Amazon will look after me and my book as if it were pure gold. Now, how do you say naive? Thank you for sharing this tidbit of info with the rest of us. I’m anxious to read the next part of this. Great job.

  4. Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 9:38 pm

    the price just went up to $14.99 (The Storm) since it has risen to #27.

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 06th Apr 2012 at 10:25 pm

      Nice. I guess that’s a function of a shortage of pixels in the ebook factory where workers are working triple shifts to keep up with the wild demand a month and a half pre-release. Perhaps the publisher can apply for a bail-out from the taxpayers as well, and get some zero interest money to bridge this difficult time? Worth looking into.

  5. yoon
    Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 11:06 am

    Ooh! Puppies and kitties! :-/

    I don’t know which book you are referring to, but it might have been free or much cheaper than that before. I’ve once pre-ordered a book for free, whose price promptly went up the next day to $10.99. I also pre-ordered another book for $1.99, the full price of which is $9.99 (I just looked up).

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 4:38 pm

      I don’t understand anything. That’s why I’ve committed to spending my life napping. So far so good.

      • yoon  –  Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 4:51 pm

        Yeah, well, it’s hard for me to understand what I wrote either. I would have napped instead, but had to come to work.

  6. Mike Drips
    Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I like all your books that I have read to date (King of Swords, The Geronimo Breach and Night of the Assassin). On my to read list are: The Delphi Chronicle, Zero Sum and Voynich.

    So far I haven’t paid for any of these titles, just by following a feed that lists free Kindle titles.

    I did however lay out a whopping $2.99 for How to Sell A Gazillion Ebooks, which should put you over the top for finally buying a new Bugatti.

    “Gazillion” of course is a very inspiring book which I will tell no one about as I want to also tap into that vast DNA pool of world stupidity, semi-literacy and ebook readers.

    In the future though, I do promise to solemnly swear that I will actually pay cash for one of your future titles or buy you a beer if we meet in real life, whichever comes first.

    Keep up the good work, don’t get eaten by a shark and try to stay sober on days that, um, well I can’t really think of a day to stay sober…..

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 4:37 pm

      Just bite the bullet and buy one, fer crying out loud. Either that, or make it your life’s mission to evangelize how radically bitchin I am. Probably easier to lay out $4 or so, but only you know what your time is worth.

      Glad you’ve enjoyed the work. Here’s to hoping it’s just the start of something good.

  7. Michael Drips
    Tue 10th Apr 2012 at 9:48 pm

    I bought ONE, but your Kindle free ebook promotions would be more effective if you only gave away one of three books in each series.

    You do understand that you are creating characters, each with their own series, don’t you.

    Like El Rey; the New York detective in Fatal Exchange, etceteras.

    Just set down the bong pipe and realize that you have created multiple streams of income by leveraging each of your leading characters into their own series. Look at Clive Cussler or better yet Preston & Child.

    OK, beer time. Go write some more.

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 10th Apr 2012 at 10:01 pm

      I get that I am creating series characters, but frankly the game right now isn’t to maximize revenue from my existing reader base, but rather to increase overall awareness of my work. There are many millions of readers out there, and only a tiny fraction have ever heard of me. So the free promotions are designed to increase visibility of me as an author, not promote any one series.

      While there will always be those with the patience to wait for a freebie to come around, most will just buy a book if they want to read it badly enough. Some won’t, but they’re in the minority. Just as some will wait and buy a Cussler at the thrift shop for a quarter, but they aren’t really the target market. My job, in a nutshell, is to make them want to read it badly enough.

      I’m hard at work on the next in the El Rey series, and have the Fatal Exchange sequel slotted to go after that’s finished. So by Fall, the chances of getting any more free swag from yours truly will be slim to none. Instead, I’ll have 4 or 5 in the Assassin series, couple in the Fatal series, and likely one or two more in the Delphi and Dr. Steven Cross series, none of which will be free. We’re on the same wavelength, I think.

      So make hay while the sun is shining!

  8. Wed 11th Apr 2012 at 10:22 am

    I’ve pre-ordered ebooks before just so I wouldn’t forget the release date and would be surprised when the book shows up on my kindle months later.

    Thing is, amazon doesn’t charge you for any pre-order until it ships or downloads. So there is no advantage that I know of, other than getting rankings up before the book even launches, if that is possible.

    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 11th Apr 2012 at 10:24 am

      I think you just nailed the “What’s in it for the publisher,” portion of the equation. And perhaps there are lots of folks waiting for these books, and willing to pre-order. I guess we’ll never know for sure.

  9. Wed 11th Apr 2012 at 7:02 pm

    I’ve seen this pre-order thing happen a lot with contemporary romance ebooks. The pre-order books shoot right to the top of the best seller lists. Go figure. I’m as amazed as you are.

  10. Thu 12th Apr 2012 at 2:58 pm

    So, do does Amazon still pay you on the regular schedule (if anyone can figure out what the heck that really is) or does the regular schedule not kick in until after release? Maybe we could all make a living uploading book covers & titles!

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 12th Apr 2012 at 4:08 pm

      I have no idea. But I like the sound of making easy money without having to deliver any value. I was afraid I’d have to move to Wall Street to get a slice of that pie…

  11. Josh
    Sat 21st Apr 2012 at 5:09 pm

    It’s not that complicated, people.
    First: The customer is not charged for the book until it is delivered to their Kindle.
    Second: Some people, when they see a book that they like (or think they’ll like), want to purchase it. Rather than put it on your calendar to go back and order it on the release date, isn’t it much easier to just order it now and know that it will appear on your reader once it’s released? You may disagree, but most people like this idea, as evidenced by the number of ebook pre-orders.

    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 21st Apr 2012 at 6:35 pm

      Josh. Can they cancel the order at any point up until they receive it, in most cases, months from now? If so, I can think of a lot of reasons why the books shouldn’t land on the list of books SOLD today – no sale has taken place. At best, a conditional futures contract has been created.

  12. Sat 28th Apr 2012 at 10:58 am

    I pre order Kindle books because I’ve seen a press release or article or email/FB/Twitter about the upcoming book and I want to buy it.

    If I don’t pre order, I might forget.

    My fav author had a book released in March. I preordered and a fe days before the actually release date, the book showed up on my Kindle.

    It was great! Pre order away, I say!



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