19 June 2013 by Published in: Uncategorized 48 comments

You have to sort of sing it with a Beatles lilt. That’s the trick.

Two years ago, I uploaded my first novel, Fatal Exchange, to Amazon, not knowing what to expect, or really, what the hell I was doing as far as marketing and promotions go. I had no specific goals in terms of sales, and only a vague sort of understanding about things like genre – I mean, parsing niggling details like police procedural or action/adventure or suspense or psychological thriller seemed silly. I wrote thrillers. That’s what Fatal Exchange was. A frigging thriller. So just deal with it, I thought.


NEWS: King of Swords, Book 1 of the Assassin series, is now free! If you haven’t read it, now’s your big chance!

NEWS: JET is now available as an Audiobook! How cool is that? The narrator did a fine job. I’m preparing to retire off its sales. Holding breath.


That first month, I think I made a grand total of $17. Might have been $18. Those days are a little fuzzy. For good reason. Since I released that little tome, which still holds up remarkably well and for which I am unapologetic, I’ve written easily two million words. Or, for those keeping score at home (and hopefully not wagering, or God forbid, imbibing), 22 novels, the latest of which, Upon a Pale Horse, will release within the next three weeks or so.

Perhaps it’s fitting that my latest creation crosses this particular milestone in my literary career in the same way it started – with a stand-alone thriller that defies easy description. Fatal Exchange combined an international counterfeiting conspiracy, Wall Street malfeasance, an execution squad, and a serial killer, in two parallel story lines that dovetail in the end. It was a 2011 Reviewer’s Choice at The Kindle Book Review, and garnered great feedback and a dedicated readership – so much so that at last count, I think it’s sold somewhere on the order of fifteen thousand copies. Give or take. I’m too lazy to look it up, but I know as of about six or seven months ago I looked and it had sold almost eleven thousand, so it’s probably over fifteen now.

My forthcoming release, Upon a Pale Horse, is also a stand-alone thriller that defies easy description: a bio-thriller that is most easily described as The Firm meets Contagion, but with a deeply disturbing basis in ugly reality that’s sure to polarize readers and is easily the most controversial novel of my career. It’s one of the few novels I’ve ever had misgivings about publishing, because it is so troubling it’s sure to create a backlash, not the least of which will be from big pharma and the medical research power centers in government. It’s an unflinching novel that invites the reader to do their own research on a topic that’s so frightening and that has such profound implications that I’m nervous about it. Because there are some things that are just not questioned, and some data that one dares not examine too closely. It also doesn’t fit into any neat slot, although I call it a bio-thriller because its basis is in biological warfare and the associated well-documented experimentation. You’ll just have to read it to understand why it is a scary, scary read.

One author friend of mine, who I asked for a preliminary take on the first draft, advised me to put everything I had into marketing it, because it was a blockbuster that deserved to be read by every thinking person. Another counseled me not to publish it because it was too inflammatory and controversial. I changed the ending several times. I struggled with whether to stick it in a drawer. In the end, I think it’s a book that raises important and necessary questions that have been ignored for too long and deserve the cleansing antiseptic of sunshine. I can say with unqualified confidence that it’s not going to make me any friends in high places. It’s written as fiction, as are all my novels, but it doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines, and what lurks between them is as unpleasant to contemplate as anything I’ve come across.

But back to Fatal, and my two year and counting self-publishing journey. Along the way I’ve made mistakes, friends, enemies, rivals and converts. I’ve also alienated many, and bitten the hand that feeds me more often than I can count, been arrogant and opinionated on a variety of topics (some of which I actually know a little bit about), and generally entertained myself, as well as a few readers, while having the time of my life.

Hard to believe it’s been two years. It flew by. And took forever to unfold. Any authors who’ve checked their sales stats fifty times a day with either a sinking heart or a joyous one know whereof I speak. A roller-coaster the likes of which I’ve never before experienced.

To commemorate the two year anniversary of Fatal Exchange and the launch of my literary career, I’ve commissioned a new cover, which I’ve posted at the end of this blog.

Now to the question of the day: was it all worth it? Was it worth devoting pretty much two solid years of my life to writing and selling books? Was my full-immersion approach wise or foolhardy? I can’t speak for everyone, but yes, it was worth it. I feel like I’ve built something, and I look at my backlist with amazement. 22 novels – that’s what many renowned popular novelists write in a career. Whether my books are genius or the mindless babbling of a fool is up to readers to decide, and I count myself incredibly lucky to have been so graciously accepted by so many. I’ve never confused myself with David Foster Wallace (other than bandanas, but don’t get me started), and always thought of myself as an entertainer, dancing for my dinner like Quinton Crisp in The Naked Civil Servant, who would go to tap class in the morning and then teach the lesson that same evening to his pupils, posing as a master while in fact a charlatan. As an author, it’s easy to feel that way, as we’re each of us learning our craft until the day we shed our mortal coil, and exist at the pleasure of our readership. Which is as it should be. In the end, the reader is always right, at least in his own mind, even when he’s wrong. If we are to survive or flourish, we must place the interests of the reader above all else. The reader is, for authors, the ultimate authority, because without readers, we’re back to being lunatics jabbering our stories to a cold, uncaring moon. And that sucks. And doesn’t pay well. Which is the same as sucks, only worse.

To all of you, whether new to this journey or there from the beginning, I can only say thank you, with all my heart. Except of course for my critics and rivals, who can, as always, bite me. But everyone else, I’m truly grateful for the continued warm wishes and patronage and support you’ve offered up. I can only hope that the next 24 months of my little stories are as well received as my last.

Fatal Exchange Final (1) web



  1. Alec Graf
    Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 7:17 am

    Congrats Russell, you done good. (And’ll continue to do so.)

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:41 am

      Thanks Alec. Still pulling hard on the oars every day!

  2. Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 9:22 am

    Happy 2 Year Anniversary! The new cover looks great. Just picked up a free copy as I haven’t read it yet. And yes, I’m ashamed about that.

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:40 am

      Gracias, Kim. Hope you like it!

  3. yoon
    Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 10:39 am

    You always have to be difficiult and celebrate 700 day anniversary instead of the more acceptable and easy to remember 2 year one, don’t you. Happy 700 day anniversary! Is there cake?

    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 10:59 am

      I got myself a tequila cake! It’s shaped like a bottle, and liquid. Mmmmmm. Num num num.

      • yoon  –  Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 9:41 pm

        Just saw it at the top of the free list. That was fast. Congratulations!

        • Russell Blake  –  Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 9:53 pm

          Thanks. Weeeere number One! Weeeeeere nuuuuumber One!!!

          Not that it’s going to make much difference in sales. But it’s an experiment and a celebration. As is life.

          • yoon  –  Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 11:04 pm

            When is PH coming out?

          • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:39 am

            Few more weeks. Maybe around the 10. Up to the proofreaders now.

  4. Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 12:11 pm

    Well done. Keep blazing the trail, and thanks for sharing so much of your two-year path with us.

  5. Nick Vanmatre
    Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I got “Fatal Exchange” some months ago and absolutely loved it. Alas, I did not add to your five STAR reviews as I figured you had enough to sell some books. Today, I found your blog and on such a celebratory day~~ Love the blog also. Congratulations and have many more successful writing periods. Now, a died-in-the-tequila fan.

    • Russell Blake  –  Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 4:59 pm

      It’s never too many 5 star reviews. Trust me on that.

      Glad you liked it, and thanks for the warm thoughts. Steady as she goes on the tequila…

  6. Ron
    Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 6:32 pm

    You said free? I’m all over that!
    Seriously…congratulations. I enjoy your books a lot. My mom is also a voracious reader and she is now a big fan.
    Nice job.
    Ron in Honduras

  7. Wed 19th Jun 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Congrats Russell. I hit my two year anniversary this month as well. It’s been fun to be on the journey with you.

    Good luck with the next two years!

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:39 am

      Same to you, my friend. Congrats right back atchou!

  8. Collette Fritz
    Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 5:26 am

    You are in the top 5 of my favorite authors. Have read Fatal Exchange, Jet, Assassin and Geronimo Breach books to which I proclaim 5 stars on all. About to start Delphi Chronicle. Awaiting Pale Horse. I pledge to read all 22 books and any future ones you care to publish. Wow, if you can provide enough character in an assassin to overcome his short comings (yes, I fell in love with El Rey) you can certainly write controversial books on any subject and I will read them. Thank you, Russell Blake.

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 10:10 am

      Well, I’ve got to work harder, then, if only #5! Seriously, I’m humbled by that, and glad you’re enjoying the work. I’ll keep writing them if you’ll keep reading them.

      • Collette  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 10:19 am

        Ah, I didn’t say you were #5 just IN the top five. Actually you are #1. I was hesitant to give you that news. Big heads sometimes explode you know. All kidding aside your books fit my suspicions about many issues of US policies on foreign and domestic affairs. I realize these books are fiction but seem to read as truth to me because I’ve long believe in the covert operations issue.

        • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:26 pm

          Well, let me put it this way. They are “framed” as fiction. I leave it up to readers to read between the lines.

          I’m reassured I was able to elbow those other interlopers in your top 5 out of the way. Bastards. That’ll teach em.

          • Collette Fritz  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 1:14 pm

            I would swear that you are a member of my sarcastic, smart mouth, brilliant family from the post and blogs I’ve read. However after some research I find no Blakes in my family tree. Could you have been adopted? I can read almost as fast as you can write so keep at it please. And again thank you.

  9. Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 9:38 am

    Congratulations, Russell, and thank you for the free book. I’m starting out on my own journey and you’re a big inspiration to me. Wondering if over the next two years you’ll continue to produce at the pace you did over the first two?

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 10:12 am

      I swore I’d *only* write four books this year. Looks like it will actually be eight.

      I can’t keep that pace up. It means doing nothing but writing for 15 hours a day. Once this year is over, it’s 3 books a year for me, which while more than most produce, will seem like a vacation to me. I’m looking forward to it…

      • yoon  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 10:26 am

        3 books a year? You?

        • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:27 pm

          I’ll be busy teaching my yoga and meditation workshops. Won’t have the time. Ohmmmmm.

          • Kim Cano  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:33 pm

            Nope. Yoon called it. You’ll be teaching your meditation class and get a new book idea. Then you’ll ditch your students for the writing cave!

  10. Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Congratulations, Russell! You’re a great writer and your effort and focus defies comprehension.

    • Russell Blake  –  Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 12:27 pm

      Thanks, Stan. Got a long way to go before I rest…

  11. Robert Jones
    Thu 20th Jun 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Congrats, Russell. I haven’t read FE, so thank you for that. You have, however, given me many hours of entertainment over the past year and am anxious to get UPH. Controversial novels should not be shoved inside a drawer. A strong emotional reaction, either good or bad, can still get you a lot of attention. So as long as some government agency doesn’t send a real life Jet to come visiting you in the night time, you should be just fine. Really. Totally mean that. Hope you survive to keep writing for the next two years–at least!

  12. Alan Smith (Downunder)
    Sat 22nd Jun 2013 at 10:07 pm

    BIG CONGRATS Mate!!!
    Love all your books and can’t wait for the next one!!!!


    Hope to see one OR MORE of them on the big screen one day soon!!!!!

    Still have that bottle of nice Aussie Shiraz waiting for you to enjoy!!!

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 23rd Jun 2013 at 1:55 am

      Good God, mate, I can taste it already. Brilliant. I’m there. Be careful what you wish for…

      • Alan Smith (Downunder)  –  Sun 23rd Jun 2013 at 2:18 am

        No Worries Mate!!
        You’ll need a nice break after book 8 for sure!!!

        You’re always welcome to hang out here in Melbourne if you want!!! The Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef area in Queensland are magic!

        Going to have a nice Heathcote Shiraz 2008 tonight! Yum!!! Will be thinking of you and the new book!!!

        • Russell Blake  –  Sun 23rd Jun 2013 at 4:36 am

          The Heathcote’s usually a winner. Try the Elderton Command Shiraz. Like frigging ink. I’m tempted to jump on a plane, but I have books to write, and last time I was in Melbourne I spent a week gorging on the river. For New Years. Hot as hell. But brilliant cuisine. And the wine. The wine…

  13. JD Adams
    Mon 24th Jun 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I’ve been on the ride from the beginning with ya, and you’re maturing from “a guy that writes pretty good thrillers” to “THE guy that writes Damn Good Thrillers for Adults”.
    With each new novel you’re just getting better and better. There have even been several times in your last 4 or 5 novels where I’ve thought “James Lee Burke” would have written the scene like that! (*Very* high praise from me…)

    You’re an inspiration and role model to those of us have plowed the fields as news guys, ad hacks or PR flacks, and now have set our sights on doing what we love and making a fair living by writing what *we’d* want to read, at the *level* we want to read it. (There’s a reason I love your stuff but cannot crank through most YA.)

    Your essays on the business/ marketing aspects of being an indy writer today have been like getting a Masters in Writing & Publishing.
    I look forward to each one and forward them to every writer I know. (Both of them…)

    I’m really looking forward to reading your work over the next 700 days — not just because every few weeks you prove that persistence and perseverance pays off creatively and financially — but because your novels are damn fun!
    Muchos Gracias,

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 25th Jun 2013 at 1:13 am

      Thanks, JD. No higher praise could be had than a comparison to JLB. We agree that he’s a master, and I humbly aspire to get into the same neighborhood, much less the same ballpark. I just write what I would like to read, and hope that the world has enough like-minded souls to keep me in tequila and bail money to last till I drop.

      So far so good.

      Glad you’re enjoying the scribbling. Wait till you read Upon a Pale Horse. That’s all I’m going to say.

  14. Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 12:10 am

    Way to blow the curve for the rest of the class, Blake, you magnificent bastard…

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 12:38 am

      Lo Siento. Trust me. It hasn’t been a cakewalk, by any means. On the plus side, you get good with comma splices and em dashes.

  15. Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 9:29 am

    Russell, I just downloaded a few of your books. Look forward to reading them on an upcoming trip to Ireland.

    The new cover for Fatal Exchange looks great. Who designed it?

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 10:51 am

      I decided to try a new chap at Rockingbookcovers.com – his name is Adrijus Guscia. Very talented and has an edgy look I was immediately drawn to. You can contact him through his website. He’s good, fast and reasonably priced, and wants to make a mark, so he thinks outside the box.

      • Merrill Heath  –  Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 11:01 am

        Thanks! Good luck with Upon a Pale Horse. Sounds interesting.

  16. Michael Picco
    Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Way to go! I’ve become a recent reader of your works and read almost all of them. Many of my friends and family have followed my recommendation to check out your Jet series.

    I look forward to ‘Upon a Pale Horse’. Glad to see you taking on those powerful few that need the antiseptic of light shined on them! Keep up the great work!

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 28th Jun 2013 at 7:05 pm

      It’s the din of the black helicopters that’s kind of a drag. Not that I’m complaining.

      I guarantee Pale Horse is going to blow some minds. It blew mine once I’d concluded my research and understood what I was looking at.

  17. Fri 05th Jul 2013 at 3:47 am

    Awesome post.

  18. Fri 12th Jul 2013 at 4:46 pm

    I know I’ve had many hours of reading pleasure from all your books. I’m a little apprehensive about reading Upon A Pale Horse, but it’s already on my Kindle. Who needs more scaring of the real world variety??? But I know it will be an exciting read. 🙂

  19. Alan Smith
    Fri 02nd Aug 2013 at 11:14 pm

    G’day from Downunder!
    Just back from Port Douglas in Queensland!! Had a great 2 weeks in beautiful tropical North Queensland and with a GREAT new book!!!! Loved it!!! Upon A Pale Horse was a wonderful, thought provoking read! Well Done AGAIN mate!!!!

    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 02nd Aug 2013 at 11:37 pm

      Thanks, Alan. Glad you liked it. I’ll be releasing four or five more between now and the end of the year, so plenty of reading material available. Hope Queensland was nice.

  20. Alan Smith
    Fri 02nd Aug 2013 at 11:44 pm

    The Tropical North (!) is a beautiful place, even with the huge crocodiles!! 🙂

    Caught a black tipped shark out on the Great Barrier Reef!! Had to let it go, however. Got a beautiful Coral Trout that was VERY tasty for dinner that night!

    4-5 more books in 4 months!!! That’s incredible!!! What a fantastic Christmas gift for all of your growing list of loyal fans!!!!


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