09 June 2020 by Published in: Uncategorized 10 comments

Nine years ago I pressed publish on my first novel.

To say it’s been a hell of a ride would be the understatement of the century.

Since then I’ve published sixty-something novels, including two co-authored with Clive Cussler. I’ve been celebrated on the front page of the WSJ, I’ve been featured in The Times, the Boston Herald, Huffington, you name it. I’ve had my work translated into a whole bunch of languages I can’t even remember. And thankfully, I’ve been able to build a loyal following of readers who seem as happy to read what I’ve written as I am to write it.

If it gets any better than that, I’m not sure how.

When I first got into the game, names like John Locke and Amanda Hocking were the rage. We were still a couple years from them fading from the indie spotlight, and the future looked bright for authors for the first time in forever. Up until 2010 or so, being an author meant even if you had a bestseller or five, you’d best not quit your day job. All that changed when Apple forced Amazon’s hand to match its 70% royalty rate, and suddenly it was the content creators who saw most of the rewards instead of the middlemen.

Fast forward, and the meritocracy of the early days transitioned into a more mature retail market, where the tsunami of crap that was warned about became a viable business model for the blink of an eye, and organic visibility got replaced by pay-to-play advertising, exactly as I warned a few years before it happened. Now, we’re in a difficult market where it takes money to make money, and the dream of writing something, creating a cover in a few hours, having your mom “edit” it, and getting rich, seems an impossibly distant dream from a naive time where anything seemed possible.

The business is now largely a battle of marketing dollars to attract eyes. Amazon ads have become ineffective as the market has been saturated by the desperate seeking any chance at being seen, and bids have gone through the roof, which shows no signs of stopping. And now, with the virus, trad publishing has been kicked in the throat with the closure of hundreds of indie, airport, and chain bookstores, slashing its profits to the bone. The future is no longer rosy, and there are storm clouds lingering on an uncertain horizon.

Still, after shifting something like 4 million novels over the years, it beats flipping burgers, and many are still making bank, albeit less than before, and working harder for each dollar. That’s how mature markets work, as Amazon has crowded out the other players to dominate online book sales, giving it a de facto monopoly in many genres.

Meanwhile, spiders and flies continue to do what they always have, and the world continues to turn.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another nine years of writing. I love the process, love being my own boss, love the joy of inventing a new twist or story.

And of course there are the orgies. But I digress.

To my readers, thanks for an amazing run, and be sure to buy my crap, and encourage everyone you know to do the same. To my enemies, as always, you can bite me and fester in your own sick at the fact that I’ve done as well as I have, in spite of a dearth of talent and a penchant for malingering. To my fellow authors, I’ll raise a cup, because that’s sort of the whole point of it, besides the writing and the human sacrifices.

Oops. Hope I’m not giving anything away there. Better shush before I commit suicide with a double tap to the back of my head with two different guns, or decide to plow my car into an embankment at 120 MPH.

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Comments

  1. andy holloman
    Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 2:08 pm

    … good post, you’re my idol….well, maybe not in every respect, there’s still the issues with clowns, hookers, and tequila, and worldwide catastrophes

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 2:10 pm

      Don’t knock ’em…

      Reply
  2. Fredrik
    Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 4:43 pm

    I’ve listened to your amazing Black series on Audible, narrated by RC Bray. And I must say its some of the funniest and best books I’ve ever read/listened to. But the fifth book is not on Audible. It would be great if that book also was read by Bray. Any chance that will ever happen?

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 4:45 pm

      Glad you enjoyed them, and I agree that Bray’s narration is the best I’ve heard. We’ve discussed doing the fifth book, but our schedules never connected. Never say never!

      Reply
      • Fredrik  –  Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 5:43 pm

        I’ve actually asked Bray about this on Facebook, and his answer was « Fredrik Danielsen if i had time in the schedule i would. author and his agent would need to contact me first though.» would be great. I actually felt sad when I was finished with the 4 books 🙂

        Reply
  3. Russell Blake
    Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 5:45 pm

    Perhaps I need to have my people contact his…

    Reply
    • Fredrik  –  Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 5:53 pm

      That would be sweet! 🙂 And maybe write some more Black books? (if he doesnt die or anything in the fifth book ?)

      Reply
  4. Kirk Alex
    Tue 09th Jun 2020 at 10:21 pm

    Russell,

    Spot-on summation of this insane roller coaster ride so many of us have been part of lo these many years.

    Any idea when you’ll have the The Lowlife Saga wrapped up? I do want to read it.

    Also, by the way, you staying safe where you’re at? No interaction with looters and/or rioting? Just thought I’d ask. As you well know, it’s been hell over here in certain US cities.

    Best,
    K.A.

    Reply
  5. Wed 10th Jun 2020 at 2:46 am

    Congratulations on nine years. Until I read your post, I hadn’t realized it was nine for me, too, at the end of April. Nine great, crazy years. I’m so very grateful to indie publishing!

    Here’s to many more successful years!

    Debra Holland

    Reply
  6. Janet
    Thu 11th Jun 2020 at 11:05 pm

    It’s been quite a ride for us readers! Please no suiciding, I’m not done reading. You have more stories to tell, congratulations on 9 years!

    Reply
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