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03 April 2016 by Published in: Uncategorized, Writing 10 comments

I get asked a lot of craft and trade questions, so I thought I’d answer a few of them here to reduce my inbox clutter. Here goes, in no particular order:

1. What’s your approach to pricing?

The answer is, I price based on length. Shorter books cost less, longer ones cost more, because the cost to edit and proof them is greater the longer they are. Pretty simple. I make exceptions once a book’s a few years old, because by that time it’s recouped its costs and I consider it backlist, which is priced accordingly. In my genres, I find $4.99 for older titles, regardless of length, works well. $5.99 to $6.99 for new releases, depending on length. As an example, my Ramsey’s adventure books are considerably longer than, say, a JET, so priced higher to reflect the additional time and cost of producing them.

There are exceptions. We’re about to see one with the pricing of my new post-apocalyptic series, The Day After Never. I’m pricing the first installment at $2.99, which is absurdly low for the page count and the quality from an established brand (as well as for some of the best writing I’ve ever done). Why would I do that? For strategic reasons. It’s a new genre, and I want to penetrate it – bluntly, I want as many people as possible to read the book, in the hopes that those who are unfamiliar with my work will like it, and go on to other books, like the JET or Assassin series. The first book is about 70K words, and the second will finish out more like 80K words, so book 2 will go out at $3.99 – also absurdly low, and far lower than any of my new releases over the last four years. One of the reasons for continuing the low price strategy is genre norms – that genre tends to have lower pricing, so if you want to play in it, you price accordingly.

2. Where is the market going?

Beats me. I believe things will continue to get tougher. I also believe we’re headed for the mother of all recessions, so cheap entertainment will be in demand as crushing financial chaos causes folks to reevaluate their spending. Price fairly and hang on for the ride.

3. You don’t have a lot of books in Kindle Unlimited. Why? Is it the devil?

Subscription services are more important in some genres than in others. In romance, and sci fi, for instance, a lot of voracious readers seem to be in KU, so if you’re in those genres, it’s probably pretty important to look at it hard as part of your mix. In my genres, I don’t see it being such a big factor, and because about 35% of my revenue comes from non-Zon platforms, I wouldn’t make up the difference by being exclusive to Amazon and seeing subscription-based revenue. So it’s not philosophical for me, it’s monetary.

4. You still give away a few books for free. Does that work as well as it used to?

Nothing does. But a free taste still has some appeal on iTunes and B&N, even if Amazon has gutted visibility of free titles. So it’s not as effective on Zon, but still a good strategy on the others. Shrug. Nothing lasts forever, but the way I see it is the more folks who read my work, the better the chance someone thinks it’s worth paying for. It’s a numbers game, nothing more.

5. Do you advertise much?

Hardly at all. My demographic doesn’t seem to select their books based on FB ads. Some do in other genres. Your mileage may vary. I’ve tried it a fair number of times, and didn’t see sufficient ROI to justify the combination of cost, and time to administer it. Plus, I’m lazy. So I’ve got that going for me.

6. When is X book coming out?

My production schedule for this year is The Day After Never – Blood Honor, April 18th. The next one, The Day After Never – Purgatory Road, will come out about six weeks later. The third about six weeks after that. Then we have another Ramsey’s, and probably the fourth in the DAN series, and then another JET in the Nov time frame. Beyond that, in 2017, I’m considering a third installment in the Fatal series, another Black, another Ramsey’s, and another BLACK for next year, with some more DAN if the story evolves into something requiring more than four installments. And the mother of all conspiracy novels, which I’m debating whether or not I should write, as I don’t want my car to flip over on a sunny day, or my plane to go down. Puts a damper on one’s career, no matter how big it sells.

7. Do you really drink as much tequila as you say?

That’s between me, my doctor, and the local police. I don’t answer personal questions. Mind your own business.

8. I’m a co-ed nympho working on my daddy issues, and you seem wise and experienced. Do you do in-person consultations?

OK, I never got that question. But I’m open. Call. Please. I’m serious. Any time. I’ll pick up.

That’s about it for now. Working hard on the second book in The Day After Never series, as well as launch-related stuff for the first volume, Blood Honor, which will go live on April 18th!

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Comments

  1. Sun 03rd Apr 2016 at 3:10 pm

    I read something last year by an author who looked remarkably like you and wrote as well and prolifically as you. But naw, it couldn’t have been you – he was going to cut back on his schedule.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 03rd Apr 2016 at 4:10 pm

      I did say that, didn’t I? But let’s add up what I will release this year: Fatal Deception, DAN 1, 2, 3, 4, Ramsey’s, JET, and maybe another JET for summer.

      Doh. That’s eight. I said five, didn’t I? But if you count DAN as one really long book, I kept my promise. That’s how I think of it. I’ve actually been writing less, and traveling/loafing more, so all good on that front. I’d only write maybe five or six, but I want to finish up DAN’s arc while the story’s fresh and flowing well.

      Damn. Next year, only five or six. I swear. Maybe a JET, a DAN or two, a Ramsey’s, a BLACK, and a Fatal. Unless I pen the conspiracy novel too. In which case seven.

      I’m doomed.

      Reply
      • ken010107  –  Mon 04th Apr 2016 at 7:50 am

        A conspiracy novel? Gee I didn’t see the release date for that one. Oh, that’s right you said you might write it. I’d be a beta reader for you on that one. You’ll be great with that genre.

        Besides, what could possibly go wrong? Oh,… wait,… maybe that’s not such a good idea after all. Never mind. But let’s say that you did write it, it could be as big as JET, hmmm, developing characters from book to book, I can see it all happening now, just think of the headlines! NY TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHOR RUSSELL BLAKE develops new blockbuster series! And the crowd goes wild!!!

        Whew, sorry, I’m getting a little ahead of myself there. Must be the drugs.

        Reply
  2. Sun 03rd Apr 2016 at 8:01 pm

    Love seeing your thoughts on Amazon and the rest of the publishing industry.

    You’re very generous to share those.

    Also got a kick out of seeing that your typical Russell Blake productivity level has yet again caused you to put out more than expected. I figure I’ll either catch you in 400 years, assuming the tequila drops you pretty soon, OR I’ll drop my ridiculous goal to ever hit your level of production.

    Reply
  3. Sun 03rd Apr 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Maybe don’t write the mother of all conspiracy novels. It’s better to be alive to write more BLACK!

    Reply
  4. Tobias H
    Wed 06th Apr 2016 at 1:29 pm

    Hooray for Black!

    Reply
  5. Kerry
    Wed 20th Apr 2016 at 11:55 am

    Just had to let you know that if you ever have an opening to man a firing site, a lookout or need someone to throw out the empties I can be available (partial tongue-in-cheek).
    Absolutely love your work and your attitude!

    Reply
  6. Jonathan
    Thu 12th May 2016 at 11:59 am

    Russell,

    A few more questions:

    1. What are your average cost per book (editing, cover, formatting, etc.)? How do they break down?

    2. Can you recommend the editors, cover artists, and formatting-service provides you work with?

    Thank you,

    Jonathan

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Fri 13th May 2016 at 12:57 am

      I’ve always tried to keep my total outlay per book to a grand or so, depending on length. Email me and I can tell you who I use, although my editor is full up.

      Reply

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