05 June 2021 by Published in: Uncategorized 4 comments

Hard to believe that ten years ago I published my first novel on Amazon kindle. Since then sixty-something books have gone under the bridge, and I’m grateful that I’ve managed to develop an audience for my work, such as it is.

The self-publishing landscape has changed so radically in that ten years it’s almost unrecognizable. Back in 2011, you got free organic visibility from Amazon in a host of ways, so discovery was relatively easy via free first books in a series, or via bookbub, or by pricing low, or by including a novel in a bundle with other authors. It was the Wild West, and like all gold rushes, everyone involved knew it was destined to end.

And end it did. Nowadays, ebooks aren’t new, or news. The novelty of getting a tome for a few bucks isn’t a viable discovery tactic. Likewise, free doesn’t do much, as there are millions of ebooks out there, many of them free, or worse, perceived as free (value-less) via subscription services. The also-bought widget on Amazon is constantly being changed, and disappears periodically, so that discovery tool is iffy at best. Which leaves advertising, or more appropriately, pay-to-play, which is how most retail businesses operate once they are mature, which the ebook business is.

Most authors don’t have the money, or the time, to mount effective advertising campaigns that will earn them more than beer money, if that – partially due to a glut of the desperate who will gladly bleed cash just to get their labor of love seen. Which means in an auction system like Amazon’s, the price to advertise rises until it isn’t a money maker for most. Even a few years ago you could see double the money on ad spend, but over time that dropped to 50 cents of additional revenue for every dollar spent, and then 25, and then…well, you get the picture.

After ten years, I’ve slowed my production to a trickle, partially because during this time of pandemic-driven social upheaval I find it difficult to concentrate on writing the next one, as it seems trivial and meaningless compared to what is happening in the real world. Just keeping up with the daily flood of new information and revelations seems to be a full time job, and it’s hard to immerse myself in the page when the world seems to be headed for a train wreck of biblical proportions. So I’ve spent much of my time digesting info and writing social commentary on my FB feed, which I’m going to stop very soon in favor of a new blog where censorship won’t be as big an issue as the major tech platforms, where anything that diverges from the groupthink consensus of the official narrative is branded fake news and censored lest folks actually get multiple viewpoints to consider…and make the “wrong” decision.

As to writing, I’m working on the latest Day After Never, and when I’m done with it, I’m seriously thinking about taking six months or a year off to focus on other things. I have numerous projects vying for my attention, and it just seems that with the body of work I’ve created, there’s no shortage of Russell Blake material to read. I’m considering extending my “Retirement Secrets of Mexico” non-fiction into a series of Retirement Secrets books, to include other locales of interest to folks who are researching expatriating, but again, the time involved may not be worth the ultimate reward. I have restaurants, construction projects, an expat community I’m helping with, a crypto project I’m exploring…all of which take up time, leaving precious little for writing.

That said, I can’t imagine not writing, as it is an integral part of my life and personality. So it will be a hiatus, not an abandonment. And I may do a co-writing project with an author whose work I enjoy, so anything can happen, and my hiatus may turn out to be extremely short lived. We’ll see. One thing I’ve learned after a decade as a vocational scribbler is to never say never, and to expect the unexpected. I periodically am approached by production companies about developing one of my series, but have resigned myself to low expectations on that, as Hollywood tends to talk big but is easily distracted, and so far has yet to come to the table with anything worth serious consideration.

I’ve been lucky enough to make a lot of good friends during this decade of publishing, and more than my share of enemies and critics, which goes with the territory anytime you experience success. I consider myself fortunate to have an eclectic bunch of fellow travelers I would have never known had I not sat down at the keyboard and begun my first story, and for that I’m eternally grateful. As to my enemies and critics, as always, they can bite me, and I plan to live to dance a jig on their forgettable cold dank graves.

So that is my state of the union at ten years in. I believe the next six months will be some of the strangest and most dangerous of my lifetime, and my plan is to concentrate on preparation and projects with huge payout potentials while I decompress from the grind of producing a novel every six weeks, which pace I maintained for nine years. My gut says I’ll be happier generating a couple novels a year that interest me rather than treating it like a job, which I have for too long. It is a job, and it’s one of the best in the world, but I’ve been asking myself for some time do I want to live to work, or work to live, and it seems sensible with time my most precious limited resource, to spend more attention on the living part, and less on the working part. I’m sure I’ll get pushback on that from some readers, but truthfully the old bear doesn’t know how many summers he has left to come out of the cave, and nobody ever lay on their death bed wishing they’d worked more (cliche, but true).

I’ll post more info on my new blog, tentatively titled “The New Mexican,” shortly. It will be a hodgepodge of my usual politically incorrect views, of expat thoughts and tips (after living in Mexico 16 years), of societal commentary, of economic topics I find interesting, of crypto musings, of pandemic reporting as events unfold, etc. In other words like my FB feed used to be, before every third post received a warning label or a threat to block. Watch this space for more on that, but probably not until I finish Day After Never 11.

So in summary, it’s been a hell of a decade run, and I plan to continue as before, but at a more sane pace, with an emphasis on enjoyment, not on production. Because all work and no play…

Well. You know.

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Comments

  1. Sat 05th Jun 2021 at 7:49 pm

    I would love one last Black book when you have time. At least so the series has an ending.

    Reply
  2. Sun 06th Jun 2021 at 7:28 am

    Kudos to you, brother. Hope you come out of the hiatus eager to tell more stories. I too am at 60-some novels, but I’m fortunate in that writing hasn’t stopped being pure joy yet.

    Reply
    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 06th Jun 2021 at 3:29 pm

      My psyche is telling me to take a break, and since it is no longer about the money, I see no reason not to listen to my gut on this one. If I take six months or a year off and come back to it with joy and eagerness, that was the right call. If I discover I don’t miss it, that’s valuable info too.

      Reply
  3. Kirk Alex
    Mon 07th Jun 2021 at 11:38 pm

    You’re doing the right thing, Russell. Look forward to the blog. Awesome notion. Love reading your posts. Astute, as always.
    Best,
    Kirk

    Reply

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