On June 7, I’ll have been self-publishing for exactly one year.

My first offering, Fatal Exchange, continues to sell well – in fact, it’s selling more now than ever.

My second book, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated) is languishing. I guess authors don’t buy books, or perhaps they don’t have a sense of humor about the business. So that’s been somewhat of a dud from a sales perspective, although a hoot from a creative and acclaim perspective. Go figure.

My third, The Geronimo Breach, is also selling well, although it varies from white hot to so-so, depending upon pricing and promotions I’m running. Still, it’s gotten rave reviews, and is one of my favorites, and I have to give it a thumb’s up from a sales standpoint. That’s one I think will still have appeal a decade from now, so I’m confident it will earn its keep.


NEWS: An interview with author Felicia Rodgers and yours truly on The Voynich Cypher.

UPDATE: New at Manic Readers on writing The Voynich Cypher. A good one.


I’m not going to list all my books. Don’t worry. You didn’t come here for that. You came here because of the free stuff I routinely give away, and the nude photos, I know. What? There aren’t? Oh. Never mind then.

Self-publishing has turned into a truly awesome experience for me – far better than I’d ever hoped. I’m selling at a clip that I’d hoped to hit within three years of entering the market, not ten months. So that’s great. But it has also given me a chance to live my dream. No, not being a pole dancing male burlesque stud grinding for the drunk tourist women at Jalapenos – I just do that for the cash and the workout. And no, also not naked ice dancing, although that’s certainly my first love. What I’m speaking of is being an actual author who makes his living writing books.

I had sort of given up that dream after my only encounter with the whole NY traditional publishing game in another life. It just seemed like I was going to have to surrender all my control, and dance like a trained chimp to the beat of countless editors, agents, marketing consultants, etc. while making peanuts, if that. I don’t have the patience for doing things on other people’s timelines, which is why I’ve never been a good big company player.

When I first heard of success stories in self-publishing I was skeptical. Konrath, Locke, Hocking, Eisler… I don’t know. It sounded too good to be true. But after I bought my first kindle I got it. I understood why that simple device had changed publishing forever, as had Amazon. I saw the future; one where tens of millions of devices were voraciously devouring high quality content, and I realized that if I could create even an interstitial awareness of my writing, there might be a there there. So I went the OCD route, and committed to write as close to a million words by the end of 2011 as I could manage. I got pretty close. 12 releases. None I have to be ashamed of.

2012 I’ve slowed the pace, and have targeted releasing 6 to 8 novels, depending upon my mood and the muse’s availability. I’ve got two in the can, and have started the third, so hitting my goal isn’t going to be a problem, I don’t think.

2012’s first release, The Voynich Cypher, has been big so far, and I hope it continues to attract reader attention. The next one, Revenge of the Assassin, a sequel to King of Swords, will release end of April, and then another sequel to King will release end of May.

Because of self-publishing, I’m getting to make my living, in retirement, as an author, and doing so on my terms, at my pace, with my vision of what the work should be like, what the covers should portray, and what price the books should sell for. As a creative person, I can’t tell you how good that feels. Happiness is fleeting, and getting to do something I love and get fairly compensated for it, as well as connect with readers, defies description. It’s a rush. It makes everything seem worth doing. I recommend it highly.

For that opportunity, I’m grateful. And while I at times have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, without their visionary approach to self-publishing, I’d be relegated to laying around on the beach considering my navel. So for that, I owe them one.

As I owe those who have purchased my work, and then told a friend. Without readers, a writer isn’t very fulfilled. It’s readers that make the experience complete.

So for everyone out there who might be debating self-publishing, all I can say is that to date it’s the most rewarding decision of my life at a host of levels. I hope that continues, and would encourage you to take the plunge and give it a shot. The water’s warm, and the view is just fine. Although the hours can be brutal, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll walk away from it with much more than the glow of the experience. Much like life, that.




  1. Sat 31st Mar 2012 at 12:02 pm

    I agree – self publishing is awesome! It’s taken me out of a boring desk job I had for a decade, and into fulltime writing. There’s no way that would have happened without the world of ebooks, Kindles, and yes, Amazon. I’m glad you’ve found success! You’re right, it is very fulfilling to have creative control. Especially after all that waiting at the desk job…

  2. Sun 01st Apr 2012 at 10:20 am

    I agree! I can’t wait to go full time myself but I need to get some more books written first. plus, living abroad makes it hard to get my money. I’ll get there. Then I can have a pension too! Assuming I live that long of course. Japan does keep trying to kill me

  3. Sun 01st Apr 2012 at 10:25 am

    Thank you for an uplifting and encouraging blog. I have many friends going the way for self-publishing to a mixed bag of results. The difficulty, obviously, is creating a fan base. With the technological advances of readers, it has eased the process for getting a book “out there”. Yet on the negative increased the market, turning authors into marketers, which can be challenging.
    Thank you for pointing out both sides.

  4. yoon
    Mon 02nd Apr 2012 at 12:54 am

    I was promised puppies and kittens…

    • Russell Blake  –  Mon 02nd Apr 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Again, I lied. I’m sorry. I do that a lot. But the next one, will assuredly be puppies and kittens. Promise, and this time for real.

  5. Tue 03rd Apr 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Great article! A million words in one year? Wow, wish I could do that.

    On the other hand, I just did the math, and it’s just over 2,700 words a day for 365 days. It actually could be doable…

    • Russell Blake  –  Tue 03rd Apr 2012 at 6:26 pm

      It is doable. It’s just really hard to do it at a high quality level. But I’m not particularly fast, and I can tell you that if you spend lots of hours every day, it not only can be done, but is. If you want to set a more realistic goal, say half a million, that’s only 1350 words a day. Maybe two hours. Anyone that says it’s impossible simply doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s the conclusion I arrived at before starting, and I’m living proof it’s achievable, or something close to it is, anyway. Point is not to allow others’ expectations to define what you are capable of. Only you know what you’re capable of. So get busy!

      • Colleen Cross  –  Tue 03rd Apr 2012 at 6:33 pm

        Okay, I’m starting – 1350 words a day! Counting every word, or just the ones that stay in the final edit? Never mind – better get moving and get my quota for today 🙂
        Anyone else up for the challenge?

        Thanks Russell for a great post.

        • Russell Blake  –  Tue 03rd Apr 2012 at 7:48 pm

          Call it 1500 and edit it down. Even if you only do half that per day, you’ll be cranking a quarter million a year. Not so shabby…

  6. Wed 04th Apr 2012 at 12:25 am


  7. Sat 07th Apr 2012 at 11:41 am

    What if any self promotion did you do? I’m new to the whole kindle/self publishing thing. I only have one of my books up right now. I was curious, besides the writing, how did you get to the point of making a living off of it in ten months. Also was that just ebooks? Or did you sell physical books as well?

    • Russell Blake  –  Sat 07th Apr 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Only ebooks.

      I tried everything. I tweet a lot, and have 6500 or so followers. I don’t do much promotion, mainly twitter and a little Facebook. I’ve done cross promotions with David Lender where we traded excerpts in some of our books. I am doing that now with Steven Konkoly. But mainly, I just write a lot, and my readers seem to enjoy telling their friends about what they discovered. So it’s an organic build, not a gimmick. I didn’t write a heartfelt blog linking myself to a celebrity and then go viral. I didn’t set the imaginations of millions of teens on fire and act as their champion. I just wrote a lot of thrillers, just as I continue to. My belief is that the more quality work you have out there, the greater the chance someone stumbles across one of your books, and maybe likes it.

      Sorry I don’t have any more eye-opening marketing counsel. I sort of suck at marketing, anyway.

      My strategy has always been to create a business model where I could make a nice living as a failure. Creating a business model where I make a nice living as a success is easy, but it ignores that 99.999% of all authors won’t be successes. So I have chosen the other road, and if something hits, great. In the meantime, I keep writing, and hoping that next month is just a little better than this one…

  8. Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 2:31 pm

    I tried naked ice dancing but I had a nasty accident. Did that ever happen to you?

    • Russell Blake  –  Sun 08th Apr 2012 at 9:19 pm

      I’d rather not talk about it. The horror is still too fresh.

  9. Fri 05th Feb 2016 at 6:03 pm

    Russell, the article about you on the front page of the Wall Street Journal is what inspired me to try self-publishing. I had queried over 50 agents and couldn’t get the time of day. Then I remembered that my traditionally-published non-fiction works (written under my birth name) took a year or more to get on sale. Self-publishing is limited only by my own willingness to plow full-speed ahead, damn the torpedos. Since then, I’ve self-published one short story (to get my feet wet) and four mysteries/thrillers. The fifth is at my editor right now. So far, the marketing sucks, but those fans that have contacted me all say they love my books and are reading all of them. So I shall plug ahead.


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