Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The worst and the best of best-seller Russell Blake

This week's guest post is from indie author Russell Blake, author of best-selling political thrillers as well as the illuminating, if not exactly helpful, How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated). You can find his blog at Russell Blake, Suspense Writer.

Scott asked me to add to his considerable collection of accounts from authors recounting the best and worst things they’ve done for themselves.

First, an introduction. My name’s Russell Blake, and I’m a writer. By year end, I’ll have 12 books out: 10 thrillers and 2 non-fiction. All of which I have released since late May.

The Worst
Let’s talk about the worst things, first. Probably the single worst thing I do is integral to my process, and I’m not talking about the binge tequila chugging sessions, although some might argue that’s not so good, either. Then again, they haven’t stumbled a mile in my shoes, so they can bite me, as can my critics. But I digress.

When I write, I immerse myself in my work-in-progress for 12 or more hours per day. It’s just what I do. I call it an OCD approach to novel creation. The reason it is the worst is obvious—sitting for that long is physically damaging: circulation is impaired over time, as are interpersonal relations, as well as any motivation to go to the gym. A whole year can blur by while your head’s in your books. It’s not a particularly healthy way to live. So my New Year’s resolution is to limit my time to eight hours a day, which should translate into 5,500 words a day, six days a week. I’ll even take Sundays off. That should put me at 90K a month, with time to polish for a week. So I think we can expect a few more books next year, even if life intrudes, as it inevitably does.

The best
The best thing I have done is to just do it. I debated self-publishing, or even writing in any sort of serious way, for years. The reasons were myriad. The chances of success were slim. It was thankless, and required considerable investment of time and money. Even though the ladies love the ink jockeys (and who wouldn’t, given that we mostly look like George Clooney after makeup), it would be a sacrifice. The good news was that I wouldn’t have to quit any of my bad habits, as they are practically de rigueur for being a writer. So there was a ray of sunshine there.

The very best thing I’ve done is to set aside a year to live dangerously, which in this case meant doing this for real. I’ve written numerous works, but scrapped them all, except for a few forgettable non-fiction opuses best left buried. But they were required in order to clock my hours—the infamous 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell refers to when discussing the time investment required to master something. I believe he’s right, because once you get there, it does become easier. That’s a lot of hours; literally years of time investment to make it. But there’s unfortunately no substitution for practice. Except for reading, which is also essential. How can you broaden your chops if you aren’t reading the work of other authors, and adopting the positives to better your own writing? Practice and exposure are the two biggies to improving your craft.

I wish there was a shortcut I could impart, but I don’t know any. If I had to give advice (other than the observation that the world’s not fair or forgiving, so just get over it already and move along with whatever you’re doing), it would be to commit to a certain number of hours per day to write, and then do it. And invest wisely in learning the rules of the road, so that you can be adept, even if you choose to ignore most of them some of the time. And of course, buy the work of indie authors whose writing interests you, early and often. Nothing self-serving about that (wink).

As a special promotion for readers of Scott’s blog, the first ten thousand customers are entitled to five minutes of free long distance Rikei healing for each of my books bought while this blog is live. No thanks are necessary. It will all come back to me in time, I’m sure. Now I have to go write some more. I’m already running behind...

Russell Blake is the bestselling author of the thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, the Zero Sum trilogy (Wall Street thrillers: Kotov Syndrome, Focal Point and Checkmate), King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, and The Delphi Chronicle trilogy (The Manuscript, The Tortoise and the Hare, and Phoenix Rising). Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel with Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related. Blake lives in Mexico, and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing.


  1. My gosh, you're funny, Russell Blake!

  2. Thanks for having me on and featuring me, Scott. And Elise. I thought you knew what a rib tickler I am. You should check out Gazillions. If you aren't laughing out loud after twenty minutes, I suck or you're blind (or just not very well developed in the humor department, which is fine - I'm not judging. Even though I clearly am, though. But I'll pretend I'm not. I digress).

  3. Eight hours a day! I don't even do things I like that long! (yes, this is borrowed from Rita Rudner's joke about childbirth). Thanks for sharing Russel!

  4. Wow, obviously you've got it going on. I'm doing my best to make a full three hours a day. Think I'll re-think that. Thanks for sharing! Love this blog Scott!

  5. I have just one word for you Russell. Piles.