Being a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, along with features about his work in major publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Times, are just a few of the accolades that have been bestowed upon Russell Blake. We carried out an exclusive interview with the man himself to learn about his background and his books. Russell also kindly shared some top advice for beginner writers, on just what it takes to truly succeed in the world of self-publishing. Read on to learn what the prolific Russell had to say.
Welcome to e-Books India, Russell. We are thrilled to have you join us for this interview! Please tell us about you. Where are you from? Please tell us about your professional experience and how you came about to become an author?
I’ve lived in Mexico now for almost fifteen years. Before that I started several companies in the U.S., and was fortunate enough to be able to retire south of the border relatively young. Once here, I started another business, this one architectural and home building, which I operated for a decade before deciding to try my hand at writing for my dinner, after reading about the self-publishing revolution and the success some authors were having with it. I started full time in mid-2011, and have put out over forty novels since. So far, so good.
What types of books do you write?
Action thrillers, for the most part, although I have a noir mystery series (BLACK) and a YA romance series under my R.E. Blake pseudonym, too. I’ve also tried my hand at bio-thrillers (Upon a Pale Horse), crime thrillers (Fatal Exchange, Silver Justice), and non-fiction, but action thrillers – my JET series, Assassin series – (think Bourne and Bond) are my main thing.
Your most recent book is entitled Emerald Buddha, which is the second instalment in your Drake Ramsey series. Can you please tell us a bit about this book?
I conceived of the Drake Ramsey series while co-authoring for the legendary Clive Cussler (The Eye of Heaven, and The Solomon Curse). I realized as I dug into the genre that there were no new voices, or none I found particularly compelling. So I came up with the idea of a reluctant treasure hunter, forced into the game by circumstance, with an entourage of interesting characters. Ramsey’s Gold was the first instalment, Emerald Buddha the second. For the cinematic equivalent, think Raiders of the Lost Ark, and you’d be pretty close.
Out of all the books you’ve written, is there one you really enjoyed writing in particular? If so, can you please tell us what was special about this book?
I was thinking about that the other day. Two really stick out in my mind: JET, and the fifth tome in the Assassin series, Blood of the Assassin. JET, because it was just sheer fun to write, and Blood, because it felt like I really hit my stride as a mature author with that one – it has a lot of elements I like quite a bit. It’s actually hard to pick, because I also love Fatal Exchange, my first published work, and The Geronimo Breach, my second, because they were so different than anything I’d read. I enjoyed the challenge of creating something completely new, where there was no formula, no pre-determined structure, just a hell of a story and no set way I’d decided to tell it.
Are you working on any other books(s)? If so, can you please tell us what we can expect from you in the future?
I have another instalment in the BLACK series, BLACK In The Box, releasing end of Oct, Rage of the Assassin, the final volume in the Assassin series, releasing in November, and JET – Incarceration, the tenth instalment in that series, releasing in December. Next year, I plan to pen five or six novels, down from my usual nine or ten, mostly in the Ramsey and JET series.
From your experiences as a published author, could you please share 2-3 important lessons you’ve learnt to help beginner authors who dream of seeing their work out there for the world to see?
1) Read a ton of quality work in the genre you plan to mine for your living, and be very clear on what genre it is. You need to understand the genre conventions and expectations/norms, or you’ll have a hard time with readers. If possible, write to a very specific subset of the genre when you’re starting out, thereby making it easy to target your readership effectively.
2) Understand that content creation (writing) and self-publishing (editing, formatting, packaging, promotions) are two different disciplines that require different skills, and that if you want to maximize your chances of success, you need to invest time in getting good at both. Being a brilliant writer won’t help you a bit with operating a publishing company, and being a good business person/entrepreneur won’t enable you to write compelling books. So you need to do both, master your crafts, and work your ass off.
3) Write a series, and publish frequently. In today’s market, right or wrong, victory goes to those with a series that develops a readership, not stand-alone titles, and those who can publish with clock like regularity. As an example, for four years, I have been averaging a new novel every five to six weeks. I don’t do that because I don’t enjoy a vacation now and again, I do it because it maximizes my chances of being seen any given month. While that may not be practical for most, it’s what many are doing, so that’s the market, whether one likes it or not. Recognize that it’s very long odds of making it in any of the arts, and writing is no different. If your edge is your ability to create quality content and publish it frequently, leverage that, because this is a business of exceptions, and to be successful you need to figure out how you are going to be an exception that makes it.
How can people find out more about you?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/hv1.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Hiten Vyas is the Founder and Managing Editor of eBooks India. He is also a prolific eBook writer with over 25 titles to his name.[/author_info] [/author]