Episode # 39 – Kindle Publishing is an Entrepreneurial Venture with Russell Blake

In Uncategorized by Julius S32 Comments

Russel Blake cover

It was a real pleasure to be able to talk to Russell Blake this week. We talk about treating Kindle publishing as a business and how much this helped him when he was just starting out, and how it helps him shape the future decisions he makes about his writing career. We also touch on his production process and how he writes so much so quickly.

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Links:

JET

Amazon Profile

Website

Mentions:

John Locke

Amanda Hocking

10,000 hours – Popularised by Malcolm Gladwell

James Lee Burke – Russell’s example of an author who constantly raises the bar in the genre

BookBub – One of the few marketing channels that have been effective consistently over the last year.

Melissa Foster – Author who Russell Blake will be co-authoring a book with in the summer.

Show notes:

Russell retired early and moved to Mexico, without too much intellectual stimulation he decided to do something else. He heard about the success people were having with Kindle publishing and realized that he could make money writing, which was something he had enjoyed doing for a while.

10,000 Hours

Russell says that he clocked his 10,000 hours of practice well before he published anything. For more info on 10,000 hours check out Malcolm Gladwell’s outliers (a book I would also personally recommend).

Book Business

Russell sees Kindle Publishing, not as a ‘writing career’ but as a ‘book business.’ He is very careful to separate the two, seeing writing as art and business as necessary. Russell has been in many different businesses before and says that writing is by far the hardest to make money in.

June 2011 was when he started and by January 2012 he was in the black. He was spending between $1000 and $2000 dollars per book and was $15-20k in the red before he started seeing a return. He looked at it as a business investment and expected to sink money into it at the start. To get the money back within 8 months was a big win, he expected to see a return with 12-18 months, as he would expect with any restaurant.

Not expecting to be successful for this amount of time made it easier as he wasn’t put off when Kindle publishing didn’t start making money immediately.

Fast Moving

Russell believes that in this market being a fast mover is a big advantage. Putting in long days and just doing writing is going to move you much faster and increase your chances of success. Russell says that the authors he knows who are making a lot of money Kindle publishing are working really hard. Regular listeners of the show will know this to be the case.

Market

Russell estimated the size of the market, realised he was happy only getting a small percentage of it to read his book. That meant that he didn’t have to pander to the whole market, just the small percentage that he wanted to write for – essentially not the “airport crowd.”

Genre

Stick with a genre because the chances are your readers won’t follow you elsewhere. Russell experimented with different genres and quickly found that he should stick to one.

Marketing

Russell says that most paid for marketing is a bit of a waste of time. He only pursues marketing that will make a direct return – he has no interest in “creating visibility.” It is also important to bear in mind that the market is always changing and something that worked this month is not going to work next month. The only things that have been really consistently effective for Russell’s Kindle publishing has been perma-free and BookBub. He has found the perma-free is less effective than it used to be, but largely put this down to the fact that he now has a huge number of free books floating around out there, and says “if I already have 2 million free books out there, is another million really going to make a difference?”

Process

Russell does three drafts of the book and then it goes off to his built up team of editors and proof readers and the book will come back finished and ready to go. He does look at all of the changes that they return, but he approved 90-95% of the changes that the editor makes. This established team makes producing a lot of work easier. By the time the book comes back Russell thinks “I wrote that!?”

Traditional Publishing

Russell is about to co-author a book with Clive Cussler and he says that at that level of book sales, there are things that a traditional publisher can do for you that you can’t do yourself being self-published. He doesn’t see the self-published/traditional thing as adversarial – if in the future going traditionally published makes business sense, he will do it, he is not completely tied to Kindle publishing.

QUOTES

“I bore easily”

“If you aren’t prepared to put at least 3 years of your life into it, it probably isn’t going to go”

“You can drag luck, kicking and screaming, to your door … you can create your own lucky breaks”

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Leave a comment below or get in touch with Simon by email at simon@rockingselfpublishing.com

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Julius SEpisode # 39 – Kindle Publishing is an Entrepreneurial Venture with Russell Blake
  • jumper297

    Love Russell Blake… This was another great interview on this show that I feel is quickly becoming THE best indie publishing podcast out now.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Jumper, really glad you’re enjoying the show 🙂

  • What a tremendous interview–I enjoyed Russel’s appearance on SPP immensely, and this was just as good. Keep up the good work, Simon!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Cate – I think perhaps you meant Russell appearing on Self Publishing Roundtable? I don’t think he has been on SPP yet.

      Link here for those interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DVPj8HA7Epk

      (Great interview)

      • SimonRSP

        Wow, okay apparently an embedded video… I didn’t even know my own site did that!

      • You’re absolutely right, Simon–I meant SPR, not SPP. (Mercy, it’s a veritable game of musical podcasts round here, isn’t it?) And it WAS a great interview.

  • Alexis Ayres

    Wonderful. I agree with Jumper. The format of this show is this best.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks!

  • Alexis Ayres

    Wonderful! I agree with Jumper. This is the best indie publishing podcast I’ve listened to thus far.

    • SimonRSP

      Lots of agreement with Jumper ;). Thanks Alexis, so glad you’re enjoying the show!

  • Simon, you continue to blow me away with your wonderful show and extensive links/show notes each week. You’re awesome, man!

    Also, thanks for mentioning the special deal for Scrivener. My trial was running out and I’m so happy to have saved so much. I paused your show and ran to my computer to buy it right away!

    Great interview, as always. I love Blake’s take of Self Publishing. I plan to have over 40 titles out this year, so he’s definitely a model to follow in my book. I also loved how Blake didn’t expect return on his investment right away. It’s good to set goals and think long term.

    • SimonRSP

      Hahaha, thanks JP, I do sometimes wonder if anyone comes and actually reads the show notes… I’m glad at least someone is using them ;).

      40 titles! Nice target! And yes, Blake’s perspective on playing the long game is great. I think in a lot of ventures (not just writing) people expect a quick return and when that doesn’t happen they’ll get disheartened and give up. Very few authors I’ve interviewed saw success right out of the gate. If you expect to spend some time, invest some money, and not get rich quick, self publishing is a much more realistic career.

  • R.M. Prioleau

    Mind-blowing interview!! Russell is such an awesome guy. I’m so glad you were able to have him on! i’m really loving these interviews in which authors have been revealing their secrets to success 🙂 Thank you so much, Simon for making me always look forward to Thursdays! 🙂

    • SimonRSP

      Thursday just isn’t quite Friday, but hopefully made a little better with RSP right? 😉

      Russell’s secret to success: Work really really hard. 😛

  • Russell Blake

    Thanks for having me on, mate. I hope I didn’t tarnish your sterling reputation too much. If so, hey, you’re entitled to a full refund!

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks Russell, it was a real pleasure to have you on. No refund required 😉

      • Russell Blake

        I note you were able to delete the Tourette’s-like obscenity that peppered the discussion. For that the kids are thankful, I’m sure.

        • SimonRSP

          Before the edit it clocked in at 4 hours 12 minutes.

  • Rick Chesler

    Good show!

    • SimonRSP

      Cheers Rick!

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  • cinisajoy

    Fantastic interview. I think everyone that wants to publish a book should listen to this podcast.

    • SimonRSP

      😀 thanks

  • Jim Cogan

    Hi – Still not able to pick up this episode on my smartphone, is there a problem with the RSS feed?

    • SimonRSP

      Hi Jim – just dropped you an email. Let’s try and get this sorted out :).

      If anyone here is having a similar issue, feel free to chime in!

  • disqus_IEdgLGcTVF

    Russell Blake is so smart. He blows me away. There is a lot to digest here. Excellent Interview! This IS the best podcast for authors.

    • SimonRSP

      Thanks a lot! There’ll be a transcript of this episode coming soon so that should make it a even easier to extract Russell’s wisdom from 🙂

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  • Great interview. Really enjoyed the work ethic Russell has; it inspires me to quit whining and just get the writing done. Best takeaways:
    – Marketing your books by writing great books & content instead of doing all the “fake” social media auto-responses and interaction.
    – Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately take off & make money. Keep writing anyway!
    – The importance of having your own team in place (I already have some VAs I can use!).

    Favorite quote: “Mistaking action for effective action is better than nothing” (39:02).

    Thanks for sharing.

    P.S. Found you via Joanna Penn’s website at The Creative Penn.