Russell Blake’s Secret To Success: Never Stop Writing and Always Avoid Clowns

Russell BlakeRussell Blake is the USA Today bestselling author of twenty-eight novels. He’s sold over 650,000 copies of his work in less than 3 years and recently co-authored the action/adventure novel The Eye of Heaven with legendary author Clive Cussler.

He also authored the non-fiction international bestseller An Angel With Fur and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related.

Blake’s novel King of Swords has been translated into German by Amazon Crossing, and his JET novel into Spanish by Reprobatio.

Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, tequila and writing, and is rumored to hate clowns.

The Russell Blake Interview

Scroll down for a complete transcript of the interview or click the Play button below to listen to the interview now. And don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you thought of this interview!

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Russell Blake Transcript

Tim Knox: Hi and welcome back in to Interviewing Authors. Another great show for you today – Russell Blake is on the program. Now Russell is probably one of the more prolific authors that I’ve had the pleasure to interview. According to him he writes a new book every 4-6 weeks and I don’t think he’s exaggerating because if you look at his track record, he’s been publishing less than three years; he’s already authored 28 novels, sold over 650,000 copies of his work, truly prolific.

I enjoyed this interview immensely. Russell is one of those guys – you just ask a question and get out of his way and just don’t interrupt him and the good information flows.

Russell talks a lot about self-publishing, publishing using the Amazon platform. He also talks about what we call the lack of literacy in this country, the IQ of the reader and how some authors sometimes tend to dumb their books down to try to match the second grade reading level of a lot of readers.

So, a good interview with Russell Blake, bestselling author of 28 novels on today’s Interviewing Authors.

Tim Knox: Russell Blake, welcome to the program.

Russell Blake: Well thanks for having me.

Tim Knox: How are things in sunny Mexico today?

Russell Blake: You know, the water is blue, it is about 87 degrees outside and the beer is cold. I can’t complain.

Tim Knox: You got everything you could possibly need.

Russell Blake: Those are the big three, the trifecta.

Tim Knox: Exactly. Before we get into the interview give us a little background on you.

Russell Blake: Oh okay, I am an action-adventure thriller author. I have at current count I want to say 29 books out. I’ve been self-publishing since June of 2011 and this year saw a flurry of activity on my part. I was on the front page above the fold in the Wall Street Journal on I think it was January 7th and the Times UK and the Chicago Tribune discussing how prolific I am and my co-authoring deal with the action-adventure legend, Clive Cussler. I’ve got a book coming out that I co-authored with him. It will be out September 2nd with Putnam. So that’s the elevator.

Tim Knox: We’re going to get into a variety of things. One of the questions of course is how you’ve sold so many books in the last few years but before we do that I wanted to talk about one thing. I was on your blog reading around and I saw something that really struck me. It’s something that I agree with strongly and I thought we’d spend a couple minutes just talking about that. You’ve got a great blog post there where you talk about the difference between modern day readers and readers of say 20 or 30 years ago. I think you pointed out and rightfully so that literacy is kind of going to the dogs, if you will.

Russell Blake: Yeah and I would say that more to the point, I think there’s this natural, you know, the crotchety old man effect – “Those kids don’t know anything.” There’s that effect but more than that if you just go back and empirically look at the… I read action-adventure thriller so it’s always interesting to open up the books that were popular say in the ‘70s and the ‘80s for just a snapshot of what grade level they were written to. It’s pretty ugly. It really is. Things aren’t going in a particularly positive direction. I don’t know what you do about that as an author other than sort of writing what you yourself prefer reading. I don’t think a smart author can write stupid. Perhaps they can but I don’t think it’s very convincing just as a not particularly bright author can’t write smart. You have to write at a level that you’re comfortable with. It does seem to me that the state of prose is more monosyllabic than ever before. You just look at word choice, vocabulary, syntax. All of those things I’d guestimate second grade level.

Tim Knox: What do you attribute that to? Is it just the 140 character society we live in now?

Russell Blake: No because I think it started happening… I attribute it more to the educational system frankly. I think as there’s been this politically correct bent to try to minimalize student discomfort with being an underachiever, they sort of lowered the bar for everyone rather than figuring out ways to raise the bar for the few that are struggling. That’s resulted in students just not learning as much. I think what we’re seeing in terms of core disciplines like remedial reading and writing, and I think what’s happening now is you’re seeing a second and third generation of students who really didn’t learn to read or write particularly well teaching their children basically the same disdain that they have for the written word. They just never learned to love it so they were watching TV or playing video games and now they’ve got their kid and of course their kid’s going to model them.

The reason that I tend to come down on it as being important is because when you look at it, I guess not to be political but a society that isn’t literate doesn’t make particularly good choices.

Tim Knox: That’s where we’re heading I think.

Russell Blake: Oh, heading? Oh we’re on the bus. We’re on the bus and we’re about halfway off the cliff. No, I’d say that a society’s ability to reason, to create logical frames to references and to parse arguments… I know this will shock you, Tim. Apparently people lie and apparently they do so early and often and especially if they’re in the political arena they’ve been known to tell a tall tale or two. The problem is if you don’t have a literate population, it’s pretty easy to bamboozle them. You get a society that’s just not making good decisions because it doesn’t understand how to tell the difference between BS and truth. Both look equivalent to it because without rhetoric, without the ability to learn the rules of logic and reason and skepticism via the written word, because that’s generally how that’s imparted, those skills are completely absent and then you wind up with a society that basically just believes anything it hears in a 60 second sound bite. The problem with that is you can’t explain complex, nuanced ideas in 45-60 seconds in a way that the average grocery clerk would grasp.

Tim Knox: Exactly and I think one of the points you make is as authors we have to be keenly aware of that. Do you think some authors dumb it down for the audience?

Russell Blake: Absolutely. I know plenty of authors that dumb it down and their reasoning is very simple. It’s like, look, I’m going to write what sells. If I write over peoples’ heads I won’t sell as many books so I want to write what sells. I’m fine with that, no problem. I think it’s important as an author for you to kind of, it’s to kind of create a yellow brick road for yourself and ask yourself, boy, if I could be successful how successful would I need to be and what kind of writing would I like to do in order to become that successful? Personally I don’t need or want to sell 10 million books at a time so I don’t need to worry about what the lowest common denominator… I don’t need to write glittery vampires. I just don’t need to do that. I guess I’m very comfortable at being a mediocre talent rather than aspiring for a 10 million blockbuster that comes out of nowhere. I think that the tendency when people look at the bestsellers… people aren’t stupid. Certainly authors aren’t and they look at it and they go, well, most of these books are written at second and third grade level. I should be writing at that level too.

Tim Knox: So there is no vampire trilogy coming out of Russell Blake anytime soon.

Russell Blake: Never say never. It’s a question of front money really. I could really warm up to the entire genre.

Tim Knox: Right. Let’s talk about your background a little bit more because you really have been quite prolific the past few years. When did you really start writing? When did you know you were going to be a writer?

Russell Blake: Well I didn’t actually know. It came about haphazardly. I’ve been writing for 10-15 years just for sole amusement and for creating things like sales brochures, manuals, that sort of thing, technical writing. I wrote fiction for my own basically pleasure in the evenings when I had nothing to do. That was probably a decade ago that I really started doing that. I threw most of my early work away because it sucked and I wasn’t interested in inflicting it on the world. I think the world can be grateful for that. I read it and it wasn’t particularly good. To answer your question, I really thought that becoming a writer would be viable and what I mean by viable is you could make money at it and not spend 5-10 years trying to court an agent and then trying to court someone in New York that might feel that your work fits into a slot that they want to market this year. When Amazon came out with their Kindle and sort of disintermediated the entire supply chain and obviated the need for a publisher and an agent, I sort of looked at the numbers and went yeah this could be the basis of at least a nice cottage industry. It changed the economics for me from putting in thousands of hours in order to hopefully get a lottery ticket to putting in thousands of hours and being able to make a decent living.

Tim Knox: Do you remember the first thing that you wrote that you thought was good enough to sell?

Russell Blake: Oh boy, I would say the first book that I released, which was Fatal Exchange in June of 2011. That was the one where I kind of went, hmm; I think that might be a decent book.

Tim Knox: What attracted you to that thriller suspense type?

Russell Blake: It’s what I’ve always read when I’m not reading non-fiction. I read a lot of non-fiction but when I read fiction I tend to gravitate towards what I guess they call men’s fiction these days. My chromosomes are sort of like I’m a man so I read man’s fiction. I grew up reading guys like Cussler and Ludlum and Forsyth so I think naturally, you know, write what you know. It was easy for me when I sat down. I actually had just gotten off of a Grisham kick. I had read four or five Grisham books before I wrote Fatal Exchange and I was kind of like wouldn’t it be interesting to have a psychological thriller that has two discreet plotlines that seem completely unrelated and then dovetail and suddenly make perfect sense. So I hadn’t seen that done before and I wanted to try my hand at it and the rest is history.

Tim Knox: So June 2011 is when Fatal Exchange came out. Did you put it on Kindle?

Russell Blake: Yeah.

Tim Knox: What was the process there? When you put the book up how did you build an audience and start getting sales?

Russell Blake: You know, I didn’t. That was my experience. I put it up and I had heard all the stories from John Locke and Amanda Hawking and everything else that you have to have a Twitter account and you have to have Facebook and you have to do all of this social media and people were throwing social media around like it was the anecdote. I was like, okay, I got to do a bunch of that so I spent 4-5 hours a day tweeting and Facebooking and all that and I really didn’t see many sales. I mean the sales that did happen fortunately the social media made it easy for me to interact with readers and get timely feedback and get a sense of whether they liked it or not but I’m not sure that it really did much for me from a sales standpoint. So I decided my business strategy was to essentially write as though people were offering me million dollar contracts for each of my next books. That motivated me to put out basically a book every 4 or 5 weeks from June through about January of 2012. By the time I started to see any real traction at month number seven I want to say – it was probably January or February of 2012 – I already had 10 books out. It became easy when one got a little bit of traction to be able to… suddenly people would go back and read my backlist and go, wow, some of this doesn’t suck.

Tim Knox: I’ve had several authors tell me the same thing. They plowed through and kept writing and writing and writing and finally when someone picked up their 5th, 6th, 7th book and they had the backlist that that’s when it really started to build.

Russell Blake: Right and I think that’s what gets lost on a lot of beginning authors is that you don’t know which book is going to be the one that resonates with readers and finds the audience. You just don’t. I caution folks that I know that are just starting out not to expect success anytime soon. However, write as though each book was the only book that anyone would ever read. Just pretend Random House is going to hand out a seven figure deal to someone and you’re in the running but there’s only one book that they could read. If you approach each book that way and you take it that seriously and you show that much respect for your readers that you put that kind of time and attention into your work, you’re going to make sure that every single book is as good as it can possibly be. I think ultimately that is a long term success differentiator I see in most of my friends that are making a decent amount of money at this.

Tim Knox: You are actually churning out a book every 4-6 weeks.

Russell Blake: Yeah, I’ve got 29 books out and I’ve been doing this for 35 months.

Tim Knox: Were you really impressed with yourself? That’s pretty damn good.

Russell Blake: I mean I liken it to being double jointed. If you’ve ever known somebody to be double-jointed they do that thing with their thumbs where it kind of goes backwards and you’re like, “uh!” You kind of pucker up and wince a little bit when you see them do it. It seems really strange to you because you’re not double-jointed. If you’re double-jointed you’re just like it’s easy; I just do this. For whatever reason, it’s easy for me to sit down and commit to 12 hours a day of high productivity writing time. I don’t know why I work that way. I don’t encourage others to work that way. I think it’s unique to each writer but when I write I have to start at 7-8 in the morning and go until 10 or 11 o’clock at night.

Tim Knox: So you do that how many days a week?

Russell Blake: Seven days a week.

Tim Knox: There goes the question about when you write and how often you write.

Russell Blake: When am I not?

Tim Knox: When you’re awake you’re writing.

Russell Blake: But that’s just my approach. I come from a background of entrepreneurship and I guess anytime you start a new business you just have to be prepared to put in three years of 18 hour days before you really expect to see it turn the corner and become profitable. If you start whatever it is – a restaurant, a high tech firm, an accounting firm, whatever. It’s going to require a tremendous amount of work on the front end and if you aren’t prepared to put that kind of work in you’re going to be seriously hampered in terms of competing with people who are willing to put in that time.

Tim Knox: Right and do you think most new authors miss that point?

Russell Blake: Absolutely. I think there’s still alive and well that sort of traditional published dream where you work an hour a night after work and you give birth to this manuscript two years later and somebody in New York goes, “Oh my God, this is brilliant!” and then makes you a star. Everyone loves that story and it’s wonderful when you hear it but all you have to do is just look at the bestseller list. There’s 20 or 25 authors that make serious money of the trad-pub authors and then the rest of them just aren’t doing so great. That represents such a .01%. I compare being an indie published author to being a kid on the playground playing basketball, shooting hoops. There’s hundreds, thousands, millions of kids on the basketball courts throwing basketballs around but only a very, very, very, very small number of them actually make it into the NBA.

Tim Knox: You’ve independently published all of your books. Have you been approached now with your success by publishers?

Russell Blake: No I’ve been very fortunate. I just had a book, actually two books picked up – one by Amazon, just translated it into German, which is King of Swords. It’s actually selling really well. They just released it about two weeks ago and it was in the top 100 in Germany for… it may still be; I don’t know. I don’t check. I just had somebody in Bulgaria pick up The Voynich Cypher so I’m getting a lot of interest in the foreign rights. Domestically it’s a tough nut to crack because traditional publishers… I don’t think most authors understand how traditional publishers view readers and segment them. If I could spend 60 seconds telling you how I believe it works it will make things a lot easier for beginning authors to figure out who their audience is and how to make money at this.

Traditional publishers, as far as I can tell, look for the occasional reader. When I say the occasional reader that’s somebody who picks up a book once a month and because they only read once a month they aren’t particularly price sensitive. It doesn’t really matter to them whether the eBook is $15 or $13.99 or $9.99. It doesn’t matter because they’re only buying one a month. If you only bought one cup of coffee a month or one margarita a month, you wouldn’t care how much the margarita was within reason because you only buy one a month, fine. That’s the occasional reader. That’s who traditional publishing targets because they aren’t price sensitive.

The other market that exists that we’re seeing as indies is what I call the veracious reader and the veracious reader, traditional publishing really can’t service for a whole host of reasons but the main one is price. Veracious readers you see in romance, in sci-fi. Veracious readers will read 50-350 books a year. They’re reading one a day. They’re reading one every three days. The price of a book to them matters because they’re spending so much of their income on it. Those readers are the readers that we as indies can really target because we have a price advantage and we can also write to underserved genres like sci-fi. When you look at sci-fi and you look at the number of indie authors compared to trad-pub authors in the top 100 or the top 1,000, it’s about 50% indie. The reason for that is the traditional publishers don’t really service the readers who in sci-fi tend to be men, fairly well educated, fairly intelligent who read fairly veraciously. So they just aren’t an audience that tad-pubs are after. Trad-pubs want people who read 10-12 books a year and are willing to pay $15-18 for the book. They’re looking for what I call the fad reader who reads one or two books a year and it’s always the book everybody else is reading because they also aren’t price sensitive. If you look at traditional publishers, they need people to pay $15 a book and they need 10 million people to buy that book.

Tim Knox: Do you think they’ll ever change that model?

Russell Blake: I don’t think that they can because of the economics of their infrastructure. I mean they’re usually based in New York. They usually have a large staff that has nothing to do with writing. There’s a lot of overhead, a lot of acquisitions editors. There’s just a lot of overhead that has nothing whatsoever to do with creating the work, writing the book or reaching the readers. So no, I think their model is very much like the old record companies used to be where you signed 100 acts, you put them each into the recording studio for 75 grand; they all did their record and then you shotgunned them out there and the first two that really started taking off, that’s where you put all your effort and the other 98 died.

Tim Knox: Exactly and we know where the record companies are now.

Russell Blake: Well it’s a model that works until it doesn’t.

Tim Knox: Let’s talk about your work a little bit. One thing I found very interesting is you have a series under the title of JET and the heroine there is a female Mossad agent who I think becomes an assassin. I think the obvious question is…

Russell Blake: It’s such an ugly word.

Tim Knox: I kind of like the word assassin myself.

Russell Blake: A covert op.

Tim Knox: Why a female lead and why a Mossad?

Russell Blake: Well let’s tackle it backwards. Why a Mossad? It’s because CIA has been played to death and so I was looking around and KGB – it’s difficult for an American audience to warm up to a KGB agent that’s a protagonist. So I was just looking for an intelligence service that had a reputation for being ass kickers, for lack of a better word, and for whom the American public really didn’t know that much about. That gives you complete license to just invent anything you want. Why a heroine? I kind of got the idea from watching stuff like Kill Bill, Tarantino’s film. It was great. La Femme Nikita, Salt, all that stuff. I was thinking why hasn’t there been a female protagonist that for whom there is no excuses being made? Somebody who can just take names and can bring the pain and just the tension continues to build over and over and over until she’s subjected to so much damage that no human being could tolerate it and then emerges victorious. That was the idea. I wanted the equivalent of a Jack Reacher on steroids but female.

Tim Knox: Do you think the audience, especially men… they’re obviously okay with that because you’re selling a ton of books.

Russell Blake: Well yeah and it’s interesting because I didn’t know how it would go down frankly but that’s kind of how it popped into my head. I was on a hike. I was hiking up in the hills and this idea popped into my head. The name popped in before anything. It was just JET and I had this sort of Kanji script in mind for the cover and then I went, yeah, it’s got to be a female operative and that’s really as far as I took it until I sat down and outlined it. What’s been interesting is looking at the breakdown of readers; I’d say it’s got to be about 50/50 female to male for that series. So it’s been very well accepted by both sexes so big win there.

Tim Knox: Let’s talk about your co-author deal with Clive Cussler. How did that come about?

Russell Blake: You know, I was looking around at the end of 2012; I saw a limitation and it’s a limitation specific to my genre. Men’s fiction tends to sell well in hardcopy in airports, so paperback books. I’m getting on a plane. This is the one book a month I’m going to read and is from L.A. to New York. In other words, these people probably don’t really own Kindles and they’re not scanning Amazon for the latest greatest indie authors. I realized there was a barrier in my genre to reaching the large audience that actually is interested in the kind of work tha ti produce. I started looking around at ways to bridge that and I came up with the idea of co-authoring with somebody who already had a substantial presence and it would have to be obviously a traditionally published author and it would have to be published traditionally because the whole idea is to get it into airports.

So I came up with a very short list of authors who I thought were a good fit and who sold well in airports and were doing co-authoring. The first name on the list was Clive Cussler. I sent his agent a cordial sort of query along with some samples of my work and some of my sales figures. He’s a very erudite guy who’s been in the business. He’s forgotten more about the business than I’ll ever know. We went back and forth for about six months and I sent more and more and more of my work as they requested and then one day I got the call to fly up to the US and hang out with Clive for three days.

Tim Knox: That must have been a margarita night when you got that call.

Russell Blake: Trust me, there was more than one consumed. It was great. It was like everything you would imagine. I got very fortunate in that respect because there was one of the co-authoring gigs that he was looking for a change in voice and obviously my voice resonated with him and hats off to both him and the agent for not really caring whether I was traditionally published or indie. They were concerned with the work. They weren’t really concerned with whose name was on the spine.

Tim Knox: How old is Cussler now?

Russell Blake: He’s got to be 82.

Tim Knox: Still sharp?

Russell Blake: Oh yeah. He’s very involved in every stage of the book. It’s not like, okay, have a nice day. Let me know when you’re done. He’s carrying the heavy end of his log as am I. It was very interesting. I learned a lot.

Tim Knox: Very good. You’ve written 28 novels. You’ve got a couple non-fiction works there.

Russell Blake: Yeah, I got a couple of non-fictions that I did early on but most of them are novels and most of them are either action-adventure, thriller or mystery.

Tim Knox: Do you have a favorite?

Russell Blake: Boy that changes depending on who’s asking, depending on the reader’s taste really. I still love Fatal Exchange, my first book. I love The Geronimo Beach, which was the second book I ever came out with and some would argue my best work. I really enjoy writing the JET stuff because it’s not particularly realistic. It’s over the top and it’s designed to be Ian Fleming James Bond sort of over the top, bombastic fun. It’s very freeing because I don’t have to worry about, oh, is it realistic that a woman’s upper body strength can do this? I like them all. I like the Black which is a very scathingly sort of funny satire or parody I would say. It’s a fond tip of the hat to the old noir novels, Elmore Leonard and guys like that. If you’re into that you should definitely check out Black because you would like it.

Tim Knox: I think you bring a lot of humor to your work. It’s not all blood and guts and shoot ‘em up.

Russell Blake: I try to. I just view everything in life as pretty funny, fundamentally absurd and funny so sure. Look, nobody gets out of this alive so you might as well enjoy it, right? I try to impart that into my work and I think it naturally seeps through. I don’t like reading stuff that is just dry. I want a sense of who the author is at least in the sense of some of their personality. I don’t want to be preached at and I certainly don’t want to have a feeling just like there’s 25 pages of exposition but I do want to get a feel for the author. By the way, that’s one of the things you asked about the ‘what’s changed in fiction in the last 40 years’. You see a lot more of the author’s voice in the older books. In other words, they weren’t so homogenized. They weren’t so vanilla. I think that’s getting lost too.

Tim Knox: I mentioned Mickey Spillane books. He was an actor. He started playing himself on TV for a while. He was playing Mike Hammer and it was just amazing to watch. Here’s the guy who wrote Mike Hammer and now he’s playing Mike Hammer. He’s not really an actor but who’s going to tell him no?

Russell Blake: Yeah and who’s going to do it better?

Tim Knox: I think one of my favorite titles that you have is How to Sell a Gazillion eBooks In No Time (Even if Drunk, High or Incarcerated).

Russell Blake: Yeah really that should be burned at the stake. I wrote that over the long 4th of July weekend in 2011 and it was a knee jerk response to all the get rich quick self-help books that were hitting market about how you were going to write a couple books and become a multi-millionaire. I read these books and I was like this is BS. I can’t believe anybody’s doing this. I just thought it would be very funny to write a scathingly bitter, black humor parody of every self-help and writing how-to book ever written. What spewed forth after a week was that book and it is vicious. I do recommend that authors read it because there’s so much truth. What makes it funny is the amount of truth that’s in the jokes.

Tim Knox: That’s what I was going to say. It’s vicious but it is very honest. I think that if you’re an author that’s your job, right? An author is basically somebody who’s trying to inflict their worldview on readers. That’s what they’re doing. They’ve got this view of the world. They believe that they can put it down in written form and it will be either interesting or compelling or worth reading and hopefully they get an audience and people read it. What it comes down to is they’re trying to inflict their worldview on readers. That book inflicts my inner-narrative, which is not a pretty picture.

Tim Knox: Kind of a smart ass but it’s good.

Russell Blake: Yeah, if you like films like Team America or Ted, that book is for you. If you’re offended by those then don’t pick it up.

Tim Knox: What’s in store for you now? Rumor has it you may even write a romance novel.

Russell Blake: Yeah I’m going to be co-authoring at least a series with a very good friend of mine, Melissa Foster, who is probably the hardest working author I know besides myself. She puts in the same kinds of hours – 12, 14 hour days. She’s been putting out a book a month since she started her romance career a year ago and she’s selling just gazillions of books, I mean huge numbers. She debuts in the top 300, top 400 and then will hit in the top 50 on Amazon and we’re talking about thousands and thousands and thousands of one title per month. She’s got I want to say a dozen now. I decided to co-author with her. I actually coaxed her into, tricked her into it would be better. She lost a bet. We’re going to do a co-authored romance series set in South America, in Argentina.

Tim Knox: Interesting. How did you end up in Mexico?

Russell Blake: Well.

Tim Knox: Were you asked to leave the States?

Russell Blake: It’s those restraining orders. The whole 100 yards from the school thing really cramps into your ice cream truck business. No, I retired 11 and a half years ago, almost 12 years ago and I was looking for something different. I used to go to Mexico three, four times a year because I loved it and I decided to try it for a month and if I thought it was worth staying for two months, maybe stay for two. I did that 11 and a half, 12 years ago and I’ve never really left since then.

Tim Knox: What did you retire from?

Russell Blake: I had an import/export business and I was fortunate enough to be able to sell it so I got out with some cash. When I got down here I got bored after about a I did that 11 and a half, 12 years ago and I’ve never really left since then.

Tim Knox: What did you retire from?

Russell Blake: I had an import/export business and I was fortunate enough to be able to sell it so I got out with some cash. When I got down here I got bored after about a year and I started designing and building custom homes. So I did that down here for about six years, seven years and big homes, 7,000-8,000 square feet on the beach type of mansions. So I did that and I got out of that about a year before I started the book business. The problem with retiring if you have a reasonable intellect is that after about six months of starting at your navel you’re out of ideas so you get bored. You start going, well, I could do that better and then out of that I could do that better. You wind up starting a company and that’s what I did.

Tim Knox: Interesting. We’ve got a couple minutes left and I want to talk a little bit about your website because I really enjoyed it. You do a lot of interviewing over there as well. Do you prefer to interview or be interviewed?

Russell Blake: You know I prefer actually interviewing people because I’m more interested. I know what I’m going to say so I know what my views are but I’m very interested in hearing how other people who are doing it well do it, what their process is, how they commit, what their mental energy is like, what their process is, what their work environment is like, how they approach mentally and physically the process. It’s a horrible business from the standpoint of physical health because you’re generally sedentary so, you know, if you’re going to sit around for 10-12 hours a day you’re going to be buried in a piano crate at the age of 60 because you’re not going to get much exercise. I’m just interested in how people balance all of these dynamics and make the business difficult. I’m very interested in hearing how they perceive things, what their perception is of the business. What unique perception do they have that has allowed them to get to the point where they’re this successful? That’s usually how I go into my interviews. I think they’re interesting for that reason. It’s fascinating to hear somebody who’s done it the hard way and hear how their brain meshes.

Tim Knox: That’s really why I started this show because you would hear, okay, he went from selling books out of the trunk of his car to being a bestselling author. What the hell happened in between? There’s so many stories that weren’t being told and I’m just nosy and that’s why I started this show.

Russell Blake: Well also what’s interesting is as you interview more, and I’m sure you’ve already seen this, is this is a business of exceptions. There’s not two stories that are similar. Everybody’s story is different than everybody else’s. Hugh Howey’s story is different than Colleen Hoover’s. Colleen’s is different than Holly Ward’s. Holly’s is different than mine. Everybody’s story is different and I think that’s something that authors lose sight of. Everybody’s after the, oh, if I do this and this and this then I’ll be successful but if you look at the people who have been successful, every single one of them is an exception to the rule, every one.

Tim Knox: Russell Blake, the prolific author – you’ve sold over 650,000 copies of your work since June 2011. What’s your website, Russell?

Russell Blake: It’s RussellBlake.com.

Tim Knox: And you are quite prolific on Twitter?

Russell Blake: You know I used to be but now anymore. I’m more on Facebook now. Twitter sort of lost its usefulness for me about a year and a half ago. I just saw that about 99% of the content was other people hawking me their books.

Tim Knox: Exactly. So you’re on Facebook, just Russell Blake?

Russell Blake: Yeah, if you search Facebook for Russell Blake you can find it. I honestly don’t even know what my Facebook page is. I think it’s Russell Blake Books. I think that may be it.

Tim Knox: We’ll search and find out and put it on our website.

Russell Blake: Please do. Send me an email and let me know.

Tim Knox: Alright, Russell Blake. RussellBlake.com is the website. We’ll figure out your Facebook handle and put it up as well. We appreciate you being on the program and we’ll talk to you soon.

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