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Russell Blake

Craig Osso has become a best-selling novelist by self-publishing "25 books in the last 30 months," reports Alexandra Alter in The Wall Street Journal (1/8/14). If you’ve never heard of Craig, it’s because he writes under a pen name – Russell Blake. "He churns out 7,000 to 10,000 words a day and often works from eight in the morning until midnight. He spends many of those hours at a treadmill desk, clocking eight to ten miles." He’s a 52-year-old retired home developer who says he started writing just 10 years ago because, "There’s only so much tequila you can drink."

His second career as a novelist started out slowly, as he trashed his first five efforts. Two-and-a-half years ago, after he failed to find a publisher for his sixth effort, he decided to self-publish on Amazon. He made just $18 in his first month. He wrote seven more books, explaining: "I kept writing as though there was tremendous demands … That’s the helpful part of being delusional." He kept writing books and losing money until he got the bright idea to offer his first book for free, in hopes of hooking readers.

This worked because it took "advantage of Amazon’s algorithm for its ‘new releases’ category … Each time he put out a new release, his backlist sales would surge." To date, he "has sold more than 435,000 copies of his books, at around $5 and $6 each, and under Amazon’s self-publishing program, he keeps 70 percent." Amazon currently ranks him #6 on its list of best-selling action and adventure writers, after writers like Tom Clancy and Dan Brown. The only complaint is from fans such as Yoon Kimn, who says, "I wish he would slow down … I have so many other books I want to read."