Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Russell Blake’s Satire Nails It

Self-published authors, I am assured, read a lot of self-published “How To Self Publish” books.  I can believe that; it makes perfect sense, and it is certainly true in my case.  The one I’m reading now, however, is not your typical How-To book.
If Self-Publication is the New Religion, then Joe Konrath is its John the Baptist, a voice crying in the wilderness, showing the way, and Catherine Ryan Howard would be all of the Apostles (with the exception of Judas) rolled into one, who wrote down the story and plotted the path with precise, sometimes poetic, prose.  John Locke, then, would be Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, who took The Message and perverted it into something as titillating and lucrative as hard-core porn, which can only mean that Russell Blake, with his parody, How To Sell A Gazillion Books, is Pontius Pilate, nailing the Holy Grail of Self-Pubbed Riches firmly to the cross of satire.

Now, you can go with that tortured analogy or just believe me when I tell you that this is one funny book, as long as it keeps within its target audience, which is anyone who has tried or is considering self-publication or someone obligated to suffer through the process due to the unfortunate “through better or worse, richer or poorer” codicil in the marriage contract.  But let’s face it, these days that’s about 98% of the population.
I stumbled across Blake’s blog not so long ago; it would have been difficult to find it earlier as he seems to have popped up out of nowhere right around the time John Locke’s book hit the Indie market.  Blake appeared to be your basic middle-aged guy who wrote a book and slapped it up on Smashwords and Kindle, but his blog had a nice professional-esque polish to it and his sporadic posts were highly entertaining.  Blake admittedly read John Locke’s book, and I noted, as he tweeted and tweeted and tweeted, that he was following Locke’s road map but, unlike the pedophile mentioned in my previous post, he was doing it correctly.  His tweets were frequent, but they were funny and they linked, not to his Kindle book page, but to his current post, which provided a bit of entertainment for your trouble.  Once on his website, if you connected with the persona he invented for himself, and happened to notice that he had written a thriller book, you might be interested enough in the Russell Blake persona to buy it.  I wasn’t, but his posts are funny.
He has also pulled a page from Locke’s formula by having both his books reviewed early on.  All the reviews are 5 star and about half are from people who have only review that one book.  Or in this case, both his thriller (5 stars) and his parody (5 stars).  Some of the other reviewers have a handful of non-Blake related reviews (5 stars) that include, (intriguingly) John Locke’s books.  (Before we move on, allow me to confess that my few Amazon reviews are also almost exclusively 5 stars.  If I don’t like a book, I can’t be bothered to review it.  So 5 Star reviewers are not necessarily bad or dishonest, they are just not balanced.)
The fact that some of his reviewers are John Locke crossovers, and the way he is flawlessly following John Locke’s Million Sales instruction manual coupled with his sudden appearance in cyberspace (coinciding, as mentioned above, with the publication of John Locke’s book) and my inability to find anything else out about him leads me to speculate (not believe at this point, but I think the evidence is clearly pointing in this direction) that Russell Blake is John Locke.  My theory is he’s attempting to recreate his success under an assumed name so he can validate his Method, sell a gazillion more books and laugh even harder on his way to the bank (or when he checks his Kindle stats on-line).
Remember, you heard it here first.
But, whoever he is, he wrote a brilliant parody, and if you are one of the many caught up in the self-publishing hype, you might enjoy the way Mr. Blake (or Mr. Locke, as the case may be) punctures the pomposity that is building within the self-pubbing community.
I enjoyed this book.  You mileage may vary.

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