January 22, 2014
The most prolific author you’ve never heard of
by Zeljka Marosevic
Meet Craig Osso, aka Russell Blake, a retired American property developer living in Mexico who is also a self-published bestselling author with 26 novels to his name. Osso’s success has seen his thrillers ranked in the Amazon charts alongside established names such as Tom Clancy and Dan Brown and has earned him an estimated $1.5 million. But while most self-published authors argue that publishing independently has given them advantages such as more money, more freedom and better receptivity to niche interests (see Fifty Shades of Grey, which turned out not to be such a niche interest after all), Osso is unique in that self-publishing has given him one very crucial thing: speed.
Craig Osso has written 26 books in 30 months.
This means that Osso has published one book every five weeks, and, as the Times reports, this feat:
“ranks him alongside history’s most prolific authors. Agatha Christie wrote a book about every eight months. Dame Barbara Cartland wrote 722 novels, averaging one every 40 days or so.”
Osso cites novelistic reasons for his speed, saying “I find it easier to be coherent if I’m fully immersed in the story”. But in this fast-paced world, he also believes novelists have to keep up with the times. He told The Wall Street Journal:
“Being an author is like being a shark, you have to keep swimming or you die. People don’t want to wait a year and a half for the next book in the series, they want instant gratification.”
And when Cusso swims, he really swims. He wrote his best-selling 229-page thriller JET in 16 days. The Wall Street Journal explains how he did this:
“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 on a treadmill desk, clocking eight to 10 miles.”
Cusso’s “treadmill desk” is surely his secret weapon. A computer desk is positioned at the end of a treadmill so that Cusso can write and walk at the same time. Discussing his invention in a recent interview, Cusso explained the thinking behind his routine: “It’s been a lifesaver for me. Sedentary is bad. Active is good.”
But while Cusso’s ability to write and walk seemingly endlessly seems to be working well for him, we should spare a thought for his poor readers. Poor readers like Yoon Kimn, a 46-year-old IT consultant from Coram, N.Y. who is addicted to Cusso’s books, but just can’t keep up, “I wish he would slow down, I have so many other books I want to read.” Poor Ms. Kimn; Cusso has just signed a deal to co-write thrillers with Clive Cussler. She’s not going to be reading any other authors any time soon.
For budding writers out there, Cusso has some tough advice. He told the Times, “It’s hyper-competitive, remember, you have people like me, working 14 hours a day.” Actually, forget budding authors. Any author who can’t keep up should probably give up now, or get themselves a treadmill desk.
Zeljka Marosevic is the former managing director of Melville House UK.