The Everyday Author

For authors who can't quit their day jobs...yet

Month: February 2017

Author Origins: Michael Anderle

Note from D_Sidd: Michael Anderle exploded onto the indie author scene with a fast-paced, no holds barred approaching to publishing. Calling him an overnight success wouldn’t do justice to the sheer amount of work he’s put in, but Michael has made a lot of progress over a short period of time because he’s not afraid to revolutionize and think outside the box. In addition to this interview, I highly recommend checking out his 20BooksTo50K Facebook group.

Introduction: Tell us who you are, why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.

I started publishing for 2 reasons.  Half to know how to do it, and share it with my eldest son, Joshua.  Half because (as a huge reader my whole life) it became a bucket list item after having read other Indie Authors (John Conroe, PS Powers, Laurence Dahners) and figured, I can do this as well.

What was the hardest thing about balancing writing with a day job? What is the hardest thing about writing for a living now?

I had a small consulting company which was in between projects during my first three books.  Due to this, I had more time than most.  I would write like crazy, even on the plane or in an airport.  Whatever it took.  Having been a programmer earlier in my career (I am late 40’s at this time) I have learned how to type well, structure my thoughts (on the fly) in a logical fashion and understand the logical progression of steps to accomplish step one to step ten.

This has been beneficial for anything like how to kill seven Nosferatu, to making sure I provide enough in between steps for a character to get off the couch to make it up to their room for a reader.

Presently, my challenges are building my publishing company while I write, and juggle family.

Tell us about your schedule and habits back before you made the move to full-time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).

Because I had my own company, my time had been my own to manage.  I just took time away from (say reading) and applied it to writing.  Moving time spent studying some new sales & marketing technology into studying our profession.

It was a conscious decision to forego moving my Digital Sales & Marketing company forward, and take that time and move it towards Indie Publishing. 

Remember, writers write. Writers who publish have a product to sell.

If you don’t mind, would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?

Published 3 books Nov 2015, 1 in Dec and then about 11 books + 2 Novellas in 2016.

I grossed about $430 in November 2015, about $3,000 in December 2015 and $10,000+ in January 2016 (5 books at this time).

I went all in with Amazon as a business decision.  I didn’t feel I had the time to commit to figuring out how to go wide at the time, and since I was a HUGE Kindle Unlimited fan, it was easy for me to make the decision to trust Amazon.

At what point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?

Once I had passed my consulting income, I never looked back.  By March I was 2x my consulting income and I felt I had enough of an understanding of my options that I started releasing clients and moving their responsibilities to others.

Do you support yourself completely from writing books or through a variety of work? If so, what else do you do to pay the bills?

My ebook income covers the bills.

Was there ever a point when you felt like quitting writing or didn’t think you’d ever become a full-time author?

I had a 2-year plan to become a full time author, it just hit in 5 months instead of 2 years.  I persevered through a burn-out time (about 2.5 months) and understood how to handle the emotional challenges that were thrown my way (this was late summer 2016).

I still completed and published 2 books during this time.

Starting out, what were some misconceptions you had of life as a full-time author? Were there any unexpected challenges you never realized before you got to that point in your career?

No, since I had a consulting company, I was better equipped to handle the working while alone or keeping myself on task (versus allowing bosses or others to help keep me on task).

I had no misconceptions since I knew nothing about the field before I started (I hadn’t written anything in 30 years, and the last thing was in High School (very poorly received, too)).

What’s one thing about your author career that not many people know?

With as many podcast(s) as I have been on, it’s hard to figure out what I haven’t told people.  I would say that many of the tweaks to my career, have come about by being involved in the fan base, and allowing them to help steer the direction of the stories.

What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet?

Know what your mountain is and whether your goal (the mountain you are climbing) will even support you full time.

For example, if you are dead-set on going trad-pub, the chances of you making enough money in the beginning is fairly remote.  Even if you receive a large advance (call it $20,000) it doesn’t come in one chunk, and there are tax issues with it, as well.

If you are literary minded, and desire the prestige of writing awards? Most often, these books perform – on the whole – poorly in sales.  So, know what your goal is.

My goal was income and having fans that loved the stories enough that they would re-read them.

And they do.

What should they be focusing on?

Knowing what their goal really is.  Don’t have conflicting goals.

For example, I want to make a lot of money AND write literary Super-hero books…  Those are almost mutually exclusive.  Possible? Sure, but that will be a LOT of effort to find out you aren’t the person who will make it happen. 

Then again, never say never…

Just don’t bet the farm.

Is there anything we haven’t asked that you’d like to touch on?

Know where those who are giving advice are coming from (know what THEIR mountain is).  My advice, while well-intentioned, won’t be appropriate for some readers since we don’t share the same mountain.

Know if you are a writer only, or are willing to put in the effort to publish (and learn it) as well.  If not?  You are going to be SUPER-challenged in this endeavor.

Bestseller Quest Part IV: The Gameplan

Welcome back to another entry into Bestseller Quest! If you’d like to check out the full series, go here. Or, if you just want to freshen up on the previous entry, go here.

This week, I’m going to gather you all into a huddle to check out the game plan. This is the entire project outline. Welcome to the big show.

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  • September 2016 Market research: In which I determined the genre and sub-genre I wanted to write in, according to parameters set up in Write to Market (more on this in the next installment). This is also where I research and establish key tropes for my genre as well as obligatory scenes, a rough sketch of the main character, etc.
  • October 2016, mostly in December 2016 — Outlining: I throw all of the above information into a pot, dump it on a table and being shaping the massless sludge of story-putty. When I originally came up with my concept and did the initial research, I wrote a rough outline of all three books in the trilogy. In December, I broke that down into a chapter-by-chapter outline, building off of the obligatory scenes of the book to flesh things out.
  • January 9, 2017 – April 24. 2017 — Where I’m at now: Ye olde first draft. I write. And write. And write. As I’ve mentioned before, my daily goal is 2,500 words per day, Mon-Fri with Saturdays used to catch up on days I didn’t hit the 2,500. I may be done sooner than April 24, but won’t know for sure until I get into the writing. I’m shooting for somewhere around 180k words for the entire trilogy. I’ll also be working with my cover designer during this time (which we’ll talk about in a separate post).
  • May 1 — The cursed and dreaded second draft revisions begin. As I’ve mentioned before, I have love/hate relationship with revisions. Sometimes they’re awesome and other times it’s like playing whack-a-mole with your own fingers as the moles. Revising is the slowest part of the process for me.
  • June – August As I finish the second draft of each book, I’ll shoot them off to some alpha readers who will provide me with general story feedback and point out any pesky typos I undoubtedly will miss. I’m giving them 3-4 weeks to do this, knowing I can rely on them to meet the deadline.
  • June 3 — Second draft of Book 1 due
  • July 9 — Second draft of Book 2 due
  • July 10 — Book 1 due to editor
  • August 12 — Second draft of Book 3 due
  • August 15 — Book 2 due to editor
  • September 10 — Book 3 due to editor
  • September 15-20 — Publication of Book 1
  • October 20-25 — Publication of Book 2
  • November 25-30 — Publication of Book 3

Whew! That’s making me stressed/excited just thinking about it. As of now (February), the publication dates aren’t set in stone. I may very well hold the books until January and begin launching then, just because I want to do my best work with my editor’s feedback. Depending on how the editing process goes, I would rather hold off a couple of months than attempt to juggle book launches with revising (a mistake I’ve made in the past).

And that’s about it! Short and sweet this week (I’ve used up most of my word-power barfing out the rough draft).

UP NEXT: Part V – Market research to select a sub-genre

Guest Post: A Ticking Plot by Jacqueline Garlick

So, it’s a new year and you’ve decided this is the year you’re going to write a book. Or, perhaps you’ve already written a book, but you’re not satisfied with it. According to Beta readers, your manuscript has missed the mark completely, and you have no idea how to fix it. The more you work on the manuscript, the worse it seems to get. You’ve somehow gotten lost in your own manuscript.

I sympathize with you, my friend. Been there. Done that. Several times.

I was so lost in a manuscript once; I wanted to set it on fire. I had an agent at the time, who was awaiting a new project from me, but I just couldn’t finish. For some reason, the manuscript wasn’t working, but I had no idea why. For weeks, I moved things, cut things, shuffled paragraphs around, then shuffled them back. It was tantamount to playing a game of never-ending, progress-less chess. The end result was a lacklustre compilation of meaningless words. I felt sick to my stomach. This was my big chance. My agent had gone out on a limb and sent the first few pages of my manuscript to a number of bigtime editors, who had expressed genuine interest in it. I was in way over my head.

I was soon to learn that plotting was not about writing out every word of your potential story in sequential order. It was about exploring your potential story in an orderly fashion.

It was right about then, I attended a story development course that would change my writing life forever. I’d been a Pantser up until that point (not that there’s anything wrong with that) with two feet firmly planted against the notion of ever becoming a Plotter. I hated the idea of writing out all the important parts of my book, only to write them again. I was sure it was going to kill my creative process. But I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was soon to learn that plotting was not about writing out every word of your potential story in sequential order. It was about exploring your potential story in an orderly fashion. (Huge difference!) I further came to learn that A) plotting could be an incredibly useful, time-saving, aggravation-squashing tool, and B) it would not destroy, but rather enhance my creativity— taking it to greater heights than I’d ever imagined.

As a result, I found myself more at ease with the process of plotting, and more creatively jazzed than ever.

Plotting (if approached advantageously) is about planning out the story path you’d like to pursue, by identifying or pin-pointing (and securing), a selection of pivotal story elements (or major plot points), in advance of starting the writing journey. By outlining these basic plot points, and working through them (loosely, of course), figuring out where and when they should occur (ie: solidifying the character’s basic trajectory, or arc) my mind was then freed up to concentrate on other things— like fleshing out the rest of the story, and the creation of poetic prose. Essentially, now that I knew where I was going, I was better able to take in the scenery. As a result, I found myself more at ease with the process of plotting, and more creatively jazzed than ever.

Since, in my opinion, story should flow from to beginning to end in one continuous circle, (instead of up and down, as I was forced to teach to students when I was a teacher), I’d always thought of my stories as a circle. Knowing that story follows Shakespeare’s three Act formula, with act two lasting twice the length of one and three, divided in the middle by the highest (or lowest) point of (emotional) action, it occurred to me that plotting stories on a circle might work. Even better, plotting stories on the four quadrants of a clock face would really be helpful.

I fell back into my pillow, amazed. I had accomplished all that in a fraction of the time, with half the frustration. I’d created a story map of my entire novel in less than two hours, and I hadn’t lost my mind over it.

I quickly revised my circle into a clock and began meticulously plotting. Discoveries began to flow. I soon found that the precipice of act one (where act one ends and the reader is launched into act two—that moment where a character enters their new world, or new circumstance, or sets out onto a new journey) fell splendidly at 3 o’clock on the clock face. Correspondingly, 6 o’clock (exactly, half way between through act 2!) became the hour when my character suffered his/her highest (or should I say, lowest) degree of emotional tragedy (ie: the most intense point of action— essentially, the point where he/she faces his/her greatest challenge/fear.) I continued working through my planned story elements, plotting them onto the clock face, and by 9 o’clock CHARGE! my character was launched into battle (ie: beginning of act three.) He/she had discovered the answers to long-sought after questions, and was off to fight for the kingdom, over throw the bad guy, or win back the girl! (whichever fits your manuscript.) By 11 o’clock, the battle was won, with enough time left over to show readers a little Afterglow (ie: the state of the character’s world after the fact, what was gained/lost or achieved, a snapshot of what life now looks like.)

I fell back into my pillow, amazed. I had accomplished all that in a fraction of the time, with half the frustration. I’d created a story map of my entire novel in less than two hours, and I hadn’t lost my mind over it. I had a (loose) story plan, outlining the pertinent events of my novel (the essential story beats), all affixed to a clock face by sticky note! I could now see where my novel had too many events happening, and where it didn’t have enough. I could fix stuff before I started! (Another benefit of the Tick-Tock Plot strategy—balance.) Sure, it took some time to figure out the plot points, but it was a lot less time than I’d spend rewriting scenes. I felt like I had unlocked Pandora’s secret box for writers, and unearthed the treasure within!

TickTockPlotNEWFINAL-2I was so excited about what I’d discovered, I started to share it with anyone who would listen. I later went on to teach—the Tick-Tock Plot strategy—at various conferences and workshops. The more I used it, the stronger a plotter I became. Friends started noticing that I was an excellent story puzzler and wanted to know what I was doing. I was becoming somewhat of a story plot guru, able to identify problem spots in others manuscripts quickly and help them work out solutions. After having so many writers ask me to help them plot, I decided it was time to write my strategy down. So, I created the eBook Tick-Tock Plot: How To Speed-Write Your Next Blockbuster eBook. Inside, I include loads of visuals, as well as a working example, using a well-known, modern day, popular book, to help readers better understand how to apply my method. I include a second example, for those interested in signing up to my Exclusive Reader’s List, on my website. It’s nice to be able to help other authors. I love that I’ve been able to share a useful tool that makes the writing journey a little easier.

PS: In case you’re dying to know the course that changed my writing life (*insert shameless plug here à*), the course is called StoryMasters . (*they can thank me later*) If you get the chance to attend. Do it. You won’t regret it. (PS: If you’re Canadian, I hear they are coming to Toronto this May!)

IMG_4124For more about Jacqueline Garlick, her writing, and her books, or to receive advanced notification of upcoming releases, specifically the Tick-Tock Plot for Writer’s Series, sign up to be a part of her Exclusive Reader’s Group at jacquelinegarlick.com. Tick-Tock Plot: How to Speed-Write the Next Blockbuster eBook is available on Amazon. (Now available in paperback, too.) Also, check out Tick-Tock Edits: How To Edit Your Own Writing: Ten Quick and Easy Tips To Strengthen Any Manuscript, Jacqueline’s second book in the Tick-Tock Plot for Writer’s Series, also on Amazon. Pre-Order her third book, Tick-Tock Character-OZ-ation: Developing Unforgettable Characters, coming soon. Jacqueline’s award-winning Illumination Paradox Series, can also be found on Amazon. Contact Jacqueline on Facebook, Twitter, website, email.

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