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.