For our third Indie Author Spotlight feature, we chat with Michael Anderle, an indie author who has written 30 books — a mix of paranormal, urban fantasy, military sci-fi and science fiction — since November 2015. His titles include Fatal Mistake, Death Becomes Her and Karma Is a Bitch. J.D. Lasica caught up with Michael at the writers conference 20Books Vegas last week.
I’ve been an avid reader my whole life — I can read four or five books in a weekend — and writing a book has always been a bucket list item for me. I took my first shot at this in 2014, but kind of typed myself into a corner. So I just stuck it back in the digital drawer. Over the next year, I paid attention to all of the books I liked. What did I like about the characters? What drew me to that particular story? In 2015 I decided to give it another shot.
Yeah. I pulled it back out and I thought, some of this isn’t bad. If I can just get 1,000 fans, maybe I could make some side money and do something with it. And I was able to turn around three novels pretty quickly. I released the first one on Nov. 2, wrote and released my second on Nov. 11 and wrote and released my third book on Nov. 23. By then I’m getting a little tired but I put our my fourth book on Dec. 15. But people were liking it, and over the next 60 days I knew I had something.
I’ve personally written about 30 titles. My company, Kurtherian Books, probably has close to 400 titles with my name on it. I’ve had a very successful universe of collaborators who’ve worked with me to expand other aspects of it that fans would want to see and read. We’ve stayed away from horror — I get scared of horror.
I didn’t want anything like or don’t like, or I get scared of work.
The indie movement itself I had not researched until after I released my first book. I didn’t even have a website or Facebook page, so I began to seek out fellow indie authors as I began writing book two. So it was a crash course over the next month as my books came out and I start listening to all of these podcasts. Like everything the Internet has done, it’s made it easier for creatives to go straight to the end user, this time through Amazon as the distributing agent. A lot of writers would even like to cut Amazon out of the equation, but really, do you want to provide tech support for your readers? Because as writers, the best thing we could do for our readers is to write the next book.
Right, 2011 to 2012 was the gold rush. You would put a book out there and get money. So I missed that.
There are things called author notes that I put in the back of each book — just kind of my musings. Part of the reason I did that was because I felt that if my readers were to read that and know who I am, I was hoping I could create an emotional connection to me and my writing. And that if I really sucked horribly, they might give me a little bit of a pass. But at the same time, I was telling them what I was going through as I’m writing the books, I was sharing the challenges and my raw aggravations about the creative process and about the biases against self-publishing.
After that, we moved over to the Facebook page where I’d do little snippets about the characters, or I’m creating these little stories about people standing up for each other, and you have a really rich back and forth with your readers. Unfortunately, as the success grows and the time demands grow, you don’t have time to be doing that as much.
Not a great choice for marketing purposes, but I do urban fantasy, paranormal, science fiction, military, futuristic, and other galaxy stuff.
Yes. I’ve been around long enough to know that if I happen to hit that right thing, then I needed to stay on this course. I’ve seen too many authors write six books, get bored, and they go off and do something else. Well, if my approach is successful, I’m going to stay with it. So what do I want to write? Stuff that’s in the here and now. I like to write this stuff that’s like [Mark Brewer’s space opera] Regan’s Reach that’s in our solar system. And then I still want to be able to write that Star Wars, Star Trek, massive battles in the future. So I concocted this story where aliens were responsible for what we think of as vampires. And it was a botched way to enhance humans to be able to fight a war that was coming. And so that was the premise that allowed me to do my paranormal-vampire-werewolf stuff, which is what I wanted to start with, and then kind of mutated over into the sci-fi area, which gave it that little bit of uniqueness.
We have about 12,000 people on our Facebook page with a few thousand people on our email list and probably 100,000ish followers on Amazon area, though we have no access to those names. But we’ve sold a little over 2 million books, I guess.
I was in Cabo, my second book was written, I see the earnings, and it looks like I can make about $7 a day per book. So I take a spreadsheet and I calculate that if I wrote 20 books at $7.50 a day, I’d make $54,000 which I just rounded down to 50K. So 20 books to 50K was the idea that I’d be able to retire with my wife in Cabo. My intent with this is twofold. I want fans who want to read my stories, and I want to make money on this. And from that we formed a 20 Books to 50K private Facebook page, and now we’re doing the 20Books conferences.
My partner Craig [Martelle] and I went over, got some help, and put on 20Books London last February. We don’t make any money on these things, we just want to help other indie authors. We also had some little luncheons in Pittsburgh and in Adelaide, [Australia], and we’re putting together a 20 Books in Edinburgh, Scotland, and 20Books Bali for 60 top-tier authors.
That’s a good way to put it. I’m not opposed to traditional publishing or authors who choose to go hybrid. But if you look at the cover, the reviews, the writing and the editing and you can’t tell the difference, what does it matter if it’s an indie title or not? In our company, for example, we put out 15 to 20 books a month and we’re going to 30. Our company doesn’t buy the IP [intellectual property], we help make the IP. We have the talent to refine the books so that they’re salable, and the most we take is a 50 percent share. The focus is on each author or pen name, not a publishing house or imprint. There are 32 authors with 38 names that have worked with us.
More books. In more genres.
Michael and I sat down for an in-person interview at 20Books Vegas. This transcript was edited for length. For more information about Michael’s work, visit KurtherianBooks.com or their Facebook page at The Kurtherian Gambit.