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20 books to 50k

58518 Views 115 Replies 65 Participants Last post by  AltMe
I'm an Authoring Outlaw, I just ride my own path...

If you asked people (especially authors) how they would write a story to get to the top of a mountain, I can only imagine some of the responses (some, not all) such as:

1) Go straight up, don't allow anything to stop you. Blow chunks of rock to bypass obstacles (even if going around is easier).
2) Find the easiest path, finding clues how to get you there. Kiss a few dames on the way.
3) Grab a group of dwarfs to tunnel up to the top.
4) Hercules C-130, parachute down.
5) Warp in from a different solar system, then grab the escape pod and hope like h#ll you stick the landing.

I state these paltry examples because I feel it illustrates a point. The point is that as creative as humanity is, there is ALWAYS another way to get to the top.

Can you write to market and up your chances? H#ll yes! I think Chris (Fox) makes a good point. Did I do this? No. I wrote about vampires and aliens and military sci-fi and absolutely no one was screwing anyone else - even sex is alluded to most of the time. Genre? Fat chance on defining that one. (Much to my chagrin as I've tried to figure out how to place it appropriately for fans now.)

You shouldn't have cussing? I have so many cusswords in my books fans want a list of all of the different ones. Do you believe that you can put too many 'F-bomb's' in a book? Yeah, well, the books can still sell. Trust me.

Can you have a poorly edited book (or let's face it, originally abysmally edited) and be successful? Yes. Should you release it that way.... Yeah, probably not. Lot's of issues in your future if you do this. Much easier to have a decent edit job and skip the problems.

Can you succeed with short stories? YES.

I've talked in the past about how I wanted to create an income of $50k a year by having a backlist of 20 books. I came up with this number because I noticed after the first few days of selling my first book, I was averaging about $7.50 a day in income. At that number ($7.50 a day for each of the 20 books) I'd make $54k. You only need $36k to enjoy a very nice retirement in Cabo San Lucas. That was my goal.

When I started and released my first book in November (2015), I was happily ignorant. I had no experience, no one to tell me all of the reasons it can't be done (conversely, I didn't have some of the awesome and incredible wisdom I've read here on this same board to refine my path, either.) I still don't understand where the 'box' is and I never will. I refuse to accept normal conventions - but that doesn't mean I ignore the wisdom, I just refuse to accept dogma.

I was on The Author Biz with Stephen Campbell in January. I had just released my 5th book and was going to close above $10k that month. The title to that show is '90 days to $10,000' and it was a blast talking to him. I mentioned how Rick Gualtieri and Annie Bellet shared some incredible information here on kBoards and I really appreciated their willingness to lay out their information here for newbies like myself to read.

I admire both of them, as well as many more who share their information on what is possible. I enjoy Rosalind James's posts, Timothy Ellis's posts and many others. Rick G. has been nice enough to share with me on multiple occasions and I'm still working on implementing some of his recommendations. Trust me Rick, I listened! The box sets and the Audible will happen. Soon...sometime. Screw it, probably within two months as I'm hiring my own help now to help accomplish more.

Point of fact, one of my core decisions on how I decided to attack my strategic selling effort (or 'aha' moment) was when I FOUND Timothy's Hunter Legacy series. I was a super happy reader that Friday when I first saw that he had a series and it had 4 FREAKING BOOKS IN IT! Hot [email protected], I had a weekend of fun ahead of me. If I felt that way, wouldn't others?

How long did my book #7 (Kneel or Die) take to write, edit, and put up on Amazon? Twenty-five days, which included breaks for a funeral and a Production Editor who was sick as a dog for a few days. How many people beta read and helped with editing on it? Well, depending on what part we are talking about it ranged from four to eight. The book was written and reviewed by a group and there is a system to do it. I've still got some pretty picky readers and those readers say they found two mistakes. Two mistakes out of almost 75k words. Would a 'professional' find more? Sure, but I'm not going to get a professional to run their editing simultaneously with my writing. I invited Stephen Campbell (The Author Biz) to lurk in the FB Group as we made this happen. He had complete access to ask any questions and see exactly what I did and how the group worked.

He interviewed Stephen Russel and myself on Tuesday about the experience. That podcast releases on Monday if your interested on his insights.

When I did that first podcast with Stephen in January, I pulled back and stopped responding and lurked mostly here on kBoards. I suffered from the normal thoughts of 'What if it is just a fluke what I accomplished?'. Some of the push back I received on a couple responses (I also wrote on Amazon's forums a few times) caused me to go back and decide that suggesting a different way up the mountain wasn't being well received. Why was I going to fight that battle?

What if they were right? What if I had got lucky and I couldn't duplicate the results? I could always do a pen-name to test my method, but not when I'm on a book-a-month release cycle, now with a short story tossed in between (but that's another story). But I could do it if someone else was willing to let me teach them.

So, what makes me think I have anything to add to the paths to the top? Because results always matter, talk can always walk.

Here are my results:

1 - I made $10k in my first 90 days.
2 - I've made $60k in 150 days
3 - I'm on track to hit $300k this year - Obviously things can happen. My goal for March (to hit $300k in 2016) is $17,360. I'm projecting a gross of $25k this month - over $20k has been sold to date.

* 'So what' I've been told. You got lucky, your writing is crap - it's poorly edited, you need to do better. You need to do this, you need to do that. To those I would suggest that the ONLY one who has a vote is the person who pays you and pays me. The reader. Not the reader who downloads the free book, but the reader that buys your second (or any) that cost's money. So, how do I answer those who believe I 'got lucky'? - Well, here are some additional efforts I undertook since February. *

4 - I'm helping four (4) others in a tiny mentoring group. All four were fans of my work and three were helping me beta read / edit. I've offered any one in these beta reading groups that if they wanted to be a writer, I was willing to help mentor them (this was after the effort was over, not as an incentive). Two guys took me up in February after book 6 (2/3). One fan reached out to me and I invited him in between 6 & 7 and one lady took me up on the offer after book 7's release (3/7) :

* Of the two who started in early February, both have released books (all-in on Amazon).
* My female mentee has her first book and will release around the 22nd of April. She started on 3/9 or so.
* One (a fan, not part of the editing group) is 1/2 done with his first. However, he still has University papers to write (he is in Australia)

Of the two who have released stories:

* One released his first 'series' and it sold 68 books, 185 'free' and 9851 KENP in the first three weeks. He has paused that series to try another. His best was #5 in a smallish niche and he has fans asking for what's next.

* One released his first 'series' and he will close out his first 45 days at the end of this month with over $3,000 in sales. His fourth book should be out in a week or two. Hit #1 in multiple small to medium level Niche's.

I've been blessed. Hugely blessed. I've offered to help and spent a fair amount of time to coach and encourage these writers to help them in their effort to be successful. I don't have all the answers, I have a path to the top that has been successful for more than just myself, as I have proven.

Are the answers on these boards for most writers? Certainly. Are they 'all' the ways up the mountain?

No. Because there will always be an Authoring Outlaw or two. Some of us fall off the mountain to an ignoble death... A few of us will see the rest of you up at the top*.

I hope to see you all there,

Michael Anderle

* You define the top! For me, the definition is to have a series that has rabid fans that enjoy it and buy my books and want me to keep writing. For others, it will be to be sold in a bookstore, or on the New York Times Bestseller - may you all find your path to your own mountaintop.
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Take me under your wing.

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manderle said:
* You define the top! For me, the definition is to have a series that has rabid fans that enjoy it and buy my books and want me to keep writing. For others, it will be to be sold in a bookstore, or on the New York Times Bestseller - may you all find your path to your own mountaintop.
I think I define the top as the series being made into movies or tv series. But I agree, rabid fans who cant get enough are a definition worth paying attention to.

Btw, Kneel or Die is on page 3 of my also-boughts for Hero to the Rescue. :D
I think I'm on pace to make like 6k my first 90 days. I'm pretty psyched with that, especially given the first half of that time was pretty slow. I'm interested to see how much I can make monthly moving forward.

Mostly, I'm blown away by the volume which you can write. A novel in 25 days? Pshhh, that's crazy. Good for you man, that is incredible.

I'm hoping to have book 2 done in a year lol.
Awesome results, Michael. Congratulations.

How much of your success do you attribute to advertising? What have you done in terms of promotions so far?
Congratulations on your success. You've clearly got good crampons. Every time I try to buy some, they're all sold out, and I'm left at the bottom of the slope wearing flippers!  :p
Thanks for the post.

Keep this updated!

Sent from my MotoG3 using Tapatalk

Appreciate the post Michael. Good job finding your niche and giving them material that they like to read. When your reviews end with, "can't wait for the next book..." then you've resonated well. It sets you up to win. Excellent work and congratulations on realizing your retirement to Cabo:)
As the Men-tee I appreciate everything that Michael has helped me with. I have always been a big Ol fan of Sci fi and other genres. I read his books and got to be friends with him on FB. One thing led to another and  i was writing a book. I threw it up  on Amazon and suddenly it was selling. A Lot. So I wrote another, then another. Then I made a trilogy and put that up there. I even went back and fixed my mistakes on the previous two. My early reviews were not the greatest. I will admit that if you read version 1 of edition 1 of book 1 you may have been correct. But you still bought the book. I have 2 BS right now. You have to remember that all of this took place since Feb 17th of this year. Book 4 is on track and will be out mid April. Michaels way of doing things is a bit different but so far it works. Number wise I have sold 910 copies of the books with over 100k in page reads. I doesn't sound like a lot of KENP but my first 2 books were 60 and 30 pages. All at $2.99 and never free.
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Thank you for sharing. I totally need to write faster (I know it's discipline but....) I have three sequels that I must get written or fans are going to riot. (What a problem to have, but still.)
Lisa_Blackwood said:
I totally need to write faster (I know it's discipline but....) I have three sequels that I must get written or fans are going to riot. (What a problem to have, but still.)
I know the feeling. I'm trying to get 9 written while having large chunks of each day without an working brain. Fortunately, my fans are not likely to riot, but every time someone asks where the next book is, falling behind makes me feel bad for them.
Very inspiring, thanks for the post!
I remember hearing your interview on The Author Biz. I was on a treadmill a little after 5 am, prepping for my daily writing.

You publish really, really quickly. You write decent sized books that people want to read. Your subject matter is a mash up of all the genre tropes people like me love. I'm not at all surprised you're blowing up.

I've released a book every month for the last six months. The difference this has made in my income is insane. Every month is a record month.

I suspect that if you keep releasing at this pace you'll blow past the 300k goal.
Excellent post, Michael.  See you in a few days in Austin!
Add me to the list of people curious about your marketing methods.
Thank you EVERYONE for chiming in!

To those who want to get involved in the 20 books to 50k FB Group, message me on Facebook so I can add you to the group. Please understand, the goal is hacking the authoring process and making a livable income. So it will not be so useful if you want a literary agent / New York Times / etc. (at the moment, obviously you could do AWESOME and get those, too!)

If there is a way to shorten the success cycle, I (we) try to figure out a potential solution and we just try it.

Hit me up on Facebook to join the group here:

On Marketing

I have done (and continue) to do Facebook drip campaigns around $12-$15 a day tops. My focus is on how to be successful without Bookbub / spending some of the insane amounts on Facebook I did back in January. I've played with $0.99 and I recently pulled my book back up to $2.99. The money is still very good, but I dropped in ranking. I'll admit that I'm competitive, so I'm focused on both gaining sales and ranking.

What I am testing at the moment is hacking the 30 day 'cliff' issue. After a lot of effort related to Also-boughts, my outlaw testing is to drop a short story between my longer books so that I'm never outside of 30 days. If you read a fair amount of posts, everyone says two things work: 1) Bookbub & 2) Another story. I can't control #1, so I'll work on #2.

Here are my thoughts when deciding to try this strategy:

* The short stories are much faster to produce.
* I'm targeting these short stories into genre's a little different than my core stories. New audience sees my name.
* My fans will guarantee that I'm in the top 20 of most small niche's for a week or so.
* I'm making money on this marketing effort, not spending it (Well, after editing / cover)
* My backlist is growing.
* I noticed after dropping my short story that there are some really big names doing the same thing. [email protected]! ;-)

I spent time thinking about these short stories and how they fit into the bigger Universe. I make sure that the short stories are fulfilling a need for the series fans as well as potentially bringing in new fans.

On hacking a new and successful series

Here are the core steps I will tell everyone joining 20 books:

1) Read this article on emotionally engaging:
2) Make sure, really sure, that your first few paragraphs make the reader give a [crap] about that character. Rip apart everything out of your story until you do that. Be brutal with yourself. For your favorite stories, go back and read them with an eye to paragraph, action, description and how they delineate characters talking. Beautiful descriptions do not engage me as a reader, a person (character) does. That beautiful mountain becomes incredibly interesting when the characters spaceship just narrowly missed it. It was the action and the characters sudden chance at pancaking into this mountain that gripped me.
3) Hacking the right story idea: Plan your book in 15-20k installments - Why? Because we aren't going to ask your Aunt, Uncle, Brother, Sister, Mother and Friends to answer whether or not your book is any good. In the end, it ONLY matters if the readers enjoy it. So, we are going to put your book out as short stories. If you can't get readers from Book 01 to Book 03? Close the series and try again. It took 200k words for me to write 3 books. It would now take me 45k - 60k words to figure out if I'm on to something (and not alienate those close to me in the process). I'm not looking for a circle of people to pat me on the back and then fail in the marketplace. I can tell you if I like something and will, but if you're a horror writer, I'm not going to be able to answer it all because I won't read your genre. That stuff scares me, so why am I going to read it? :eek: I'm not the target market, but providing it to the target market is hella-easy. Scary, but easy.
4) Make sure you have a solid (genre specific) cover. I'd budget to get a pre-built if you don't have someone who can do this. I've done the covers for my mentee's if they want to work with me. Here is a post with the one's I've created to help them:
5) Hacking your blurb: Subscribe to Bookbub for your genre while you are writing. Then copy out every blurb for books in your Genre and get a sense for their style. Find one you like and plug in your own information. Then tweak until it flows.
6) Go KU, the voracious readers in the program are willing (and anxiously looking) for new content.
7) Don't worry about reviews at the moment. If you have something, you will see it within a few days. If not, get advice on your cover / blurb. Otherwise, it's your story - It's not working with the readers.
8.) The goal isn't to market your way to success, it is to write in the genre you like that can support you, and then create the characters and hook that resonates and finding that match as quick as humanly possible.
9) T S Paul (a mentee) put his shorts out at $2.99... He recently asked if I thought he should change his pricing. Since I would have SWORN you couldn't sell a short story at $2.99, I told him he should keep his own counsel as mine would just cost him money. He's forging his own path up his mountain and I'm now learning from him.

Thank You

To Gary, Chris, David, Felicia, Timothy, Scott, Lisa, Craig, CM, Oakwood, Raquel, Evan, Evan Pickering, and Spencer for your replies! They mean the world to me.

To Timothy - Thank writing one of the series that helped me with defining my own path.

Talk to you soon, I've got another 5k words to write before the Smarter Artists Summit (I'm arriving Tuesday for those going. Looking forward to meeting so many of you there!)

Michael Anderle
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These are the posts I love to read.  There are millions of readers shopping on Amazon and we, as indie authors, only need to convert a small number to earn a decent living--anything more is a big bonus.  This is why consistent, high volume publishing is crucial.  The market is an ocean and we have a better chance of catching a big fish if we have more than one line in the water. 
Keep it coming, Michael.

Oh, and the facebook group link is dead--I'd love to join the 50k in 20 books!
TimothyEllis said:
I think I define the top as the series being made into movies or tv series. But I agree, rabid fans who cant get enough are a definition worth paying attention to.

Btw, Kneel or Die is on page 3 of my also-boughts for Hero to the Rescue. :D
Dude, we need to talk! Enough with just passing by on kBoards ;-)

Book 8 has some scenes in Australia as it is my second largest market. Australians are simply some of God's best people I think, and we here in the U.S. don't think or hear too much about you guys. How about we exchange your location with something closer? My first fan / editor is an Australian and he was so helpful.

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