Featured Interviews

Most Read Interviews

All TopShelf Interviews

SiteLock

Michael released his first book on Nov 3rd, 2015. Personally, he has published twenty-two books and two novellas. He has been published in three anthologies and has collaborated with over twenty other talented authors in both the Kurtherian Gambit and Oriceran universes together to complete over a hundred titles for LMBPN, his publishing company. His books have sold over 500,000 copies, and by the end of January 2018 will have generated over 400,000,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited.

 

With the book Death Becomes Her you made what some thought to be a bold decision to write what you wanted to read, versus taking the ‘best practices’ approach. What led to that decision?

 

I was and am a big reader of indie writers, and felt that I knew I needed to write a more extended series to attract readers like myself (what I call whale readers or readers who read at least a book a week). It was due to my experience finding Timothy Ellis’ Hunter series that coalesced my belief that whale readers started considering a series at three books, and I was super jazzed when I found a FIVE book series! I read them in a weekend, and it was phenomenal. Now, having said all of that one needs to realize I am a lifelong reader with exactly ZERO best practice knowledge when I started. I didn’t know what kBoards was before I had been releasing books, nor had I read anything written on the subject of indie publishing. I quickly started listening to author podcasts. However, I had my own digital marketing and sales consulting company, and my own filter of how I felt I would want something done as a reader. If I read, or heard, advice that went against it, I ignored the suggestions. Not all of my ideas worked, but enough that I got to a point to believe in myself and my own opinions, first.

 

From that first book begat the wildly popular Kurtherion Gambit Series, with twenty books in the original, and many, many more from the spin-offs. What do you think made them so endearing to their devoted fanbase? 

 

“A great cover will net you one fan. Great Characters will net you many more.” Is something I say to explain it. It isn’t the action, the adventure, the hook (for me) that causes fans to re-read, but rather the fact that when life sucks it always feels good to come back to those who you love. It is (for me) about the characters. Having said that, it is great covers, blurbs, and hook which can IMMEDIATELY draw in fans. It’s your first 3,000 words that can lose them.

 

How did you keep such a long-running series from getting stale in both plot and character development? 

 

I planned for a very long arc, broken down into three major arcs with each book being a stepping stone to the completion of the stories. Each of the three arcs had their own accomplishments towards the main goal, as well. I added characters to books (both the easiest way to keep something fun and the easiest way to cause your stories to spiral out of control.) Paying attention to what excited me as a reader was instrumental (for me) with my writing. When I realized meeting someone knew was a dopamine hit, I did it often. I now understand why some authors implement actions like a Red Wedding where half the characters die. It would be hard for a fan to ask “What happened to so and so,” if I had killed off a bunch of them. It was tempting, so very, very tempting but I never did it myself.

 

Being a self-published author, what has been your most successful marketing resource tool?

 

Producing the next book within 28 days.  It bites that I’m behind that … I’ve noticed that releasing often is THE best for me. Fan interaction and getting them to engage with me, and suggest the books to others… But that is a component of story (characters) as well. When fans are willing to tell people in line at the bank about your books, nothing is better. After that? AMS Ads (if I can get them to fire) and Facebook ads because they are ALWAYS willing to spend my money. Facebook is also where I lose most of my money, I think. When Amazon pushes the books, I love the results. However, that is hard to control in any way, shape or form.

 

You came up with the personal mantra, ’20 books to 50k’, tell us about it and what you were thinking at that time. 

 

I was at the Pacifica Resort in Cabo San Lucas (I’m looking down at the resort as I type this from a villa in Montecristo Estates) and found out that for a condo in this amazing location (which costs the same as our house in Dallas/Fort Worth Texas) I would be spending a total of maybe $400 a YEAR in taxes. That same amount in Texas was at least $12,000 a year. So, if I own in Cabo, my monthly taxes would be about $40 a month at most. In Texas? $1,000 and that is before I could purchase a loaf of bread. From a retirement standpoint, the homestead taxes seemed a better deal. Now, I’ve learned that the same amount in Nevada might only be $3,000 a year, but I didn’t know that at the time. My wife was working for an international conglomerate, but I thought… “If I could make $50k a year, I could allow her to retire if she wanted to. It would take a thousand for all costs (if the house was paid off) and another $1,000 for food… I needed about $50,000.) At the time, I had two books out each averaging about $6.00 a day in sales. I created a spreadsheet that showed if I could make $7.50 in sales per book per day then twenty books would net me a minimum of $50k ($54k actually), and we could ‘retire’ my wife down in Cabo. Since I had written both books in about four weeks total, I thought I could get to twenty books written by the end of 2016 perhaps and in 2017, move to Cabo if my wife wished to. I did slow down and did not finish 20 books in the next twelve months, but I came close. I smashed the $50k a year goal, however.

 

You now host 20 books to 50k conferences. Please tell our fellow authors how they could go about attending one of those, and what overall, they could expect to take away from it? 

 

Craig Martelle is the actual host of the conferences. The members of the Facebook group 20BooksTo50k mentioned enough times “we should get a conference going” that he said, ”Great, I’ll do it.” The goal is to keep the core conferences cheap, and non-profit so he and I split some of the cost(s), and the speakers bring themselves. He tells me when to show up and what I’m talking about, and we have been hugely blessed with great speakers willing to educate each of us. I’m not sure if we will continue the conferences past the January 2019 in Bali, but we have the London which is sold out in February of 2018. Then Las Vegas again in November of 2018 and Bali as I mentioned in January of 2019. The one thing we (Craig and I) believe is the teaching needs to be SOLID. However, the real benefit is in creating relationships. I am personally still benefiting from relationships created at my first author conference I attended (SmarterArtist in Austin, 2016.)  If you have interest in Las Vegas, check out 20booksVegas.com.