Everyone talks about “building an empire,” but only a few take action and do what’s needed to actually build one. Michael and Judith Anderle took a simple idea—write 20 books to make $50K—and turned it into a massive-scale publishing giant that has heads turning both inside and outside of indie publishing. Learn how they did it in this episode of SPI!
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Mark Lefevbre 00:03
Hello and welcome to the D2D Spotlight for 4/20. This is Mark2Digital for Draft2Digital and we have something special to show you. Michael and Judith Anderle, welcome.
Michael Anderle 01:18
Hello, how are you doing?
Mark Lefevbre 01:19
Good. It’s great to have you guys here. Really excited to have you guys as part of the Draft2Digital Spotlight. We wanted to open up with that teaser about Opus X. But before we get into that, because I love teasing people, I want to go back to the origin. Because you are a power couple, working together, running a very successful publishing company. And I wanted to first, for anyone who is not familiar with how this all began, where did this entire thing begin?
Michael Anderle 01:50
I wrote a series called Kurtherian Gambit. And in doing so, that became very successful. I was able to at that, what we call in the indie community, retire my wife. And I then spent six to eight months trying desperately to get her to come join the company. And she kept refusing me, Mark.
Mark Lefevbre 02:07
She did? How could she do that? You’re such a nice guy.
Michael Anderle 01:50
I’m marriage material. But apparently, that was not enough. So we’ll have to ask the other lady who finally accepted the proposal to come work into the company.
Mark Lefevbre 02:23
Yes, the business mind actually. So you’ve got the creative guy on the one side, who also does have business smarts, I know. But you also have, I think the power woman who’s really running the show here, right?
Judith Anderle 02:35
So you’re both reading the script. Good. Good. You’re on script.
Michael Anderle 02:41
Yeah, really. What am I supposed to say? Yes, but Judith has taken over a massive, a big chunk of LMBPN, pushed us into the international markets very well, and is creating relationships all around the industry, both what we would consider the indie industry as well as the traditional audio industry as well. And she is pushing this company in new directions I could not.
Mark Lefevbre 03:05
Okay. And that kind of leads to this project. Because I mean, having been part of this project, it’s a very collaborative project. As you saw, the Draft2Digital logo, you had so many of our colleagues, as well as retailers involved, Dreamscape Media. That’s all the mastermind of Judith, right? Let’s hear a little bit about that, Judith, if we can.
Judith Anderle 03:25
Yeah, so well, first of all, thank you, Mark, for having us on, and Draft2Digital as well. My background is from the medical device pharma industry. And in the roles that I held, they were mostly in the executive leadership, in the global portion of it. And as you probably know, any large corporation, or any actually, any function that has projects to launch, requires really a team. A group of people who come together really for the purpose of launching a product. So when Mike was thinking of going wide and launching this new venture, I asked him, I said, you know, “When are you launching?” And he said November 1, 2019. This was last year. I think it was early in the year, early summer. Yes. And I had already been working on the project. So I’d been doing the visuals with Jean Mollica Studios. We had hired talent, professional talent, we had hired costumes from Hollywood. And it was really going great towards the cover portion. But you know, the operations, I was leaving up to Mike and the team. And so when I asked, I said, “What are you doing for the launch?” He said, “Well, you know, a week before,” and I said, “What do you mean a week before?” “Yeah, that’s usually how we do it.” And I said, “No, that’s not how things work.” So long story short, I said, you know, let’s get a group of individuals together as a team. But, you know, we are an indie publishing company. So when we talk about a team, we talk about Mike and this office, and then all of the wonderful folks that work with him remotely, and that are people that work, you know, on the different projects individually. But not as part of the company all together. So then I said, “If you had a dream team, who would it be?” And he started naming the companies, Draft2Digital being one of them. And so we reached out to the companies and said, “Would you come on board with us, to this venture that we don’t know what it’s going to be?” But lo and behold, everybody agreed, and because of the knowledge that other partners brought forth, we were able to launch. And you see, a lot of the pieces that we’re going to talk about, or a lot of the different things that we’re going to talk about, the knowledge that we gained really came through the partnership of everyone coming on together. And it was really just a collaborative effort with nothing promised other than, let’s learn together.
Mark Lefevbre 05:45
Okay, I like that. That, see, the combination … So LMBPN publishing, apart from sounding like you’re rhyming off the alphabet. I love teasing you guys about that. I know that there is a meaning behind that. And what is that?
Judith Anderle 05:58
When I came on board to the company, the first thing I asked Mike is, I said, “Well, what’s the brand? You know, what is the company known for?” He said, “Well, you know …” and so we would rattle off different things. And at that time, I had a webpage that Mike had created for me for fashion, because that was my hobby. So I used to put, you know, different pieces together and just put them out into the hemisphere. And I had a lot of people like the things that I was putting together. And at that time, he had named it LNBPM, because of London, right, New York, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris. And so when he started, he says, “You know, the company is going to be about publishing, but it’s also going to be, have different pillars, different things.” And so we started talking about what the company would be. And so, fashion would be one of them, publishing would be another, and so, games would be another. And so he said, okay, well, he says, “I want to name it LMBPN.” And I said, well, caveat. Branding, different letters, especially so many letters, it’s not going to be a good idea. Because people won’t be able to pronounce them, it’ll be difficult to remember. And he said, “Good, that’s what I want. People will ask what is it about?” And so ever since then we have put LMBPN.
Michael Anderle 07:15
I was successful.
Judith Anderle 07:16
Yes, he was successful at talking me into it. And it actually has the effect that we wanted, which is people ask what it is, and people try to pronounce it, and people try to remember it. And so, from an alphabetical standpoint, I suggested that instead of N, we should go to M as in Mary, because LMBPN and ever since then it’s remained. So it’s London, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, New York, which is fashion capitals, and happen to be publishing …
Mark Lefevbre 07:45
Publishing hubs as well. So that’s very forward thinking of you guys, with that, right, very global, international, which is exactly what the Opus X launch was. It was a very international collaborative launch. But I think, going back to the publishing, which is the part I’m most interested in, and obviously coming from the digital publishing side of things. Michael’s career started off independently publishing, very successfully, the 20 books to 50k movement kind of was inspired by you, trying to James Patterson the poop out of your career, right? But in that same way that Patterson has mentored and worked with other authors, you’ve done a similar thing. And you have collaborated with, I don’t know, how many authors have you collaborated with over the years?
Michael Anderle 08:33
Well, LMBPN pays 51 authors, of which we’ve probably collaborated with 45?
Mark Lefevbre 08:39
Wow. Okay. And the number of titles that LMBPN publishes?
Michael Anderle 08:33
Well, we have about 700 at the moment. We’ll have another couple hundred by the end of the year.
Mark Lefevbre 08:54
Okay. And I remember, the last time I saw you guys, I bumped into you in a hotel in Vegas. But another ones of the last times I saw you, in another city where you don’t live, is New York. You guys were at Book Expo America last summer, I believe. And so I’m curious to get your perspective. So, you guys rose up, created a publishing empire through indie publishing. And then you went to all the big fairs, right? You went to, you basically did your research and homework and did those international book fairs. So what was it like going to those international book fairs as an indie author who’s very conscious of what’s going on digitally, but suddenly got a—and I’m gonna assume that’s what that picture we used you guys, with Thing One and Thing Two, which is, I love that, it’s so adorable. But what kind of eye-opening experience was that, going into, you know, New York publishing, for example?
Michael Anderle 09:49
Um, so I’ll speak a little bit about it. Fortunately for me, I had set up to go. There isn’t a lot to get—our industry, there’s a barrier to entry. There’s not a big barrier to entry for an indie author, right? So I felt that our company needed to push out externaland go to Frankfurt, go to Beijing, go to—actually, Judith was in Beijing—go to London and BEA. And it was very eye-opening, as you would imagine, because it seems that the trad pub world is very stodgy in some of their beliefs. I’ve since made an effort to learn a lot about it and the why behind where everyone is at the moment. But the real thing that went on, Frankfurt was our first fair, and it’s also the biggest one. So if you’re going to have an eye-opening experience, that is certainly the one to do it at. Judith joined the company two weeks before our first Frankfurt fair. So I can say with great ease, I had no problem with the first Frankfurt Book Fair. I was like a kid in a candy store, because it was her problemto deal with all the relationships. And then yeah, but she, to your point earlier, she’s the one that actually came up with the logos and everything because of her skills.
Judith Anderle 11:03
But yeah, I think along the same lines, so part of it, to the partnership discussion, right? The skills that I brought were in dealing with the major trade shows. Because as the leader of the franchises that I had, that was part of my raison d’etre, right? Going to the trade shows and speaking to the individuals …
Mark Lefevbre 11:20
You’re speaking French suddenly.
Judith Anderle 11:21
… who wanted to know about our company, about our products. And so I had to make myself available and was well-versed and being able to approach individuals and talk spontaneously about whatever we needed to. So I figured that the same skills would translate, and they do. In business, skills translate no matter what the industry is. So I was able to go and learn about the industry while I introduced ourselves and the company to the different companies. I have to tell you though, it was really an eye-opening and sobering experience for me, because coming from Novartis, which is a large pharma, I would reach out to individuals and I would have five confirmations at least of people wanting to meet if I reached out to them, and usually they were reaching out to me. So when I started sending out these emails, I joined the company, I was worried because, what am I going to do with my calendar, all these emails going out, and everybody wanting to meet with us? And we had zero responses. And so when I went out to the trade shows and introduced ourselves, they were like, first of all, eh, who are you? And what do you mean indie? I remember a French lady that we met with, she said, “Well, you know, usually indie means not quality.” She literally told us that. Her French manners.
Mark Lefevbre 12:33
As a French person, I can vouch for that perspective.
Judith Anderle 12:35
Yes, very direct, and so. very polite with a nice accent. But she did say it usually meant not high quality. And so, we encountered those initial hums and has. But, you know, as we’ve attended the shows, and as we’ve shown that we are for real and that we are here to stay, I think it’s given us validity as to what we do.
Mark Lefevbre 12:56
I think, I mean, obviously, as Judith, as you were saying, that business is business, regardless of publishing or fashion or whatever it is, or pharmaceuticals. And that’s the approach to take, which I think is a fantastic long-term strategy. But I think, and it’s very obvious, looking at the beautiful couple right now, but branding is also critical, right?
Judith Anderle 13:18
Mark Lefevbre 13:19
Yeah, talk a little bit about that.
Judith Anderle 13:22
I’m sorry. So it goes to the consistency factor, right? Branding is everything. Branding is you showing up to the shows all the time, that’s part of the branding. It tells the people that see you, oh, the company is here, because you are the company. And so not only does it have to do with the logos, which of course are important, but being consistent in the placement of the logo, in the size of the logo, in the coloring of the logo, in yourselves. So it’s, so branding is a matter of consistently showing up, all the time, in the same manner. The indie spirit, which sounds great, but you know, I’ve encountered working with individuals like Mike who are in the indie sphere, that indie is opposite, right? We want to be rebels. We want to be unique. We want to be different. Which is great, I think. I think that there’s a way, and that’s what we’re working with, how to bring those synergies together and bring the best out of the rebel side of the indie space, and also have a lot of the components of the traditional business and combine them to something that really comes to fruition in what we’re doing.
Mark Lefevbre 14:26
So that’s an interesting question. So bringing that rebellious nature, the unexpected, the unpredictable, and all the creativity. When you think about that part of the brain, which is what goes into creating and storytelling, merging that with business. Not only did you do that, but you’re a married couple. I’m curious about the challenges in bringing those together. Because you’re obviously still happily married.
Michael Anderle 14:50
Judith Anderle 14:54
Do you want me to … I’m gonna say something that’s controversial. Because, you know, as a female and as an executive, right, there’s expectations of equality. And I believe in equality all around, equal pay and everything. But when it comes to marriage, I personally believe, and I think Mike and I jive in that sphere, that there always has to be a leader. And I think that in any function, in any organization, there really always has to be a leader. And so as much as my ego is grandiose and as much knowledge as I have, I always acquiesce to the fact that my husband is the head of household, in our marriage. And so, and for us, our marriage comes first. And so whenever it intercedes with the business, or whenever the business side of, you know, well, “I know what I’m doing” or “I’m a rebel” come and crash, you know, usually I’m the one that backs down, because I understand that that works for our family, and you will say yes.
Mark Lefevbre 15:53
Wait, I’m hearing one thing and I’m seeing evidence of another.
Michael Anderle 15:57
Um, no, I took it … It was a lot of respect that Judith gave me, and therefore, if it’s 50/50 I will lean her way, because I fear overreaching the trust she has given me. So I will do it that way. Now, as it is, there’s definitely been things that I’ve done and I’ve been resented a lot in her advice over the years. A lot of it having to do with the initials JD after her name, where she gives me legal advice. And as a Texan, not really fond of that at all. But I have learned, sometimes with great pain and arguments and everything else. I don’t mean to belittle it, but it has taken me a long time and I still am learning about the legal aspects of how I can do something now and get in trouble for it in 12 years, you know, and that’s just not something that I’m, that’s not part of my personality to worry about.
Mark Lefevbre 16:55
Okay. All right. So let’s go back to Opus X. So we opened with the beautiful trailer, which was the two of you working collaboratively with so many different partners. And one of the things I mean, that’s always impressed me about the indie author community is the sharing. But in this particular case, you guys were at the center of, you know, working with Draft2Digital. So Dan and I were involved, as well as Kobo and Apple and Nook, and Publish Drive and Dreamscape, and I’m probably … And Jean Mollin Studios. Who am I forgetting? There’s probably a dozen other people behind the scenes that I wasn’t aware of. But all working on this very much in, I mean, I come with a background in traditional publishing. And I know that, you know, Book Expo America takes place in May because they’re planning to sell books for the fall. And you guys had been planning this … Unlike, my book is ready, I got it back from my editor, I’m publishing it today. You went with patience. You went with a lot of coordination, and planned this out over months. Obviously, you had teaser trailers and even teaser images. You hired actors for this. What is Opus X? And why did you take that approach for this particular project?
Michael Anderle 18:16
Okay, this one will go back to me now. Opus X is my project to do something of what I had learned up to this time. One of the things that became very apparent, the more authors that we brought on, was not everyone’s going to work inside the Amazon Kindle Unlimited system. And personally, I didn’t know anything about wide. I had spoken with you guys. I had met, you know, Kevin, really early in my career. Dan Wood was the very first person I had met out of, and that was my first night at the first event I ever did. And so …
Mark Lefevbre 18:55
That’s a good guy to hang out with.My boss. Not kissing up now.
Michael Anderle 19:01
And so, one of the things that I wanted to do is, I didn’t want to test and learn the wide system on somebody else, on another author. I wanted to do it with our IP, with my IP, so if I horribly sucked at it, no one’s career was hurt. And in doing so, I realized we had another opportunity to put something out there that was top tier, that was Hollywood quality. That was one of the visions that I had wanted to do. Where, I know sometimes as an author, as a creative, I look at the covers, and I’m like, I want to write the story that’s behind that cover. And so if you extrapolate that out a little bit, you see that if we did something like Judith and Jean Mollica did with the visuals, then it’s fun to write to that. And we knew that the investment was going to be well over six figures to invest before we got anything back. I already knew that wide was going to take us six to nine months minimum. So if we were going to do that, I wanted to put out a long series. It’s 12 books. We would put it out. We ended up deciding, I think, amongst conversations, every six weeks, that’s 18 months. And so we talk about it as being one story in 12 parts over 18 months. And then Judith’s grabbing—in fact, I still have some stuff written up here beside me, where she was writing down from the beginning, “Who are we going to ask? What do we need to do? When are we going to start talking?” And frankly, I was a little scared, because she’s like, “We’re going to have discussions every four weeks.” And then we’re going to discuss every six weeks, and everyone’s going to be prepared. And I’m thinking to myself, I don’t know if I can do that. Well, fortunately, I didn’t have to do any of it. I had to show up and make sure to answer questions to get the content in. And Judith took care of all of that. But I wanted a Hollywood production to show what we could do as indies. And to find out more, because we also like to share that in the end.
Judith Anderle 20:56
Yeah, I think ultimately, it’s about putting your best foot forward, right? This was going to be the first entry into the wide space. And because of the pushback that we received initially from the industry as to indie not being quality, we wanted to make sure that it was quality. And I think that also going back to why Opus, you know, in the branding side, that befell upon me. Thinking, what are we going to name this? And I said, well you know, this is really a combination of an indie author, right? And all the people that work with him, and putting it, getting us to the space, and the combination of everything has come together. And X is an unknown, right. And so Opus X came out of it. And so, I think that really to, and we can’t harp on it enough. It’s really a collaborative effort. It’s all the companies that you see, the branding that you see is coming together, taking time out of their schedules, which, everybody’s schedule is busy. You know, once a month, we get together and come together and talk about what we need to do. And that’s really what you’re seeing come through. The combination of knowledge and input from everybody. As a matter of fact, and one of the things that I also wanted to mention is the fact that, at the core of who me and Mike are, are really about service. And so before joining the company, I was like, Ho, Hum, and even afterwards, I was like … But he had to speak to me as to the why. And when I saw the notes from individuals, fans saying, you know, “You’ve helped me through my hospital stays,” or authors saying, you know, “Because of what you’re doing, and because I’m allowed to work with you, or I’m able to work with you, I’ve been able to cover my income and pay my household debt.” To me that spoke to me as a person, right? And so we said, let’s join together, let’s work together. And let’s share the knowledge that we have, in everything we do. And Opus X is something that we’re doing and sharing the knowledge in a white paper that we put together on what we’re learning. It’s something that’s available to everybody on our website, is something that goes to show that we want to share the knowledge and we appreciate the people that come together with us and collaborate on it.
Mark Lefevbre 22:58
That’s fantastic. I love that. So I want to, for anyone who’s interested and wants to read or listen to the books, and you did release in multiple formats?
Michael Anderle 23:08
Mark Lefevbre 23:09
And it did start back in November of 2019. So how many are out in the series now? And I know there’s kind of three main characters?
Michael Anderle 23:18
There are three main characters, correct. You have the male protagonist, the female protagonist, and the AI, predominantly in the form of a flying sports car that we saw on there originally.
Judith Anderle 23:33
Mark Lefevbre 23:34
Easy to pronounce, hard to spell.
Michael Anderle 23:36
Yes, it’s all Greek to me.
Judith Anderle 23:37
It is Greek.
Michael Anderle 23:40
Judith loves that part. It is very much that way. And it did go out wide and we are learning. We just had our fifth one release Friday, I think. Friday, and we had a nice hit on Amazon. It helped, you know, propel us to a very nice day. And we’re starting to see things go on. Draft2Digital helped us with an effort at Barnes and Noble and, you know, we were able to release well over 1000 free. And we all of a sudden saw the bumps in Two and, and so, you know, it was really beneficial. But it is, it’s kneading these relationships into some of these stores that companies such as Draft2Digital provide that helps those that are of us that are ignorant. Because while I might be one of the biggest on Amazon from science fiction, that doesn’t mean jack on wide. So.
Mark Lefevbre 24:36
Very cool. Very cool. Yeah. And so, because this has been planned well in advance, and it’s going to be going on for a while, we’ve got the fifth book out. But I imagine you’ve had to have staged all of the pieces? I mean, obviously, as a publisher, you’ve got so many moving parts. How many people are behind the scenes at LMBPN? I mean, not even counting the writers who work with you, but you also have a whole bunch of other people, right?
Michael Anderle 25:00
Yes, we do. So Steven Campbell, operations, predominantly. So he is the one that handles that side of the business. Judith is over here, not only international translations, audio, but also marketing and legal, are all under that little black hat of hers. And then you have another five or six people in some form or fashion related to the marketing aspect. So we have two people that are in the advertising part of marketing, specifically the ads, Amazon ads, Facebook ads. And we have another three to four people who are dealing with the social media aspect of this. Our social media spread, if you include email, is well over 40,000. But we have 15 to 18,000 minimum on social media that, you know, a lot of people asking questions or conversing. And so we’re keeping up with all of those assets.There’s, we have individuals, well, our individuals span the world. So we use Slack, and now we’re using another tool that we’ll announce sometime in the near future, to facilitate the issues with communication and, you know, a of community. That’s a part of it. But I would say if you’re looking at strictly artists and ads people, about 20, that, you know, in some form or fashion we’re working with around the world.
Judith Anderle 26:25
I think one of the things that’s really unique, from what I’ve seen is that Mike has been able to bring together a group of people who are independent. Everybody’s independent. But their heart is really into it. And I think that all of them wear different hats. So you know, they do one thing, they do another. And what really, for me, really heartens me is the fact that they’re all willing to pitch in. And, you know, when we have things that we need to do and jump on, they’re all willing to say, I’ll do it, I’ll do it, and on top of everything else that they do. And so, I think that they all are in it for the why, right? Because you know, to provide this medium of entertainment and release to the individuals who are the readers. And so it’s really a great group of individuals who go above and beyond simply because it’s heart. So more than headcount, we have a lot of heart on the team that comes together and works with Mike.
Mark Lefevbre 27:19
Heart seems to be built into the DNA of what you guys do. I’m pretty sure the first time I remember meeting Michael in person was in Austin, Smarter Artist Summit.And you were, I had learned that you were you were purchasing e-reading devices. Kindles, people might have heard of them, for military personnel. So that they could be entertained, right? While they were serving their country abroad and, you know, often by themselves, or whatever. Because again, we know that story is so valuable to the human experience. And that’s kind of my first impression of you. And then figuring out, oh my God, he’s also this really sharp business guy who’s written some stuff. And then that seems to have carried through with everything that you guys do in terms of the, you know, giving to the author community on a regular basis. How important is that to the DNA of LMBPN and what you guys do?
Michael Anderle 28:19
Well, it’s interesting because I think it’s important to the personality of Judith and myself to do it. Ergo, it flows out naturally, right? It’s not like something we put up, “our company will.” No, we do. And since we are the leaders of the company, therefore the company does, and it attracted like-minded individuals to work with us who don’t have to. You know, Lynne Stigler, she doesn’t have to be the head of editing and running an editing group that does 1.5 to 1.8 million words a month, running through this episode. But she does it, not for the money, but because she sees the lives that are changed around the world and she’s meeting people where, you can tell, these people sometimes have no chance to work outside the home. None.Not that we would know that. Oftentimes what we do is, we run into them. And we have communications, and all of a sudden, it’s like, yeah, this, this would work well. And we find out later their needs or what was satisfied. So I find that really compelling.
Judith Anderle 29:24
Yeah. Likewise, you know, like Kelly, Jennifer and Grace, and forgive me for not mentioning their last names, but they are, these individuals are people who are well-versed, who are successful in their own right, in their own writings and the functions that they do. But they actually take their time to come in and work with us. And they, in all of them, I see it when, in the messages in Slack, they take pride when we see a comment from a reader that says, I really liked this story, you guys hit it out of the park. They’re all excited about it, because their DNA is in it. And again, it does go back to the heart. And I think that all the people that work with us are all, at the core, about giving and giving back. And so I think that’s what drives the engine.
Mark Lefevbre 30:06
Fantastic. Speaking of giving,I’m going to pop up a comment. We’re going to start taking some questions from the studio audience here. And the first one is from Elyssa, who’s just commenting, because she is our marketing, branding person in the background, who created all the great graphics that you see behind us, the color of the scheme, and obviously she’s on the side with you, saying “Branding means you’re taking yourself seriously.” I also want to say happy birthday, Elyssa.
Judith Anderle 30:31
Oh, happy birthday Elyssa. Go April, go April baby.
Michael Anderle 30:38
So we’re all stuck here, right, at home, and not really getting out. And I’m not really good at birthday cards anyway. So when it came time in April to celebrate Judith’s 18th birthday, you know …
Mark Lefevbre 30:48
Oh come on, she’s 19. I’ve seen her drink alcohol.
Michael Anderle 30:52
Well, okay, so I was doing the hashtags or the pound sign or whatever. Hashtag “not jailbait anymore. Legal finally.” You know, as her birthday card.
Mark Lefevbre 31:04
I like that. I like that, cool. I’m going to go to, and you guys are so youthful of spirit. I’m going to pop up this question that came from Russ. And Russ said, “Could you rank social media for me and tell what each platform is best for?” He’s a social media newbie. How would you guys rank social media, and what’s best for what?
Michael Anderle 31:23
Alright, so I’m not going to go, I’m going to venture only to the one I chose to do. I do believe that, you know, 80% of your opportunity comes from, you know, 20% of the people you ever try. So I understood Facebook. I understand the advertising of Facebook, I understand the social aspects of Facebook. So we have focused on Facebook. Now, Judith has worked with outside people to, you know, work on Twitter and Instagram and some of the others, but my personal desire is, if you have only a limited amount of time and understanding, strictly go to Facebook first, if you’re a fiction writer. If you’re nonfiction, unfortunately I can’t help you there.
Mark Lefevbre 32:03
And I’ve heard that Facebook ad spend is potentially a little bit down lately. Is that?
Michael Anderle 32:11
Well, the cost per click is down, which means of course, you get more clicks in order to go up. So for us we’re moving spend from Amazon ads, which are still high. I mean, they’re coming down just for what’s going on, but they’re still high, comparatively speaking, and we’ve moved them over to Facebook. Because one of the things to remember is there’s a lot of people at home sitting on Facebook. Ergo, more ad opportunity, driving the cost down and getting people to go over and see your books. And then we’re also expanding out to other countries that are predominantly English and really focusing on those areas as well.
Mark Lefevbre 32:41
Excellent, cool. While I’m looking for other questions to pop up, I’m just going to pop up a couple other notices from people. And the next question is coming from Amber, who says, “Do you have any plans for new formats for the ebook layouts?” Oh, that’s for us. I’m sorry. Amber, we’ll get back to you on that one. Sorry, I thought that was a question for branding, but that’s a good question. I’m going to turn this into a question for Michael and Judith. You have definite branding on your different series. I’m gonna spin that into a question of, have you changed it very often? I mean, we’ve seen things like Stephen King, for example, you know, changes the look and feel, the publishers change the look and feel over time. Have you done that with any of your publishing?
Michael Anderle 33:25
We have. Terry Henry Walton, way back in the beginning, was the first one where we changed late in the stream to add another character. And so we had about three books out, because we’re on a publishing schedule. And at the same time, we were actually doing model shoots in order to rebrand the whole series. Even recently, we’ve got a series that we’re taking the original covers and applying different artifacts, and if they don’t work anymore, we’re redoing them and we’re going to rebrand, because, just the first ones didn’t hit quite right. And we didn’t know what we missed until, you know, you’re 12 months later going okay, I see it. I see why this was. So we have no fear in going back and redoing it. We will probably, when we release that one in a couple of months, we’ll probably have done five to six series that we rebranded.
Mark Lefevbre 34:14
Okay, cool. So I want to go back a little bit to the models, right? Because I remember seeing the photoshoot scenes for the Opus X models, for the actors who are on the covers. And you’ve done that well in advance. I know that, I used to go to Romantic Times conference. And a lot of times the romance authors would sometimes have the models who, you know, the bare chested guys with the washboard abs, that they would actually come and hang out with the readers because the readers were excited to see them. When the world returns to normal, if the world returns to normal, do you foresee, are the models approachable? That may be at your booth at a Comic Con, that maybe you’re going to be there but also potentially you get to take your picture with one of the models in costume. Is that a possibility?
Judith Anderle 35:00
Yes, actually, that was one of the requirements before they were hired on. We asked them if they would make themselves available. And this was foresight from Mike’s side. You know, when you hire the particular model, make sure that they’re aware that we’re going to potentially require them. And they were glad, so both of them are ready. And as a matter of fact, 20 bucks to 50k Vegas is coming up in 2019. Is there any wood? Knock on wood, hopefully. Or, excuse me, for 2020.
Mark Lefevbre 35:26
They’re gonna be there?
Judith Anderle 35:27
Yes. We’re planning with for them to be there, at least the male if not the female. So Gia and Eric might be there. Definitely Eric will be there. So yes.
Mark Lefevbre 35:36
So I mean, last year, somebody had the cardboard cutout. So you could take a picture with some celebrities, but now there’s going to be a real model for them to take a picture of. Besides you guys, of course.
Judith Anderle 35:45
Yes, of course. Thank you.
Mark Lefevbre 35:48
That’s cool. I love that. Again, multi-dimensional thinking. Next question’s coming from Richard. He says, “Does LMBPN act as a publishing company to publish independent series that aren’t part of the Anderle Universes? If so, how would one inquire about these services?”
Judith Anderle 36:04
There’s a link on our website where you can go to and it’ll take you to the modality. So, Lynn Stiegler is the person who reviews inquiries and then we take it from there.
Mark Lefevbre 36:17
And that’s LMBPN.com for anyone only listening to this in audio. Excellent, thank you. And let me see, another question. Just letting you know, Amber, thank you for the DECO designs that we have for the formatting for D2D. But we appreciate that, and we’re probably going to be rolling out some new ones in the future. I am not sure if I see any other specific questions other than, Jenny loves hearing from you guys. So, hey, cool.
Michael Anderle 36:46
Come on, you’re not gonna do the Lexi Greene one? “I love that mark is pro-Literary Booth Babe Dudes.”
Mark Lefevbre 36:51
Oh, that one there? Yes. Hey, equal access right? Gotta have all the people there, right? So that’s kind of cool. Now that you’ve gone this this many months into a wide project, how is that affecting any previous plans that you might have had? Or is it affecting your plans? Or is it just kind of, forward as usual?
Michael Anderle 37:17
No, we um, we are starting to try to find out which of our backlist we can move over. So, you know, anything that looks like it is potentially challenged, we’re like, okay, how do we move this over? Let’s start this process, Was it KKG, or whoever, who bought Overdrive recently, or is in the process of buying it from Rakuten? You know, I look at that, and I go, I have to wonder, if you have a major investment firm—another one who, if I’m not mistaken, also owns a lot of audio companies. But, you know, what are they seeing? And then you start finding out that there’s only two clicks between Overdrive and putting it on your Kindle app, right? So that would mean that people who are familiar with the library system are going to be moving into a publishing system, you know, acquisition, and it makes me think that, you know, we need to have more hooks in the water on the wide side. Now we have a different opportunity ourselves because we have such a large backlist, I do recognize that. But I feel like, if there’s a way to procure enough content to start getting your name out, better to be doing it, even at a small trickle, for six months or a year, than all of a sudden have to do a large effort a year from now.
Mark Lefevbre 38:31
Okay. All right. I thank you, I appreciate that. I’m also curious, as a writer myself, now that it’s not just solo indie writing, but it’s so much collaboration, it’s so much business. How do you make the time to continue to do those creative things that you are so passionate about? I mean, are you still able to spend some time writing, and how do you carve that time out?
Michael Anderle 38:58
Yeah, like last week, I think I did about 30,000 words of collaborative beats.
Judith Anderle 39:05
You have them in front of you right now.
Michael Anderle 39:07
And the answer is, 11 o’clock at night, 12 o’clock at night, Saturday and Sunday.
Mark Lefevbre 39:13
Okay, awesome. And again, a lot of it is very collaborative, right? And you are obviously collaborating with so many different people. I mean, obviously, not just your wonderful partner and wife, but you’re collaborating with different writers. Do you have to adjust your style with the different writers that you’re working with?
Michael Anderle 39:29
I do try to find out what makes them tick. Where’s the … You know, we always talk about that in the genres. You know, what is it that you like to write, and what is selling, and where, you know, that meets. And that’s the way that I work collaboratively is like, tell me about you. And I go through that, and then I find the aspects of what they like that I like that I feel can sell. So that, you know, we have a three way Venn diagram, if you will, you know. And even yesterday, I was working with one individual, and we were going back and forth on a series that we plan on putting out in six to nine months, and just working through it. This person doesn’t really do beats. And so it’s a new process for him to think about, where, I’m like, “Well, if that’s gonna happen, well, then we have to, you know, enter this over here, or the reader’s not gonna believe it.” So let’s discuss, what is that inciting incident that’s going to really cause the believer to believe that those people over there are even going to take a chance on this? And so it is just sometimes that level. It’s not even the words, it’s just starting down the path to give them a good map to go somewhere that we know at least is inside LMBPN, and that we can sell. You know, we can’t sell to certain individuals because we don’t know anything about them. You know?
Mark Lefevbre 40:47
Cool. Thank you. Thank you. I’m gonna pop up this question from Lexi, which has been edited, so I’m going to edit it on the fly here as I pop it up. Lexi asked, “When you started going wide, was there anything that surprised you compared to your historical Amazon publishing experience?”
Judith Anderle 41:03
Yes, actually one of the “aha”s that came forth was that you can actually put your books out for pre-order a year in advance. And that you can have only your covers, you don’t necessarily have to have the manuscript complete. And that was actually a learning from the group. And it was like, what? You can do that?
Mark Lefevbre 41:25
Yeah, we call it assetless pre-orders at Draft2Digital. But then we nag you like crazy when your release date’s coming up. “Have you loaded the final file? Are you ready?” We’ve got to send it to the retailers, you know?
Judith Anderle 41:35
Yeah, and we do, and actually, you know, the team works really well in making sure that they’re well in advance. But that was the “aha” learning, because no one on our side knew, right? Definitely I didn’t.
Michael Anderle 41:48
When you learn, when you grow up in the Amazon infrastructure, especially at that time, it was 90 day pre-order, and that wasn’t helping you from a ranking perspective, you were losing ranking. And so to go from that ingrained habit of holding off until the last moment to try the best. And everyone is going “No, you go a year, go a year.” And that was so anathema to what we knew that we needed to be doing that it needed to be, you know, hit into our head a few times. At least for myself, Judith was much more open to it. But I was like, eh …
Judith Anderle 42:22
I didn’t know any better, so I was like, okay.
Michael Anderle 42:23
And then just to the relationships, I mean, if, the more that you’re in it, the more opportunities for relationships with companies happen, because they understand now that you have skin in the game in their area, and they’re willing to talk to you, versus, I’m thinking about doing this. So that was really nice for us.
Mark Lefevbre 42:43
Yeah. Excellent, excellent. I’m gonna go back to the craft again, because again, I can’t help it. I’m just, you know, as creators, that’s what we go to. Michael, are there any particular characters of yours, because you’ve written so many different things, that you’d love to return to, or you kind of miss?
Michael Anderle 43:01
Um,you know, I think that we’ll go back to Brownstone. The last Brownstone’s about to hit. That’s 24 books over a long time. But I’m already seeing the fans wanting to come back to it. And they’re like, what about his son, his son just was born.And so there’s some of that. There’s one called Pandora, which is, you know, we talk about pen names and different things like that. LMBPN has a handful of pen names that we use for marketing purposes. One is to be able to separate the brand, if you will, of Michael Anderle, who is closed door.And Michael Todd, who’s willing to do all of those adult jokes. And so Pandora is a demon that was married to the devil, not happily. So she was able to escape to Earth whenever someone was trying to kill her, and all the machinations. But she has a very adult mind, because she’s lived so long. And it was fun to be able to put these jokes, these, you know, adult jokes, but underneath the auspices of a totally different name. And so I’m thinking of myself, Judith’s gonna ask a question to me about this later.And so in doing so, we haven’t touched that product line in well over a year. So I’m just thinking in the future, I’m going to get one of those things where I’m a little bored and feeling very mischievous, and deciding to go back and do some more of that.
Mark Lefevbre 44:35
Excellent, excellent. Well, we are coming up on the last minute of this. I want to thank you guys so much for joining me here this afternoon. Any last words of advice on the business of writing?
Michael Anderle 44:47
Life changes after you hit the Publish button?
Mark Lefevbre 44:52
Okay, excellent. I love that. Well guys, thank you again so much for hanging out with me. Thanks for sharing your insights, wisdom, and some behind the scenes of LMBPN, which you can check out at LMBPN.com. And you can start your self-publishing career at Draft2Digital over at draft2digital.com. Again this is Mark2Digital with Judith Anderle and Michael Anderle. Thank you guys.
Judith and Michael Anderle 45:15
Thank you. Thank you, bye bye.