In this episode Mark interviews Judith and Michael Anderle of LMBPN Publishing.
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You can learn more about how you can get your work distributed to retailers and library systems around the world at starkreflections.ca/Findaway.
Prior to the interview, Mark shares a personal update on the forthcoming release of Fear and Longing in Los Angeles and the ongoing work being done on Wide for the Win. He also talks about the benefits of PLR (Public Lending Right) programs.
In their conversation, Judith, Michael, and Mark talk about:
- How they each got started in the business of publishing
- Michael’s first 90 days of writing and publishing
- Judith’s background in the medical and pharmaceutical industry and how she made Michael create a profit/loss statement for the following year for LMBPN before she decided to step in and run the company
- How calculating the earnings of $7.50 per book per day led to the idea of the 20Booksto50K methodology, movement, and Facebook Group
- Judith’s inkling for fashion and how that led to the company name LMBPN (London Madrid Barceloni Paris New York – the fashion capitals of the word) and how the complexity of the company name provided a “great, people will talk about it” essence
- The “Disruptive Imagination” tag line for LMBPN and the multiple pillars represented in the logo itself
- The generosity of spirit in working with authors directly at LMBPN as well as sharing with the larger author community
- Some of the international authors and employees of LMBPN who hail from all over the world
- How Michael and Judith have long operated not only within indie publishing circles, but also traditional publishing venues and international book fairs
- The recent acquisition of book industry veteran Robin Cutler as President of LMBPN
- Michael’s recent health issues related to hypertension and other conditions
- The value of knowing yourself, and your nature, as well as understanding your strengths and weaknesses
- The unofficial “disrupting retirement” behavior of LMBPN
- How Judith never looks at a negotiation as a one-time business contract, but more about the benefit of the long-term relationship
- The OPUS-X project and the multi-layers of collaboration for this wide book launch
- Advice that Michael and Judith would give to the earlier versions of themselves when first getting into this business
- And more…
After the interview Mark reflects on the ground-breaking changes that LMBPN is ushering in. He also thanks patrons of the podcast.
Links of Interest
- LMBPN Publishing
- Black History Month Organizations & Resources
- Findaway Voices
- Fear and Longing in Los Angeles
- Fright Nights, Big City
- Wide for the Win
- Wide Writer Survey
- Wide for the Win Submission Form
- Patreon for Stark Reflections
LMBPN is the publishing company for the Kurtherian Gambit, Oriceran, Protected by the Damned and other Universes. In addition to Michael Anderle, they have have published in eBook, print, and audio format collaborations with Justin Sloan, Craig Martelle, TS Paul, CM Raymond, and LE Barbant, Paul C. Middleton, Amy Hopkins, Ell Leigh Clarke, PT Hylton, Candy Crum, Martha Carr, Sarah Boyce, A. L. Knorr, Sarah Knoffke, and many others.
This automated transcription of the interview portion of the episode has not been verified by a human.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Judith, Michael, welcome to the stark reflections podcast.
Judith Anderle: Thank you for having us.
Michael Anderle: Yeah. Thank you, Mark.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I’m so thrilled to have you guys here, but for anyone who’s not familiar with you, two amazing powerhouses in the, in the, uh, world end in the traditional publishing world. Uh, tell us a little bit about, uh, first yourselves, uh, and how you got into this publishing business.
Michael Anderle: So I’ll start, um, back in 2015, November, 2015, I released my first book and because I had been a, what I call a wheel reader, I released a bunch of them in succession. So I wrote really quick, at least among like November 2nd, November 11th, November 23rd, December. The 18th, I think, and January 5th, and by the third month I hit was a five figures in income.
So a little over $10,000 in income in the first 90 days from that success I had, um, reached out to a bunch of fans who were asking me questions and said, you know, let me pull you into a group. I called that group 20 bucks to 50 K to talk about the business. And from there that particular group has grown over the years.
Um, we, the company itself was doing over six figures a month by the end of 2016. So in a year, um, and then I was able to, based on that information, uh, was able to talk to Judith and, and I think it was like about December of 2016 about. You know, retiring hers as we call it. And so I didn’t realize what that meant to her compared to me.
I thought that meant that she might, you know, desire to come work with the company and then she’s turned and was looking at other opportunities within her field. And I’m like, but, but come over here, come over here. But anyway, I’ll let you go from there because she was already an international, uh, marketing director for a significant nine-figure power lines.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Yeah. It’s the third year you moved from what industry? Into publishing.
Judith Anderle: Yeah, so I had over 20 years experience in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry working for companies such as Novartis was the last company I worked for before joining Alan VPN. So going from a multi-billion dollar company to a successful startup, uh, was.
An interesting move
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: and risky. Cause even, even with success in publishing, like you’re going from this gigantic. Yes to, you know, relying on a dude over there to, to
Judith Anderle: write. Yes. Well, I think, I think it goes to his definition of retirement, right. You know, by the time he said, Hey, you should really make this move.
Uh, he had to show me financially that he could, you know,
Michael Anderle: She made me do a profit loss statement for the following year.
Judith Anderle: I said, I said, well, what are the growth projections for your company? What do you? And it’s like, what? I said, well, what do you plan to do from, you know, year after year? Because after all the family budget was going to take a significant hit with the leaving the industry.
Uh, but he, you know, he assured me that everything was taken care of and. You know, I really believed in what he was doing. And when I started looking at the fan base and the response that he had, I thought, you know, why not? You know, this is a good time for me to slow down and, and get closer to the family.
For the most part, I was traveling a lot. So, um, Michael is to stay at home dad with the boys and, you know, I was all over the world and. Oh, so it was time for me to come home and I thought it was a good opportunity to take so, and I am a risk taker at heart. So it makes sense.
Michael Anderle: Both worlds. Yes, exactly. Yeah.
I forget some of these pieces where I’m like, wouldn’t you expect your spouse to jump at the opportunity. And she’s like, well, I really like to have a 2020, or what year was that? 15, 17, 2017 profit loss expectation. Right? As a decision matrix related to whether or not she was going to step down from her present job.
And so I had to pull that together. So it was like in January ish that we met again, you know, to go over this stuff. And so that was just another way for me to understand, you know, how Judah’s mind works in some of these things. Well,
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: so, I mean, Judith’s, uh, analytical, uh, business savvy obviously has had rubbed off on you because the whole concept of the 20 books to 50 K was you looking at how you had done in that first six months based on the number of books you had, and then you did projections.
Michael Anderle: Well, in this case, I mean, both of us are entrepreneurial actually by nature. So, um, what had happened at that time is, uh, we were down in Cabo San Lucas and just based on the existing two books I had released, and those abouts released the third, uh, we were looking at acquiring a condo down there, and then I realized the cost of living was so low that if I could actually just run based on what I was making at that moment.
Which was about seven and a half dollars a book for two books a day. I go, if I wrote 20 books, we could actually, you know, make more than $50,000 in a year and retire there based on the money that you know, the house in Texas cost and moving it over to Mexico and everything else. So I could retire her. I didn’t realize she didn’t have no desire to be retired because I should probably have asked her, but that was my theory behind it.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Wow. Cool. So, uh, what were you Alan BPN publishing or is that something that was founded as, as, as, as Judith approved the statement? The projection statement said, yeah, I think I’ll come work
Judith Anderle: with you. You know, as I saw what Mike was doing, I was still before retiring. Right. I saw that. Um, he was putting together this company and prior to that, I always had, uh, an inkling for fashion.
Um, and so I would, you know, sign up for the, all the major magazines and talk about the designers and everything. Um, and so he said, you know, one as an outlet, right? You create about lead from the pharmaceutical side and, and the job that you have, uh, what are you put together a website? And I thought that’s a great idea.
And so I started putting together a fashion, you know, um, Suits and everything and, and, and styling different, um, different things that were coming up. And so Mike created a website for me, and it was called L N BPN, uh, for London, um, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, New York, the, the, the, the mix in there. And, um, and so I started posting and got some following on Facebook.
So when Mike started becoming successful with his publishing. Um, you know, you started thinking about setting up the business. We thought about a brand and he says, you know, I wanted to be Ellen VPN because, uh, is the Genesis of everything that I’m doing and because of the major cities. Uh, and so we started, uh, looking at the logo and, and, and trying to think phonetically how it would work.
One of the things that I pointed out to Mike from a branding standpoint, I said, you know, this is going to be very difficult for people to pronounce because it’s several letters and what does it mean? And he said, great. Good. That means people will think about it and you know, they’ll, they’ll come and notice that I said, great.
Well, that’s a great idea. And so we decided to make sure that the company was branded, uh, much like the little website that I had and it became Ellen VPN. Is it turns out these are the major cities, not only from a fashion standpoint, but from a publishing standpoint as well, because when we were Madrid, we were able to visit some of the major publishing companies that were there.
And it just, uh, it was fortuitous that the two came together.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Oh, that is cool. And, and I mean, I I’ve long teased you guys, and I think I’ve called it LMN LP or something. Yeah. I could never get it
Michael Anderle: right. But, um, yeah,
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: but I love, I mean, I love the look of the brand. It actually is very international, which I know you guys have a very international focus and, and can you, let’s talk about disruptive imagination, which is your sort of your, your log line or what, what would you call that?
Judith Anderle: Yeah, it’s, it’s our tagline. Right? So if you look at the logo and I’ll step aside so that you can look at it. Disruptive imagination is basically when the company was being formed, what Mike was doing unto itself, because he was an indie author and he was coming up with ideas and, and sharing his knowledge, uh, for free, he wasn’t charging.
And he was just talking about how he was building up this business on his own and people were incredulous, you know, and, and he would say, no, this is really what’s going on. And so he was being disrupted by nature. Um, and then we, as we talk about the company and really Mike has a lot of foresight. Um, he says, you know, I want this company not to be only a publishing company, but to be entertainment company merchandising company.
So basically what the disruptive imagination is the basis that takes the rising sun and raises the pillars in each pillar. Eventually it will become an entity unto itself. So there’s publishing there’ll be a merchandising. And so if you see the letters lend themselves also to all of these different factors, And so basically this is just the beginning of what will eventually be a larger company with different, uh, different divisions.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I love that. You’re thinking beyond the book, right from the get-go. Yes. Right. Which is kind of cool. So the other thing I want to go back to as I think it must’ve been the first time that I met Michael in person was probably in Austin at smarter artist summit, one of the earlier ones. And I remembered a couple of things.
I think the thing that stuck out in my mind was that, um, he had been buying Kindles. For war vets, because he wanted to help them. He wanted to give them something to thank them for what they did for the country, but also like, cause because you know, when you’re trapped away from your family away from your loved ones and you know, you could at least have access to some great content.
Obviously, Michael, one of the authors who is, who is writing that, but that was part that became in my mind the way when I look at L and BPN, I look at the. Initially the generosity in collaboration with authors, who probably, I think it’s fair to say. There are many, many authors who are now very comfortable thanks to collaborations and being, uh, an Helen VPN author is it’s fair to say that
Michael Anderle: I think.
Um, that as well as just from all of the acknowledge and encouragement that we’ve shared over the years, you know, we, we have, we have, uh, been blessed to be able to go around the world and just share this knowledge. Um, Craig Martell has built quite a few of these, but whenever we go, it’s on our dime. We, we never, there’s never a dollar that we take.
And even now this year, we’re going to be part of another, um, conference that will be held. I think Judith and July. Yes. Yeah. In July that, you know, once again that we don’t take any money for that, but yes, both from the authors that have been part of us that have gone and taken what they learned and go on and off by themselves, or even now, you know, they stay with the company and they move forward.
I believe that’s a fair statement.
Judith Anderle: I think it goes back to. And which is really also one of the reasons why I joined the company because at the heart, at the Genesis of who Michael and I are, and perhaps, you know, as a couple in our private life is what keeps us together is the fact that we believe in service.
And so the more blessings that we have, the more that we want to share and going back to the disruption nature of what Michael was doing in the beginning and continues to do to this day, to his point, Uh, the meeting we’re going to July, uh, is to share. Right. And so, um, you know, wherever we can, we want to make sure that that we’re helping, um, it is a business.
It is it’s, it’s not a nonprofit Allenby pianists, but, but we do try to take profits and we do try to make sure that, uh, we give tidings, you know, in our personal life and that we, that we share. The knowledge and the, and as much of the business savvy with anybody who wants to come and join. And, uh, and so I think there is a blessing to go around and also with the 20 books to 50 K, that is a non-profit entity.
You know, it’s, it’s difficult because as you get well known and, and that’s the. Conference becomes larger. There’s always, um, you know, businesses that approach and want to do rightfully so they want to promote, but it’s really difficult to draw that line and say, well, no, because at the end of the day, the purpose of that conference is really for information sharing.
Right, right. Uh, and it’s not so much for the successful authors that attend. And there are several that attend like Michael and the Koto crowd and many others. But it’s really for that one author who is just about to write their one book and that’s the book that’s going to help them and provide them income to feed their kids or pay the rent or something.
And so ultimately we do all of that for that one individual. And I can tell you that I did experience firsthand. Author’s coming up to Michael and thanking him for the initiative of the 20 bucks to 50 K for the initiative that he has and sharing the knowledge when he has him. And for me as his spouse, uh, is, is heartwarming.
And of course I’m proud of the fact that he does do that in that it’s in his nature.
Michael Anderle: Cool.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I think it’s in both your natures, that, that, how so? So I like L and BPM publishing. How many titles do you have at this point? And this is January 20, 21.
Michael Anderle: Approximately a thousand
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: thousand titles. Wow. And how about roughly how many authors are in
Michael Anderle: the family?
Um, authors that have helped produce those is a little over 50. And that’s over a hundred series that we’ve done. We’re predominantly a series based company. We have 65 translations presently in German, and we have 18 series under translation into German. Judith runs the international. Um, she’s, I don’t know that many people know, but she’s poly lingual.
And so. With her existing international knowledge from decades. Well, just two, just two decades of experience. She started nine, right? Yes, exactly. She’s story. And I’m sticking to it. She’s the Doogie Howser of, of marketing. But just with all of that, I mean, she really does all of that. She’s engaged us into China, you know, we’ve been to China twice and there’s just a lot of opportunities that are going on.
Around the company. So, um, you wanna, if you can real quick Judas speak to just the different languages that you’re undertaking.
Judith Anderle: Well, you know, we’re going into the markets wherever there’s an opportunity. And what we’re looking for is individuals who want to come and join Ellen BPN, not, you know, not just for like a.
Quick turnaround, but actually longterm that they’re thinking long-term. Um, we were fortunate enough in Germany, for example, uh, one of Michael’s fans, uh, avid reader came up to him in our first Frankford and asked him if he had thought about having his books translated into German. And so he said he had, he had a translating company.
And so he would like to undertake and that fast-forward, I think it’s about three and a half years to now where Germany is. Really a success because of yet shows he, uh, he worked closely and he emulated, um, Michael’s model, including, you know, advertisement, everything that Michael was doing. And, uh, and so, you know, he went in step with that and now we’re successful there.
And so that also has. Meant that we have opportunities in other countries. You know, we’ve been approached by somebody in France that we’re speaking to. Now we have somebody in the Netherlands, you know, Netherlands is small, but it’s the for us, we look at the individual who approaches us. We look at their intent and then, you know, we welcome the opportunity to work with them.
And so, uh, we’re happy. We have Eduardo minima who is an author. A Dutch author and, um, he wanted to come on and work with us. So we, we will be releasing those books soon in, uh, in the Netherlands and around the world in Dutch. Wow.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Uh, is it okay if I ask, uh, how many people are in the family as employees of, and
Michael Anderle: BPN.
Um, yeah, I won’t be telling you or not Marcus.
Um, it, it, while it is fluid, because we have a lot of people, we are an international company, so we have people from all over the world, whether it’s Australia. Yeah. One of the ones I love to talk about is Transylvania. We have an artist that lives in Transylvania, web editor in South Africa, Mexico, Canada.
I mean, we really all over the world. And from that standpoint, if we take out the author’s part of it, we’re probably in about the 20 range that we engage. Um, a lot of them are, are simply part-time, you know, they do a very specific task and. Doesn’t require all, you know, all week long to do that. So,
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: and I’m not sure which path to go on because there’s so many things I want to talk about, but I want to talk about, um, the, um, the fact that you guys started off.
With a focus on e-books in the early days and the focus on exclusivity to a major retailer, the biggest bookstore in the world that river, the river, the river, um, obviously it was very, uh, Amazon Kindle, unlimited set centric. However, I remember seeing you at the world book fairs, you know, I think the one of the last times is that Bea in New York, when there was a Bea and, and working to connect.
W this indie spirit and drive and passion and that dynamic fluidity that you can leverage fast, unlike New York publishers, but then looking for ways to integrate what you did with. The old boys network. So it, it, I long seen you guys creating this worldview where that goes way beyond just eBooks and just obviously what you’ve spoken about, and that kind of leads to the recent acquisition.
It’s still within the last month or two, that it was announced that, uh, I mean you two alone are enough of a powerhouse and then you bring in. Congratulations, Robin Cutler as your president. Can, can you talk a little bit about, about that?
Michael Anderle: Well, a while, probably a year, year and a half ago, Judith had a discussion with me because she had seen some stuff that was going on and made some suggestions.
And a lot of times, Judith and I will not see eye to eye immediately. Um, I might turn it off. You know, but I’ll still ponder it. I respect her both as my spouse, but more importantly, in this case, on the business side of things and I’ll, I’ll continue considering it. And so I had a situation occur in September that, uh, also made me kind of really take a hard look in what is it that I wanted to accomplish with only VPN.
What was I personally good at? You know, as an. As I’m an entrepreneur I’m allowed to play in any area I want to. And what I’ve learned over the last year and a half, because I tried other things was I’m not good at all of those things. You know, I really was able to understand what am I good at? But just because I’m good at something doesn’t mean, I still don’t want to accomplish an opportunity in an area that I’m not good at.
And so with, you know, this guidance and wisdom from Judith and just some other, you know, books I’ve been reading, I’ve been reading about. Entrepreneurism since I was a teenager, you know, my dad would grab the sports pages, I’d grab the business pages. So this information, you know, bubbles back up over time and it’s like, I need somebody who’s going to do this piece.
I can’t. Not only because I needed it. I didn’t have the skillset. I didn’t have the temperament either and I didn’t have the health to do it. You know, I had over there the last four or five years, my stress, um, had gotten quite a bit. I had not recognized it whatsoever. It didn’t feel like there was a problem, but I had an issue that popped up suddenly in September where my art arm just died.
It just in the middle of a meeting, it just went out and I had to, you know, go over to, um, Judith’s office and say, can, can you help me here a little bit? I, I seem to have a problem. And so she took immediately to take a look and she’s like nine one one. And so she called, I got an, um, a trip to the hospital via ambulance and they put me through the ringer and I think Judith TMI, what is the, what is that thing that the claim that I had.
Judith Anderle: Oh, uh, hypertension.
Michael Anderle: Okay. Hypertension, really my blood pressure was off the charts and I’ve had to be, you know, I had basically go down, they threw me on a lot of medicines that tossed, you know, mentally I was not capable of focusing and the rest of the company took care of, take care of it. But yeah. The company will still to some degree based on the individual Michael Anderly and when Robin cook Cutler cook, when Robin Cutler joined, I told you that that day I go we’ve we’ve matured past the owner led company.
This company doesn’t. Require me anymore. It’s mature. It’s its own entity. You know, Judith handles a big chunk of marketing and international and audio connections. And now with Robin Cutler, as the president of the publishing division, that’s who people will go and talk to. That’s who they will engage with.
And you’re talking about a lady who has decades of experience built Ingram spark was building crew create space. Before that, with Amazon, before that she had a publishing company before that she was in the college and university area and we had this opportunity. So with, um, Judith and I had a discussion about earlier about a different resource.
And so I went to her and I said, Hey, I’m really thinking about offering Robin color, this position, what do you think? And she was on board with it. And so what we had planned to do is bring Robin and her husband out to Vegas. They live about six hours from here and right at the beginning of December, when she had just quit and re quote unquote retired, So we, I had this grandiose plan and Judith was helping me, you know, we, um, she had laid out the hotel rooms, everything was good to go.
And then COVID number two hit. And, and all of a sudden that just went down the drain and I’m like, son of a gun. Well, I don’t feel like I’m really great on it. Talking on the phone. I’m better. I believe in, in person, but I had to get on the phone and get ahold of Robin and say, Hey, you know, I know you weren’t able to come here, but can I talk to you anyway?
And Robin has mentioned in a, in a discussion with us this week when she was talking to someone else about how she thought I was going to be like everybody else. Who said, Hey, you know, I want to pimp you for information or can, you know, can you tell me how to get into Ingram? Can you, and so we took her a little bit by surprise, whenever I said, Hey, I really like to see if you’d be willing to come back to L and D P and as the president of the publishing division, just shocking her Judith, you want to tack in.
Judith Anderle: Yeah, I think, you know, there’s a couple of points that might touch upon that. I think it’s important for anybody, right? Who is publishing, whether. You’re on your own, or whether you’re thinking about establishing your publishing company, you really have to know yourself and figure out your strengths. In particular, you’re thinking long-term.
So to Mike’s point, um, you know, I mean, we’ve been married for over 10 years, but sometimes you really don’t even know the individual you’re you’re with, or perhaps you’re myopic in your view. Um, I know I was because for me, you know, I’ve been in business for such a long time. I’ve worked for enterprises before that it it’s second nature, right.
To go from one thing to the other, to the other, to the other, not realizing that for Mike’s, um, nature. Uh, the stress that he was undertaking, I couldn’t see it. I really couldn’t see it, but it was in there and manifested itself in the way it did in September. Um, so I didn’t realize that a lot of the conversations that we were having throughout.
You know, are working with operations and everything. I would ask her. Well, what about this? What about that? It’s normally you ask of the leadership, right? Presidency, um, chief executive officer. And I didn’t realize that it was putting that much strain on him. So when, when I started acknowledging it about a year ago, I said, look, if this is going to be too much, Then you might consider bringing in someone who’s going to take on the role of precedent because this company right now, um, I equated to, you know, the car with gear shifts.
You know, I can drive those cars when they’re available. You know, this company right now is going from, you know, second gear to third we’re right now in neutral transitioning. So we need to have somebody who’s going to come in and then take it because otherwise. The company is going. And, and if it’s, you know, if it’s overwhelming, it’s going to kill you now at the same time, he’s also the creative force behind the company.
There’s no doubt about it, even, uh, you know, with the collaborations that he has, he is always on the phone with his collaborators. They’re always coming up with ideas. And so, you know, he was like 24 seven and as the spouse, and he was telling him, you need to slow down. So it was good that he thought about it.
And frankly, you know, I think. Everything, you know, everything comes to the things that should be right. Everything happens for a reason. And it was fortuitous that, uh, Robin decided to retire and it was, it was fortuitous that for Ellen BPN, it was a time to bring up something with her caliber. We were fortunate.
And the fact that she’s well-respected in the industry, uh, only adds to your point, Mark, you know, uh, the types of, um, you know, the type of relationships that type of, um, Uh, vision that we want to have for the company and to have somebody like that leaning in, in the precedent president’s role. It’s really, it was just perfect timing all around.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I have to add, it almost feels like one of your, um, unseen, uh, taglines might be disrupting retirement.
Judith Anderle: Exactly. What upright twice. Yes. I think. And you know, I think, you know, you, what is it, uh, you know, when you see, you know yeah, yeah. Mike, I think it’s, it’s part of this evil plan, you know, it’s like, Let me, Oh, I act like I, you know, and then it’s, it’s all along what he wanted.
So yeah. I think your point.
Michael Anderle: Yeah, we’ve done it four times. The first person that Ellen BPN, 20 bucks to 50 K was actually the plan. Was you Judith? Yes, that’s right.
Judith Anderle: Oh, that’s right. That’s right.
Michael Anderle: When I actually, yeah. Um, was retired and was just fiddling around. So he’s the one that came in his operations Lynn Stigler in the editing.
She unretired her and put her to more work than she probably had done in a lot of times. Cause I mean, the first couple of years of her working here, that her, and then what became her team was almost 24 seven. And then, um, and then of course Robin Cutler’s or our latest, because I finally got Judith off this whole other kick of, you know, looking at the companies that were in this fear of what she knew.
And I’m like, no, no, come over here. We have cookies.
Judith Anderle: You know, one of the things that. Becomes a common thread. And I don’t think it’s, I think it’s by greater design, but not necessarily by Mike’s design per se. Um, is the fact that the people that have joined us are at a point in their life where they, that they have the luxury.
Right. Of pursuing their heart and doing things because they want to, not because they have to. Right. And so all of us that have joined the company, uh, including Mike, when he started, you know, we were fortunate that financially, right. We were set, he had his own company and I was in, in, in a well-paid industry.
Uh, but all of us really are doing this because it’s in our heart. And so, uh, with Robin joining us, you know, she, she didn’t have to join us. I’m sure many offers, you know, and people wanting her to do something, you know, that that was beneficial to their companies. But I think that her entrepreneurial spirit and I’m sure her nature as well, um, meshes with hours and the fact that all of us as a team, Steve Lynn and everybody that, uh, you know, there would be individuals who are extended team members.
All of them are part of us because they want to be here. And so, um, that’s really, I think the key to the success up to now, and we, we hope to keep it and maintain that as a criteria. You know, if you want to be part of us as a matter of fact, um, if you adults me, you know, whenever I talk to whether it’s vendors, uh, whenever we’re entering into contract negotiations, because I handled those, given my background, I never look at the negotiations as a one time.
This is the contract. I always make sure that I network with the individuals that we’re going to work with, that we really like the people that we believe that they’re good people at heart. And then we talk about the contract and then we talk about the fact that we’re looking for long-term relationships.
Michael Anderle: Yeah. It’s like you, you don’t
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: want to do business with someone you’re not willing to break bread with. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. So I want to get into the Opus X project because I am so thrilled to see what you guys have done, but I first have to ask this because so Michael collaborates with a lot of authors in a very creative way, right.
With imagination, but then you guys collaborate with a lot of businesses and that’s a, I mean, opposites in my mind is one of the ultimate. Yeah, elaborative projects that I’m so overwhelmed with, but I have to ask Michael, what’s the, how do you switch gears between the collaborations, the multiple collaborations you do with so many different, amazing authors, but then also the collaborations in the business is, is there an easy switch back and forth, or how do you, how do you manage
Michael Anderle: that?
Well, there’s two, there’s two facets to this. The first one is, um, And Judith from just having to deal with me. My brain doesn’t work typically like most normal brains work. So there’s, and that has bothered me over my life because I’m just like, I don’t understand people a lot. Why is this an issue? And it, it took a lot of introspection and honestly, Judith, you know, kind of pointing this out from time to time and years for me to accept it.
But the opposite side of that, of this situation, you know, Robin coming in fresh has made a few comments, like how is this done? And I’m like, well, I don’t consider it hard. But speaking specifically to the business side, I can switch to business, but I don’t want it to be said that I actually had the foresight or the thought to bring all of these businesses together.
For OSX that was strictly Judith. I would have done it the normal way, which is two months before release. Hey, we should throw up a cover. And Judith, um, at the time we were living out of our condo down at, um, on the strip and, uh, I have some glass in there. And so I’m writing all of these things that that can be done.
Right. And she, that comes into my office when she’s looking at this and she’s like, well, when are you going to have your meetings? I’m like what meetings? And she’s like, you’re planning on releasing this. Like this, right? And I’m like, yep. And she’s like, well, who are these? And so I started naming them off and she’s like, you need to get this all done in my head.
Just exploded because I’m assuming when she says, you know, that that needs to, he gets done that I need to do it. And I’m like, that’s not me here in the headlight. Yeah. Yeah. I’m like, she’s like I, do you want me to take care of this? Yes, please. And so she did, she started reaching out to individuals that she didn’t know which that’s never stopped.
Judith. She’s got one of the best relationship capabilities that I’ve seen in people and still know some of the top tier people in her industry, in countries around the world. And so I’ve always believed in her ability to create relationships. And this was an example of that, where she just started the process and she would ask things that.
I wouldn’t have asked because I’m like, they’re never going to do that, you know, three hours later, what they’re going to join us, you know?
Judith Anderle: So if I may, if you step back, so why Opus sex or what, the reason Mike, to your point, we do go to a lot of the trade shows and we do look at the outside industry besides just, you know, the Kindle unlimited Amazon exclusivity, which is a great relationship and partnership, but there’s another world, right?
In particular, outside of the U S. Where, you know, there’s other companies, uh, that are, uh, large and larger and have a bigger stake. And so how do we reach those readers while we have to go wide? And so Mike started thinking about that a year before it say, okay, I need to, I need to start learning what white means.
And, uh, rather than, you know, subject one of the collaborations and the collaborators and their income and risk their income, he thought, you know what. It has to be me. I’m going to learn with one of my books. And he knew going in that it was probably going to be a losing proposition simply because it was going to be learning and a learning curve, but he wanted to do, he wants to put his best foot forward.
So the first thing we did is meet with Jean-Marc up in New York. Cause he’s one of the best when it comes to covers and, um, decided that the coverage, that we’re going to be the best that we could put out. And so we work with Jean for a whole year. Before, even, you know, thinking about the fact that the books were, were being written in and Michael was coming up and, and writing and coming to stories.
And so I remember that, uh, when Jean said, what are you thinking about? You know, you need to give me the layout. Mike was like, Putting out book 11, book 12. I mean, he literally put up this whole world in a spreadsheet and who the characters were going to be. And he was thinking about what it would look like.
And, and I want it to look like this and I want the colors to be that. And so, um, so there was a lot of creativity, but no substance, no plan of action tied to it. And so. And so, and so when, um, literally I, I was going up to New York, you know, looking at models and, and, and getting costumes, Jean and the team were getting in Sasha, we’re getting model, um, costumes from Hollywood.
Uh, so there was a lot of expense going into these covers and Michael was taking care of the writing. And so, you know, all of that was happening. There was a lot of things going on. And then when I, uh, Yeah. About a year before I said, Oh, say so when are you going to release it? It’s November 1st, um, 2019.
And I said, great. Um, so what happens? Cause I didn’t know what happens before then is, well, you know, Steve will release it and I go, no, but before that, well it’s a day before or two days before whatever they were doing, there was no pre-orders or anything like that. Long story short, my background coming from where I come from, we’re used to teams, right.
I was a leader of my franchise. And, uh, you know, you don’t release billion dollar pharmaceuticals on your own. You always have a team and you always, and then you put a group of people together that you, as a leader believe will be the best in their positions. To make sure that this project is comes to fruition.
And I tell you, knock on wood. Um, the projects that I was involved with always were delivered on time and they exceeded expectations, but it had nothing to do with me. It really had to do with the team. And so in this case, I asked Mike, I said, okay, if you were putting your ideal team together to release this, who would it be from a wide standpoint?
And literally he said, drafted digital. Um, he said, you know, from an international standpoint, helping drive, he said, Kobo has to be a part of it. Of course, Amazon has to be a part of it. Um, and, and so, you know, we said, okay, what about, um, audio? Well, we have dreamscape already, uh, you know, as part of a partner.
So we didn’t have to look at it beyond the analysis said, okay, so this would be the dream team. He said, yes. And so, um, and including Apple is so, you know, I reached out, sent out an initial email and I have to say that it’s, you know, a credit to Michael. Cause I said, Michael is launching this new project.
Would you like to be a part of it? Um, would you like to be a partner? Everybody asks, what does partnership mean? You know, cause people thought what is financial investment? And there was none. And so that’s how it started. And the willingness of everybody to come on board and put their time in the first meeting we had.
Um, we laid out. Okay, how often should we meet? It would be suggested, you know, once a month. Okay. We’ll make it for a half hour. Cause I know everybody’s time is precious, so we didn’t want to take up too much. People’s time. We’ll have half out of means and uh, it’ll be information sharing to prepare us for this launch and part of the gift back that we mentioned and really why I think everybody came on board was the fact that we said the purpose of this launch is not to make LOE pan bigger is not.
To get Michael’s name out. Michael has a very well-known name. It’s really for us to learn how to go wide and then share that knowledge with the rest of the Indian community. So what we’re going to do as a team is we’re going to put together our knowledge and have a white paper that discusses everything we do and how we learn.
And then we’re going to share it with the community. And I think that that was a selling point for everybody. And frankly, that’s what got everyone. On a timely basis would come into our meetings every month on time and everybody would join and share ideas. And we learned a lot, you know, we learned that pre-orders could be done a year ahead.
Ahead of time. We learned about pricing, uh, box sets. We learned a lot of things that, that, and information that really has helped. I think the community overall, because we were able to deliver a white paper with all that knowledge.
Michael Anderle: That’s
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: amazing. It almost feels as well. It was almost like starting from scratch in many ways, because of multiple, multiple formats, pre-orders planning teams, multiple countries, all of the different actors posing, right?
Like with Jean Malec like all of this stuff, the video, uh, trailer, which made it look like a movie where you also took. A lot of time and effort into acknowledging all of your partners in a subtle way and that blade runner risks.
Michael Anderle: Yeah. Yeah. You forget about some of those. I have an interesting question for you, Mark, because I’d like to kind of point out something that can help the listeners are.
I hope they can. But, you know, you came in, you had a preexisting relationship with us, so that was certainly a help, but I knew of you of course, Kobo knowledge. Right. Cause I think you may have stepped down or right about then we’re stepping down from Coburn. Yeah. Right. And so from that though, but coming at it, even then you knew us external, but you’d never really kind of worked with us internally when those meetings occurred.
What were your thoughts about those meetings and how they were ran?
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: So I, one of the things that I, uh, frustrates me, I love the indie spirit. But like you said, it’s like, Oh, I wrote a book. Okay. It’s it. I’m going to publish it. Like no plan whatsoever. I do come with a long background in traditional publishing.
So I know that the reason Bea is in may is because they’re buying books for September because they plan in advance and they do things like that. So I, I was used to knowing that world. And this was the first time I had seen somebody who was hugely successful in the indie space. Take a step back and say, , we’re not going to just release it.
We’re going to release this in all formats and all manners with planning ahead. So when I saw the team that you guys were putting together, To do this. I was thinking, wow, this isn’t just a point and click mentality of, Oh yeah. I get to get it out. Fast, rapid release, whatever. Now there was rapid release, but it was, prescheduled really strategically, obviously applying a lot of what you’ve already learned from the industry.
Listening. Two people on the other side of the fence. And in a lot of cases, traditional publishers look at it, indie publishing with their, you know, look down their nose on it. And then a lot of ways in the authors look at traditional publishing saying, well, you have your nose up something else. Like, like they don’t actually see.
The perks from both sides, you guys saw that you also applied to people from all of us aspects of the industry from the self publishing side, as well as from the traditional publishing side, you applied all these teams together. And, and I was, I was feeling like I was, uh, lucky enough to be involved in, in, in the history.
When you look, when we look back in another a hundred years at the history of publishing, I think. This is going to be one of those definitive moments where people say, and this is one of those bridges that brought these two sides of the industry together in a way that demonstrated you can be both indie and you can be dynamic and spirited and creative and all of those amazing things that make indie publishing so fantastic.
But you can also apply the long-term strategy and planning of long-term business. And understanding all of the things that traditional publishing actually bring value to. I mean, it was, to me, it was overwhelmingly why aren’t like, I get frustrated. Why aren’t more people making a big deal about this.
Because again, I think, I think it’s happening, but it’s almost like the boiling frog know I don’t, because it’s happening in such subtle ways. I don’t think people recognize the magnitude. So, I mean, I’m, I’m, I’m still disappointed people don’t just go, Whoa, this is amazing. But, but then again, um, a lot of people on one side of the fence can only see one side and then the other can only see that.
So when I saw what you guys were doing and even. The meetings like, Oh my God, it was like, Judith was a drill Sergeant and you know, everyone, we’re starting on time and we’re finishing on time because I respect everyone on the team. Take your time. Yeah.
Judith Anderle: 45 or an hour. That should, yeah.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I, I mean, it was like, no, we’re, we’re going to stay on time.
We’re going to stay on task. We’re going to stay on target and kudos to you guys for, for doing this because I can’t, I can’t. Speak enough of it. And recognizing when you reported in the last meeting that I was privileged to be a part of your report, it okay. Here’s where we are, but we’re not thinking about just 2019 and 2020.
We’re thinking about the longterm. Like you’re already, you’re already planning ahead. Uh, as, as you finish off the series and you already got plans, collaborative plans with your partners. Wow. I mean, I’m still, I got, I want to be the cheerleader and the champion saying, we’re going to do it.
Judith Anderle: I think one of the, so it goes back to the disruption, right?
It’s not, you know, both sides can have their own view of each other. Right. You know, uh, traditional publishing can have their view of Indy and Andy can have, but if you stay in your seat, Your silos. You’re never going to get ahead. You’re never going to learn. And unfortunately it takes something like COVID right.
To bring both worlds together and go, wait a minute. You guys need to rethink the way you’re doing business because something, unfortunately tragic can make the industry, you know, stand up and take notice. And so we were fortunate enough that we’ve been able to, to kind of weather this with our readers.
Because we we’ve already prepared in a way for people staying home for people, reading for people, listening and an open sex is an example of us acknowledging the fact that traditional publishing or what you would call or what anybody would call legacy. There’s a lot of knowledge there. It’s, it’s not something to say.
I don’t want to be, you know, traditional, uh, I think anybody who thinks that way is missing out. And likewise traditional companies that think I want to be Indy, they’re missing out because the, the being nimble being agile, I think, is something that they need to have. And so you’re going to start to your point.
I think it’s already, uh, I won’t name names, but there’s companies already thinking about the fact that they want to put. In the, you know, uh, meetings. And so you would have never thought of these individual companies thinking that way, but they have to right. Because you know, that that’s a need. And so, um, if both sides could just acknowledge that there’s value and look at the value and try to learn from it.
I think ultimately if everybody remembers that at the end of the day, it’s about the readers, then there’ll be fine. And so, um, thank you for acknowledging that, but I think, you know, kudos to all of you. Who will show up because you know, you didn’t have to, right. You weren’t getting paid. Uh, and frankly, when we think strategically and what we will continue to acknowledge, uh, everything that, uh, our partners provided, uh, to the end, when we advertise, we will always make sure to give the kudos and give, give back as much as we can, because we appreciate the fact that all of you took your time.
They came on and helped us in this information sharing venture. Cool.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: I wanna, I want to kind of close with. W because we were science, fictiony people here, right? We’re talking about the science fiction worlds. If you, if you, if you have access to a time machine and you went back in time to talk to Michael and Judith at the beginning of this journey, what sort of things would you, you know, without the butterfly effect, ruining any things, what sort of advice would you want to make sure that they had?
Michael Anderle: So,
Judith Anderle: you know, I, well, I always go to what’s primary. For me. And I believe I’m speaking for Michael as well. Uh, first thing is that we’re a couple first thing is that we’re parents, right? Our children come first. Our family comes first. We as a unit come first or extended family, and then what we do. And so I think that if I was to be able to give advice to Judith coming on and trying to learn a business and everything is to remember that.
That in communicating, um, with each other that you have to remember that you’re always speaking to your spouse. And so I would come at it from my business standpoint, in my knowledge and everything without, you know, and unfortunately that event kind of grounded us without thinking about the impact that the business or the trajectory or the speed, or to your point of formalizing things would have a mic.
And so my advice would be just. Don’t worry about it. Take care of you as a couple first and everything will be okay. We’re okay. By the way. So I want to give you the wrong where thank God fine, but we’ve been able to weather this transition, um, because we obviously care for each other and love each other.
But I think that that’s an advice that I would give on a personal level.
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: Great.
Michael Anderle: Thank you so much. So I’ll go, I’ll go on the business side of things. You know, when, when this was started, it was just me. And then slowly it moved out. But I also had a very, my mindset wasn’t that I wasn’t willing to share some times I overshare, but I still kept things closer to the vest because there was a certain amount of ego involved.
And, you know, it took me a while to actually understand how to share more of that out through encouragement and everything else. And you know, one of my previous bosses in my life, Told me one time he goes, you know, you will make it as high as you give credit to others for. So if you’re willing to give credit to others, you will go higher.
If you want the credit, if you want it, you’re not going to go nearly as high. And it’s, it’s, it’s held so true. Right? You’re you’re, you’re smiling and laughing. So you know some of this. So, so what’s up there, Mark? No, I
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: just, I just think that, but that, that you’ve personified that in
Michael Anderle: many ways, Yeah. So, you know, in, in my learning from the business side is, you know, give up, give up, let the others do what they are amazing at.
Don’t try to, you know, and it’s, you know, you always learned it every single time when it, that little piece at school, but I did this, but I did this, uh, shut up, you know, it wasn’t you all anyway. But, um, but that’s, you know, that’s a little bit of mine. I wish that, um, I wish that I had not done some of the things that, that, uh, I endeavored to make happen because I wanted to, I.
Sot growth, you know, and I saw growth well enough so that our bank account hurt and made some bad decisions against, you know, some recommendations from the team, you know, and I was like, you know, I still want to go after it. I did. I just didn’t necessarily do it in a great or smart way. And I, I wish I had listened more to my team of supporters and those that were giving the advice than I did before.
I’m glad that I’m doing a much better job of it now. And it’s brilliant. And,
Mark Leslie Lefebvre: and I love that it comes back to team collaboration and you’re both focused on that family team, right? Team number one, company, team and collaborations, which again, I think is going to be the Genesis of what takes our industry forward.
Uh, doing things in, in collaborative wise, guys. Thank you so much for taking so much time to hang out with me today.
Judith Anderle: Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. Thank you for the insightful questions.