As Michael La Ronn joins ALLi's podcast team, we thought this would be the perfect time to share his impressive credentials as an indie author of over thirty science fiction and fantasy books. His catalogue includes three series: Android X, Modern Necromancy, and The Last Dragon Lord. He writes from the great plains of Iowa, USA, and has perfected the art of balancing writing with a full-time job and family, writing between five and seven books per year.
Three top take-aways from his experience are:
- the discipline of other arts prepared him the work ethic of a successful indie author
- focussing on efficient systems is a more effective route to productivity than setting word-count goals
- in order to become a successful indie author, he's also had to become an ambassador for indie authors everywhere
Read on to learn more from Michael's self-publishing success story…
What is your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
I realized that I was close to publishing thirty books as an indie author. I wanted to achieve this before my birthday this summer (2017), and I did it. Hard to believe that I’ve done this over thirty times.
For me, it’s not about the number – it’s about the journey, and let me tell you: the journey to 30 books has been fun.
What's the single best decision you ever made?
To become a musician earlier in life.
Being a musician helped me transition into self-publishing as a better artist because I was very disciplined. It was no problem for me to sit in a room for hours and practice my craft, just like I would do scales and improvisation on my sax. This work ethic has served me well.
What has been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
Just how deep and pervasive the stigma of self-publishing is. I expected it from people within the industry, but not necessarily in, say, co-workers or the person in front of me at the checkout counter in the grocery store. Most people outside of our industry have no clue about what has happened with the self-publishing revolution, and don’t always understand it when you explain it the first time.
I’ve had to learn to become an ambassador of indie authors.
What has been your greatest challenge, and how do you deal with it?
I take big risks with my fiction. My greatest challenge has always been the fear that I’m inadequate, and that maybe the one1-star reviews I get on my books are true. Of course, that’s just my critical voice speaking, but the fear is there.
But that fear is there for everyone, even the biggest authors of our time. And EVERYONE gets 1-stars.
Remembering that always makes me feel better. I focus on the positives, stay humble, and shoot for my goals even if I know I might fail. I believe in failing upward.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
Being a constant reader of books helps me keep a steady stream of ideas coming in. Sometimes you need to walk away from a project and work on something else for a little while, too.
How do you remain productive/motivated?
Focus on creating systems, not goals.
I set very few goals with my writing, almost none. I don’t have a daily quota.
Instead, I focus relentlessly on HOW I’m writing my books:
- Am I refreshed when I wake up in the morning to write?
- If not, how can I be (so that I can write better and more)?
- How many words did I write this morning, and were they good or full of errors?
- How can I write a novel in one draft without having to spend time on editing, so I can write more (quality) books faster?
- How do I handle times when I’m NOT motivated so that I can get through those periods faster?
- How do I compromise between writing and marketing? What activities in my personal life are coming up today, this week, this quarter that will impact my writing time and how can I compensate for them?
When you ask questions like this and implement solutions, you’re creating a system whose engine will produce consistent words for you. When you tweak that system, it gets better or worse, and you can experiment.
But what doesn’t change (if you do it right) is that you will produce new books on a consistent basis rather than when the muse simply strikes you. That’s how I have been able to consistently write five to seven books per year, even with a full-time job and a young child.
What's your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
Looking back over what I’ve done, I always smile when I think about what I was doing this day a year ago or two years ago. Now that I’ve been doing this a few years, I have worked on a lot of projects, books, podcasts, etc.
Doing more good work always motivates me.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
- Just as your work evolves, so do you. You are not the same author you were a year ago.
- There are three kinds of advice in this world: advice that’s meant for you, advice that’s not meant for you, and advice you’re not ready for yet. If you want to avoid making stupid mistakes, learn to listen to your internal compass and focus on spotting #2 whenever possible.
- Go with your gut, especially when it comes to working with people. Your gut is usually not wrong.
What’s next for you?
I am wrapping up the ninth and final book in my Galaxy Mavericks space opera series. After that, I’ll be moving into the realm of LitRPG. Anyone interested in my work can follow my blog at www.michaellaronn.com/blog where I post snippets from my upcoming books as I write them.
On a separate note, I am podcasting with Jay Artale for the AskALLi Beginner’s Self-Publishing Salon on the third Tuesday of each month. If you’d like to hear helpful advice for your publishing career, be sure to subscribe! (More info about the podcast series here.)Find out how @MichaelLaRonn writes >5 books a year while working full-time! Click To Tweet