After just a few years in business, LMBPN Publishing has more than 700 titles in its backlist and has expanded into new genres, formats, and languages. With offices in Dallas and Fort Worth, Las Vegas, and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, the company focuses on urban fantasy and science fiction titles and has maintained an aggressive publishing model from its very inception.
LMBPN (which stands for London, Milan, Barcelona, Paris, New York) publishes e-books, paperbacks, and audiobooks, and the majority of its e-books are only available on Amazon and the Amazon Unlimited subscription service (where its digital books have more than one billion pages read, according to the company). The nonexclusive e-books are sold directly on Amazon and Kobo, as well as distributed to other retailers. LMBPN has also produced more than 200 audiobooks, some of which are exclusive to Amazon’s Audible.
“When I started writing, the expectation was you would sign up for time with an editor and then you would have to wait,” said Michael Anderle, who founded the press five years ago. “I refused to go down that path, because if I had a book done on a Monday, I wanted it out on Friday. What that has evolved into at LMBPN is that we have a team of editors that processes anywhere from 1.5 to two million words a month. We don’t wait.” The publisher has accepted outside submissions but isn’t currently open to them.
The business model at LMBPN depends on publishing books for “whale readers,” Anderle’s affectionate term for readers who consume e-books at a remarkable pace. The metaphor comes from Las Vegas “whales,” or high-rolling gamblers who get special treatment in casinos. “A whale reader is any reader who will read at least a book a week,” Anderle said, counting himself among them. “When you start feeding whale readers really quickly, they like what they see and they will get it fast. We will read up to three to five books in a weekend.”
Most recently, LMBPN has expanded into the literary role-playing game (LitRPG) genre, which is popular among e-book readers and injects fantasy and SF novels with role-playing game mechanics. The company acquired the German translation rights for books by Eric Ugland and Dakota Krout, two popular LitRPG writers.
Audio distribution also has been expanding at LMBPN. For the audiobooks produced in the past 18 months, the company has used audio distribution services Findaway and Zebralution to publish on major channels like Amazon Music, Google Play, Spotify, Tidal, and YouTube, expanding to new markets outside of the Audible ecosystem. In May, the publisher reached an exclusive agreement with Graphic Audio to create audio productions of 25 books from LMBPN’s catalogue with a full cast of actors, along with music and sound effects.
The first book published by LMBPN was Anderle’s Death Becomes Her, book one of an urban fantasy trilogy set in his Kurtherian Gambit universe, with vampires and werewolves, which was released in November 2015. On the third day of book sales, Anderle said he only earned 97¢, but he saw his earnings increase from $380 at the end of the month to $3,000 in December, to more than $10,000 in January 2016. “I was doing what we now call the rapid release methodology,” he said. “Each new book would cause book one to sell more.”
LMBPN’s site states that “the current series in the company’s portfolio have sold over 4,000,000 books,” but the company declined to reveal more about its sales.
Shortly after LMBPN started, Anderle founded an open Facebook group called 20Booksto50K, whose members strive to reach Anderle’s goal of having “twenty books earning $7.50 each per day” online—adding up to $50,000 in earnings per year. Within a few days of the group being launched, 80 people had signed up, and it has since grown to more than 40,000 members. As it grew, Anderle tapped author Craig Martelle to create a 20Booksto50K conference. These annual events have grown from 400 attendees in 2017 to 1,000 attendees in 2019. The next conference is still on the calendar for November 10–12 in Las Vegas.
Through the Facebook group, Anderle found a number of authors who expanded the literary universes at LMBPN. One is Martha Carr, who has cowritten nearly 200 books for the publisher. Carr and Anderle worked on a series set in an urban fantasy universe where a homicide cop stumbles into an ancient battle between magical forces. That universe now has 150 books on the LMBPN list. “We talk through an idea till we’re both excited about it,” Carr said. “Then I set to work writing more detailed outlines, checking back to make sure it’s staying on course and to get more ideas.” She uses these detailed outlines to write the books, and LMBPN’s team edits the manuscripts.
LMBPN also works with independent authors like Kevin McLaughlin, who mostly writes and produces his own books. He also collaborated with Anderle on the Steel Dragon series of urban fantasy novels about a SWAT team rookie in a world dominated by dragons. “LMBPN is a name that I feel I can trust, with an excellent history of superb treatment of writers,” McLaughlin said.