10 Things You Should Know About the Sterling & Stone “Colonist Summit” this April

Sterling & Stone Summit Austin TexasWriting is pretty great, in my opinion. I love crafting new stories; I love brainstorming new ideas with Sean and Dave; I even love finding new ways to market and share the books we have. And of course I love doing the podcasts. Yes, even Better Off Undead.

But my favorite thing of all is meeting people in person, by attending events. 

Dave is known for hiding in his hole in [REDACTED] and wanting to see nobody (I hear his Welcome mat says “We Hate You All”), but Sean and I were sold on attending in-person events from the start. Ever since I began my online life — well before I was writing fiction — I went to conferences and meet-ups. They were always the best days of my year, because they always caused me to level-up my game.

It’s one thing to learn from afar, like learning from a book. It’s another thing entirely to talk to people face-to-face, to share ideas with zero friction and much less filter. Ideas have a way of rubbing off and sinking in when you hang out, break bread, share minds and the same space. “Being there in real life” has always made me improve what I’m doing more than anything else. Period.

That’s why we were so excited to finally do our own in-person mastermind events. Hanging out with amazing people in-person is what made our WorldBuilder Summit in September of last year so amazing … and it’s why we’re so incredibly excited to do it again this coming April, at the Colonist Summit

We’ve gotten a lot of questions from people who want to join us at the Colonist Summit on April 18-19 in Austin, Texas but want to know more about this or that before committing. This post’s purpose is to answer them.

So without further ado, here are 10 things you should know about our upcoming in-person event:

1. It’s in Austin, Texas on April 18-19.

And to go a bit further, it’ll run from early on the 18th (that’s a Saturday) until maybe 7 or 8 on the 19th. Personally, I’d plan to fly in on Friday and out on Monday so as not to be rushed, but that’s your call. Full details (hotel information (including our block room rate) and everything else you’d want to know) are on the Colonist Summit page.

2. By design, it will be a very small group.

We don’t want to hold a huge conference with hundreds of people in attendance. Maybe some day we’ll go down that road, but not yet.

Maximum attendance at this event is 24 people. So you won’t be lost in the crowd. It’s very personal, very intimate. As I write this post, there are 8 spots remaining, so you may want to book soon if you’d care to join us.

3. It’s not focused exclusively on the Dream Engine series.

That may not mean anything to you if this is the first time you’re hearing about the Summit, but those of you who remember the genesis of these events (check the top three reward levels on the page for the Fiction Unboxed Kickstarter project we did last May) may remember that they began as ways for interested people help build the world of (and write canon/near-canon stories in) the world of The Dream Engine — the book we wrote during the live Fiction Unboxed project.

The WorldBuilder Summit (from last September) was very Dream Engine focused. Our attendees planned their own canon books, we brainstormed collective marketing plans, and they gave Sean and me ideas for the second and third books in the series. We will help anyone who is writing Dream Engine books “colonize” that world as originally intended in the Kickstarter, but this event is in no way exclusive to Dream Engine stuff. In fact, I’d venture to say that most of those already registered aren’t writing Dream Engine books at all. So you absolutely, positively don’t need to be planning to write one to get the most out of attending.

4. It’s best thought of as a mastermind.

So what is it if it’s not exclusively a Dream Engine event?

Answer: It’s a mastermind. 

It’s not a mastermind in the truest sense, of course, in that we won’t expect everyone there to lead and have all sorts of astonishing ideas for everyone else to borrow. Sean and I will indeed be leading this event as instructors … but also, it kinda IS a mastermind, in that it’ll hardly be a normal student-teacher kind of thing.

If I can be blunt, you’re paying too much for us to just talk at you. You can get that by listening to the podcast. No … you’re here to absorb ideas. To ask questions about your specific situation. To pick our brains. For all of us to generate great ideas together, because that’s what happens when smart people get together.

5. Everyone will have an (optional) opportunity to be on the hot-seat.

Attendees at the World Building SummitYou know a really cool thing mastermind groups do? They’ll let their members be on the “hot seat” for a period of time, and everyone in the room then tries to give them ideas and solve their problems.

We won’t force you to be on the hot seat (feel free to decline!) and you absolutely do not need to decide in advance (you can decide at the last minute to do one or not), but if you want to be on the hot seat and have everyone in attendance brainstorm with you, you’ll have your chance.

Oh, and here’s another thing about hot seats: you’ll get as many amazing idea from listening to and participating in other people’s hot seats as you will your (optional) own.

6. Our agenda will be divided between business and creative sessions.

As self-publishing writers, we need to wear two hats to succeed. We have to be excellent creators who make amazing things, but we also have to be smart businesspeople and marketers.

As such, we’ll hit both areas hard. The full agenda is on this page, but here it is in brief:

SESSION 1: Optimization – How we are tweaking covers, descriptions, keywords, and more for each of our series, why some strategies work for some series and not others, and more

SESSION 2: Direct Sales – How we sell digital and print books through our website, what tools you can use to achieve the same setup, and how and why we decide on our packages (subscriptions, bundles, standalones, and more)

SESSION 3: Writing Fast – How we’ve optimized our writing time to produce tens of thousands of words per week with only 3-4 hours of writing time per day. We’ll also share how to create, experiment with, and improve your writing processes to produce high-quality books faster

SESSION 4: Mistakes That Make You Look Self-Published – The little mistakes that self-published authors make that are killing their sales. We’ll also share our process for identifying and tweaking problem areas and how it’s causing a significant increase in our sales

We have a ton to say about all of those. And you know me and Sean … we never shut up about the things we’re excited about, so be prepared for a gusher of information and discussion. 🙂

7. Each day will end with an “Ask Us Anything” session.

Look, we’re going to talk about a lot of stuff. I can go to a conference with a non-interacting instructor and come out with more ideas than I could ever implement. So with this kind of focused, high-energy group you’re going to fill notebooks with ideas, and at the end of the day you’ll probably have a head full of jumbled wires (in a good way).

So at the end of each day, we want to help you untangle those wires a bit. We’ve built in a dedicated time for you to ask us whatever questions you have about the day’s content … or whatever else you want to know.

8. We’re taking you out to dinner on Saturday.

For some reason, the best times and best ideas seem to come over food. Plus, we all want to bond, and that definitely seems to happen best over food.

So Saturday’s dinner is on us. We’ll all hang out, and Sterling & Stone picks up the tab.

As of right now, we haven’t yet picked the restaurant, but it’ll be somewhere awesome. Just ask our September attendees about Saturday night’s dinner that time.

9. You’ll get information that’s not on the podcast.

We don’t deliberately hold information back on the podcast very often, but there are definitely things we’re doing that aren’t ready for primetime … or that could be used in stupid ways if people don’t stop to think about how their situation might differ from ours.

But even if we tried to hold back in person, we’re just not capable of doing it. We’re like broken faucets. Or people with verbal diarrhea.

We aren’t going to do that douchey thing where we say, “Join up to get the REAL insider information!” because … you know … that’s douchey. But it’s still a fact that some of our latest and greatest isn’t quite ready to be talked-about yet, and that you’ll probably hear it from us in person just because we’ll spend so much time drilling down into the details.

10. There’s an early bird discount on the Colonist Summit that will save you 25% on your ticket, but it’s ending really soon.

We’re offering a 25% discount for people who want to join us early, but it ends on January 28. On January 29, you’ll need to pay full price.

The logistics make offering a payment plan during the early bird period a huge pain in the ass, so there isn’t one, sorry. We do plan to offer a payment plan once the early bird period is over … assuming, of course, that the Summit doesn’t sell out before then.

That’s it! Those are the ten things you need to know. If you’d like to know more, please just email Amy at help@sterlingandstone.net and she’ll answer you straightaway.

Hope to see you there!

To sign up for the Sterling & Stone Colonist Summit, visit the Colonist Summit page here. Please note that the Early Bird discount (25% OFF) ends on January 28 and that attendance is limited. As of the writing of this post, there are 8 SLOTS REMAINING.

About Johnny B. Truant

Johnny started out as the writing everyman, barely managing a novel a decade. From there, he has become a storytelling superstar, pounding out a novel a month. He's the co-founder of Realm & Sands, as well as the host of the Self Publishing Podcast.

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