Authorpreneur’s Almanac #19


We’ve talked a lot about Sterling & Stone’s 2015 goals — ambitious to say the least. These goals, especially our Q1 initiatives are among the things we discuss most often.

It may seem arrogant to continuously compare ourselves to Pixar, but we believe that it’s smart to know what we’re aiming for and to constantly fix our gaze on that agreed upon horizon. To us, storytellers building a story studio brick by brick, we cannot think of a finer goal to gallop toward.

If we’re going to be Pixar, then we still need our Toy Story. Right now it’s the early 90s. Were making awesome commercials for Tropicana and Lifesavers, blowing everyone away at trade shows, proudly showing off our rendering capabilities while displaying our delightful shorts, and doing sterling work for Disney Animation. We’ve made our mark, and industry insiders know who we are. Our potential is clear to a small tribe of people who understand what we’re doing and where we’re going.

That tribe is excited to see us reach our destination. We’ve even managed to have a dramatic impact on a small group of artists by showing them a version of the future they wouldn’t otherwise see, helping them to shape the direction of their own art and lives.

But the world doesn’t know our name, and we still need to finish our Toy Story.

That’s what 2015 is for.

Today I’d like to go over some of our company goals with more specificity. I enjoy our fireside chats each Sunday morning, bringing you closer into our day-to-day business, both where we are and where we’re going. But I also love the public accountability. I love stating our intentions now to pour cement into present ambition, but also to leave an archive for the three of us to look back on a year from now and see how much we were or were not able to do.

As you saw last week with Johnny’s post about our many lessons learned this year and my post from the week before that about all the things we still needed to prepare for 2015, it’s been a long, hard year, thick with several successes and still quite a few things to grow on.

There are a few weeks left in the year. Let’s leave 2014 temporarily behind us to focus on the what we most want to accomplish next year. As with all of the keynotes and posts so far, a simple list isn’t enough. The why behind our what will always be fundamental to Sterling & Stone’s growth.

For each of the items on this list I will be asking myself the three following questions:

Why is this important?

What is standing in our way of accomplishing this?

What can we specifically do to make this happen?

I hope this is more than me dumping my brain. I hope that even though my goals are different from yours, my detailed intentions will help you to clarify your own. I hope that you use these few remaining weeks to start mapping out what you want to do next year, through your first quarter, or at the very least your first month.

Because that’s what every smarter artist should do.

NOTE: You won’t be able to see the meat of this Almanac if you’re not a Sterling and Stone Starter. You can become one by clicking here. It’s quick, easy, and (my favorite) completely free! If you already are a Starter and you’re seeing this message, chances are you need to log in.

About Sean Platt

Sean Platt is an author entrepreneur, founder of Sterling & Stone, and co-founder of the Collective Inkwell and Realm & Sands imprints. Follow him on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook.


  1. I’m sure you have all kinds of app and screenplay friends in Austin 🙂 It must be so fantastic to live there!

    Also, I would love if you found THE place to hold your summits/live events and we keep going back there year after year. I think traditions like that make the whole event even more special. The manager/owner knows we’re coming months in advance, we have the same photos at the same place taken every year.

    It’s going to be awesome 🙂

  2. Pretty ambitious list.
    I love the idea of an S&S app. I’m excited about the daily podcasts (especially the Smarter Artist one). Crossovers between the imprints sounds cool. I can’t wait for FU 2.0. And I love that you guys are writing a screenplay. I hope you accomplish everything.

  3. This is an epic list for 2015. I don’t think I could handle it, but you guys have been working towards all these things iteratively (yes, you’ve got me using this word too. Next, I’ll be saying vapor) and I’m extremely excited to see how you guys pivot as you take on each challenge.
    Personally, I think it’s okay that you put Smarter Artist on the backburner. The more time you spend on your fiction, the better informed the Smarter Artist brand will be. You’re not doing anyone a disservice there.

    I love the idea of an App. My audience will likely be much smaller (as I’m very new to fiction right now), but this is something I’ve always wanted to explore. The ability to have direct app access to blogs/newsletters/special deals/books through your own channel looks like shiny sparkles to me. I’m curious how you guys will work with Apple’s in-app purchase cuts and what works best for you. I’d definitely get the app if you guys make one provided the buy in isn’t too steep. I think you can also entice readers into your Platinum Reader fold by offering it with the App for free for a few months in exchange for direct access/push notifications to their devices.

    Moving Dave to Austin worries me. For some reason, I’m wondering if he’ll change as a writer in the new environment. Something tells me that Dave might be uncomfortable with constant in person meetings. Dave, if you’re reading this, don’t listen to me. You’ll be awesome in Austin. Also, if Austin is too awesome, BOU might suffer 🙂

    I’ve made it a personal goal to get to the point where I might be able to write for one of your franchises like Dream Engine after I prove myself as a literary force.

    Keep at it guys. We’re all pulling for you. You have added value to the lives of readers and writers alike.

    Here’s to 2015 in Indie Fiction!

    • We have a post coming up about putting SA on the back burner, and yeah, that’s one of the reasons for sure. The longer we wait the better it will be.

      Dave actually wants to move to Austin. He wants to be around people (fans), just not the people who live in [REDACTED] besides his family.

      • Why not hire someone to document what you’re doing, and compile that ‘stuff’ into various SA titles and products? I think people want to know what you’re doing to be successful, but I don’t think you guys have to hit all the keys.

        • Maybe at some point in the future. Right now I want Smarter Artist stuff to have our voice, and even beyond that it would be a distraction. We’re already so slammed with meetings and podcasts and more meetings, that fitting in something like that would be hard. Plus, I can’t imagine not wanting to look over everything and edit it, and with that time we could just do it ourselves. The creation doesn’t take that long in and of itself, it’s more about where to put our focus.

  4. A daily podcast? Blimey! Would that not end up feeling like a burden? Suppose it depends on the idea/podcast length. Looking forward to how that plays out, anyway!

  5. Harry Bludworth says:

    That is a great list! I’m targeting 1M words in 2015. I want to publish half of them. I have been working on a memoir for a few years. Write Publish Repeat has changed my focus and approach. I still work on the memoir, but my vision is infinitely larger now.

    My vote is for an screen adaptation of Robot Proleratiat.

    You guys are an inspiration. Thanks for letting me in on the fun.

    • Thanks Harry! I’d love to do Robot Proletariat, but that would be a super expensive show to produce. I’d rather hit something with a chance of making it to the screen, and save Robot Proletariat for when we’re a well known brand, or when all six seasons are in the can.

  6. Great stuff. I look forward to following you in ’15!

    Also, what you did was horizontal. Don’t be afraid to explore the vertical.

    …and don’t learn the words. Let the words learn you.

  7. Ronnie Pelletier says:

    Ambitious, thoughtful list. I like the bigger picture, building blocks for the future aspect, and admire your close friendship. I have no doubt that together, having one another’s backs, you will see your dreams realized.

    You’re inspiring me to sit down and really plan out 2015 beyond the four books I’ve loosely penciled in at this point. For me that means time to paint, which I didn’t allow myself this past year where I wrote everyday. Not a bad thing, but I love painting too …. Balance.

    Time to map out time for both and, “Make it so.”

    Thanks for letting us see your process.

  8. Thanks for sharing this amazing and inspiring list. It’s a honor to watch you work, gentlemen. You’ve inspired me to step up my game immeasurably.

    I finally (finally!) bought Scrivener after hearing you discuss it for so long, and it’s rocking my world. Wish I’d listened to you about it years before. All that time wasted in Word… ack!

    I love all the behind the scenes stuff, and I hope it won’t throw off your word counts too much if you keep sharing it.

  9. Very inspiring to read this post. I can’t wait to follow you in 2015! I sure have loved following you this year.

    I’m soooo looking forward to hearing the Indie Fiction Podcast again. I have missed it so much, that I had to buy some audiobooks. So right now, I’m listening to Z 2134 🙂

    Bring on 2015! 😀

  10. Cyd Madsen says:

    If anybody can meet these goals, it’s you guys. Go for it and never back back. There’s only one thing you’ve written here that I’d give a word of caution about, and that’s your mindset on writing screenplays. I’m not sure what you mean by learning the craft first. There are gurus and books and formulas galore out there, and not a single one of them are anything more than Dumbo feathers to get you over the hump of thinking you don’t know how. Shoot, boys, I wrote my first one completely by accident, won a major award and had agents calling me. Last year about six of us got together on a private WP site and agreed to each write a screenplay in 10 days. We posted each day’s work in a PDF on the site to prove we’d done it. All of us did some of our best work in those 10 days. Rough and in need of a revision, sure, but fine stories all the way around. Then we went through a 14 day re-write process our fearless leader put together from his studies at NYU and mentoring from Coppola (no cats were killed or saved in the process). It wasn’t easy but it was fun and productive. Very. On all points. When you’re writing at that speed, the only thing that happens is story; the rules and regs become collateral damage.

    It sounds like you’re on an unstoppable roll, but if you’d ever like to hear a few stories about ole Walt and his Nine Old Men, drop me a line. Marc Davis (google the dude) used to be my brother-in-law, and I’ve spent many evenings with Walt, Marc and others from their creative team at small and casual gatherings. Looking back I’m stunned at how laid back their collective genius was. But, holy toot, they didn’t have as much going on as you guys do.

    Good luck with it all. It sounds as if you’ll be prepared to grab that luck when it comes around, and come around it will. It’s amazing how many people don’t recognize it when it shows up. It seems you’ve got the vision to see it.

    • OMG I love this comment.

      What I mean about learning the craft is simply reading some screenplays. I don’t need to take classes or read books by the barrel, but I want to read some screenplays of films I love, then watch the films again. I think that will be more than enough to get me started.

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