Finally: Fiction Unboxed Transcripts


It’s ridiculous that these transcripts took us so long.

When we launched our Kickstarter project ALMOST SIX MONTHS AGO, selling the transcripts as an entry level way to experience Fiction Unboxed seemed like a no-brainer.

In fact, the Fiction Unboxed book was basically going to be the transcripts all put together with some light editing.

But we decided that the book should be better than that, and wrote the entire thing — a true sequel to last year’s Write. Publish. Repeat. — in less time than it took to get the basic unedited transcripts delivered.

This is embarrassing, and for me, one of this year’s biggest disappointments.

The Scrivener For Beats series seemed to take forever and a day, but that made sense. We couldn’t start on those until Axis was finished, and Axis was an extremely difficult 150,000 word novel.

The new transcription company we’re using for Unboxed 1.5 promises no more than 5 days (and for just slightly extra we could get 24 hours). We believed that our previous company could deliver on their promise, but the truth is that these transcripts still wouldn’t be done had it not been for the hard work of two SPP fans.

Jacob Howle started as an Unboxed transcriber, before coming to work for Sterling & Stone full time. Patrick Stemp carried the ball after that. We’re sorry this dragged on as long as it did. We’re loyal guys and wanted to see things through to the end. But we’ve made the necessary changes, and now it’s all for the better. We’ll not only be able to deliver Unboxed 1.5 transcripts BEFORE THE PROJECT ENDS, we’re going back to transcribing the SPP shows shortly after they air (there’s that 5 day turnaround we were talking about).

If you’re an Unboxer, you can get the full transcripts on the Fully Unboxed page now. If you backed through Kickstarter, you’ll also have an update there. And rest assured, you’ll ALSO be getting the Fiction Unboxed book for FREE, well before its release date.

Now, to talk a bit more about the adventures in transcribing Fiction Unboxed, here’s a special Sterling & Stone guest, Patrick Stemp …


Adventures in Transcribing Fiction Unboxed

One of the many backer rewards for the Fiction Unboxed campaign is a digital download containing the complete transcripts of every meeting Johnny and Sean (and occasionally Dave) held throughout the process.

The Dream Engine was finished at the end of June and the transcripts are finally finished, three and half months later.

Wait, what? Why did the transcripts take so long? All you have to do is listen to the audio and type the words, right?


If you’ve ever watched live captioning on TV, you will have seen how difficult it is to transcribe real-time. For these transcripts, the audio had to be slowed, rewound and constantly repeated. And Fiction Unboxed boasts 24 hours of audio!

Caption Access may save puppies from burning trees, but those puppies can’t type and CA needs people to do the real work.

Jacob Tullos, the recently appointed project manager (button monkey?) for Sterling & Stone was involved early in the process. He was already transcribing the Self Publishing Podcast and posted a few funny quotes online along the way, which caught my attention. I asked him about the work and we shared a few exchanges.

A couple of weeks later, Jacob got in touch and asked if I would be interested in helping out with the Fiction Unboxed transcriptions. I consider myself a True Fan and jumped at the opportunity to give something back and maybe earn a few coins in the deal.

It wasn’t long before my girlfriend took the leap alongside me. April is not a writer or an SPP listener, but she is a huge fan of Better Off Undead, with dreams of someday becoming Dave’s best friend.

There is a lot of history, in-jokes, industry jargon, and name dropping in everything these guys do, so it was important to have people involved who could accurately document the words. I figured I could “fact check” April’s work, and away we went.

If you love listening to the Self-Publishing Podcast, and think Better Off Undead is the funniest thing you’ve ever heard, pick a random episode and transcribe it. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

It’s fun, right?

Unless Sean won’t let Johnny get a word in. Unless they all talk at the same time. Unless Sean’s connection drops out constantly and you can’t understand what he’s saying.

You want to capture the conversation’s spirit,n and not just the words. You want to balance the message they’re trying to convey, and the joy they experience along the way.

If Sean laughs, you type SEAN: (laughs). But if he can’t stop, you need to focus on the signal rather than the noise, because nobody wants to wade through transcriptions that read like this:

SEAN: (laughs) Oh, right, totally. And…wait, and then I [CUTS OUT] (laughs)
JOHNNY: What’s Dave doing?
SEAN: (laughs)
DAVE: Huh?
JOHNNY: Oh, I think he’s frozen.
SEAN: (laughs) That’s really, really awesome. Anyway, OH, OH, OH … I almost forgot …
DAVE: I’m not frozen.
JOHNNY: Lost you there Sean, what did you say?
SEAN: (laughs) What?
DAVE: Hello?
JOHNNY: Dave dropped out.

You want to remain true to the audio, but it must also be easy to read. I hope you’ll find that balance in these transcripts.

Somewhere along the way, Jacob had to bow out because everything he’s been doing for Sterling & Stone avalanched and he didn’t have time to continue. Then April had a medical emergency that took both of us out for three weeks in September. The work took a lot longer than anyone thought it would.

Are the transcripts a success? I think so. They may need an edit and a polish, but they also had to get done.

You might come across a few things that make you say “huh?”

I said I’d edit April’s work. I tried. I really did. She did an amazing job, but neither of us are perfect.

While she was working on Day 24, she sent me a text asking, “Who is Right Publisher Pete?” I shit you not. Thankfully she asked. Crisis averted.

I’m fairly confident that we avoided sending anyone to

Unfortunately, I learned too late that I may have let a reference to “Mauricio from Yesterday’s Gone” slip through. If you find it, let me know and maybe we can do an edit. She doesn’t remember the day.

Overall, I believe the final work is an accurate written version of the insanity that comes with writing a book in 30 days.

Any mistakes we made are hopefully worth a laugh at least. I know Johnny and Sean have been anxious to get these done and out to the Unboxers. I also know that they’re incredibly grateful to everyone for being patient while the work was done.

I’m thankful to have been involved in every way, as a listener, an Unboxer, and a transcriber. All April requires is Dave’s address and we can consider this a job, well …done.

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. Spoken by a true fan! Thanks for sharing, Patrick, that was funny!

    And well done Jacob and Patrick. A thankless task really (I’ve only tried transcribing some of our own work a few times and it was hell).

    Looking forward to the FU Book as well!

    PS. I wanted to leave a comment before about Jacob’s Asana video, which was amazing. What a fantastic asset you are to the team! Thanks for posting the video, I learned something about better collaboration systems.

  2. What ever happened to Garrett’s Nuts & Bolts videos? I thought they were scheduled for Mondays?

    • They’re still on Mondays, and supposedly Garrett has one coming later today. He made a short film last weekend that ruined him, and is running behind today. Garrett says he’ll be getting two in the bag this week, so that we’re ahead. Sorry for the wait.

      • Perhaps he could post the one from last week here on the blog too?
        If not, there’ll be a weird gap there 🙂

        (It may have been posted since I last checked, but at that point, it was only on YouTube, not on the blog).

  3. Jarkko Laine says:

    That’s a great description of what it’s like to transcribe a podcast. I’ve transcribed some interviews I’ve done for my magazine (the audio was never published) and all I can say is that it’s really hard work!

    So, thanks for the hard work, Jacob and Patrick!

    Then, I must add that I don’t see this as something to be disappointed of at all. Kickstarter rewards tend to take a long time (I’m still waiting for some rewards from projects that ended over a year ago…) so backers are probably expecting delays anyway.

    More than anything, I’m amazed by the fact that you managed to write and publish the full Fiction Unboxed book so quickly! Well… this is how you roll, so by now, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by it anymore 🙂

    Anyway, congrats for the great work!

  4. This was so funny! Great post.

    “Right Publisher Pete” & “” – LOL!
    The last one I had to read out loud, to make sense of.

    And I’m pretty sure that everyone is okay with the delay. You’re giving away a bonus book on top of it, so if anyone complains, they’re assholes. Short and simple!

  5. Delay shmlay, no biggie. Is Mauricio Boricio’s virtuous twin?

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