How We All Met Part II


Looking back to April of 2012, it’s strange to think that there there was a time when I wasn’t meeting with Sean and Dave every week to discuss writing, publishing, and authorpreneurial business-building in front of our large, enthusiastic, kick-ass podcast audience.

But that day existed, back when things were very different for all three of us … and for self-publishing as a whole.

Today I make my living as a full-time author. I write and publish about 1.5 million words (around 1.5 times the full, 7-book Harry Potter series) per year. Sean and Dave (with a few of those details changed) do pretty much the same. But Sean was once a copywriter churning out junk $5 keyword articles to game search engines, Dave once worked in a gas station on the graveyard shift, and I was once a college boy working on a PhD in genetics.

When the three of us met in 2012, Sean and Dave were further along than I was. They’d begun publishing serialized fiction already, at the time meeting a demanding once-per-week schedule for their post-apocalyptic series Yesterday’s Gone. Me? I’d written a novel, but it had taken me 12 years to do it.

I’d always wanted to be a fiction writer, but I’d given up on that dream. I’d tried to pitch literary agents on my book, and had been rejected just like everyone back before the e-book revolution. So I’d settled in as a blogger, making a living doing online education.

I knew Sean already. We orbited in the same circles online — mostly as two of the writers who regularly submitted articles for Copyblogger is a class-A outfit, so the fact that each of us knew the other wrote for Copyblogger was an immediate credential. When we finally met in person in New York in 2011 (at Blogworld; we bonded by talking about autoresponders, and no, I’m not kidding), we hit it off immediately. So I was primed later that year, when I learned Sean and Dave were making the rounds to promote Yesterday’s Gone, to hear what Sean had to say.

We did an interview on my old blog. You can listen to it here. (The crazy thing is that even with the rapid evolution of self-publishing, very little in that interview has changed.)

I was interviewing Sean because my blog needed content, but really I had an ulterior motive. These guys were making a living selling fiction! How the hell were they doing that? I wanted to know. What’s more, I wanted to do the same.

My fire was lit after that interview. I began shoving old stuff onto the Kindle marketplace, including that 12-year novel of mine. But it was all half-assed, all sort of lackluster. I had one novel, a couple of short stories, and a few converted blog posts. I didn’t have the first “c” of “critical mass,” and I didn’t see how I could ever get it.

How did Sean and Dave write so much? And how could I get in on it?

I pondered.

I puzzled.

I listened to that interview about 20 times. I remember running the Columbus, Ohio marathon that year, listening to that interview on repeat. It wouldn’t be a great running soundtrack for most people, but it sure pumped me up.

What if I could write another book?

And another?

And another?

Sean and Dave’s model was to (and you’ll see this phrase come back later if you haven’t already) “write, publish, and repeat.” I just had to do that. Over time, it would add up.

But my sales were crap. I had to figure out a way to keep my inspiration up while I was waiting for my fiction to keep up. I had to get into a mastermind. I had to start meeting with Sean regularly, not just once for that interview.

That’s when I came across a great idea, and pushed like hell to implement it, to make Sean and Dave go along with it.

I’ll tell you that story next time …

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.


  1. Is there a Part 1 to this post?

  2. That image made me LOL. I’m assuming it’s Dave, Johnny, Sean, left to right.

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