What Type of Sterling & Stone Reader Are You?

Story Studio

Sooo … you ran across Sterling & Stone.

That’s fantastic. We think that no matter what you’re looking for writing- or reading-wise, you’ll be happy here.

We have fiction of all kinds: five whole imprints’ worth of stories of all shapes and sizes, from horror to sci-fi to literature to romance … even stuff for kids. (And, on the other end of the spectrum, stuff that’s quite adult.)

Or … we have writing instruction and publishing best practices if you’re into that. If you’re a writer but not necessarily a reader, we have plenty to say that you’ll want to hear if you’re interested in selling more books and writing better stories faster.

We wrote a bestseller about self publishing (Write. Publish. Repeat.), and when that wasn’t enough and people asked to know even more about our writing process, we decided to simply show them by writing a book live in 30 days and let the world watch (Fiction Unboxed). 

But the problem is that although we’re delighted you ran across Sterling & Stone, we don’t know how you ran across it.

You may have just finished The Beam or Yesterday’s Gone and be looking for more great books to read. You may be a listener of our Self- Publishing Podcast looking for marketing advice.

Who you are and what you’re looking for will determine how we should ideally deliver you what you want most, and for all we know, you could be any one of a dozen people, finding us from any of a dozen different directions.

But let’s keep things simple. Let’s pretend you’re one of six different people, interested in one of six different things.

Below, we’ll break down the six main areas of interest here at Sterling & Stone, so you can choose to explore only what matters most to you (one fiction imprint only, self-publishing and writing advice only, whatever) without being bothered by the rest.

Keep reading, and choose your own adventure!

TYPE 1: You’re A Reader Who Likes To Be Scared

Our oldest and scariest imprint at Sterling & Stone is Collective Inkwell, which specializes in horror, dark sci-fi, and dark fantasy. CI books are fast-paced and big on cliffhangers — the kind of fiction that grabs and hooks you, then keeps you turning pages even if you’re late to pick up the kids because you JUST HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.

CI readers aren’t afraid to look into life’s shadowy corners — because hey, it’s a lot more fun to read about people coming undone in riveting situations than to go through those situations themselves.

Collective Inkwell is home to the post-apocalyptic serial Yesterday’s Gone, the suspenseful thriller Whitespace, the YA dark fantasy serial ForNevermore, the cathartic desperation of Crash, and many more.

TYPE 2: You’re A Curious, Adventurous Reader Of Fiction

If you enjoy thoughtful stories and appreciate the way even the simplest tales can sometimes become something epic, you’re perfect for Realm & Sands — our genre-agnostic imprint that asks life’s biggest questions, then attempts to answer them (for us as authors as well as for readers) through story.

R&S books are curious and deep while remaining adventurous and fun. Realm & Sands readers know that books can and do take any number of surprising turns, and that things are not often as they seem.

Realm & Sands is home to the political sci-fi serial The Beam, the fantasy/western mashup epic Unicorn Western, the steampunk young adult Dream Engine books, the philosophical Robot Proletariat series, the literary mindbender Axis of Aaron, and much, much more.

TYPE 3: You’re A Writer (Or More Globally, A Smart Artist Of Any Type) Who Wants To Produce Better Work And Sell More Of It

Our sole nonfiction wing here at Sterling & Stone is The Smarter Artist, and its target audience is right there in the name. The Smarter Artist line is for artists (specifically writers, though that’s already expanding) who want to sell more, produce smarter, better, and faster, and bring business sense into what’s normally considered a “purely creative” field.

The flagship of the Smarter Artist line is the Self Publishing Podcast, the top-rated indie publishing podcast on iTunes. SA is also home to the bestseller Write. Publish. Repeat: The No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success, our write-a-book-and-let-people-watch project Fiction Unboxed, our weekly Authorpreneur’s Almanac, the Eight Questions artist interviews series, and all of the how-to and best-practices articles we post here on the S&S blog.

TYPE 4: You’re A Parent Looking For Better, More Intelligent Reads For Your Kids — Books That Speak To Deep Truths Via Stories That Kids Relate To And Love

Sean got his start in writing when, after submitting poems to a literary agent, he was told that his work was excellent … but that his vocabulary was too rich for children. That was the wrong thing to say to Sean, because he immediately turned around and started trying to prove that agent wrong.

Today, S&S’s pseudonymous Guy Incognito imprint holds all of the books we write for children. All three of S&S’s principals write in the Guy line because all three of us have kids of our own … and the books we produce there, ladies and gentlemen, are the stories we want to share with them. We’ve found that our young readers don’t find Guy’s intelligent stories (which don’t patronize or speak down to them, but instead respect them as readers who can absorb relatively deep truths if they are hidden inside fun, engaging stories) “too rich.” As parents, we know that your readers will feel the same.

Guy Incognito’s books include the first two books Sean ever wrote, Penny to a Million and Syllable Soup, LunARK, Tales From the Terrible Scary, and the book he wrote to explain Santa to his daughter, Haley, Santa EXPOSED: Don’t Read This Unless You Want to Know the Truth!

TYPE 5: You’re A Reader Who Likes Romance And Adventure, And Doesn’t Flinch Back (Or Actively Flinches Forward!) When Things Get Naughty

Lexi Maxxwell is a pen name used by a real woman, but since Lexi joined the Sterling & Stone family, “Lexi” became more than just the woman herself. The Lexi Maxxwell imprint (which we all write a bit for, with Lexi getting final cut) stands for edgy, romantic, and definitely naughty content that stands tall and refuses to back down from what it wants to be.

Lexi  attracted our attention because she’s 1) a great writer, 2) an extremely adept businesswoman after our own hearts, and 3) unrelenting in her stance on empowerment and shame. Even back when Lexi was writing her (now-retired) “single-serving fantasy” stories, she was receiving tons of mail from readers who felt her stories gave them permission to feel what they felt without the shame so commonly imparted by society.

Now that Lexi has evolved to put story first (her line is always story first, sex second), she’s getting even more of that mail. Lexi claims that all stories would be “erotic” if people just told the truth instead of cutting away from characters when the lights go down, and we tend to agree.

It’s a very big mistake to confuse Lexi’s framing of the world (relationships and sexuality) with the intent of her stories (to make readers FEEL). It’s also a huge mistake to dismiss her stories as “just erotic” because they contain explicit scenes. Lexi, like all of S&S, is STORY FIRST. We wouldn’t work with her if it were otherwise.

Lexi’s titles include the time-travel romance A Temptation in Time, the bittersweet drama Together Apart, the hilarity of Fuck Him!, the raucous cliffhangers of The XXX Files, the Beam-world political sci-fi series The Future of Sex, and the softer romance of Le Fleur de Blanc.

TYPE 6: You’re A Reader Who Likes To Laugh

Here at Sterling & Stone, we define our imprints by their purpose. So we realized we needed the LOL imprint to house several titles whose main (and almost sole) purpose is to make you laugh.

Space Shuttle (“Taxi in space”), Greens (“high-brow grocery store in neighborhood gone bad”) and Everyone Gets Divorced (“How I Met Your Mother meets It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) were originally published within Realm & Sands as “written sitcoms,” but LOL got them soon afterward when we realized how differently, irreverently, deliberately absurd they turned out.

We put a bunch of misfits into funny situations (Space Shuttle is populated by familiar characters who our lawyers SWEAR do not resemble copyrighted characters from popular sci-fi movies) then watched what happened. Hilarity ensued.

Creating LOL also gave us a home for a series we’d been scratching our heads about for a year, wondering how to handle: Lexi Maxxwell’s Adult Video. We weren’t sure what Adult Video was other than its tagline of “Clerks in a porn shop,” because although Lexi’s part in it made it highly explicit, Sean’s and mine (we wrote the comedy parts) made it HILARIOUS. It’s definitely not erotica even though it’s kinda (kiiiinda) erotic, but it’s not typical comedy either. But it’s definitely more comedy than anything else, and so into LOL we sent it.

The last component of LOL is a podcast: our own red-headed stepchild to the more popular and informative Self Publishing Podcast: a weekly atrocity called Better Off Undead. The original framing of BOU was as a horror podcast, but we quickly realized that the funniest episodes were the ones where we just made fun of Dave the whole time, like the one where Dave is afraid to throw out “contaminated” cookies for fear a bear will take them from his garbage, or the one where Dave not only admits to carrying a “decoy wallet,” but is aghast that we don’t do the same.

We tell people to never, ever listen to BOU because it’s terrible. Ignore this advice at your own peril.

So now you know. Those are the six basic types of people we think you might be, and what we have to offer each of them.

Now it’s time to choose.

What type of Sterling & Stone reader (or listener, or viewer) are you, and what would you like to know more about? 

If you’re not already a Sterling & Stone Starter, you can click here to become a Starter and get our initial library for FREE!

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. I first came across The Self Publishing Podcast after hearing Johnny on Joanna Penn’s podcast and it quickly became an essential part of my weekly schedule. Although I started off just listening and then reading the non-fiction, I now read all the imprints; I particularly loved Unicorn Western and Yesterday’s Gone, and I’m currently reading Axis of Aaron. So keep it all coming guys, pleasem and thankoo, it’s all gold.

  2. I can’t remember how I found you guys, but I’d say I’m a combination of 2, 3, 4, 5. Write. Publish. Repeat. was my first read from your collection, but these days I listen to all the podcasts, have read all of Lexxi’s stuff and much of the others and am giving my sons all the Guy Incognito stuff on their new kindles for Christmas.

  3. Johnny B. Truant says:

    I just love hearing stories like both of you tell … proves that pollination works!

    • It works. Don’t ever think otherwise.

      I would probably never have read any of your books, had it not been for WPR and SPP. There’s a lot of transfer there, caused by the curiosity that naturally comes up, when you keep talking about what you’re currently writing.

      I am probably the slowest person ever to try to convert from a freebie person to a paying customer, but hey – look where I am 😉

      And now I’ll go off to work, and try to earn some money, so I can continue to be a paying customer 😀

  4. I first discovered you guys through the podcast, but it wasn’t until I read Write. Publish. Repeat that I picked up your fiction. I tend to gravitate toward horror-type sci-fi and so started with Yesterday’s Gone, moved into Whitespace and then to Beam and Unicorn Western.

    I pre-ordered Fiction Unboxed and just finished reading it tonight, and have been listening to the conversations. I have Dream Engine on my TBR list, as well as Axis of Aaron. I look forward to your future projects, and I want to thank all three of you for the enormous amount of inspiration and knowledge you have shared with your listeners and readers. I spent years and years “thinking” about writing but not having the confidence or discipline to sit down and do it. When I finally made the decision to put my butt in the chair and do the damn thing, you guys were there for me. Thank you.

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