Part hero’s journey, part crash course in storytelling by the modern mavericks of indie publishing, and the bestselling authors of Write. Publish. Repeat., Fiction Unboxed offers something that’s never been offered before: a naked look into two writer’s process, as they wrote and published a book in 30 days, from scratch, in front of the world.
In 2013 Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant wrote and published 1.5 million words (a Harry Potter series and a half worth of fiction). The next year they showed the world how they did it.
In May 2014, Johnny and Sean, along with their third partner David Wright, launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if their fans wanted to see how they wrote behind closed doors. They promised to start their newest project without knowing their story, characters, or even their genre, and publish the final draft before their 30 days were up. They promised to capture every email, every story meeting, and every word from every draft. They promised to show every molecule of their process, warts and all.
They had 30 days for their fans to green light the campaign. It fully funded in 11 hours. Fiction Unboxed is as revealing as it is inspiring, empowering readers and writers as much as it will entertain them. With actionable advice that will benefit any writer, this book is a true gem for anyone who loves a well told story.
©2014 Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt (P)2014 Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt
"Great Follow-Up to Write Publish Repeat"
I enjoyed this audiobook, but I enjoy all of Sean and Johnny's audiobooks. This one is a true sequel to Write Publish Repeat, though I think that was its biggest disadvantage. If you followed the guys' Kickstarter campaign, this will be a lot of fun to listen to because it recaps everything they did for their campaign.
Simon Whistler did a fantastic job as always and his narration was a blast to listen to.
If you're a true fan of Sean and Johnny, I totally recommend this one. There's nothing new here per se if you already follow them, and it's not as fantastic as WPR was, but it still a good listen/read nonetheless.
"Fantastic Writing Concert"
I was a participant in Platt and Truant's initial 'Fiction Unboxed' project last year, so I kind of knew what to expect from this audiobook. Still, the book held my interest, entertained and informed me.
FU was an ambitious undertaking: two novelists writing a complete novel, from 'no idea' to 'finished product', in thirty days, with the whole world (or at least a thousand Kickstarter backers) watching. The book does a great job of summarizing the process through its own narrative (with Platt and Truant as the harried protagonists). Most importantly for me as an author, though, it distills the lessons they learned through the project. This is invaluable information for anyone who wants to write for a living. My only fault with the book is that I wish it gave more of that.
Though the book didn't add a ton to the knowledge I gleaned from the project itself, it's still definitely worth a listen (I've no doubt I'll listen to it again). And I can say with certainty it's worth a buy for those who are new to the Sterling and Stone world. These guys are knowledgeable, generous, and funny as hell. (Having Simon Whistler's beautiful British vocals read their words doesn't hurt, either.)
Pick it up! It's worth it.
(Disclosure: I received a free copy of this audiobook from the authors, in exchange for an honest review.)
"Interesting and somewhat Enlightening"
It is interesting to here about the book that was written and things they had to overcome. But what came through for me was the plod. Plod through your book. Start it and finish it with tons of imperfection because that is how you finish a book. I tend to edit as I write and I think I will fore go any editing until I am done. There is a lot more that I learned as well but that was my big take away.
"A Must Read"
If you are thinking about writing fiction or already write fiction, you need to read this book. Or listen to it, whichever. After listening to Write Publish Repeat, by the same authors, I couldn't wait to actually get a look inside their writing process. They totally delivered. I have a much better understanding of how to structure a story, how to flesh it out, how to build characters, how to foreshadow. I loved this book and the insight it provided. The first half of the book does get a little bit long winded about the kick-starter campaign, but just hang in there. It comes around and gets to the good stuff. If you haven't read Write Publish Repeat, you will want to check that out as well. Simon Whistler does a great job of narrating both books. Thank you Sean Dave Johnny and Simon for the most excellent work!
"Okay but better as part of paid content"
I think this book's appreciation largely depends on the audience's experience listening to the Self Publishing Podcast, whether or not they have read The Dream Engine, whether or not they are looking to do a Kickstarter campaign any time soon, and whether or not they plan to utilize all the free (or paid) tools that expand upon this recounting of the Fiction Unboxed project. I think I fell into the worst category of listeners because I listen to their podcast regularly, so I've heard much of the recap of this experience, especially the Kickstarter campaign struggles and lessons learned. I almost skipped the first part because I didn't want to hear that recap again. It's okay that I didn't because there was some new reflections in there.
That could summarize my thoughts on the book as a whole: while most felt like a rehashing of what I'd already heard on their show, they are still my favorite group of writers to hear talk about the process of writing, so it's a good book, but I could have gone without the repetitive inspiration. I mean, some inspiration is good to hear twice, but I would have rather listened to their latest six episodes than listen to this.
If you are not like me and have not heard what they encountered on this monumental Kickstart project of writing a book from scratch in thirty days, then definitely give it a listen. Their podcast isn't as cohesive as this, so it is actually a very good recap.
The Dream Engine by Sean PlattThe Dream Engine sounds like a great book, but I wish I had read it before listening to them discussing plot points. I almost stopped this audiobook again when I heard about a plot point I thought was very cool. They gave forewarning, but my reading schedule didn't have time to put this down and read DE prior to continuing. My loss, truly. These guys are super talented authors, and it sounds like DE will be great. That said, it wasn't as enjoyable listening to story points and what they decided to do or not do without having the context of having read the story.
Lastly, this Fiction Unboxed experience is really best suited for someone, I think, who has a lot of free time to read DE, then watch all the videos and special free bonuses on their website as they break down scene by scene and whatnot. This feels more like a college writing course that I tried to experience in the few hours available in this audiobook, and lacked achieving the potential it would have offered had I done all the extras, made writing exercises comparing what they did with my work in progress, and probably most important, had I been involved from the beginning, where I could have seen what they did each day, both in writing and in marketing.
As far as authors go that aspiring authors should follow and take note of, Platt, Truant and Wright are near the top of the leaders of the indie author revolution. Listening to this book with no other plans on following up on the extras, or if you haven't read The Dream Engine prior, and if you've already listened to every podcast during their time working on this project may not be the best method to enjoy this stage of their advice.
"Surprisngly Entertaining Tale About Writing a Book"
I was a member of the Fiction Unboxed program when it was launched on Kickstarter in May 2014 and watched the entire process unfold throughout that following June. I was expecting this book to be a basic rundown of what went down (it was originally slated to just be a book full of transcripts) but Johnny and Sean always outdo themselves and instead wrote a narrative that retold the story in a much more satisfying way.
At it's nutshell, this book is about two guys writing a book together. Somehow, the actual story told is much more exciting than you would think from the description. They open with the history of the project and what led to its inception, running a Kickstarter campaign, finding a nugget on which they could base their novel, writing said novel and producing a finished product (from conception to completion) in 30 days, and then meeting with members of the community to more fully flesh out their story world at a summit a few months later.
There is intrigue, backstabbing (sort of...if you really bend the meaning behind the word...), even cliffhangers galore from chapter to chapter. Even knowing the story (since I was there for the entire thing) they had me on the edge of my seat.
Simon Whistler did an excellent job of narrating the book, even if it does seem odd to hear his voice instead of Johnny's, from whose point of view the book is told and who I am used to listening to multiple times per week. Simon's cool voice and strong accent are very easy to listen to, and his production quality leaves very few errors to distract you from the book. (In fact, in this book, I didn't notice any at all.)
This is a quick listen at just over 5 hours.
"Informative, Engaging, and Entertaining"
I have to admit a bit of prejudice. I participated in Fiction Unboxed in 2014. I enjoyed the event, but I must admit it was a bit of a blur. This book helped sharpen the experience.
Simon's reading is top notch, even if he pronounces 'taco' like the Brit that he is. Johnny's words are frequently hilarious and Simon's delivery makes them even funnier. When the book gets serious, Simon does an excellent job of conveying that, too.
At the time Sterling and Stone announced this book, all I could think was that they had lost their minds, but I was grateful for the chance to peek inside said madhouse minds. What were they thinking during the insane process of writing a book in a month, live, in front of an audience?
The book is probably longer than it needs to be, and I expect that from Platt and Truant. I'd be disappointed if they got straight to the point. All the fun meandering would be lost. They aren't just giving a deadpan delivery. Fiction Unboxed is a story told like a story.
There are a lot of good take-aways from the book and Truant gives a nice summary at the end of each chapter. If you're a writer and you want to know what goes on in the head of a more successful writer, this is a great book to read. Truant is extremely candid about how thing almost went off the rails for them. Several times. The missteps and recoveries come with lessons any writer can learn from.
There are plenty of things about craft and mindset that rock, too. Johnny playfully skewers some of the sacred maxims that keep writers from writing. You can apply these lessons to most anything in life, btw.
If you are a reader and want to know what goes on for a writer while creating a story, Fiction Unboxed is a great insight. Also, the story helped me appreciate the resulting book, The Dream Engine, even more.
One criticism I've read about the book is that it is mostly a come-on to get people to buy the Fiction Unboxed program. No, it isn't. You absolutely do not need to buy the program to get rewards from the book. The only 'sales pitch' is "Hey, if you want more info on that, you can go to sterlingandstone-dot-net-slash-fiction-unboxed. I think there were two mentions of the sign up page in several hours of book. If you like the story of Fiction Unboxed, you might do well to invest in the experience.
Top notch. Good job, guys.
"It was a little on the long winded side, but..."
It was a little on the long winded side, but in the end I got out of it everything I had hoped to... Well, we'll know for sure if I ever publish a book. Good stuff, helps me feel I have a chance and has rebooted my enthusiasm.
"5 Stars - These guys know everything!!!"
If you want to be a self published author, you need to follow these guys. Read everything. Listen to all of their podcasts and take their advise. The end.
I was lucky enough to meet Simon Whistler in Prague July 2015, he's awesome!!
"A Good Book for Authors"
It had that quintessential Sean Platt/Johnny B Truant tone. I was part of Fiction Unboxed for the Kickstarter and it was interesting to hear their experiences put into a book.
The narrator threw me off, though. I'm used to hearing the guys on the podcast, and they are definitely not English. Every time I stopped and started listening again, it took me a few minutes to get back into it and remember who I was listening to.
Dave, of course.
Honestly, I would have picked another narrator. Simon didn't do a bad job, but the accent was a bit out of character for these guys' books.
Of course. The Sterling & Stone gents are always inspiring and I came away with some great quotes and tidbits of information.
"frikkin Amaze-balls! !!"
these guys are legends. Brilliant and helpful account of how they ran their kick-start campaign and wrote a novel in 30 days. inspirational and instructional. Á must read for any serious fiction writer...
"Audio faults and poorly edited"
Too many of the early chapters were devoted to financing this project. The writing methodology chapters were good when they eventually got going but the audio failed completely for the final chapters.
"A brilliant guide to the creative process"
I bought this after finishing Write Publish Repeat, a book i enjoyed but initially struggled to get into. Not so this book: I lapped it up as fast as possible. It's filled with great advice on writing stories - alone or as a duo - but, the best part of it is seeing the story come alive along the way. Layer by layer it comes into being, proving the old adage: don't get it right, get it written
"Yes, they really did do it!"
As one of the 1000 unboxers this brought back many memories of the many hours I followed Sean and Johnny during the Fiction Unboxed experience.
Wonderfully written by the guys, and beautifully read (as usual) by Simon, this audio book brought back many of the emotions that us unboxers went through as we followed S&J through the 30 days and followed their emotional roller coaster as they wrote 'The Dream Engine'.
But above all, I remember feeling proud of them as I watched them achieve their goal of writing and publishing their book in 30 days, even though you could see the toll and the tiredness begin to etch on their faces (well you couldn't see a lot of Sean's towards the end!).
For a new author it was both awe inspiring and daunting. You couldn't fail to be inspired by what you were watching and listening too, but I also found it daunting because it seemed a lifetime away before I could imagine writing a first draft in a month let alone a whole book from start to finish!.
But, as usual with the SSP guys, they were fully open, honest and hard working. If you've read or listened to WPR you know they say you've got to work at it and work hard. And they certainly demonstrated this during the unboxed month, and have done so with their large library of books and their weekly SSP (we won't mention the other podcast they do!!).
This book is a warts and all look behind the scenes of writing a novel in fast frame. It talks about the process and the story that evolved from it. It talks about how they came up with ideas, characters and twists and turns. It talks about the hard knocks and the 'scary' moments all writers get (no matter how experienced) and most importantly it talked about pushing on through everything to get to the end. Because without pushing through you'll never do it.
If you are a writer and you doubt yourself and your ability, keep this by your side and listen to it as a reminder of what can be achieved if you set your mind to it and set goals. Make yourself accountable and do it.
Sean, Johnny and Dave do it all the time and they are now creating their own empire within the indie author world. You'll not go far wrong to keep them and their motivation (tune into their weekly podcast - Self Publishing Podcast) close by.
"An under-the-covers look at writing"
This book (well narrated) describes the way the three hosts of the self-publishing podcast hastily decided to write, in the public eye, a novel in a month. It shares both the highs and the lows of the journey and what they learnt along the way.
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