Update 5: What Participation Will Really Be Like

Yes, we wish it was June 1, too, but we’re also glad for the extra weeks and the chance to make this adventure bigger and better than we ever imagined.

In our last update we promised that once funding hits $50,000, we’re going to create a comprehensive set of templates, crib sheets, research documents, timelines, key character profiles, and everything else needed to fully articulate the story world surrounding the book we write for Fiction Unboxed.

Then, we’re give those documents to our backers, and opening the story world for everyone to write in.


If you write a book in an open story world, it has built-in marketing, and fans. Our Fiction Unboxed book will cause a splash simply due to this project’s pre-existing buzz.

Readers won’t want to stop reading after one book. They’ll be hungry for more stories in the world.

It doesn’t matter what genre you write in. You could set a romance inside the shared story world. You could write action or adventure. You could write sci-fi. You could write horror.

Doesn’t our own, everyday world have real-life stories in all of those genres?

Opening the world — allowing others to fill the void with their stories — was the single best way we could think to benefit the writers who were awesome enough to back our project. And because we strongly believe in the win-win we did so without hesitation.

We don’t keep asking ourself, “How can we make this huge?” We beg the question, “How can we make this insanely, crazily, stupidly valuable and useful for our backers … so that everyone will want to say YES?”

The shared world is our latest (and best) answer.

As the world grows, the profile of any book within it has a greater chance of success. There are of course no guarantees, and you may write a flop. But I’d wager that even a potential flop has a better prognosis when it exists within a recognizable, in-demand story world that readers know, love, and are actively seeking more stories from.

We hope you’ll continue to spread the word about Fiction Unboxed so can dedicate the proper time and expense required to creating our world docs.

We hope that if you have ideas for how to get it in front of more eyes or if you have contacts, you’ll continue to be our extra minds … and let us know about them.

And when Fiction Unboxed reaches that goal and the new world opens for us all — complete with everything you’ll need to write effectively inside it — we hope you’ll join us and tell your own stories.

YOU Can Shape the World.

It’s almost as if we planned this in advance. Fiction Unboxed’s tagline is “change the world with a story,” and here we are … talking about shaping new worlds.

We’ve had the most questions about the “Participation” level. Few people seem to understand it.

As we originally conceived that level, “participation” mostly meant that you could ask us a ton of questions, vote on the story’s genre and plot, and be at the front of the line when you wanted to nudge us one way or the other, and so on.

Now, “participation” takes on a whole new meaning.

People who support Fiction Unboxed at the “Participation Level” or higher, because of our open, shared universe, will have their fingers knuckle-deep in that new world’s clay, giving it shape and substance before it fully hardens.

So you want to write a story in the shared story world? Participants will be deciding what that world looks like. They’ll be choosing the world the way they’d choose an outfit — helping us to decide on that world’s timeframe, history, and aesthetic.

Meaning that interested writers can set the table for their own next project.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About “Participation” in Fiction Unboxed But Were Afraid To Ask

You do not need to “be there live” to get the most out of being a Participant Level backer in Fiction Unboxed.

We apologize for the confusion, because in retrospect it’s obvious. People have been emailing us saying, “I can’t take time off work to watch you write a novel!” or “My spouse will kill me if I miss the kids’ baseball game!” or other such schedule-related issues … but you do not need to be there live.

We will make every effort to hold Q&A sessions and other events that participant-level backers care about during hours that will suit most of you, but scheduling to meet every need will of course be impossible.

If you’re there live, you can ask questions and cast your votes live. If you can’t be there, you can watch or listen later and ask questions or cast your votes then.

You won’t have to call off work, abandon your family, or miss any sleep. We promise.

Participants will need to vote and respond with SOME level of timeliness, but if you’re backing below that, you could ignore Fiction Unboxed entirely, then go through it six months later at your leisure, because everything will be neatly archived for you.

But wait (I say in the voice of an infomercial king), there’s more!

If you’ve looked through the Kickstarter rewards, you may have noticed that the top backer levels include an in-person story workshop with the three of us. Well … that once normal story workshop will now utilize the shared universe in a really, really, REALLY amazing way.

We’ll tell you more about that in a few days … including a way that you may be able to afford it if you previously thought you couldn’t. I need to bring it up now, because …

Everyone at the participant level and above will be shaping the upcoming in-person workshop — which we’re now calling the “Story World Summit.”

Okay, one final very cool thing …

And I know that I said the other things were “very cool,” and they were. But this is like, super amazing cool, and it’s a reward that we’ve just added to the “participant” backer level.

It’s a reward that we COULDN’T have added at all before, because we had no plans for a shared story world until now.

All backers at the participant level and above can add a character to the story world. It could be yourself as you really exist, an idealized version of you, someone with your name, someone with your kid’s name … whatever.

OMG, how awesome is that?

Now, it’ll be subject to a few conditions of reasonability (if two people want to be the president, we’ll need to deny one or both and characters need to be believable in the station you give them) and we can’t promise that we’ll use every one in a book, but they will be in the world FOR SURE, in the comprehensive world research document that goes out to our backers, free for anyone to use, based on a description you write.

Man, that’s like living forever!

We hope you have a delightfully creative time playing in … and shaping… our world. Remember, if you’ve already backed Fiction Unboxed but see rewards at a higher level that you want (such as the ability to participate in and mold a world that you may one day choose to write in with the rest of us), you can upgrade your Kickstarter pledge as long as you do it before the funding period ends … or before the level you want to upgrade to sells out.


Thanks for being patient.

And by being patient I mean thanks for tolerating what was apparently a rather silly first stretch goal.

Dave told us the transcripts were stupid. “No one will care!” he said.

We agreed, then ignored him. I argued that since transcripts were something that no one would care about, we should put them out in front, get them first because they were so supremely unsexy.

Flawed logic made sense in my head. We couldn’t introduce transcripts at the end, after all our other (much better) stretch goals were all introduced. It would be so anti-climactic. Sucky. Forgettable. Super stupid.

Just like they are as first stretch goals.

Dave countered, if the rewards were sucky they shouldn’t even be mentioned. He was right — not that we shouldn’t do them, but that you didn’t need to know. We’re still going to do them, because they’re a fantastic add for our community that will allow our site to quickly grow. But transcripts are transcripts and it was ludicrous to pretend that broccoli was dessert.

Sorry about that. We’ll make it up now with a very special reward. We were going to announce this at $50,000, but now want to give it to you for $35,000 instead. Because Dave was right, transcripts never should have stood for our first stretch goal.

When we announced our first pair of stretch goals, we got a ton of comments, likes, shares and e-mails all from people telling us how happy they were about the beats stretch goal, and how they couldn’t wait until we hit it.

No one said a word about our transcripts, except that they had a nice personality.

We’ve hit our first stretch goal of $25,000, but instead of super sucky transcripts, we’re going to give you super sucky transcripts and the Scrivener beats series.

NOTE: Transcripts are for everyone, and Scrivener beats are available for $39 levels and up. If you’re considering upgrading your pledge from $19 to $39, now is the time. You’ll automagically get the Scrivener beats series, plus any rewards added later.

But doesn’t that leave the 35,000 level open?

Yes, and we’re going to fill it with that very special reward, the one we were saving for $50,000. Now, for our newest stretch goal:

A FREE Copy of Scrivener For Everyone at the $89 Level and Above

Once we hit our next stretch goal of $35,000, every backer at $89 or above will get a copy of the writing software Scrivener (a writer’s best friend) for FREE.

We use Scrivener for everything. From shorts and novellas, to serials, standalone books and series, to this update right now, Scrivener is our first, second and every choice after. It’s how we work.

Literature & Latte, the developers of Scrivener are amazing people making remarkable software. We’re lucky to have their support for this campaign, and grateful to YOU for making that happen. More on that in a minute.

Scrivener was supposed to be our special surprise for the $50,000 stretch goal, but moving that down (or up I suppose) to $35,000 allows us to announce something amazing a lot sooner than we expected.

This is so exciting, I’m shaking a bit as I type.

More than anything else, we want to make writing FUN, because we believe that fun simplifies the process. We also know that’s what you want from us most: ways to make writing easier.

One of the hardest things about getting your best work onto the page is simply starting, and one of the hardest things about starting is crafting the world that you’re about to inhabit. This is especially true for sci-fi and fantasy, but even real life stories are subject to the whims of a romanticized reality.

Building your world so that it’s as clear in your mind as it would be onscreen is what makes fluid articulation possible. That means having a world that is clearly established before the first page.

We’ve written millions of words in many, many worlds, starting with Available Darkness 5 years ago, all the way to The Beam S2, which we’ll publish the day after tomorrow.

With The Beam, we’ve proved that a single large world can inhabit multiple genres (so far we have sci-fi, fiction as nonfiction, erotica, and a couple of shorts, with many more stories coming soon).

We’re already revealing every molecule of our process and recording it for you to digest at your leisure (it doesn’t matter what your schedule is, 100 percent of Fiction Unboxed will be captured for you to access however and whenever you would like).

We figured, why not build a world for you, too?

Whatever we’re writing during June for Fiction Unboxed, we want to share that world with you. Because this is a highly collaborative project, so transparent it’s practically a see-through project, we’ve already decided that the world will be open to everyone.

We want to share. But after we hit our $50,000 stretch goal, we’ll do a lot more than that.

When we reach $50,000, we will fully flesh out our world and create histories and timelines (just like we have for The Beam) and turn them into Scrivener Templates that everyone can share (remember, all Unboxers will get the software for FREE!)

We’ll build the world, you’ll get the history, politics, and locations, along with a primary cast of characters that have made the world what it is, and keep it alive and thriving — easy enough for you to access as a couple of clicks.

This a really big deal, a huge announcement. We’ll be talking a lot more about it in the coming days because it is as exciting as it probably felt when you just read it.

We are going to build a universe (like Yesterday’s Gone, The Beam or Unicorn Western) then open the doors and invite you inside.

Today we gave you the transcripts you don’t care about, then added our beats series to say sorry for wasting your time.

We added a free copy of scrivener in the spot that used to hold the video beats, and a brand-new story world to write in if we reach our newest goal.

But we’re still only scratching the surface. Our list of goals is awesomely long. Unfortunately we’ve lost precious momentum and need your help to recover.

Every voice matters. If you think yours is too small, it isn’t. There is a cumulative effect to everything we’re doing. Even the $1 level is easy to share. It already comes with a free $4 book, and we’re sure to add more.

We didn’t reach out to Scrivener. You did. You made that happen. You reached out to Literature & Latte and told them about Fiction Unboxed.

Help us help you. Please, talk about our project. If you have a list or a large social media following, if you can help us broadcast Unboxed in some way, please get in touch. Let us know how we can help you get Fiction Unboxed in front of your audience.

If you have an idea that you’d like to say out loud, please drop it below in the comments.

We have three weeks, every day until then is another opportunity to strengthen and grow our community. Thank you for everything you’ve done and are still going to do.

Because we can’t update the reward levels on the Kickstarter page after the campaign is live, and still want to keep stuffing the value, Dave made a graphic (that we’ll continue to update) displaying each level’s rewards. Check it out below:



My Tools

I’ve been working on this page for a while.

I’m thrilled with how it’s turning out.

Tomorrow I’ll finish off with the affiliate codes, but this is already 90%+ where it needs to be.

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UPDATE 3: BONUS GIFT (For Every Level!)

Hi there. It’s Dave (the third co-host on The Self-Publishing Podcast) here with today’s Fiction Unboxed Update.

One of the things we love most about Kickstarter is the sense of community that gathers around projects as they continue to grow. The sense of excitement and support so far has been nothing short of humbling.

We want to THANK YOU for that support, and make this Kickstarter even more thrilling for our Unboxers!

That’s why we’re going to start giving out random prizes to our backers as we hit bonus stretch goals along the way, and keep things fresh by stuffing new rewards into the various levels.

First up (for reaching our BONUS stretch goal of  $22,000) something for everyone, $1 and up:

A free e-book copy of Sean Platt’s bio, Writer Dad, a journey from his first days writing through last year. Writer Dad tells how Sean’s wife convinced him to follow his dream to become a writer, and how he poured countless hours of sacrifice into getting where he is – a storyteller who makes a living doing what he loves.

Writer Dad follows Sean’s journey from low-paying keyword articles to writing novels, one after another. He started out believing that stories were complicated, the province of The Greats, but learned that – with hard work and dedication – nearly anyone can tell a story.

It wasn’t an easy journey, but nothing worth having ever is.

Writer Dad isn’t just a book about writing, though. It’s a book about being true to yourself and your dreams, then doing what it takes to achieve them. Writer Dad was the name of Sean’s first website, where I first started reading his (then anonymous) work. I was moved by words that made me want to reach out to the author, and because I did we’re now fantastic friends. Co-creators. Builders of worlds.

Without Writer Dad there would be no Collective Inkwell, no Realm & Sands, and no Self-Publishing Podcast.

There would be no Fiction Unboxed.

There would be no changing the world with a story.

Sean originally didn’t want to publish Writer Dad. He felt it was somehow wrong to charge for a story he wrote for his family. His family (including me and Johnny) all let him know that he was being ridiculous (and had a really big nose).

Writer Dad is a much more important book than Sean realizes. It’s meant a great deal to the readers who’ve read it. The book has a 4.9 rating on Amazon — here’s an excerpt from the first review:

“A lot of writers couldn’t pull off writing and sharing about that kind of devotion without sounding too corny, fake, or over the top. Well, that’s not the case here. Sean shares all kinds of stories about Cindy and the kids in ways that always read as sincere. A lot of the stories are funny and a lot are often touching. I’ll be honest. There were a couple of times that the book actually made me cry. Not because of any sad parts, but because I was moved by how awesome Sean and his family seem to be with each other. They hit a lot of obstacles and big problems on their way to where they are now and they seemed to get through them because of how great of a family they are. But don’t take my word for it. Go and read this great book. You want inspiration in reaching your dreams? It’s here. You want a love story? It’s here. You want some laughs and great feelings along the way? It’s here!”

Writer Dad is a love letter to both the craft, and Sean’s wife, Cindy. If you’re a fan of the podcast you’ve probably heard of the book, and if you’re a fan of Sean specifically, you’ve likely read it already.

If so, you can send your copy to a friend (it will be a digital download sent with the rest of your rewards). If not, we’re thrilled to offer Writer Dad as our way of saying THANK YOU for backing Fiction Unboxed.

The reward levels will keep getting fatter and fatter the more that we fund, so please help us to grow. Writer Dad is a great book, getting it for $1 (and changing the world with a story) is very easy to share. Please do! 

UPDATE 2: Our First Stretch Goals!

Hey there Unboxers.

Thanks so much for being patient. We really wanted to get to our first update yesterday (and tried), but are determined to do everything to our absolute best ability and that means slowing down long enough to think.

We’re grateful for everything you’ve all done already, and while we do want Fiction Unboxed to fund through the roof, help change the way our world sees the art of storytelling, and build tools that will benefit the entire indie publishing community, we have too many ideas and things that we would really love to do — potential we can’t wait to tap — and it can be very difficult to nest our goals in the best possible order.

It’s hard to know how big this adventure could get (we’re still at the start of this particular story), or where we should start, but after the three of us spent a long day hashing things out and playing a hundred and ten games of what if?, we’ve ended up with a long list of game changing goals, starting with these:

Our First Stretch Goal: $25,000 Transcripts of The Self-Publishing Podcast Episodes 1-25

We’ve talked about transcripts since the SPP first started. It’s a no-brainer. Well organized transcripts would make questions and answers easily searchable for listeners, and simple enough to find on-site that even writers who don’t have enough time to listen(or just want an easy-to-find scannable reminder) will be able to access the massive archives of conversation created over the last two years.

We have over 100 episodes of SPP, and talk a mile a minute, both among ourselves and our experienced guests. We have more than a million words to work with in our first 100 episodes alone. Some of these words are instructive, others are mistakes made out loud, a few are laugh out loud funny. Together they tell a story, three careers slowly unfolding in real time.

As craftsman we’re only as good as the tools in our belt — this gives our community a new one. So yes, transcripts for the show have always been something obvious that we want to do for our community, but time and money have stood in our way.

We are fiction authors. We produce the podcast for our fans and for ourselves, but it isn’t a venue where we can afford to invest hard dollars or significant time (beyond the show’s already ample requirements).

Our first stretch goal will get episodes 1-25 transcribed, lightly edited, and published on the SPP site so that the information is easy to sort through and simple to find.

All transcripts will be available to everyone for free online, and (for all backers in the $39 level and above) in an easily searchable ebook.

Our second stretch goal is super exciting, and we know you’re going to LOVE it.

At $35,000 I’ll Record a Video Series: “How I use Scrivener For Beats.”

Beats are the raw materials Johnny uses to write our stories. Johnny referred to my beats in Write. Publish. Repeat. as “kind of like an outline without being an outline. They’re sort of like CliffsNotes, written in advance, by someone who is barely paying attention.”

Every one of our stories starts with beats, and our beats always start in Scrivener.

If you’re podcast listener, you’ve probably already heard me discussing the latest beats I’ve been writing for the final Realm & Sands project we’ll be writing before the Fiction Unboxed story gets started. As with all of our processes, beats get better by the project. Codenamed Axis, these beats are more thorough than our usual fare, and are probably the most detailed beats I’ve written for Johnny since The Beam: Season One.

If we hit our $35,000 stretch goal, I’ll shoot a series of screencasts and take you on a guided tour of exactly how I use Scrivener for beats, so that you can see what Johnny sees before he starts writing. I’ll be using Axis — a file so fresh that at the time of this update, Johnny’s not even see it. I’ll show you how I work with characters, locations, and story, and arrange everything so that all Johnny has to do when he hits the keyboard is write.

When we asked what sort of stretch goals you wanted most, many people wanted something to do with Scrivener. So several of our stretch goals, starting with this one, are focused specifically on the ways we use the software to tell fast, fantastic stories.

We hope you love it!

When we asked what sort of stretch goals you wanted most, many people wanted something to do with Scrivener. So several of our stretch goals, starting with this one, are focused specifically on the ways we use the software to tell fast, fantastic stories.

We hope you love it!

Don’t be shy about asking questions, I’ll get to them as quickly as I can.

AND PLEASE, we cannot stop beating the drum. If you have a blog, write about Fiction Unboxed, share it on Facebook and Twitter, and anywhere else that might make a difference. The bigger this is for us, the bigger it is for YOU.

Our First Fiction Unboxed Press Release

2 Bestselling Authors to Write Book LIVE in 30 Days — Kickstarter Overfunded in 11 Hours!

Bestselling indie authors Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant are about to do something that’s never been done: change the world, by writing a book LIVE in 30 days (from vapor to paper), showing every molecule of their process and shifting modern thought about the art of telling stories.

“Fiction Unboxed” is a publishing experiment. Platt and Truant are full-time authors, determined to prove with their Kickstarter project that well-told stories can bloom from excitement and inspiration, rather than from a “true artist’s” tortured soul.

Not only are Platt and Truant breaking new ground, they’re going to do it without existing characters, a title, a story, or even a genre.

“We want to show writers, readers, and the world that ‘story’ is already breathing inside you. Too many writers are afraid to tap their primal voice, falsely believing that there’s magic in story that they can’t access. But that’s not true. You’re walking around with that magic inside you right now,” claims Truant. 

Platt adds, “Readers want to think, feel, or escape, catch the scent of adventure and the thrill of the unknown. They don’t care where that story came from, how long it took to write, or where you went to school — just the characters you create and the situations you put them in — the two things most in your control. We want to show the world how easy that can be.” 

Along with David W. Wright, Platt and Truant co-host the wildly popular Self-Publishing Podcast, the highly rated indie show that birthed their bestselling book, Write. Publish. Repeat.  Avid fans have clamored for a followup. It wasn’t enough for writers to know what the duo did to produce a “Harry Potter series and a half” worth of reader pleasing fiction in 2013, they wanted to see how they did it. 

Fiction Unboxed was born. Now that the project has fully funded in its first day (in just 11 hours), Platt and Truant are eager to start. From June 1-30, Platt and Truant (along with some help from their third creative partner, David W. Wright) will:

  • Conjure a novel from nothing.
  • Fully outline the story with what the authors call “beats.”
  • Finish the first complete rough draft (75,000+ words).
  • Send that draft through two consecutive edits.
  • Send the polished draft through a final copy edit.
  • Design a cover.
  • Develop a marketing plan.
  • Format the finished book for print.
  • Publish the finished title to all major ebook platforms, and print.
  • Document every meeting, word of story, and email exchanged.

Says Platt, “I’m thrilled to see that the world wants this. We think we can change the world one story at a time, and are thrilled that we have the chance to do it our way as the world watches.”

The fully funded campaign will deliver on its promise starting on June 1. From now until May 21 the team will be working toward stretch goals that include everything from developing trainings with award winning writing software, Scrivener, to transforming their Self-Publishing Podcast website into one of the web’s best resources for indie authors. 

More information about Fiction Unboxed can be found at the Kickstarter campaign: 


Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright Host the indie podcast with a 4.9 average on iTunes. With a dozen series between them, the Self-Publishing Podcast trio wrote, published and sold more than 2,000,000 words in 2013.