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Smarter Artist Summit

Reserve Your Spot


The Smarter Artist Summit Is Back
For Its FINAL Year!

February 18 & 19, 2019 at the
Renaissance Arboretum Hotel in Austin, Texas


(Yep, you read that right. We’ve done SAS for four years, and after this last time we’re shutting it down. If you’ve been wanting to attend, this is your last chance, so don’t miss out!)




Do you know the single smartest thing you can do for your author business?

No, it’s not talking to your readers on Facebook.

It’s not buying another marketing book.

It’s not even applying to study with a dude wearing a tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows.

It’s attending a real-life event filled with real-life authorpreneurs.




Aside from cranking out more amazing books, there is NOTHING you can do that will have a higher return on your investment — in both time and money — than investing concentrated time with people that have gone through the same challenges you’re currently facing.



Authorpreneurship can be lonely

And it can be especially lonely when you’re choosing to go Indie — when you feel like you have to do it all yourself.

How many of the people in your everyday life  truly understand what it takes to develop, draft, and polish an idea into a book, and then swap hats to produce, launch, and market it?

Not many, right?

But you know who does get it? Fellow authorpreneurs.



We love live events.

We’ve been attending them since our old internet marketing days.  In fact, the first time Johnny and Sean met was at a conference.

But so many live events treat their guests like cattle, herding you from breakout room to breakout room, and packing the schedule so tight so you have to buy the replay CDs to find out what you missed waiting in line for the bathroom.

We wanted to offer something more real. More focused on community and connection. More about you and less about us.




The Smarter Artist Summit is your chance to focus on leveling up your author career.

On February 18 and 19th, authors and publishing experts from around the world will join us in Austin, Texas to spend two days teaching you strategies that will outlast the “what’s working yesterday” tactics everyone else is talking about.

We’re keeping the Summit intimate, small enough to make connections, but large enough to bring authorpreneurs from all genres and experience levels together to share their superpowers.

And we’re creating a program with the perfect balance between information, practical application, and events to help you develop relationships that will keep you growing throughout your career.

You don’t have to be published to benefit from attending the Summit; you just need to be ready to stretch yourself, apply what you learn, and share what you know.


Reserve Your Spot




We’ve invited some of the top names in Indie publishing

They’ve agreed to share timeless strategies and practical tips you won’t find in any online publishing summit.

The takeaways from these speakers will set you apart from the thousands of authors who throw any old eBook up on the Internet. The information you learn will help you rise to the top of your genre.

Why would successful authors share their secrets?

Because we believe there’s room at the table for all of us. We trust in abundance.

Readers can read faster than any of us can write (and a few of us can write pretty damned fast!).

Readers choose a variety of genres, and Smarter Artists can write in any genre they love.

When we share what we know, we all get better.




You’ll learn what matters

We’ve leveled-up our topics and speakers this year to make sure you get the BEST information to level-up your author business in 2019.

You’ll walk away from the Smarter Artist Summit on Tuesday night with a list of the specific actions YOU need to take for YOUR author career, based on YOUR unique goals and situation.

Every speaker will offer practical tips and specific strategies for growth at every level, from beginner to established full-time authors.

You’ll learn:

  • The best email tactics for 2019’s increasingly competitive market and inbox, including segmentation strategies and newsletter ninjitsu (Former S&S Fiction Hacker and author of Newsletter Ninja, Tammi Labrecque)
  • How to compel your fans to keep reading (and buying more) with the power of persuasion. Yes, you read that right … brainwashing right there on stage! Well, not actual brainwashing. But you will learn proven techniques nobody else will know that will give your books (and their sales chances) an edge. (Dave Lakhani, expert in persuasion and storytelling.)
  • How to work with designers to give your books covers that will get you tons of sales … rather than publishing instant and accidental flops (Dan Van Oss & other designers of our bestselling books)
  • The very best of what our dozen-writer studio has learned about writing better stories faster, and crafting stories that readers will love and share (S&S’s Story Expert, Bonnie Johnston)
  • A roundtable with Sterling & Stone’s actual “business dream team” on how to set up and run your business the right way to maximize profits and lower risk, as well as answer all your questions (our accountant MacDonald Kempf, our lawyer Jacqueline Rixen, our health insurance broker Ron Nemetz, and our business insurance advisor Janis Beck)
  • How to sell your intellectual property to Hollywood for TV and film adaptation (S&S’s partner in our development company Twisted Stone: Derek Frederickson from Twisted Media)
  • The 9 biggest things that successful authors get right and that others get wrong (Johnny, Sean, and Dave)
  • What the industry experts see coming for 2019 (Industry Expert Panel featuring Draft2Digital, Bookfunnel, Findaway Voices, Kobo, Written Word Media (Bargain Booksy, and Freebooksy, and others), StoryShop, and more to come)
  • BONUS BREAKOUT SESSION #1: The best funnel we’ve developed since Yesterday’s Gone, to stand out from the crowd and sell more books than ever before (Advance signup may be required)
  • BONUS BREAKOUT SESSION #2: A sit-down roundtable on the changing marketplace, the future of publishing and KU, and how to weather the frightening financial storm that has many authors believing the sky is falling (Advance signup may be required)



You won’t want to miss these speakers!

Tammi Labrecque is the author of Newsletter Ninja and runs Indie Pub Intensive, whose purpose is to teach students concrete, actionable ways to reach their dreams of indie publishing success. Tammi’s main offerings are small-group learning experiences that help Smarter Artists (though she doesn’t call them that; “SA” is ours!) grow their publishing businesses. She offer one-on-one coaching for those who have moved beyond basic or intermediary steps and need to drill down further into a specific area of focus. And although Tammi wouldn’t say this herself, she’s just some sort of a wizard with ads and promotions. Like, I’m sure she owns a cape and pointy hat.

Dave Lakhani is the president of Bold Approach, the nation’s leading business acceleration strategy, sales and marketing, consulting and training firm. Think that sounds pretty corporate for the Smarter Artist Summit? It’s not. Not only is Dave another Dave to fill out our already Dave-rich lineup at SAS, but he’s also an expert in persuasion — something authors need both in their books and in their marketing to compel readers to turn the page and to sell more copies. Dave is also the author of Persuasion – The Art of Getting What You Want and a bunch of other books that will impress the hell out of you. Oh, and did we mention he grew up in a cult? Watch out. He might just get you to join one.

Derek Frederickson is CEO of Twisted Media, a VFX and screen graphics production firm based in LA that’s done major on-screen work for motion pictures and TV shows such as Divergent, Pacific Rim, A Wrinkle in Time, Love, Simon, Rampage, and many more. In SAS terms, Derek’s coolest credit is that he and his VFX Producer Marina are our partners in Twisted Media, a fledgling production house now actively pitching Sterling & Stone work to a whole group of name-droppable contacts in Hollywood. With almost 20 years of experience in the industry with Twisted Media, Derek knows not just a ton of folks, but also how deals get made and sold.

Bonnie Johnston is a developmental editor and fiction coach with a passion for teaching writers how to increase the emotional impact of their stories. She creates practical tools to help you apply the principles of good storytelling to any genre and shares them through Write Smarter, Not Harder. She’s also the guest instructor for Writing Blueprint’s Manuscript Magic, a revision intensive for authors who want to bring out the hidden potential in any first draft. When she’s not poring over Sterling & Stone’s in-house fiction outlines, she writes urban fantasy for the Legendary imprint.

Dan Van Oss has been doing commercial digital design for over 20 years, specializing in book cover design with his company Covermint since 2016. When not working, you can find him working in the yard, walking the dog, or staying up too late watching BBC mysteries while eating honey peanut butter straight out of the jar. He lives in the country suburbs of east Iowa. His work partner is Jack, a pretty-boy golden retriever who grunts when you rub his ears. (We also suspect that Dan padded his bio because it doesn’t take enough words to say, “Dan creates amazing, commercial book covers.” That’s what’s most important, though.)


We’re also hosting two rockstar panels:

Our business advisory panel — who Johnny may or not chest-bump with as per this gif — is composed of our very own advisors: the people Sterling & Stone goes to when we have questions about how to build, optimize, and safeguard our company and its interests. We’ll introduce you to our lawyer and accountant, as well as our brokers for both business and health insurance. We made this panel in response to what we’ve heard from you, our Smarter Artists. You had questions about how to set your business up right? Well, this first-ever SAS panel has answers!

Our panel of industry experts will tell you what’s new and working for 2019 and beyond and answer all of your questions. We’re still finalizing our panel, but we know that we’ll have participants from Draft2Digital, Bookfunnel, Findaway Voices, Kobo, Written Word Media (Bargain Booksy, Freebooksy, and more), StoryShop (our new friends who’ve taken our original creation over and made it so much awesomer from the ground up), and more.


And of course, there’s the three of us …

Sean Platt is the founder of Sterling & Stone and loves that he not only gets paid to make up stories and come up with crazy ideas, but that he gets to do so with his best friends. Sean’s boundless enthusiasm is the cornerstone of everything we believe Smarter Artists can be. Something to keep in mind during the Summit: don’t get between Sean and a pile of smoked brisket from Smitty’s Barbecue. You’ll lose a finger.

Johnny B. Truant is the other operating partner of Sterling & Stone and spends much of his time articulating the high and low points of Sean’s ideas so the company doesn’t spontaneously catch fire. On the creative side, he’s the author of the Fat Vampire series and co-author and lead writer of dozens of other stories like Invasion, Dead City, The Beam, and many other books in many genres, both credited and under super-secret pen names (insert evil laugh here).

David W. Wright is the Eeyore to Sean’s unrelenting Tigger, sufficient that he still isn’t sure he trusts Johnny. He hates you all (but not really). He lives in [REDACTED] with his wife, [REDACTED], and child [REDACTED], and he carries a decoy wallet in case he gets mugged. (We’re not kidding.) Do not attempt to shake Dave’s hand. Fist bumps are okay, but feet, in Dave’s opinion, never are.



Look! Successful authorpreneurs, out in the wild!

Most of the time, these folks are tucked away in their writing caves (okay, coffee shops and coworking spaces!), and you’d never get the chance to talk with them or blurt out the question you’ve been dying to ask.

But because they love the Smarter Artist Summit (most of them are alumni attendees), they are willing to share just about anything inside their brains to help YOU grow your author business.

Whether you’ve got questions about craft or marketing, production technology or wrangling a street team, you’ll find an expert at the Summit.

And even better still, you’ll join an exclusive, attendees-only Facebook group where you can ask for advice, share feedback, and get to know everyone ahead of time. So when you land in Austin, it’s more like a reunion than meeting a room full of strangers.



You are ready for this!



So how much does a ticket to the Smarter Artist Summit cost?


Only $499!
(limited time early-bird pricing)

Reserve Your Spot



Don’t miss your chance

Many of these experts value their time so highly that you can’t even pay to pick their brains.

But at the Summit, everyone is an open book.

You get two full days to eat, learn, drink, and hang out with them at the Smarter Artist Summit! We’ve got social events (with free drinks) lined up every evening, because we know that the most important conversations happen outside the conference hall. And did we mention you can eat? Austin has some of the best food ever, and there are usually a ton of informal meet ups and social events on the days before and after the Summit.

This ticket not only includes two full days of information-packed sessions, but also a Sunday evening meet-and-greet with a LIVE recording of the Story Studio Podcast (formerly The Self Publishing Podcast, for you OG’s), structured genre meetups on Monday, a free Tuesday night Karaoke for Introverts, and best of all, a free hug from Dave (provided you approach him properly and are wearing closed-toed shoes)! Travel, meals, and lodging are not included.



In an effort to maximize the amount of one-on-one time you can spend with our experts, we’re only selling 250 tickets.

We sold nearly 10% of the seats without even telling people tickets were available. Last year’s attendees were sneaky snakes and managed to find the link.

And the rest are going to go fast.

Want to make sure you’re one of the 250?


Reserve Your Spot



You’ve got this!

Unlike other conferences that have speakers and panelists on a pedestal, telling attendees how hard publishing is and how they need to keep setting themselves up for rejection after rejection, or the ones that have everyone doing jumping jacks and patting each other on the back and saying “anyone can do it if you just want it enough,” Smarter Artists will invest their Summit time learning actionable strategies to produce great work over and over and to find the readers who will buy book after book.

With every session and connection break, this Summit is packed with experiences you can’t get anywhere else.




Who should (and shouldn’t) come to the Summit?

At Sterling & Stone, we believe in hard work, and we believe in making that work fun.  We believe in abundance — there’s room for all of us to succeed — and we believe in generosity and encouragement. We believe everyone has something to share, and everyone has something to learn.

If you believe in those things too, the Summit will be a great time for you to learn, connect, and grow as an authorpreneur.

If those things are hard for you to accept, then the Summit might not be the right fit for you right now.

  • If you believe you’re the smartest person in the room, or that you can only learn from people who are “more successful” than you, then the Summit might not be the right room for you.
  • If you expect dry, ultra-professional speakers with bullet-pointed slides and corresponding handouts, the Summit might not be for you.
  • If you’re offended by colorful language and light-hearted shenanigans, the Summit might not be for you.
  • If you expect to find an easy-button to help you make lots of money without much work, the Summit might not be for you.
  • If you’re not willing to stretch yourself to connect with other like-minded authors; if you just want to sit in a seat, write notes, and sneak back to your hotel room without talking to anyone, then you might miss some of the best parts of the Summit.


If you’re an author who is willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work of writing great books?

If you’re ready to take on the challenge of publishing and marketing them effectively?

You’ll feel right at home in the room.

Whether you’re an author, an editor, a marketer, or an author assistant, or even a creative entrepreneur building stories in another medium (graphic novels, video games, app development, or film), you’ll learn something to add depth to your art, and new strategies to get visibility for it.


Reserve Your Spot


You and your business deserve this!



Got Questions?

Is this really the LAST YEAR for the Smarter Artist Summit?
Yep. All good things must come to an end, and SAS is no exception. We’ve absolutely LOVED holding the Summit, but our company as a whole has made a public decision (and already many internal changes) to support turning our full attention toward writing even more stories instead of also selling eduction. That means closing the “Smarter Artist” division of Sterling & Stone … and with it, the Smarter Artist Summit.

This is the last Smarter Artist Summit ever. If you want to attend but have been waiting, wait no longer!

What does the ticket price include?
The ticket price includes admission to the event — two full days of information from our brilliant speakers and connections with the most motivated Smarter Artists on the planet. Plus the live recording of the Story Studio Podcast on Sunday night (as part of a mixer with free drinks), a genre meetup on Monday night (with free drinks) and karaoke on Tuesday night (we haven’t confirmed with sponsors Damon, Dan, and Kevin yet, but they might give you free drinks.)

We’ll have killer amenities like chairs and air. Some elbow room, too; the room is large and friggin’ beautiful. Coffee and some snacks for breaks. We might even have water so you don’t shrivel to the size of a banana chip during the event. Oh. And there are bathrooms. INDOOR ONES, PEOPLE.

And this year? Parking is FREEEEEEEEEE!

So what does the ticket price NOT include?
It does not include use of a helper monkey during the event. It does not include skateboarding lessons or a free unicorn tattoo. It also does not include meals, travel or lodging expenses, or any add-on workshops.

How do I get to the hotel/around town?
Austin is located on Earth, where standard modes of transportation are fairly consistent.

We do allow cars in Austin, whether it’s your own, one you’ve rented, or one you’ve hired for an individual ride. Great news — Uber and Lyft are back. Or you could call Fasten, Fare, or an old fashioned taxi.

You can also ride a unicycle, a pogo stick, or simply use your feet (and join the SA fitbit group). It’s really not that deep, y’all.

Where should I stay?
I hear there are still spots to lay out a sleeping bag under the Bat Bridge.

Your best bet will be the Renaissance Hotel itself. It’s awesome and you won’t have to travel to make all the events we’re holding outside of the Summit itself. They’ve even give us a discounted event rate on the rooms, assuming you book fast enough.

If you choose not to stay at the Renaissance, there are a wide range of nearby options for nearly every budget. We are reasonably confident in your ability to use the Internet and a map to find something that will work for you.

What’s the parking situation? Because the first year, I almost died having to ride shuttles with everyone else, and the second year, I could have bought a vacation home with the parking fees I paid.
Welp, here’s the deal. Austin is full of cars. And people. But mostly cars (including cars that drive themselves. Noah Fucking West.).

Knowing this, the friendly folks at the Renaissance built a kick-ass parking lot, and they’ll let us all put our cars in it (and get them back out!) for FREE. The perks of suburban sprawl, y’all.

Volunteers / How can I help?
Wear shoes in Dave’s presence.

Watch your email for a call for help a little closer to event time. Like last year, the venue will be providing minions, so we don’t anticipate the need for many volunteers, but we may need someone to wrestle the Know Your Why sign, and someone else to run for Dave’s Diet Coke.

Refund/cancellation policy
Tickets are non-refundable, but they are transferrable until February 1 (we can’t allow transfers after that date, though). In the event of a zombie apocalypse, you’re welcome to bequeath your ticket to your favorite survivor. Just make sure to let us know before you turn feral.

Are we selling video / audio recording?
Um, then why would you come? Really…why?

But seriously, no. The magic is in being in the room where it happens. No virtual event, no recordings later on.

Can I be an asshole?
Well, we have a very strict “one-asshole” rule, and Dave has already claimed the spot. You can fight him for it, but you will lose. But you’re here and still reading, so you’re probably not a jerk anyway.

So pretty much no, you can’t — because you aren’t like that anyway. Besides, the Smarter Artist community is worth protecting, so if you’re a rotten apple, one of us will just invite you out to the patio and then lock the door behind you.

Will you have vegan/gluten-free/paleo/treenutfree/legumefree/grainfree/sugarfree snacks? All organic sweeteners? almondmilk/soymilk/soyfree/dairyfree/chemicalfree creamer for coffee?
Our prior head of Smarter Artist, Christine, tells us she’s still waiting for all-natural, organic Diet Dr. Pepper. Until that’s available, we’ll have water, coffee, tea, and a variety of light snacks, but we can’t accommodate everything. If you have special dietary needs, you might want to tuck something in your bag.

How should I say hi to Dave?
Establish (brief) eye contact from a distance, then begin your approach with your arm slightly raised in a pre-fist-bump position, to signify that you do not intend to initiate a full handshake or hug. Keep your interaction to a minimum, knowing Dave would rather not be talking to you in the first place, and that there are now 10 more filthy people in line behind you.


Got it? Good. Get your ticket here!

Reserve Your Spot



*All event photos courtesy of Scott King Photography