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Only a Plot Twist

A year ago today…

We’d had an amazing 2022.

In our first year taking IP out, Sterling & Stone set up a dozen projects with partners. 

But that autumn, Hollywood pressed pause on everything. The strike wasn’t here yet, but everyone knew it was coming, and no one was buying IP in the meantime. 

So those first dozen projects were all suddenly stalled. 

By May of 2023 our studio was limping… 

We had zero dollars coming in from Hollywood, atrophied publishing revenue after pouring so much attention into the eight-figure-plus side of the IP funnel, and our biggest ghostwriting client was several months late paying their invoices. 

When the meteors hit — two in a row with Chicxulub-level impact — they could have destroyed us. 

On the first week of May, the WGA went on strike. 

Two weeks later, that ghostwriting client finally imploded, then declared bankruptcy. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to our studio that would never be paid, for work we had already delivered to the client and paid our storytellers to finish. Plus nearly twice that amount in canceled contract work. 

The fallout, including our issues with rights, was nearly a million dollars lost.

Worse, thanks to AI, the writers strike had gone from an economic strike to an existential strike, and there was no hope of it ending any time soon. 

The best of times had turned into the worst of times, and it was all our fault. 

For not treating baseline publishing revenue as essential once we transitioned to the IP Game. 

For not fully preparing for the long and winding road of business affairs in Hollywood. 

And, most egregiously, for putting so many of our eggs in a single basket. 

So what did we do?  

We became a storytelling phoenix and took to the sky. 

Rebuilt the three core parts of our business with some seriously long-overdue infrastructure. Our studio had been racing so fast and for so long, the wheels were flying right off the go cart. 

We redirected our efforts, first designing multiple “extreme profit lines,” with our best storytellers writing with surgical precision for Kindle Unlimited. 

Then we started a ghostwriting company, so we could finally scale what had been an exclusively word-of-mouth part of our business thus far. 

Of course we kept going on the IP side during all that time. Hollywood wasn’t going to stay shuttered forever. 

Where are we today? 

Outstanding, thank you. 

We have designed-for-KU IP that didn’t exist a half year ago, now at more than three million page reads, and climbing fast. 

Fiction and nonfiction are competing to see which kind of ghostwriting will grow Invisible Ink the fastest, with a calendar that’s nearly filled our entire year already, both are winning. 

And Hollywood? Lights, cameras, and action, everything is back online and we have more projects and partners than ever. 

Every setback set us up for a comeback, and we’ve returned with a vengeance.

Resilience turned a million-dollar loss into a multimillion-dollar lesson.

Always remember, if it isn’t the ending then it’s only a plot twist.