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It was a dark and stormy night in 2011. 

Except that it wasn’t dark or stormy. It wasn’t even night.

Writing Online was born during a long month in early spring. 

Sterling & Stone didn’t exist yet, and neither did Yesterday’s Gone. I was still copywriting and consulting full time, dreaming of a fiction-centric life that was but a few months away. 

The digital ink was barely dry on my last consulting gig, but the siren song of storytelling was already sounding out loud enough to drown out my more reasonable reality. 

That future was coming fast, and my big nose had already gotten a whiff of Kindle starting to mainstream. I was ready for that little device that would change the way people read, and turn my storytelling into a legitimate business.

But I had a job to do first. 

As one chapter closed, another was begging to be written. But before I could fully embrace my new storyline, I had to distill years of online hustle into a guidebook for future digital wordslingers.

I’ve been accused on multiple occasions of stuffing more life into my years than should seem possible, and that had never been truer than my first few years figuring out how to make money online using only my words. 

In 2008, I gave up the security of running a preschool to pursue my dream of writing. Armed with an abundance of energy, ideas, and words, I quickly built a following at a blog about fatherhood. 

But despite the large audience, I wasn’t making a living.

I devoted myself to studying audience building and copywriting until my eyes bled. 

(They never actually bled.) 

In less than two years I went from earning slightly less than a penny per word to more than a dollar (so like $.30 a syllable or so), writing for a suite of appreciative clients while building a successful ghostwriting and consulting business. 

But being a wordsmith wasn’t remotely close to enough. Successful online writers were versed in blogging, social media, SEO, content creation, and marketing. I had apprenticed under some remarkable talents in each of those arenas.

I wrote Writing Online for the me of 2008: it was the book I wish I’d read before I got started. 

In the course of a few hundred pages, I distilled what it took me years to learn, so that readers could get smarter, faster. Succeed without stumbling through the same mistakes I made.

Most people believe that Yesterday’s Gone was my first book. In reality, Writing Online made that first series possible. Same for all the books after that. 

But the world of storytelling has evolved, and so have the opportunities to profit from it.

Since Writing Online’s release, I’ve founded a publishing company, written hundreds of books that have sold millions of copies, co-hosted the biggest podcast in the world about self-publishing (for its time, Joanna Penn was there first and has been far more enduring), and co-authored the now classic, Write. Publish. Repeat.. 

I’ve collaborated with hundreds of storytellers and transformed our publishing company into a powerhouse IP incubator. This evolution has led to strong relationships in the film and television industry, thanks to our vast library of books.

It was all buckets of popcorn and boxes of Red Vines until last year’s writer’s strike temporarily cut the reel on our blockbuster dreams.

Nearly a year later and the industry is still recovering. Features are just picking up while TV keeps dragging its feet. Fortunately, vaults full of IP makes Sterling & Stone attractive. So the oil is hot and our kernels are popping again.

But in its current state, Hollywood still moves slower than a period piece in slow motion.

S&S is at the dawn of its dream come true. We’re working with the same people who make our favorite shows and some of the movies we can’t stop quoting. 

But Business Affairs seems to operate on a geologic time scale.

A year from now, we’ll be juggling more scripts than a frazzled PA and our production schedule will look like a game of Tetris on expert mode. But sitting on my hands isn’t in my DNA and my creative engine has no idle setting. I would much rather add a few unexpected chapters to this story, with a subplot juicy enough to earn its own spinoff. 

So, I’m choosing to invest this time in creating something of immediate and enduring value.

Stories are the currency of the digital age. And I’m here to help you cash in.

Today is July 17, 2024. 

Because Hollywood is slow and I am fast, I would like to devote much of this next year to alchemizing my experience from the last dozen years in the frontiers of publishing and IP development into content that teaches people to make more money telling stories. 

And if I’m committing a full revolution around the sun to this narrative, it needs to be epic. 

So this saga will boast: 

A tenacious hero: You, the reader, are the protagonist of this adventure. Armed with creativity and determination, you’re ready to start telling stories that help you connect with your clients, customers, or audience at a deeper level. Voice, outlook, and ambition are the secret weapons that set you apart in this tale of storyselling conquest.

A seasoned mentor: I’ll be your Obi-Wan, minus the robe and plus a laptop. Battle scared from the publishing trenches and a treasure trove of hard-earned wisdom around IP, I’m here to guide you through the plot twists of story monetization. 

A stellar team: We’re assembling the heroes in our storyseller super squad to create a synergy that’s greater than the sum of its parts. Bestselling authors, marketing gurus, Hollywood insiders, and digital content wizards: our team covers every angle of the story-selling game, and we’re all here to make you smarter faster, so you’ll have a Midas touch with storytelling, minus the tragic backstory and burden of a heavy metal wardrobe. 

An audacious goal: We’re on a mission to turn your storytelling into a business. We want to write a treasure map that leads straight to the intersection of creativity and profitability.

Fortune-defining stakes: Having the power to transform your passion into a sustainable, lucrative career is the difference between struggling to pay bills with your creativity and building a thriving business empire with your imagination as the cornerstone.

A ticking clock: For the next 365 days, I’m strapping myself to the content creation rocket. This year is a deadline for me and a launchpad for your storytelling success.

A formidable villain: The antagonist in our story is a shape-shifter, taking the form of self-doubt, market unpredictability, and the ever-looming specter of creative block. In facing this foe together, we’ll forge the weapons needed to vanquish it forever. By the end of our journey, you’ll be equipped to stare down these challenges with the confidence of a seasoned wordsmith who knows how to generate revenue from the language you forge. 

A thrilling climax: As we approach the nine-month mark, expect the unexpected. Like any great story, our journey will experience twists and turns we can’t possibly foresee. The climax will be a collaborative crescendo of all we’ve learned and created, when theory meets practice and potential meets profit.

An unforgettable ending: As our narrative reaches its denouement, regular readers will find themselves transformed into storyselling virtuosos. You’ll be armed with a Swiss Army knife of narrative tools, a roadmap to multiple revenue streams, and the confidence to monetize your creativity in ways you never thought possible.    

Thirteen years ago, I distilled my online writing journey into a guidebook. Today, I’m doing it again, but the stakes are higher and the potential payoff is astronomical. 

StoryMerchants is coming soon. 

And so is your chance to turn your words into wealth.