“The Alchemist” of the Sterling & Stone trio, Sean Platt is also the founder of Guy Incognito, co-founder of Collective Inkwell and Realm & Sands and a co-host on the Self-Publishing Podcast. From designing story worlds to Sterling &Stone’s website, he does a bit of everything. Sean loves it all, but telling stories is his favorite, and he considers himself lucky that he gets to do it with his best friends Johnny and Dave. Sean lives in Austin, Texas, with (best friend) wife, Cindy, and two amazing children, Ethan and Haley. He’s trying to get the guys there as fast as he can.
Introduction: Tell us who you are, how and why you decided to be an author and where you’re at right now in your career.
I’m Sean Platt. I decided to be an author about fifteen minutes after I read an email that told me my “vocabulary was too rich for children.” I’d written some stories for the students at a preschool I ran with my wife and submitted them to an agency. Hearing that, I figured I would go online, build my own audience, and do things my own way. That was six years ago. Now I’m a full-time author with over five-million words published across six imprints and multiple genres. I love what I do and am lucky to do it.
What was/is the hardest thing about balancing writing with everyday life and/or a day job?
Prioritizing on which projects I want to work on. I have over a hundred ideas in an idea file, each which could be fleshed out into anything from a short story to a full book to a sprawling series. Figuring out what I want to do next when I want to do it all is a constant struggle. That’s the difficult balance for me. The home life stuff isn’t that big of a deal because I work from home and set my own schedule. Yes, I have shit tons to do always, but I love what I do so it’s also my hobby.
Tell us about your schedule and habits from this time (or what you’re doing now if it hasn’t changed).
I’m not sure which time you’re referring to, but my schedule and habits basically build off of each other. Right now I’m waking up at 5:30, getting my writing done, then getting my beats done, then moving into editing and polishing, before tidying up lose ends through the rest of the day (usually that starts around noon). Every day at two o’clock I have either podcasts, story meetings, or interviews like this one. On the rare day when I don’t, I record videos that answer reader questions.
If you don’t mind, would you tell us how your sales first started out? How many books did you have out before you started seeing traction?
Dave and I had written Available Darkness and needed to develop a marketing plan for it. We ignored that instead, and wrote the first season of Yesterday’s Gone. We started getting traction on that title around two months after its release. So, two books, but seven titles because we put the episodes out individually back then.
At one point in time did you make the decision to support yourself/your family as an author? What was that decision like and how did you feel afterward?
About three years before I could afford to. It was dreadfully difficult. We lost our house, took a lot of crap jobs, and did whatever we needed to do to keep our heads above water. But I felt great doing it. Despite the difficulty, I always believed I could do it (and so did my ever loving wife), and being my own boss and telling stories for a living was a big enough reward to justify the risk. For me. That’s not advice I would ever give anyone.
What is one thing about your author career that not many people know of? Alternatively, what are some of your other hobbies/interests outside of writing?
I don’t know. I talk about everything, so at this point I’m not sure there’s really anything that not many people know of. With a couple hundred hours of podcasts there aren’t many unexplored corners. As far as hobbies, I love spending time with my family but most of my hobbies are directly related to my work, which is why it doesn’t feel like work at all. Writing is less than 10% of my job. Telling stories is a huge part of it. Watching TV and movies, talking to my friends, really just about anything I love to do feeds into that.
What’s the single best piece of advice you have for authors who can’t support themselves with their writing yet? What should they be focusing on?
Building a catalogue. Use every single molecule of available time to write, write, write. You cannot do this enough.