Authors, Book Reviews, Books, Friday Five Challenge, Fun Stuff, Indie Author, NaNoWriMo, Non Fiction

Would you BUY or PASS? #NonFiction Fiction Unboxed #FridayFiveChallenge


Welcome to the ‘Friday Five Challenge.’

Would you BUY or PASS if you had only a thumbnail image and five minutes to decide?

Welcome to the #FridayFiveChallenge. The original idea comes from Rosie Amber, and you can join up at

The rules are laid out at the end of this post if you fancy having a go.

Here is my contribution for this week:

The dark and gothic side of me wanted to use the search word ‘Halloween’ for today’s Friday Five Challenge, but as a fan of supernatural tales, this is a search I frequently do. I, therefore, decided to opt for the only other topic that fills my brain at this time of year – NaNoWriMo. On the 1st of November, I will take part in my third NaNo competition, to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. So, I typed ‘write a book in thirty days’ into Amazon’s search bar. There were hundreds of titles, from non-fiction book templates to developing a daily writing habit. Then I found this:


Fiction Unboxed: How Two Authors Wrote and Published a Book in 30 Days, From Scratch, In Front of the World: Volume 2 (The Smarter Artist). By Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.


Part hero’s journey, part crash course in storytelling by the modern mavericks of indie publishing, and the bestselling authors of Write. Publish. Repeat., Fiction Unboxed offers something that’s never been offered before: a naked look into two writer’s process, as they wrote and published a book in 30 days, from scratch, in front of the world. In 2013 Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant wrote and published 1.5 million words (a Harry Potter series and a half worth of fiction). The next year they showed the world how they did it. In May 2014, Johnny and Sean, along with their third partner David Wright, launched a Kickstarter campaign to see if their fans wanted to see how they wrote behind closed doors. They promised to start their newest project without knowing their story, characters, or even their genre, and publish the final draft before their 30 days were up. They promised to capture every email, every story meeting, and every word from every draft. They promised to show every molecule of their process, warts and all. They had 30 days for their fans to green light the campaign. It fully funded in 11 hours. Fiction Unboxed is as revealing as it is inspiring, empowering readers and writers as much as it will entertain them. With actionable advice that will benefit any writer, this book is a true gem for anyone who loves a well told story.

My Analysis:

I liked the simplicity of the cover and the clever use of title and image to show the prospective reader exactly what the book would contain. I also like the strapline, the fact that two authors wrote and published a novel in front of the world grabs my attention. I find myself asking multiple questions. Why did they do it so publicly? What did they write? Was it any good? How did they collaborate? When a book cover gets you asking questions, then the only way to discover the answers would be to purchase the book. Very clever marketing.

The Stats:

The book has 230 pages, and the Kindle price is £2.99. There are 13 reviews on, and 87 on, 77% of them are five stars.

Here is an example of a five star review from

The authors, Johnny B Truant, and Sean Platt made the decision to write a novel in the space of a month (June 2014) and do it all in front of an online audience.

The book, THE DREAM ENGINE, is the end product of that month and is a pretty good book (awesome ending). FICTION UNBOXED is the story of how they did it. Right from the off the guys make it clear that this isn’t a book that gives you the secrets to success. Instead, it shows you other authors, already successful authors, going through a lot of the things us struggling authors face every day. But where we might drop our heads and back off a story, Johnny and Sean show you that there is always a way.

If they can birth an idea (or discover, as they might say), untangle plots and fight through a terribly weak ending to create an awesome one (seriously, I can’t praise the final two chapters enough) then why can’t anyone. I thought I was doing okay over the last year of writing. I thought I was improving. But this book, this gritty, real, behind the scene adventure, showed me what I think I need to get it done now. They didn’t give me easy answers, just showed me my fears and encouraged me to fight through them. (I would advise you to read the DREAM ENGINE first as it helps the middle section of FICTION UNBOXED make more sense) 

Reading some of the reviews, it’s clear that the authors are well respected Podcasters with an established audience. They used the Self Publishing Podcast as the platform for their project. The reviewers are a mix of new and established writers, each taking something of benefit from the book. It is written in a conversational style so avoids the preachy ‘do it this way’ voice that some of these how-to books can have. The only thing that worries me is I found no reference to warning potential self-publishing newbies that writing and publishing a book in thirty days is a BAD idea.

I had time to use the ‘look inside’ feature and found the book to be split into three sections:

Section one – The Campaign

Section two – The Live Event (transcripts)

Section three – World Building

I do hope there is at least one paragraph dedicated to the importance of thorough editing and proof reading before you hit the publish button!

I am going to PASS on this, but I may return to it in the future out of curiosity. The book they wrote as their live event is a young adult steampunk (The Dream Engine), which you are advised to read first as there are spoilers in Fiction Unboxed. I love the idea of a challenge, and I do love to read how-to books on writing. With two days before I start my NaNo project, I don’t have the time to commit to reading this, but it’s on my future must-read list.

Fiction Unboxed – buy your copy.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Take a look at who else has taken part in the Friday Five Challenge:

Rosie checks out the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency –

Barb finds a Little Witch –

Liz travels to the Far East for her choice –

Cathy found an Emerald Buddha in her Amazon recommendations –


What is the Friday Five Challenge?

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions on small postage stamp size book covers (thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

The Challenge is this… IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES…

1) Go to any online book supplier,

2) Randomly choose a category,

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,

4) Read the book Bio/ Description of this book,

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

(then write a little analysis about your decision)

12 thoughts on “Would you BUY or PASS? #NonFiction Fiction Unboxed #FridayFiveChallenge”

  1. What a clever find as you launch yourself I to NaNoWriMo, I might read this out of curiosity one day, but it also sounds like I need to read the book they wrote during the process too, and that is two book buys – very clever. The book cover is simple, I’m struggling to read the strap line in the thumb nail version, so I’m not sure it truly jumps at me. A Pass from me today.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Some of the how-to books can be the same stuff re-written over and over, but this sounded unique. I think I will return to it in December and I’ll probably end up getting the YA steampunk book too – as you say, they are very clever!


  2. I have to admit that this is tempting. But… NaNo is upon us! I haven’t really planned or done any of the recommended prep. And I’ll be a nomad for most of November. But I’m going to give it a shot. Want to buddy up?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds great, Barb. I’m ‘Fantasy Writer Shelley’. I know! It’s a crazy profile name but my actual name wasn’t available – and yet I can’t find a key ring or mug with Shelley on anywhere! 😉


  3. I’m very envious of you going for it on Nano Shelley and I wish you the best of luck. I am itching to get writing again but I’ve stuff to do first – boo hiss.

    This book looks fascinating but I’m going to PASS as I’m trying to remove obstacles that are blocking me from starting to write again not add more to the pile!

    Liked by 1 person

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