A blog about writing and self publishing

The Smarter Artist Summit: A Conference for Smarter Introverts

by Mark Lefebvre

We all know that, potentially in the same way that writers and coffee/caffeine seem to be a natural fit, there’s a highly likely chance that those whose default state is the special delight that comes with being secluded with nothing but a pen and paper in hand or perhaps hunkered over a keyboard, can be somewhat introverted.

"Old Typewriter on a Desktop" Image Designed by Freepik

“Old Typewriter on a Desktop” Image Designed by Freepik

However, when you can fill a room with about 250 introverts, as part of an annual gathering at the Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, Texas, pure magic happens. A whole group of people who would be far more comfortable hiding behind their typewriters step out of their comfort zone and become part of a dynamic community, learning and sharing next-level writing and publishing.

Part of the magic is that they’re “with their own people” –> those who truly understand them; those who truly understand the visions that fuel them; those who know that writing is not just a “hobby” but an all-consuming passion.

The SA Summit is run by Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt and David Wright of Sterling and Stone, the Self-Publishing Podcast and StoryShop. The 2017 SA Summit marks the second time I’ve attended the conference, and it is one of those rare events where I witness authors coming out of their shells to connect, support and engage with one another.

There’s simply too much great content, a fire-hose of information, ideas and learnings, to be able to share in a single post. Every single speaker was engaging and inspiring. But I thought it might be fun to highlight some of those bits, not through my own words, but through words of some of the brilliant writers who were part of the event and some of their favorite takeaways:

Kristin Helling

“I took away so much from this conference. 1) Schedule your writing time. Inspiration will learn when to show up. 2) Figure out your brand by asking what shows up when you walk into a room. 3) Love your mistakes because they are learning experiences!”

Kristin’s Author Website   /   Kristin’s Books on Kobo

Amy Teegan and Mark Lefebvre captured in mid-selfie by Scott King

Scott Moon

“Two good take aways are 1) Fear is good because it means you’re about to do something awesome (David Gaughran), 2) You are 3 times more likely to do something if you write it down (Christine Royse Niles).”

Scott’s Author Website / Scott’s Books on Kobo / Scott’s Video Blog: A Day After the Smarter Artist Summit 2017

#SAS2017 quote from David Gaughran designed by Jackie Dana

Julie Strauss

“Far and away the best thing I learned in terms of mindset was when Chris Fox did the dancing demonstration with Chrishaun Keller Hanna. Beating ourselves up for making mistakes at something we are just learning is just silly. Time to embrace the mistakes.”

Julie’s Author Website / Julie’s Books on Kobo

#SAS2017 quote from David Gaughran designed by Derek Murphy

Jackie Dana

“SAS was so motivating, inspiring, and educational. I learned so much from the speakers and from random conversations with all the amazing authors I met. I have a better plan in my head for how I need to tackle publishing my current series, and a clearer vision for what the future might look like.”

Jackie Dana Author Website


Image designed by Bobbi Roque Hornik (AKA R.A. Roque)

The Legend of Ben Hale

One of the many moments that overwhelmed the audience with emotion and connectivity was when Ben Hale, who made a point of not just meeting, but actually speaking with, and focusing on, every single attendee over the two day period, took a few minutes to name everyone in the room.

“Ten years ago, I was the one who would say ‘I’m not good with names, I’m sorry, I’m going to forget your name.’ I just wrote it off. That was not something I could do,” Ben says. “This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s really really hard. The thing I want to say is that you are worth remembering.

“Most of the time when you meet someone, your mind is everywhere; you’re thinking about other things; you’re thinking about what you’ll be doing later that day; you’re thinking about work. When you meet someone, devote 100% of your attention — and I don’t mean 95%, I mean 100% of your attention to that person. Remember their name. Repeat their name just a few times in your mind and you’ll remember 3/4 of everyone you meet.

“When you pay attention to people, you’ll be stunned by how amazing people are.”


The attendees and speakers at Smarter Artist Summit 2017 are indeed amazing people. And because space is limited, there’s a way you can be notified when registration for the 2018 Summit becomes available.


If you attended SA Summit and want to share YOUR favorite take-away from the two packed days, feel free to share in the comments below.

Links of Interest:

Johnny B. Truant interviewed on Episode 8 of the KWL Podcast

Sean Platt and David Wright interviewed on Episode 3 of the KWL Podcast

“Muffle Your Muse” – Guest article by Sean Platt

The “Secret” to Self-Publishing Success: DO THE WORK (Article about WRITE. PUBLISH. REPEAT.)

“How To Mix Genres and Make Heroes” – Guest article by Johnny B. Truant

Mark Lefebvre is the Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Rakuten Kobo and heads up the Kobo Writing Life team. His last name is regularly and often preferably pronounced “From Kobo” which is far easier than trying to ignore all the extraneous consonants in his name. Mark writes thrillers and horror as well as non-fiction paranormal books under the name Mark Leslie (which is, admittedly, far easier to pronounce).

17 Responses to “The Smarter Artist Summit: A Conference for Smarter Introverts”

  1. Julie

    Great wrap up! My brain is overwhelmed with new information, and my heart is full of great writer friends. A room full of introverts is crazy fun.

  2. Ric Beard

    It’s amazing how we introverts lower our shields for other introverts in such a consistently-positive environment, turning the Summit into an amazing experience from which we all depart with so many new friends.

    • kobowritinglife

      Interesting how, under the right conditions, introverts can become omniverts or perhaps hybridverts. And perhaps it leads to the age-old question: “Do two introverts make an extrovert?” 🙂

  3. Christie Hartman

    I think a lot of success in life is finding your “tribe.” SAS gave us a chance to do that, as well as learn some new things. And it’s nice when we get to say hello to industry leaders like yourself, Mark, and to ask questions. Thank you for hanging with us.

    • kobowritinglife

      Thanks, Christie. It’s our privilege to get to hang out with such a wonderful “tribe.” Thanks for the honor of being allowed in. 🙂 [Mark]

  4. MZ Lowe

    I attended as an aspiring writer – still working through the draft of my first book (Epic Fantasy). Crowds? Dread them. Go to an event where I know zero people? Not likely. Double dose of imposter-syndrome seeing so many published authors? You betcha. And yet…the desire to connect with vibrant, positive, and welcoming introverts like me was too irresistible to ignore. So I went and promised myself to step outside my comfort zone.

    And I’m so glad I did!!

    Here’s just one snippet of things I learned: First hand experience with the power of your target audience. When I said my tag-line to various authors, the response was “nice” or “interesting,” BUT when I said it to epic fantasy authors, it was “oh cool, that is so awesome. tell me more.” Those peeps got it, got me.

    Saving my couch change for next year!

    • kobowritinglife

      Glad you stepped out of your comfort zone and benefited from it.

      And that’s a great snippet. Thanks for sharing, MZ. A powerful example of targeting to the right people (and seeing when it works with those right people).

    • kobowritinglife

      For sure, Kerry. Persistence and Hard Work are the closest things to a “magic bullet” we’ve seen. We also overheard, at a similar conference, a writer admit a fundamental truth: “The harder I work, the luckier I seem to get.”

  5. Jay Artale

    Great round up Mark from Kobo … you captured the essence of the event for those of us who weren’t able to attend.


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