Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book editor turned book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors write and publish bestselling books. FREE GUIDE: Sell your work without selling out.

There is no conspiracy against self-published books – just shitty ones.

This is a short post: I hear a lot of indie authors complaining about how everybody is against them. Reviewers won’t touch their book. They can’t get into bookstores. Everywhere they try to promote their book they hear things like “we don’t work with self-publishing authors.” That can seem like prejudice. It can seem unfair to group all indie authors …

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Best free online graphics editors for making your own book cover designs

So here’s an interesting problem: self-publishing is exploding globally. People want to publish quickly and cheaply. Formatting can be automated to some extent. But getting a high quality book cover is still really hard. There are some free or paid online tools to help you do it better. I put out my DIY Book Covers in MS Word templates to …

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How to make a lot of money in indie publishing (and how to go broke).

This past month I’ve been thinking big and buying up online platforms related to publishing and book design. My little blog gets some traffic, and my book cover design business is doing fine – I just want to be a bigger player. A couple weeks ago I found a little blog network for indie authors – it had a website …

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Everything you think you know about your author website is wrong

I was listening to a session of the Non-Fiction Writers Conference today and the question came up: “How do people find your website?” The answer involved using Google keywords to find out what people are searching for, and then rewrite your content to use more of those search terms. For example, if my book is about is about book marketing, …

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The Grit Test: a simple quiz to see whether you’ll make it as a creative professional

Psychologist Angela Duckworth is making news by claiming “Grit” is as important to success as background, education or IQ. The funny thing about Grit is that it’s a personality trait, and not likely to be something you just picked up along the way. Grit is something you’re born with. If you need to take a “Grit Test” because you’re unsure …

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Createspace’s Cover Generator is Totally Broken

According to Createspace’s submission requirements, To calculate the spine width of your book, White paper: multiply page count by 0.002252 Cream paper: multiply page count by 0.0025 So, for the 230 page cream book I’m working on, my calculator says the spine width should be 0.575″. That’s also what Createspace is telling the author, as it rejects the cover I …

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The Disappointments of Kindle Formatting (why is Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature so broken?)

In my books and with my clients, I routinely stress to keep ebooks very simple. Nothing fancy. No embedded fonts or images. Because it’s unlikely to look good on all different platforms and ebook readers. But that’s so boring. I ignore my own advice, because for me, style and design are as important as content. Today however I’ve proved myself …

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Do you want to be exceptional, and dead? (Drugs, creativity, manic energy and suicide)

I had no idea what Black Box was about when I started watching, but was soon delighted with it – a brain scientist with psychological issues recounts her last near death manic episode to her psychologist. While I’m writing about drugs and creativity, she makes the opposite point – sometimes we normalize our episodes with drugs. Needing to revamp her …

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