Derek Murphy

Hey there! I'm a philosophy dropout and book cover designer with a PhD in Literature. After spending a decade as a starving artist, I vowed to create the life of freedom my restless spirit demands. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write young adult fantasy novels and do a few editorial critiques to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles. FREE GUIDE: Book Marketing is Dead.

Is it too late to publish your first book?

I saw a post online recently from a 23-year old author who was already worried that they were somehow “too late” to publish or get a publishing deal. I also received a lovely email from a 73-year old who is finally seeing some progress and success. I wanted to share it with you, hence this post. “I got my first …

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How to get reliable feedback on your writing (is your writing good enough?)

Today on Reddit I saw a post from a young author who felt unsupported. He was seeking someone to edit his book for free, or give feedback or commentary. I’m sharing my response because I truly sympathize: writing can be hard and isolating. And getting real feedback from a developmental editor is expensive. I charge $5K+ for editing and rarely take on new projects, and it’s frustrating …

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The Best Writing Coaches to Hire for your Book

I started this article ages ago but only recently decides to finish it: in the past I’ve been skeptical of writing coaches in general, and even made a two hour rant against one that was charging high rates. So let me start with that: most books won’t earn money, because most books aren’t written to be enjoyable. I focus on …

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Cover design for indie vs traditional published authors (why most books fail)

I haven’t talked specifically about cover design in awhile, and I usually ignore those raging Facebook diatribes where everybody has loud opinions and gives bad advice, but I got involved in one tonight that is important enough to share. The reason authors get their covers wrong is not just an educational gap. They’ve never designed a cover before, or studies design …

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How to “write to market” (plotting and tropes)

This sounds like tropes and elements, that are unique to genre. That’s half of it. Tropes should be sustained and elevated, same same but different. The other half is plot points which are pretty universal in commercial fiction: establish ordinary world before call to adventure, etc. you can hit a dozen very specific plot points without it ever seeming planned …

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The problem with Hopium

There’s an issue I haven’t had words for, until now, and it concerns “hopium” – the rational disconnect involved when you’re forced to believe in extraordinary results, despite all evidences to the contrary. The bigger this disconnect, the more brutal maintenance is required to keep up this level of optimism, but it’s a constant battle between motivation and belief. The …

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