Best sites for writers 2021 (and the winner is…)

For the second year in a row, my humble mess of a blog got listed by the WriteLife as one of the top 100 sites for writers – right next to Jane Friedman and Dave Chesson, so I thought I’d mark the moment with some stories.

I *met* Dave years ago when I was in Taiwan, and he called me up to chat business, traffic and websites – I’ve had the pleasure of meeting him in person a few times since and love to watch his meteoric rise.

I met Jane at a conference in Portland where I fangirled for a few minutes – while normally pretty shy, I was probably awkwardly conversational and might have scared her off – but I appreciate her sound, trad-published heavy writing advice.

To be honest, sometimes it’s hard to feel like I’m making a difference – but then one of my tools breaks and I get a few dozen emails from people who were relying on it. I rarely post on this blog but my other sites still get quite a bit of traffic. I don’t sell much and make a little money through courses and book sales, though mostly right now I’m focused on fiction. Still, I get around 5,000 new people on my list and platforms every month and I know my free content is crucial to help them navigate self-publishing scams and hopefully help them avoid common beginner writing and publishing mistakes.

I *wish* my content reached more people, because I know it’s useful and I wish I could help everyone – the publishing industry is filled with hundreds of thousands of frustrated writers who can’t seem to get a break; no reviews, no sales, no traction or traffic.

But I already have a lot of basic info and at a certain point, it feels useless to create more content; I hope, if I can figure out how to charge or package stuff in an attractive way, I could afford to advertise and reach more people earlier, but that’s a personal challenge I’m hoping to solve this year. At the same time, it’s *very* tempting to just turn everything off or shut it down and focus entirely on my fiction, until I’m able to get sales above 10K/month and be a “real writer” instead of just someone who talks about publishing.

Eventually, this site is long overdue for a design overhaul and about 100 new blog posts I’ve been sitting on, but then it’ll probably skew more towards my personal interests and its founding philosophy of creativindie (being creatively independent by making things of value). Since my latest book is reviewing poorly, it takes some of the motivation away from nonfiction – though just because I failed once doesn’t mean I can’t do better next time.

There’s always a divide between giving people what they want and teaching them what they need; or the things they’re willing to pay for and the things you’re willing to do. It’s an uncomfortable balance, but it’s nothing new or personally limiting – Confucius and William Blake both craved financial support from sponsors and patrons while at the same time detesting the work people were willing to hire them for.

I’m probably not cut out to be an influencer, but I am pretty great and accruing knowledge and sharing it openly, which I hope is what this site is known for, even if it’s disorganized, random and unpredictable.

At any rate, this token nomination – while a vanity metric for sure – also gives me some encouragement that I’m making a difference.

About 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.