Blog Your Way to Book Success with Derek MurphyJul 08, 2020
Derek Murphy is a USA Today bestselling author with a PhD in Literature, who’s been featured in CNN, writes fantasy and sometimes lives in castles. When not trolling obscure bookshops, he prefers to be sipping espresso, surrounded by kittens and pursuing research on what it means to be a successful creative.
Now the word unique is overused but this is one unique guy. Looking at the amazing array of material he puts out there is to enter into a tireless brain of myriad interests—including educating aspiring writers, designing covers, penning paranormal fiction and hosting writing retreats in castles.
In this episode, we talked about creative ways to get Amazon to recommend your book (write a blog post that recommends other books like yours and then include a link to that blog in your email auto-responder), the importance of obeying Amazon's ever-changing rules and how to actually make money from book sales.
HERE'S HOW I CAN HELP YOU WHEN YOU'RE READY:
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TRANSCRIPT OF THE EPISODE:
Anna David: 00:00 So my big question is, do you remember me from Portland and it's okay if you don't?
Derek Murphy: 00:07 World domination. Yes. But I remember your face and personality more than I remember, like your platform. I don't remember if we discussed like the business side of things as much.
Anna David: 00:19 Well, I didn't really have a business when we met and I, it really is quite the loveliest memory because that's such a special summit. And what basically, you just started talking on a lawn, beautiful part of Portland in a park. And I mean, it was organized and I just sort of sat down and it was like, I'm so used to people in the publishing world, not knowing what they're talking about. And immediately I was like, this guy really knows what he's talking about. And I sort of, even though I came from the traditional publishing world, I peppered you with a million questions and you were extremely kind. That's what happened.
Derek Murphy: 00:56 It's so frustrating. Cause I feel like I have all this knowledge to share, but the majority of authors aren't ready to hear it because they don't, they're not interested in self publishing. They still think it's kind of like selling out or giving up. They have all these old school, traditional publishing questions like, well, I want to be a real author. I want to get an agent. I want a million dollar book deal, and these misplaced expectations. So I have all this great like advice about how to do it well and why self publishing can be a really smart choice. And they just can't listen. Which is, I don't know, it's frustrating. I feel like I sent an email recently that was a little bit whiny, but I was kind of like, I spent a lot of time helping people for free on Facebook and they come in with the most basic questions. And the problem is it's not really their fault. There's just so much bad information out there or bad advice they are getting in other sources, other channels. So then they think, you know, well everybody's saying something else. Why don't I just do whatever I want? And that's not a great solution either.
Anna David: 01:55 Yeah. I deal with it all the time in my transition was I came from traditional publishing, was such a snob about self publishing. Immediately when someone said, I published a book, I'd be like so. And then now I would never do a traditionally published book. And I now have this publishing company where entrepreneurs pay us to write and publish their books. And they really get it. But all the random people I talk to who say, well, I really want to make the New York times list. It's like, Oh, okay. I had one book make the list. And I have no idea how many copies it sold. It was published traditionally. And then they say, I want to go on a book tour. And I say, I don't know any authors personally that have been sent on a book tour. So there's all these misconceptions and they don't understand, you know, the rough statistic is two in 10,000 book proposals sell. And it's very brutal out there and we can have so much control and make such a good living doing this.
Derek Murphy: 02:55 And the sad thing is even the New York Times best selling authors, that's like 15 to 25,000 sales in a week. Which sounds like a lot, but when the author is getting 8% or less, plus they're paying off their advance and they're not really getting any extra money. There's a lot of authors who hit the New York Times bestseller list and still are losing [inaudible] or they're not earning a full time living and then they have to find other work. So it's not like you've made it once you hit the list or once you get a publishing deal. And because of publishing, traditional publishing is slower, it tends to be the case that, you know, you put out a book every two or three years, it's not really enough to live on. So there's, you're basically doing it for people say vanity publishing, but I think even traditional publishing can be kind of, you're doing it for the prestige because you think it looks better for you, but the earnings aren't there. So, you know, at the end of the day, if you want to write full time, you've got to have the income from people actively buying your books. And it's easier to do that with selling less copies if you self publish and you're getting more of the money.
Anna David: 04:00 Yes. Yes. Most New York Times best selling authors I know went back to school to become teachers, work at celebrity weekly magazines. I mean, it's really not what people think, so. Okay. So you have one of the more interesting and prolific careers. How many books, between your fiction and nonfiction have you published? Cause I actually couldn't count.
Derek Murphy: 04:26 I probably have five or six okay one's in nonfiction. Maybe like 10, but a lot of them aren't good and don't sell at all. But they're all really specific nonfiction, like how to design book covers so I use them for lead gen to build my client businesses. I don't really focus on them for sales this year. I'm doing my first kind of more mainstream general nonfiction which is exciting, but it's still like writing craft-based and then eventually I'll actually finish the books about creativity and stuff that are more general nonfiction books with a wider reach, that I can really invest in ads and will actually sell and earn money. With fiction, I have a dozen probably novels, but I'm also working with some co-writers to put out a couple other series, which is more like I do the planning and the editing and the revision and pretty heavy rewriting. And the main problem is I really like writing book ones. So with fiction you can earn pretty good money. Once you have a box set out, or you have the series completed, and I have like 10 book ones starting unfinished series that I opened years ago. So my readers are pretty frustrated which is kind of weird. But I also know eventually when I wrap up those series, I can just, I mean, they will make money because people liked them.
05:47 People read them, they review well I'll do, I'll do all new covers and some rebranding, but once you have enough content and it makes the ad spend justifiable so that you're not losing with the ad spend, it makes a huge difference. Like if you spend a dollar to earn a dollar on book one, you're breaking even, but if you have three books in that series, so then you're spending a dollar to make $3, suddenly it's a whole different ball game. And you can be really competitive with advertising. And that's when it gets real exciting because like, if you have one good series that can sell, you could just keep spending money on advertising until it's not working anymore. And there's always new ways of changing the targeting or the ad copy or the covers to make sure that they stay competitive. So I have friends with just one or two main series who already make a full time living. But they have to like, you have to have all the basics, right. And you have to learn enough advertising and marketing to figure out how to push it to the audience. Most authors, they never get the basics right because they never have a cover. They don't know their audience. They don't know their pitch or their benefits or why anybody would read this or they didn't write a book that anybody wants to read because they winged it and they didn't put any thought into the organization or like what they're doing and the pre-phase, the introduction. So there's a lot of books that like, they think it's good or they focus on it being clean. But it's just not as satisfying reading experience or worse like they lose readers in the first few chapters because it just doesn't feel like it's going anywhere.
Anna David: 07:22 So do you think the most important thing is to research ahead of time and find out what your readers want?
Derek Murphy: 07:29 I think, yes. There's a, there's a difference between what I call a brand book and a commercial book. I'm probably screwing that up. It's been awhile, but most others who don't have a platform, people are looking for you or your clever idea. So most authors think they want a book like a major traditionally published bestselling book by a famous person and they can do whatever they want on the cover or the title. So they can take big creative risks because it doesn't matter. They already have the audience. So self publishing authors who try to model that and they say, you know, I want it to be just like that, but they don't have the platform to back it up. So they can't take those kinds of risks. You need to be as clear and obvious as possible with your content, who is this for? What problem is this going to solve? It has to really look, and a lot of authors, they don't want their book to look like the other books in their genre or their topic because they want to be different and unique and fresh or whatever. But your cover is the easiest, fastest way to tell readers what your book is about. And if you miss that, you know, that first chance to connect and they don't ever click on your thumbnail or your book cover none of your ad copy or your blurb matters.
08:42 Your reviews don't matter. Nothing else matters. Cause they're not, they saw the cover and they decided it wasn't for them because it doesn't look like it matches what they were looking for. So when you're starting off in their platform, I think you should focus on something that's easier, even if it's not the big idea, general nonfiction, brandable, like this is the platform I want to build. You're just focusing on an audience, what they want, what they're searching for. And you just try to create content that matches that as much as possible and remove as many hurdles and barriers as possible to make it a really easy, smooth transition, because you're probably going to be paying either in time or money for every single view that you get. So you need as much of that to convert, to sales as possible, or it's not going to be worth the time and money.
Anna David: 09:28 And do you think that every author should be using AMS ads or Facebook ads or both?
Derek Murphy: 09:36 Yes, but there are two basic ways to market books. It's either free organic content marketing stuff, which is guest posting or blogging or YouTube or other channels like that. Where you're basically just putting out tons of free content, which can totally work, especially in nonfiction. There are still a lot of avenues that aren't tapped out. So the advantage is you don't have to pay and you're building a platform at the same time. Advertising is a lot more direct and a lot faster because it's, it goes straight to the people, especially on Amazon, like people are searching for topics and your book shows up when they're already there to buy books. That's a really easy place to convert unless there's too much competition in your space and your book isn't converting well, because it doesn't have a great cover or reviews or blurbs. So it's a little bit of a balance to get it all right. But I think you can be breaking even at least on ads and also spending your time. Like if you have time and money, you can be advertising and spending your time content marketing as well. I like having both, I like my blogs to get traffic. I'm doing a new preorder campaign. I put it up on preorder and then I changed all of my blog headers. So I get, I don't know, a couple thousand views a day, probably on my blog.
10:54 And so now they all get like a big banner advertisement, preorder the book, all of my website which doesn't convert amazingly because they're not on my website for that book. So I'm trying to derail the traffic I have to get them to pre or something that they don't want. But it's not costing me anything. And it's just free advertising to a whole bunch of people. So it converts a little bit and I mean, I'm glad that I'm able to do things like that because I have blog traffic, but it's taken me years to build it up. So I will also be advertising cause it's so much faster and more direct, but it's a little harder on a pre-order because I don't have reviews on that book. So even if it looks amazing, people aren't really going to trust it without the review. So the conversion is going to be lower. Once it launches, and I get the reviews, I'll focus a lot more on, you know, keeping it running with advertising.
Anna David: 11:47 Well, I noticed that it's not coming out till December and it's number in its category. In one category, maybe more. And I thought, God, that is such a long preorder campaign. What's the strategy behind that?
Derek Murphy: 12:03 I'm terrible at [inaudible] I've actually been kicked out of AMS two or three times because if you miss your period or deadline, they'll ban you from doing pre-orders for a year. So I keep having that same struggle because I think it takes me a certain amount of time to write a book. And I'm always wrong about finishing the book. I like doing pre-orders cause it does push me to do more work than I would have otherwise. But anyway, so it was, I think they used to have a three month pre-order and they changed it a few months ago to a one year pre-order, which is pretty cool. Pre-orders, like I said, it's not necessarily the best way of marketing and it's harder to sell books on pre-order, but pre-orders carry a lot of weight on Amazon. So the advantage is if you have a long pre-order campaign, you're also bots are already populating because especially if you're recommending, like from my list, I say, here's my book. And here are the other 10 books. I would recommend you read on the same topic so that my audience is buying my book, who probably already bought these other books on craft. Amazon is already learning what type of book my book is and what type of people buy that book. Because if Amazon has that data, they can start marketing for me because they want to make money by pushing my book to the people who will buy it. But if they don't know who is buying it, like I have to tell them I have to train them by being careful with my targeting. I need to get them the information so that they can sell it on their own organically. And so with pre-order sales, it also seems like it carries a lot of weight. So if you get a lot of pre-order sales during launch it seems like that book is a little more sticky on the Amazon algorithm system. And that's probably because you already have all the also bots, Amazon already knows who your audience is. So it just, it's a longer period of time for Amazon to kind of get used to where your book is on the shelf which makes it easier to stick there longer.
Anna David: 13:57 So in preorders, does it not make sense to send people to Barnes and Noble or Kobo or any other place just to send them to Amazon?
Derek Murphy: 14:06 It depends what your goals are. I like Kindle Unlimited, which is the three month exclusivity contract where you also get paid by the [inaudible]. So for, it works really well for nonfiction. It's probably not as big a draw. And if you're not in Kindle Unlimited, you might as well put it wide because then, you know, I mean most of the audiences on Amazon, so that's going to be 80% of your sales anyway, but some of your audience, especially depending on who you're audience is and what you're writing, they might specifically be on Amazon or Kobo or somewhere else, depending on the demographics. So it's good to figure that stuff out. And if you're not in Kindle Unlimited, it doesn't hurt to put it wide, except if you dividing up your traffic. So if I have like thousand people who are ready to buy my book, but I send them to all the different platforms it's a little bit less direct than sending all the traffic to one place. It means that Amazon might not be learning as much as it could be learning. And my rank wouldn't be pushed aside. So if I, instead of a thousand sales on Kindle, if I got 500 sales on Kindle, my rank would be much lower. I would get less visibility. I recommend all authors start with Kindle, just because then they can focus everything in one place and make sure that they get that rolling. Because if you don't get the Amazon figured out, if you don't get the reviews and the blurb, and you're also bots figured out that's, you know, 80% of your sales. So if that's not working the other platforms aren't going to work either.
Anna David: 15:35 That's interesting to me, it just looks so much more prestigious to have it on Barnes and Noble and Walmart and all of that, because I think that people go, Oh, you just self published on Amazon, not understanding that anybody has the power to put their book on Barnes and Noble and these other places. But that's an interesting thing. So just, I like this, you sort of make it just Amazon for pre-orders. And then once the book is out, then you're like, Oh, look, it's in these other places too. If you're not doing Kindle Unlimited.
Derek Murphy: 16:04 Maybe how savvy your audience is. But like I, especially for my fiction audience, I don't really care. I mean, they're more in fiction. They're more used to readers are okay with self published books and they read, they buy a lot more self published books. They may there's a discussion about like whether readers like hard copy books or eBooks. And of course readers when asked will always say hard copy books, but they'll buy 20 eBooks for every one Hard copy book they buy. So rather than selling, you know, your one hard copy book and probably losing money because it costs a lot of money to even set that up, to make hard covers and you know, shooting for bookstores. What are you try to do everything to look like your a traditional published author, but you're losing money then it's really just vanity publishing. Whereas if, I mean, the truth is most readers, unless they're haters, they're not going to research where you're publishing and throw shade on you because they don't consider you a real author. If readers are reading your book and paying you for the privilege, you're a successful author. I'd much rather have the numbers behind me like that. Or I'd much rather just have more readers who are leaving reviews, who enjoyed my work, then have fewer readers and making less money, but look like I'm a successful traditionally published author. And unfortunately, a lot of authors consider that like it's more about, they say, I don't care about the money I'm in this for my platform.
17:27 I'm in this for my prestige or my coaching business. And they don't actually care about that book making money. But if you're not trying to make money with your book, it just means you're not going to have control over how many people read your book. So you're going to be shooting for a smaller audience and that's not good for your, for anybody. You're not helping more people. You're not helping your brand or growing your business. You always want more people to read your book and there are decisions you can make. And I still have problems with it because I'll do things like in some of my fiction stuff, we don't, I have a partner who I work with on some of the co-writing fiction stuff. And I would be dumping money into both one because I want book one to look successful and be getting read, even if we're not really making money with it. For him that's dumb. Why would we waste money there when it's so much easier to profit? If we wait until all three books are out and we only advertise the box which is true from a business perspective, the problem is it takes me time to go through all these books. So we put out a book one and it just sits there and does nothing, which, you know, feels bad to me. It feels like it's an unsuccessful project, but then three to six months later, the box set is out. And we can make like 200 bucks a day on profit from each series, but only once the book is done, if we had started doing the advertising on the first book, we'd be basically losing that money. Or instead of having three times returns, we'd be breaking even. So his smart to only consider the numbers. And even though I consider myself pretty educated about publishing as a business, I still have some of these hang-ups.
Anna David: 19:09 Right. Cause it's emotional versus logical, really, the long game versus immediate gratification. To walk it back to something you said before you, so basically you said you'll recommend other books that you want Amazon to recommend your book when those, so basically you write a blog post saying, buy these other books, just to send your readers there so that they will then, Amazon will then recommend you. Genius.
Derek Murphy: 19:40 Yeah, for a few reasons. One is just really good content. So I think this book is like the 10 best books on writing craft or something. And I've done it on my keyword research. I know what authors are Googling. I try to use the keywords. I try to use the, there are like SEO title generators to make kind of a click baity title. So if I try to do some of that stuff, my blog posts might rank well so that people who are searching Google for, you know, writing craft books, I'll also make, I forget if I've already done this, but I'll probably also make like a video talking about those books to put on YouTube because that will show up on the top page of Google pretty easily. So it's not only for, also bot but also because it's long-term good organic traffic. And ideally I would actually make five or 10 of those blog posts about, you know, with slightly different keywords because they're pretty easy to make, you know, best books for writers talking about how to improve dialogue or how to build your structure or whatever. Because you always want more content and those are pretty posts, kind of evergreen posts to make. And at the end of those posts, I would always say, and here's my book. So if you're building content like that people are buying your book because they're finding you organically. And they're probably buying some of those other books, which helps your also bots.
21:01 And I might, even if I didn't have any list at all, I might turn it into a giveaway where I would say these are the books that really helped me. I'm writing my own book. I want to give these 10 books away. If you're a writer and you want to win this free starter library of books, sign up here. So then they sign up for my giveaway. They joined my email list. They share the giveaway because I use an app called KingSumo giveaway apps. And they're encouraged to sign up and then share it. So if you have a good giveaway with a good prize, that's really targeted to your target audience you'll be building a list so that eventually when you launch your book, you have a list of people who really like or need the content that you're already working on producing. So it helps to build like a launch team or a launch list. I don't always market to my list. I'd probably use that list for when the book launches, I would send out ARC copies or try to get reviews. At least I would send out a first couple of chapters and then a book to buy the book. Probably some pre-order bonuses. There's a lot of other things I could do once I get closer to launch. On the fiction side, the VA actually, who does most of this. So we have, I think the fiction sites up to 500 visitors a day or something. And it's just like top 10 young adult mermaid fantasy books with magic or vampires or aliens, or just lots of different keywords.
22:28 We have probably 30 or 50 posts, I don't know, which I'm not even creating that content. She's just, you know, doing the research and putting out the content to build traffic over time. And on the sidebar of that side or in the header, we would say here's our free opt in book to get them on the email. They would go through an email funnel where we recommend part of my email. Funder would be those other, like I have a list of my favorite books of all time. So I would always be putting that content in my email auto responder, and then putting like introductions to my various novels or different books or a little bit of, there's a whole strategy with email marketing, but you want to basically give them content that they're already looking for. And then slowly put yourself in the conversation because they're not really looking to talk with you or engage with you, but you kind of have to make them recognize your face or your name behind the good content and slowly work in some sympathizing stories to make them like you and trust you more. So it's kind of a balance that you can do in your email auto responder, but you have to get them on your website first.
23:38 You have to get them to sign up for something first. And again, that all works well, but it takes a long time to build. And it's not really, as I have a lot of friends who say, you know, blogging is useless or an email list is useless because I did all this stuff and it's not converting. But if you have like you know, 10 or 20 visitors a day, assuming like a 1% conversion, it's just not going to, it's not going to matter until you have bigger numbers. So it really takes more investment and dedication, but the advantages is, rather than advertising, because with advertising, you're always paying to access somebody else's platform. And when you stop, everything stops, your sales will stop. Like you've, you've got nothing when you stop advertising. So I always want to be focused on building my platform, as well so that my advertising will be more effective. But also if Amazon decided to change something and killed my sales, I would have access to my audience, which is really important.
Anna David: 24:40 So how does somebody who gets 20 or 30 visitors a day just increase that, just more content?
Derek Murphy: 24:49 More content, although backlinks are really important too. I'm lazy. So I I've seen people who just, they start off with like five blog posts on their blog and that's basically it. And really targeted lead magnet. A Nice looking website, but they started with that basically. And those five emails are just great evergreen posts that they can put in their auto responder series. And then they focus on guest posts. So they'll do like 20 guest posts with other people who have the audience that you are interested in, you know, getting in front of them, they'll do a guest post or podcast interview which works extremely well. But you have to be really proactive about reaching out to people, doing your research, finding the people who are the right who have the right audience and then putting out that kind of content. So I think that's more effective than what I'm doing. I just think it's a lot easier for me just to focus on, you know, writing a blog post or making a YouTube video. I can do it in under an hour and having it published. And I don't publish very often, but I've been doing it for many years. You could really, you know, publish a blog post a day for 90 days in like an hour a day. You could map it all out. When I started Creative Indy, I had mapped out probably like two or 300 blog posts around keywords that I thought were important.
26:09 And I never went back and wrote any of those blog posts are all saved on my drafts. So the first year I didn't publish anything, the second like a year I kind of started playing with it. I've yet to publish the manifesto that should have been written for my blog that I outlined seven years ago when I started writing my blog. So there's like, you could be doing it better and you could be doing it a lot faster. I've been doing it really slowly and haphazardly, but even so I put out a lot of great content and that works and that always will continue to work. But it's kind of like, you need a lot of content and it takes time to build up, but I would focus on, you can either like create amazing content that people share to get the back links, or you can actively try to get published on other people's blog posts. So the link back to you probably a combination of both or just whatever feels like it's more suited to your personality.
Anna David: 27:08 Well, I have Jeff [inaudible] on the podcast who, you know, kind of really, really didn't pioneer guest posting, but really sort of emphasized that. And he said, that's over. Is that not true?
Derek Murphy: 27:20 Well, that's funny. Cause he was actually in my mind as someone who had done this well. Yeah, that's all he did. And he did it very well. He leveraged it really well and grew a platform really quickly. There's always, there's a little bit to be said for people who have used the strategy of the past and have built their platform. They don't need that strategy anymore because now they can do so many other things that are so much more effective. They could be spending big money on advertisements. They have huge industry contacts with peers. So it might be dead for the circle, the successful established circles of people he's in. They might have decided, well, that's a waste of time. We don't need to do that anymore. And he's totally right. But for new authors, especially without a budget or without any industry, like without any contacts. And the reason he probably said that is like, I kind of have a platform and I get people asking me all the time to guest post and I ignore them because, you know, I don't know who they are and they'll email me seven times with a bunch of follow-up emails. And I might like, if it sounds personable enough, I might finally open one of those emails and at least see what they have to offer. And if it seems like it might be a fit for my audience, you know, it doesn't really cost me anything.
28:41 If I feel like they're going to do a good job and create good content, I'm not opposed to it. It's just more work for me to open the email and respond to them than to ignore them. And I don't need their guest posts because it doesn't really help me. So I can kind of understand where he's coming from and how it might be harder to get started that way. But it's still effective. It's just that a lot of people, whenever there's a good tactic. And it's funny because he basically used the tactic and then taught the tactic. But now the tactic doesn't work because so many people are doing it. It's kind of the same with me and giveaways because I've told everybody to do book giveaways to build your list. But now everybody's doing it and they're doing it wrong, and readers are burnt out and it doesn't really work as well anymore. It can still work really well if it's effective, but of course it's not as effective as it was when I was the only person doing it. So it's interesting discussion to have, but I think there's always like, there's always a way to be doing it better than everybody else. And if it's not working, you might like, you might need to find a new way to do that strategy header or differently than is currently being used. And there's also, you know, the argument for what's super effective or what's free or what you can afford right now. You know, a lot of people don't have any money, but they have a lot of time. So there's choices to be made.
Anna David: 30:07 Okay. Let me put you on the spot. Would you let me blog post, guest posts on your blog? You don't even have to open the email because you can just say yes now.
Derek Murphy: 30:16 Oh, okay.
Anna David: 30:19 Listeners, that was total pressure. We're not even going to hold him to it even though it was recorded.
Derek Murphy: 30:23 Yeah. Well, I wouldn't have said Okay. But I had already actually thought of it earlier, because I know that the content and the subject that you're talking about is good for my audience. So that's the kind of easy yes for me because I kind of had an idea already of the kinds of things that you could do.
Anna David: 30:43 Love it. Yes. I okay. Yeah, because I just did something for Kindlepreneur, you know, I only, it's only worth it for me, for the audiences that are big and perfect for what I'm trying to attract. So listeners, you just heard how that happens. So I just, okay. I really need to ask you about the whole castle thing. So you have always, for the last few years, rented a castle in an exotic place and invited people to come there and write. And now your goal is to write, I think, a hundred books in the next 25 years and then buy a castle. Is this all correct?
Derek Murphy: 31:23 That was my goal a few years ago after WDS when I was really excited. I'm not sure if like getting older has made me more realistic or more practical or just that now that we've lived in like four or five castles, I kind of know it's a little bit less, you know, up in the air and a little more practical do I really want to live here? And by exotic Europe, so France and Spain and, anyway, around Europe, mostly it's pretty awesome. The last one was in France, it was like half ruined. So the main house had been restored, but they still had like the original tower. And then they just had like legit ruins to wander at night with nobody around you have the entire place yourself. We did one in Austria that was like a 12th century fortress. That was enormous. It was like, it was a shopping mall size. It was the biggest thing. So to like live there and to have it all to yourself, it's unreal. So I like, I love doing it. I love that I've been able to do it. It's good for my platform. It's not a business. I don't really run it well as a business, but I love that I've been able to do it. We won't do one this year. I'd like to continue doing it. I sure if I if I wrote my a hundred bucks and I was making really big money, that's something I would be interested in, on the other hand, I don't necessarily want to be running a writing retreat and living with other writers. I'd like to be living in a nice cabin in Vancouver Island or something completely isolated and just writing my book.
33:00 So I think I've also got a little bit more awareness of what I actually want to do with my life. I found the castle in Portland a couple of years ago. They have an 18th century castle in downtown Portland. That's amazing. Not huge, but you know, pretty comfortable, more like a manner. And I was surprised because I didn't even know it was there. So it's definitely on my radar. I like to look and think about the idea of restoring a property if I had a bunch of money. But it's also one of those things, like it's fun to dream about the big stuff, but you can, it might not be the success that you actually want and you can actually possibly have a much more satisfying lifestyle with less. If you just prioritize, what's actually important to you.
Anna David: 33:44 Yeah, absolutely. Another thing I wanted to ask you about, and then we'll start wrapping up. You contributed to write and go grow rich. Now this Alinka, I don't know how to pronounce her. Her last name has recently come onto my radar as like a very valuable voice in this industry. That's something she put together. Correct? What was, and so tell me about a decision to be a part of something like that and why are you smiling?
Derek Murphy: 34:12 Because it's a huge controversy behind the scenes with a lot, with a lot of stuff. And I won't mention all the names, but so here's basically what happened. It's pretty common to publish an anthology and hit the list which we did. We hit the Wall Street Journal, which is neat. And then we could all claim to be Wall Street Journal best selling authors. That's not something I necessarily do or recommend. I don't really use my letters. I've hit the USA Today, bestselling author list a few times, but never with my own solid book. And that's a personal choice. There's a huge argument with self publishing authors, whether or not it's legit to use those letters or whether it's misleading. I don't really have an opinion on that, but there's a big disconnect between the people who do self publishing and our business people who are interested in the funnels and the sales and making money, and then the people who consider themselves purists or artists and they're completely anti anything business. So there are lines in the sand that have been drawn. And so some people participating in that box set were on the radar of some self publishing gurus who just really didn't like any of the things that they were doing. And we got in trouble because of the way that we you're basically allowed to boost pre-order sales with bonuses, that's pretty common with nonfiction books. You say, if you pre-order my book, I'll give you this online course or something.
35:43 Which is not technically against terms, but because of the way that we set it up or the way that we had worded the description on Amazon we came under really heavy fire and criticism. A few people dropped out of that stuff because they were getting too much criticism. I wrote a long blog post because we weren't actually breaking any rules. Everything that people were saying we were doing was implied because no one had read the book yet. So they were assuming that the book itself had no content and was just a scam, but no one had read the book yet. So they didn't know, at least for my part, my chapter was really good. So I knew that some of the content was fine. Anyway, so I posted a big, a list of like what we were being accused of and all the rules and why we weren't really breaking any terms which was proven by the fact that because so many people complained about our box set, Amazon did freeze it and take it down for a little while and made us change a few things, but then they put it back up again because we weren't doing anything illegal. And we did hit the list. So even though we lost a little, a lot of pre-orders because we got hate from the self publishing community. Anyway, so it's kind of like there's weird stuff going on in the self publishing community. Something similar I saw, I think also Alinka because she has some higher priced services.
37:09 And some of the same people were criticizing those services because indie authors get really sensitive because there are a lot of scams and there are a lot of you know, vendi presses who are overcharging on really big things. And so if there's, you know, you can self publish for 50 bucks or 500 bucks. So if there's a service that costs 55 grand or 20 grand or whatever, it sounds like it's a ridiculous amount of money. But I think some of her services were like included editing or even included ghost writing. So if you're paying someone to ghost write your book, that shouldn't be cheap because that's huge value. And you're paying someone for a lot of time and a lot of expertise. So personally, like I understand that maybe not ever, maybe not all self-publishing authors should pay a lot of money for their book, but if you have a big business and you're developing a book for your business, it can make a lot of sense to pay an expert to help you with things. Anyways, I don't really have a problem. I'm kind of in between where I'm in between the art and the business. And I have friends on both sides and I'm aware of the controversy and I try to stay out of it. But I think that's kind of what's going on. There's people who, who are purely for the art and they're against all business.
38:26 And then there are people who are purely business and they just want a book and they're not aware of all the other stuff that's going on. And the, you know, it depends on who you are and what you want and what you, as long as you follow Amazon's rules, there are terms you need to be aware of. You need to be careful Amazon's terms are changing all the time. So like they have rules about how you can send out review copies, which are different now than they were a year ago. So I had to go back and like read the fine print and write a new blog post recently because there's a lot of confusion and people don't know what's okay. So you could do something and get accused of breaking rules when you aren't really where you are now, but only because Amazon changed their position. So you've got to kind of stay informed.
Anna David: 39:10 Yeah. I saw that post and I was very relieved. I was like, I haven't broken a single rule with my strategies. And by the way, this is what my company does is we, we have two services, we go straight and publish. And then we have just publishing if you come to us with a complete book. The problem is, and I'm sure you understand this because you have a course that helps with this is people come with a book they think is completed and it's not completed at all. Because writing is one of these things that everybody thinks they can do. And not everybody can do it.
Derek Murphy: 39:45 And nobody can. Even if they're good writers and the writing is good the construction, the structure, the organization is almost always bad in fiction and nonfiction, which is obvious if it's your first book and you're not an author and you didn't do your research, of course, you're not going to get it right. But it's kind of crazy how many authors think that they can, the first time with no preparation, they're just going to, you know, they don't want help with the structure or the editing or the writing. They just think here, I'm just going to put my words down. It's going to work as hard to educate those people because you can't tell them it's wrong until they fail. So most authors have to fail first and not sell any books. And then finally they might be willing to listen, you know, why is nobody reading this? Why are people not finishing it or reviewing it? Those are probably critical problems that people would have warned you about if you had listened or asked for opinion. So that's frustrating. And it puts me in a weird position because I, I could be doing that. Like if I did ghost writing I would charge a lot, but I don't really want to be doing that because it's the same with editing. I charge a lot for editing, but in most cases they don't have a book that has commercial appeal. So even if I make it 10 times better, it's still may not sell better, which is why I don't necessarily think you should invest a lot in editing.
41:14 Because just like the difference between a badly written a book and a well written book doesn't necessarily increase sales because writing is not the important thing, the content or the structure of the story is important thing. So I would much rather kind of make cheap courses or free courses or books or guides and have them do it themselves because only the author can really figure this stuff out, unless they're paying a lot of money for an expert to do it for them which they should, because this is like this is hard work. It took me decades to learn how to do this. I would rather be doing other things with my time unless someone was paying me enough to make it worthwhile, even then I wouldn't really enjoy it. I don't know. I've been doing like first chapter critiques, cause that's something I feel like I can go in and look at the first 5,000 words and tell you exactly what's wrong with it and how to fix it quickly without committing to, you know, a three month or a year long project of working on one book. Anyway, so I mean, I think it's, there's nothing wrong with providing a service. People are willing to pay for it. And I think there's actually a huge demand for ghost writing. Because there are people who want to write a book, who have the money who just don't have the time or don't know what they're doing which is fine. I think it's fine to offer services that meet the demand. Anyway, in the self of, in space because it's such a small, tight community. There are strong opinions about a lot of things. So anyway, I don't know.
Anna David: 42:48 That's really interesting cause I'm very active in it and I don't know the community at all. I kind of fly under the radar and I like that because I don't want to get criticized.
Derek Murphy: 42:58 I think I'm just on Facebook too much.
Anna David: 43:01 I don't even. Yeah. I mean, it's like, I know you Dave Chesson, that's pretty much it. And that's good. So, okay. So we have to wrap up what you have so many things. What is the best place to find you, your books, your courses, all of it
Derek Murphy: 43:22 On creativindie.com. So it's creative without the E and then indie like creatively independent, but without the that's my mentor on there. I have a whole bunch of free books. On YouTube I have a ton of free videos. I'm up to like 2.5 million views on YouTube and they're rough unpolished videos, but they're really high quality content. So that's all available. I have lots of free stuff out there. I think it's overwhelming cause there's too much stuff and people don't know where to start. So I'm trying to get better about directing them a little more. But on my blog you can find me and everything.
Anna David: 44:00 I will say that I agree with you. You have so much, and it's all such high value. And I think it's the sign of a creative mind, but it's like, I want to do covers and I want to teach writing and you know, but it's so much it takes weeks to go through and that's a quality problem.
Derek Murphy: 44:19 I think it would take years to watch my YouTube videos.
Anna David: 44:22 True. True. Okay. Derek, thank you so much. And listeners, thank you so much for listening and make sure you check out everything Derek Murphy. He is a star. So I'll see you next week. Meaning talk to you next week.