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Write Your Best Book – Episode 2

Hey folks!

It’s your host Christina Kaye bringing you episode 2 of Write Your Best Book. I hope all of you enjoy my premiere episode last week and that you’re ready for more free advice and an exciting lineup of amazing guest hosts this year.

So, this is exciting! Today’s guest is Derek Murphy, the founder, and CEO of The Creative Indie. He’s an author and an all-around creative genius from Portland, Oregon and he is the founder of The Creative Indie, a website that offers tons of resources that are helpful for authors. The slogan at the top of his page reads “How to Be a Creative Genius Without Becoming a Starving Artist.” I love that!

So, when the idea of an episode discussing how to turn your hobby of writing into a profitable career came about, I knew there was no one better to host this episode than Derek. Well, that and of course I am every bit a fangirl of him, his process and all of the amazing work he does to help authors achieve their goals and realize their dreams.

So today, we’re going to talk about something I believe every author has wondered at one point or another along their writing journey. How can I make money doing the one thing I love to do most: writing? But the answer is not simple. There are many different ways you can monetize your writing skill from writing content for websites to copywriting for publications to blogging to writing novels. On this episode today, we’re just going to talk about how to make money by publishing books. 

But when I first thought about writing this topic, I found myself asking: are we writing for the love of the craft or are we writing solely with the intention of selling as many books as possible? So, is it craft versus commerce? Which is it? I don’t think the two have to be mutually exclusive. I absolutely believe you can make tons of money and still hold on to your passion for the written word and vice versa. But we must be careful not to blur the lines between the two confusing the financial success with mastering your craft. You can’t make a career out of writing if you don’t first have, at a minimum, the basic skills required to write something people will actually want to buy and read.

Before we talk to Derek Murphy, it’s time for this week’s book plug. Do you like cozy mysteries? Do you miss Murder She Wrote and Miss Angela Lansbury? Then Vickie Walton’s Texas Taylor Mystery series is for you. Now, I can personally vouch for this book folks. Vickie is one of my favorite clients and authors. And about this book. Christy Taylor is ready for a break from work and life. She returns home to Comfort, Texas only to be thrust in the middle of a land dispute and developers’ intent on gaining the Taylor ranch property. When one of the developers’ employees dies on their property, Christy must extend her break to help her father. She sets out to find the killer before they strike again and hopes the truth will not unravel everything. But of course, folks, it does. It always does. But you’ve got to read this book. I will include buy links. You can purchase this book by e-download, Kindle Unlimited and paperback on Amazon and I will include them in the links in the show notes.

Now let’s discuss today’s topic and bring out our guest, Derek Murphy, aka the Creative Indie.

Welcome to the show Derek. I’m honored to have you here tonight. Can you start by telling our listeners just a little bit about you and the Creative Indie machine?

DM: Sure. Creative Indie is the blog I started probably seven or eight years ago and the reason I started the blog was I have a background as an artist, so I went to fine arts school for probably twenty years or so. I tried to make it as a fine artist, as a writer and I was definitely the starving artist for a long time that believed, you know, I could just do what I enjoyed and follow my passion and it would just work out that I had this gift to share. And I finally got to this point where I realized like I was teaching English in Taiwan and was really unhappy with my job. I wasn’t making any money after years and years and years. Even like I was pretty successful as far as fine artists go in Taiwan. But it wasn’t paying and even things like I’d have a gallery exhibition and someone would come and ask me “ok, I want to buy that. How much does it cost?” and I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t have numbers because I just hadn’t thought. Like, I just wanted to show my work. I wasn’t concerned with the business. That wasn’t my job to like sell the work. And I finally figured out that if you want to create good art that matters, it has to resonate with other people. And it’s actually not that difficult to make a full-time living with what you love as long as your providing value to other people. A lot of artists, a lot of people, are taught to believe you shouldn’t think about other people or the reception at all. You should just go in your little cave and do the work and not worry about the reception. And the challenge is you end up making a lot of stuff that doesn’t matter to other people because you don’t know the audience, you haven’t done the research. You don’t know if what your making is resonating. You can create a lot of stuff and hopefully maybe something will resonate with some people. But it’s so much easier to do it on purpose and I would argue that you can actually create better quality art faster if you know who’s going to enjoy it and you know your audience. You know you’re creating a specific type of product for a specific type of person with the focus on adding value rather than—I think it’s pretty easy to just do what you enjoy and just play with stuff. If you’re a creative person, it’s fun to play with stuff. You can do that all day long. If you want other people to enjoy what you’re making—which every artist does. Every artist says “I don’t care,” but every artist wants to make stuff.

CK: They do (laughing).

DM: And if you make things that other people enjoy, that’s also a business, as long as you are providing value that other people can appreciate. So that’s what creativity is kind of all about. It’s trying to take the starving artist mentality and shift it to into “how do I use these skills I’ve developed to provide value to a specific audience? How do I scale my audience?” I actually had seven steps on my blog that I’ve been going through for the last seven years. I’m not quite at the pinnacle of where I had set out to be yet, but I’m kind of getting close to it. Anyways, so that’s what creativity is all about.

CK: That’s great. That’s great. I really love, especially where you talk about how you have to, you know, know your audience. Yeah, I love that. That’s amazing. Thanks for that. Speaking of your website, I also read on your page your manifesto and I found it awe-inspiring. I’m going to link to it in the show notes; but can you briefly sum up your vision for us?

DM: Yeah. I think the manifesto I had, it’s been like I said, like seven or eight years, and I think it’s a six-step process and the last step was luminosity. So, it’s getting to this point where it’s actually not that hard to make a living doing what you love as long as you condition that with value. I have to do what I love and also be providing value. And then the main hurdle for most artists is being able to sustain yourself. Being able to make enough money, even if you work part time, somehow, with some skills, so that you can invest your time, the majority of your time doing the creative work that matters to you. That you believe in. With the manifesto, luminosity like eventually you can break even. Eventually I think most artists dream about the point where they can make a living doing what they love. I would argue that’s not really enough. I feel like if you are able to get that point, if you’re able to make a living doing what you love, you kind of have an obligation to take that platform and scale it larger. Because once you get to the point where you’re breaking even, suddenly, like there’s no limit to advertising. If you can spend a dollar on advertising and make a dollar back, you can scale your platform really quickly.

So, the point, I think the end of my manifesto, the end goal was this stage of luminosity where you can create more wealth than you need for yourself. More wealth than you need–

CK: Oh Wow!

DM: to like I don’t want to make enough for me to sit in a room painting canvases or writing books all day. I want to make enough to build a platform that gives exponential value back to a greater and wider audience. I think that should be the–

CK: Got you.

DM: the ending evolution point for most creative people.

CK: I think that’s great, Derek. And I think that that actually speaks to you. And what people’s perception of you is anyway is that you, you know, you talked about, you know, not just doing enough to sustain yourself and put food on the table and be able to do your craft, but also to pay forward maybe even and give to your audience and to other people who may need to learn from that. So I like that a lot.

One piece of advice I’ve heard authors debate on the merits many times is “writing for the market.” I’m using air quotes here. There seems to be two schools of thought on that matter. And one side says “yes. Write something that the market is hungry for and not inundated with”—you know, like sparkling vampires, for example. The other side says “No, no. Ignore what the market is saying and only write the book that speaks to your heart.” Is there a right side and a wrong side or could both sides be right?

DM: It depends on what your goals are. If you write to make yourself happy and it’s kind of therapy and that’s your only goal to make yourself happy, then yeah, you don’t want to rock the boat by trying to do something more challenging or scary or difficult. A lot of writers, they secretly believe they are writing higher quality stuff because they never publish it and they never have reception. They never have to see negative reviews. They’re working on the same manuscript for ten years. So, they believe they are the better-quality writers because they’re not thinking about the market. But there’s two reasons I think that’s a flawed rationale. The first one is, like I said, you never know if you are good or not because you never publish. You don’t get the reception. But also, I think you can create a better-quality book faster if you’re doing it on purpose. If you decide to write to market, there are kind of these two philosophies. But generally, there are the people who are writing good books that readers love who are making money writing books. They have a big audience. The way I try to view the quality thing: as long as the readers like the quality of the book, that’s what I—

CK: That’s good quality.

DM: That’s what I’ll measure. So, I hear people talk about “I’m not going to write to market.” I just couldn’t do it. I envy other people who can do it, but I just couldn’t do it for myself. But then they’re struggling because they don’t know what a good book looks like. They don’t have any templates or formulas.

CK: That’s the—

DM: They’re not trying to plot, they’re not like looking at the hero’s journey or anything because they don’t care about providing a good reading experience to other people. They’re not at that stage yet. They are still at their own how do I get words down on the page. If it’s just enjoyment for yourself, that’s fine. What tends to happen is the people who believe in the craft-there’s actually been a huge problem for everything I do because I communicate, you know, write books that people like. That’s a pretty basic tenant.

CK: Yeah, but

DM: But a lot of authors refuse to do it.

CK: Yeah

DM: A lot of authors just say “No, I’m not going to do that.” And they think we’re hacks we’re selling out 

CK: Right?

DM:  But it’s bizarre because the majority of authors are writing books that they believe are better quality but actually just aren’t. The books, because they don’t have an audience giving them feedback, they don’t have a feedback loop that’s quick enough for them to learn. The way you learn at any craft is by practicing in public and getting feedback. The writers who tend to think, you know, they don’t believe in the market, they’re all about the art; I’ve yet to see a really good example of authors who can do that and produce high quality fiction. Generally, the people who are producing high quality fiction are the ones who are writing to market. They still love it, they’re still really good at it—

CK: Right?

DM: But they have to learn to write well quickly because reviews are brutal and if the readers don’t like their books, you know, they have to figure out how to get better. Anyways, I mean all my friends who are writing to market, they’re just writing good books that their readers like. And they’ve built a platform, so they know their readers and they know, you know, they always want their next book to be better than their last book. But they also understand that, for example, I could write personally I could write a young adult mermaid fantasy book that sells a thousand copies or I could write a vampire book that sells ten thousand copies. It took the same amount of hours to create and the same amount of skill, the same amount of you know frustration or challenge, but you’re getting paid ten times more. It has nothing to do with the quality of your writing. It’s all about how many people are searching for that type of book. That’s what the market is all about. So, it’s just choosing to, you know, you can make whatever you want to make with your time

CK: Right

DM: But you might as well make something that more people are going to enjoy and if you do that deliberately, you understand the market, you understand what, you know, what readers like about those other books that are selling really well. You don’t want to make a clone or a copy, but you have to understand if you want to get paid, you need to create a similar, but better, reading experience that they’re going to enjoy.

CK: I love that! I love that. That’s actually, honestly, that is a take on that whole debate that I’ve never I’ve never heard before, but I like that. You’re not even necessarily selling out. You’re not selling out, if you write

DM: I think you are, but I think selling out shouldn’t have a negative connotation.

CK: Well, there you go. That’s a better way to put it.

DM: It’s basically saying authors and artists don’t deserve to get paid because if you get paid, you’re selling out and selling out is negative. Therefore, you should never make any money, which means you should never write good, quality books that people like. It’s a vicious cycle. But it’s negative and it’s just too bad because—

CK: Yeah

DM: What ends up happening is you got tons of authors who are writing books that nobody wants to read and you have a very small handful of authors who are writing the books for the huge market that wants to read good books and nobody is satisfying that demand because most authors consider themselves as artist. Anyway, so I mean for me, selling out just means you value your own work enough

CK: Yeah

DM: to get paid for it. And if you’re not good enough to get paid for it right now, then you are willing to learn what it takes to develop your craft until you get good enough to charge money for it. And once you get to that point, people always ask like “Is my writing good enough? Can I-am I cut out for this? My books aren’t selling or whatever. This is a very learnable business. Anybody-yes there is some talent involved. On the other hand, there are all different kinds of books that sell really well. I have friends, you know, maybe their grammar’s not so great, maybe their writing’s not so great, but they’re so good at story or –

CK: Yes!

DM: they’re so good at dramatic tension or character. 

CK: Yeah

DM: Everybody has different strengths or weaknesses. But you all start from nothing and it takes a lot of, not confidence, but persistence tenacity to continue writing long enough to develop the skills where your writing is good enough people are willing to pay for it. I think that should be the goal of every artist is to develop, you know, their skills to the point where they have real value to offer the world.

CK: I love it. Well today, you know that obviously the topic today is how to make money writing and can you make money writing and how to market your books in an effective way that’ll draw readers and increase sales.

One of your blog posts you chose to use the word bliss rather than the word passion when describing that feeling that we have when we write. So, we’ll go with that. Let’s say an author has finished their novel and they want to turn their bliss into a successful, profitable venture. What is the very first piece of advice you would give an aspiring best seller? 

DM: So, what most authors have challenge with is they have this book but they don’t know who the audience is. They don’t know what the value is. So, they hope to get a publisher or an agent or a marketer. Somebody else who is going to communicate the value of their book to an audience. And the truth is nobody else is going to that for you. That’s really your job as the author to figure out “Ok, I’ve written this book. Who is going to want to read it and why are they going to want to read it? How do I communicate the benefits of my book to those people?” First, I have to know who they are and what they want and what kind of key words they’re searching for. And to some extent, the easiest way to do this is to do the research first and write a good book on purpose instead of trying to fix the marketing and positioning after the fact. But even so, you still can do quite a bit. Publishing is really just packaging and position. So, you have to, you know, a great cover, a great blurb and enough reviews so that readers can look at that book and immediately know this book is for them. This is why I should read it. This is why other people liked it. This is similar to these other books. The confused buyers–what is it? There’s a quote something like confused viewers won’t buy. So, if they don’t know what your book is about, if they see the cover and they don’t know what genre it is, they don’t know if it’s nonfiction or self-help or memoir or whatever. They’re not going to click the cover or they’re not going to read the blurb. You’ve already lost them. There’s a process, but you have to be clearly communicating the benefits and the genre or topic of your book as clearly and quickly as possible because you only have usually one shot, maybe a second or two on Amazon, to be communicating this really important information.

CK: Right

DM: A lot of authors get lost because they don’t actually know who should read their book or who would like their book or what the book is about.

CK: Now exactly! They don’t even know what their book’s about. You’re right about that.

DM: So, you can, you know, write what you love to write, but if you want to sell it, you still have to figure out how to communicate the benefits of your package and its branding and positioning and cover design, but also key word research and just using the language your audience is using so that , you know, they know this book is for them.

CK: It sounds to me like what you’re saying is in order to even start down the road of self-publishing and marketing and being able to even sell books, the very first step, the very first piece of advice you would give an author is know your book and know how to explain that book to your readers.

DM: Which is frustrating because I usually get people, you know, they’ve already published and they’re not selling. You know, years go by and they’re frustrated and they want to quit writing. And it’s so sad because they’re such simple fixes every time. It’s like your cover’s wrong. I can make you a new cover. Your blurb doesn’t communicate what the book is and you don’t have any reviews. And those three things, like generally, you can’t even give your book away for free to get those reviews if your cover is wrong and your blurb is wrong because you have to sell the benefits of it. Even, you know, if its someone that’s getting a free copy or an ARC copy. They’re not going to review it if they don’t even start reading it. Your job is not only to get them to download it, but to start reading it. So, we could get into like, you know, does your first chapter suck?

CK: (laughing) 

DM: Like 90% of all the books being published, they’re just-the books themselves are not good enough and that’s a craft issue you can get better at. But where I get people, is like  they feel like they’ve already tried everything and the truth is no amount of marketing will work because until you have the right cover and the right blurb, communicating what the book is about to the right readers and until you can give away enough free copies to get reviews. If you don’t have any platform, there’s all this marketing stuff we can go into

CK: Right

DM: But generally, you either have to pay to access somebody else’s platform, which is advertising, or you have to build your own platform with content—basically building up your blog or your own platform. Those are the two things.

CK: Yeah, that’s right.

DM: But those won’t work if you don’t have the basics right. So, I mean authors, they spend thousands of dollars on the marketing and that’s never going to work until they like go back and fix—

CK: Those core things.

DM: Yeah. I prefer to get people early on before they publish because the sad truth is the first time they publish the book, they’ll usually do everything wrong and they’ll overspend. They’ll get—they want somebody else just to do everything for them. So it’s really easy for them to sign on to some small press or some venue press that says , you know, “for five thousand dollars, well do everything, well make it a bestseller and that stuff almost never works because the people who are being paid to do the files for you, they’ll do an ok job, but they’re not incentivized to sell copies and they’ll give you a shitty cover because then later they can keep selling you more and more marketing

CK: Oh! I did not know that. Wow!

DM: They have no incentive to do a better job for you on the basics. 

CK: Huh!

DM: Which is sad. So like—

CK: It’s upselling. It’s basically upselling their offers.

DM: I have terrible business sense because I do the opposite. I basically try to tell people, don’t hire anybody and learn to do it yourself. Learn to do your own cover, even if it’s I mean I get in trouble because I say things like “if you can’t afford cover design, if you can ‘t afford editing, do it yourself because–

CK: Yeah

DM: I don’t believe there’s a price to entry for publishing your book.

CK: Right

DM: If you want to write something, write it and put it out there, even if you don’t have a disposable income of a few thousand dollars. Get a cheaply-made cover, design your own cover. It’s not great. You know, there are better ways to do it, but the weird thing is actually the first book people write is usually not very marketable anyways and so they spend a lot of money on the book—that’s like –that‘s not the good product because there’s no market. So, they get the great cover, the great blurb, they do a really hard launch for their first book and it just wasn’t a good product. So, they can’t sell it long-term. I would rather people, you know, start cheap, make their own cover, do their own editing, put it out there and make sure people like it. Make sure your writing the stuff that people enjoy reading. If you can’t get them to read the whole book, if they quit after the first couple chapters that doesn’t really matter like how much time your investing all this other stuff. Anyways, so I definitely I try to steer people towards the cheap, do-it-yourself style just because I think they need to learn a lot of skills. I think that’s kind of a way to learn quickly is to just put it out there.

CK: Yeah, that makes sense. And so, I’m actually going to skip forward to another question because you just hit on something else I wanted to ask you about. Where I’ve talked to a lot of my clients and authors who are—they’re king of grappling with the decision of whether they want to go the traditional route or self-publish. One of the “cons,” air quotes again, they list in the self-publish column is that they believe that it’s cost prohibitive and there’s no way you can publish and be successful on your own, unless you have like some of these very successful like Hugh Howie or somebody, who had—who might have had, maybe he did, maybe he didn’t, I don’t know. But they assume that these people have all these thousands of dollars to put into marketing and they don’t. So, are there ways that you can do this, which you touch on a couple—you know do your own cover—

DM: Hugh Howie is a really good example actually.

CK: Good, good. I look up to him a lot.

DM: Yeah, he’s a great guy, but he had crappy covers when he first published. He got into Kindle at the right time. He had crappy covers. He did everything like a first-time author would do on the cover where it’s all literal and like really detailed. 

CK: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

DM: His new covers are great once he got picked up. He came into it in a time when you could just publish a book and kind of get rich. There were several Kindle millionaires. I think it was 2013ish. It’s a lot harder now. There’s a lot of really smart authors who do everything right and they do invest a lot of money. So, you are—it’s increasingly a pay-to-play platform and you are competing against not only authors who have a big backlist, but now, just in the last year or so, there’s a lot of collaborations. There’s a lot of—like for example, I’m co-writing with 5 different writers. So instead—

CK: Five! Ok.

DM: Of publishing three books a year, I can publish twelve or fifteen books a year. So, there are people doing these kinds of new publishing. Like I said earlier, most authors just aren’t creating the content and there’s a huge amount of demand. If you can create a lot of good content for that demand, that’s good business. But you have to kind of be able to create more content. For someone who’s just writing their own books. I have friends who write a book a month. But for a lot of authors, that’s a struggle. So, I think two or three books a year is also reasonable. 

CK: Does self-publishing have to be cost-prohibitive?

DM: You can put something up for free. It doesn’t cost anything to publish. You can make cover stuff on I think, which is just templates and tutorials. You could make your own cover in like Microsoft word and it will do the job. You can format your own cover. You can use Grammarly or you could just self-edit, send your book to your mom or whatever to edit the first draft. There’s a lot of things you can do to get your book out there the first time, but it’s not just going to be easy. It’s not just going to fall into place. And it’s—generally, you’re going to need more than just one book. You’ve probably heard of the ten-thousand-hour rule for writing. I’ve heard it said that you need about a million words of practice before you start writing good. So, a million words is like ten books. A lot of people, you know, back in the day, they would write ten books and they’d stuff them in their drawer because they’d all be terrible and then they’d write a good book that would be like—

CK: Huh! 

DM: And that would be their debut. 

CK: That’s interesting!

DM: With the argument of traditional or self, I like self-publishing because I can put stuff out faster and I can get fast feedback. So, I can put out, you know, ten-thousand words of the story and see if people like it. If they like a lot, I can create a whole book or series based on that story. But rather than committing to a whole trilogy, I can just, in a couple of days, I can write ten-thousand words of the beginning story and see who likes it. There’s things I can do like that with self-publishing that I never could with traditional publishing.

CK: NO, you never could. 

DM: The reason people like the draw of traditional publishing tends to be they think that they will handle everything for you. That they will do the marketing for you. But that’s not really true.  What happens is with traditional publishing that sometimes they do, you know, quite a bit for you. But generally, I don’t know any traditionally published authors who are making a living, even pretty famous ones, because they get—I’ve also heard it said like you’ll take a traditional deal if it’s a hundred k—if it’s a hundred thousand dollars or more because then the publisher is invested in your book and they’re going to have to promote it to earn back the revenue.

CK: Yeah.

DM: But what publishers tend to do because they don’t know what’s going ot be the next big thing, is they’ll just buy a hundred books for like ten-thousand dollars; but they won’t really be invested in any of them. They’ll just wait and see what happens. 

CK: Yeah.

DM: So, just because you get a publishing deal, actually, the publisher’s probably not going to do very much for you unless you’re forcing their hand by building your own platform first.

CK: Right.

DM: So that you have something to offer when you go into a publishing house, you can say, you know, I’ve got a list of twenty-five thousand. I’ve sold a hundred-thousand books. If you push for them to give you a higher advance, they they’re going to have to do more work to earn that back from you. If I did a traditional deal, that’s kind of what I would be leaning towards. I would platform by myself to the point that it would make sense to go traditional. On the other hand, I would be doing that as a platform play to build my audience. I wouldn’t be doing it as a revenue model because I’d make a lot more money self-publishing. With self-publishing, you get seventy percent generally of the eBook sales.  There’s all kinds of things you can do with audiobooks now. It’s true that the people who are making the money have money to spend, but they all started off with nothing. They all started off with (inaudible).

CK: That’s a good point. That’s a perfect point.

DM: It’s fun to know because I’ve been involved. I have a group in Facebook which I started when I wanted to become a young adult writer and write fiction for the first time. I built this community so I’d have like peers to talk to. And also—

CK: Yeah. That’s a great idea.

DM: I have a background as an editor or book cover designer, but not as a fiction writer and I really wanted to kind of come out as a creative, not just a service provider; but I didn’t have the street cred because people knew me as the marketing guy, not the writer guy.

CK: Yeah.

DM: So, I built this community to start building relationships and I’ve watched so many people in the last five or six years where they started with—generally it’s like three years of failure and frustration and terrible covers and we all help each other out and it gets better and better. The thing that changes most frequently is they finally start actually writing market. There’s this thing with compromise. Like, I’ll kind of do what feels good to me and I’ll kind of maybe try to hit the market a little bit. But the problem with compromise is that you’re not really satisfying anybody. You’re not satisfying your audience or yourself. You really have to find that place where you’re all in on the market. I want to write the most popular, most successful book I can write.

CK: Right.

DM: And that’s your goal. So you don’t feel like you’re selling out. You don’t feel frustrated. You’re all in on being the best author—

CK: Yeah, that’s a great point!

DM: And writing the best damn book you can for a certain audience. That tends to be the point where they write a very commercial series, great covers, great blurbs and then advertising. Advertising is the big thing where it can make—I know an author—I think this is crazy but I know a lot of aurhots who spend like ten k a month on advertising and make twenty-five k or something. But I also know people who spend like forty k a month on advertising and forty-five k revenue. So, they are only making like five grand a month, but there spending so much money in ads. So, it is kind of crazy.

CK: yeah. Wow!

DM: And nobody starts off having forty-thousand dollars to invest. 

CK: Yeah, exactly. Nobody does.

DM: You can start off with like a dollar a day with Facebook ads and you see if you can make it profitable. And you keep writing more books, writing more to market. There’s a lot of moving pieces but I think eventually, once you do it intentionally, this is a business you can figure out. it’s a really exciting business.

CK: Ok, great. Well, the last question I have for you is—I’m sure I know the answer to this, but I’m going to ask it anyway—is do you believe it’s possible for someone who simply just loves writing to actually make a career out of their—at the word you used—bliss? If so, can you leave us with one last piece of advice?

DM: Yeah, I think there has to be a point between your bliss and the market. I think that always has to be true. And it’s not marketing, it’s not selling out, it’s just are you providing value or not? Does your art matter to other people or not? That’s kind of the—it either does or doesn’t. you can’t make any money and you shouldn’t make any money if you can’t crate that matters to people. That’s your job as a creative person to figure out what can I make that matters? What can I make that resonates and how could I do that better? How can I make it more impactful? I love writing fiction. I would be very happy to just write fiction all the time. I also write to market. I write commercial stuff. But of course, you do it your own way. You build your own story. It’s never going to be a clone or a copy. And if you love writing, it’s so much more satisfying to know that yes, it’s always hard, it’s always frustrating to write a book. It’s always a challenge. I saw it there’s a Facebook meme that’s something like with writing the better you get, the more critical you are of your own writing so that the better you improve in your craft, the more you think you suck.

CK: (Laughing) I like that.

DM: It’s a weird thing. I never really feels easier.

CK: I’m going to have to find that one.

DM: I’ll send you the meme if I can find it.

CK: Ok good. Yes.

DM: You always want to be like improving your craft. It’s—I know that like I know my audience will like the books that I’m writing, you know. When I finish it, I know this is a struggle, but I also know that they’re going to enjoy it. Doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to sell. My last release I think was a techno thriller dystopia and that didn’t work at all.

CK: Yeah

DM: Because it was a standalone book and most of my audience that I’ve built up is young adult fantasies. It’s a good book. People really it, I’m really happy with it—

CK: But you know

DM: But it’s not going to make any money because it’s not what—it’s kind of I failed to live up to the promise that I had—

CK: That you had given your readers, right?

DM: So, those are choices to make. It’s not just about writing a good book. It is about what kind of value are you choosing to make. You can make anything you want in the sandbox. If you’re a creative person, it’s fun to play with stuff. It’s fun to play with words. But you shouldn’t get paid—

CK: I love that! It’s fun to play with words. I like that. I’m going to steal that. (laughing)

DM: we all would just like to do that all the time and we wish someone would pay us to do that thing—

CK: Yes

DM: But nobody is going to do that unless we create something of value.

CK: Sure

DM: But we can choose to make—you know it’s an infinite playground. You can make whatever you want, but I think you can find joy—I think it’s just as exciting and challenging to create like a vampire dystopia as it is to create—I can’t even think of like what I would like to do if I wasn’t writing to market—

CK: Yeah

DM: Because it’s the stuff I like to read anyway. I like the types—

CK: It’s almost like maybe your mind shifts to that. Yeah.

DM: Yeah. Like my first few books, like I had my own ideas of what I thought would be a good book. But no one wants to read that stuff.

CK: (laughing) Nobody wants to read that Derek.

DM: And I don’t need to spend years writing that book that no one is going to read. I’d rather be writing books that people enjoy.

CK: Yeah, very true.

Ok. Well Derek, thank you very much for taking the time. It’s been a pleasure and an honor to get to speak with you today, so I appreciate your time and thank you for joining us.

DM: Thanks so much. Bye-bye.

CK: That’s all the time we have today folks. Thank you for turning into Write Your Best Book Episode 2. Stay tuned for next week when I sit down with Derek Doepker, entrepreneur, coach and rock guitarist. How cool is that! He’s the author of Why Authors Fail and Why You’re Stuck. We’ll be discussing how not to fail as an author. So please, please, if you haven’t already, subscribe to this podcast so you can be automatically notified when each episode drops and if you like what we’re doing so far, be a sweetie and rate this episode. Yeah, I’m new at this and no, I don’t have a big production studio with all that high-tech fancy equipment some podcasters get to use, but I promise I’m providing you not only with the best information and advice I’ve gather over the years, but I’ve lined up some huge influencers in our little world including best-selling authors, agents and publishers. You subscribing and rating this show can make all the difference in how well we do. Don’t forget to visit our website at and email us at for more information on how to work with me directly and get on my limited schedule. Also, there’s a link in the show notes to my calendar where you can schedule a thirty-minute consultation with me to discuss your book struggles or anything you want to talk about regarding your writing process. Talk soon and in the meantime, go write your best book.