I first learned about this concept–“author peers” or “peer authors”–about two years ago. It’s been a game-changer for me, and certainly an ongoing educational process. But this whole writing thing kinda is anyway, isn’t it?
First, let me explain what I mean by author peers. If you were published, author peers would be writers whose books are within the same category as yours. It’s the “these authors write books like what I’m writing” group.
Here are reasons why it’s good to identify your author peers, whether you’re a published author or not.
- It solidifies what you like to read, and therefore what you may like to write
This is how I pinpointed my interested in writing regency-era historical romance. I also researched how these novels are set up to see how I can adopt similar tactics in my own work.
- It helps with your query letter (or during a conversation with your aunt)
By mentioning who your author peers are in a query letter, you immediately clue in an agent to what your writing style is like. Using an author’s name to describe your style can ground a person a lot faster than a four-sentence description.
- It helps you identify your target demographic
You can trim a lot of guess-work by simply researching the reader’s demographics of your peer authors. Is their audience male? Mostly Millennials? Do they chomp on short, fast-paced chapters or languish in long, verbose descriptive bits? If your author peers attract a specific type of reader who love a certain writing style, your work may likely achieve success in that genre by adopting similar concepts.
- It provides inspiration
Once upon a time, your peer authors were unpublished, too, waiting for the chips to fall their way. Eventually, it happened; they got published. If they did it, why can’t we?
- It gets you thinking like a published author
I’m obviously not published yet, but it doesn’t mean I can’t think like it, right? I personally think there’s something healthy about visualizing one’s name in the scrolling section of reviews that reads, “If you love this author, you’ll also like <insert your name here>.”
What did I miss? Why else is it good to identify peer authors?