René Penn

Writer. Aspiring author. Blogger. Follow me.


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Who Are Your Author Peers?

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?

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Once upon a time, your peer authors were unpublished, too, waiting for the chips to fall their way.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?

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Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

  • 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?


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4 Things to Do Before a Novel Is Finished

I am currently writing the first draft of a historical fiction novel—about 30,000 words in and a ways to go.

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I’ve been working on it since December, fitting it in during commutes to and from work, slipping in time on weekends and during plane rides tied to vacations. I know that writing this novel is only half the battle. No, it’s more like one-tenth.

“They say” that you should begin marketing before your novel is even complete. So here I am:

Purchasing a domain

I went to GoDaddy.com, because it’s easy to remember and those Danica Patrick commercials have been burned into my brain. I purchased the domain name “renepenn.com” for about $12, I believe. It’s the professional thing to do, and it only costs the price of a good lunch.

Getting on social media

I’ve been on Facebook for a while, but I quickly realized that it’s not a good starting place for increasing outreach beyond family and friends. I needed to enter the Twitterverse. I “re-routed” an old dormant Twitter account to my new handle @rene_penn and started tweeting a few times a week. I tweet about funny life-things that happen, writing-related or not; I highlight good articles that I’ve read about writing; I pepper it with some inspirational quotes; and I purposely keep my political views out of the feed. I’ve noticed that at least two hashtag references per tweet help increase engagement. Re-tweeting is actually okay and not considered a slacker move. And I don’t really miss looking at Facebook videos starring my friends’ cats.

Here are some reasons why social media is good for aspiring authors.

Creating a website

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But which site? There are so many to choose from. Cue the ice cream headache.

I toggled between Squarespace and WordPress, but chose the latter. WordPress seems to be Siamese twinning with Google Analytics, and about 25% of all websites are powered by them. (I think that means they know what they’re doing.) I’ve heard the learning curve description span from easy to steep. I’m at the beginning stages, and I find it rather intimidating. I’m still trying to figure out how to point this site to my purchased domain. Hey, don’t judge. I’m a writer, not a “techy.”

Blogging 

Yes, it rhymes with flogging, but let’s not think about that, shall we? The idea of blogging made me nervous at first. What will I blog about? Come to find out, there’s plenty. As I work on my first draft, I’m constantly coming up with questions and thoughts–and referencing information online to help. I can blog a review about a new book in my genre, and share the successes and snags of my novel-writing journey. I figured, someone else may benefit from some of the things I blog about, or from some of the things I reference, like this article about blogging or this other one.

Here are some other things to think about before your book is written. Do you have any ideas?