The value of identifying your key author peers

Posted Jul 15 2015, 10:00 am in , , ,

Most authors will agree that finding new readers is of paramount importance, no matter where you are in your publishing career. However, it’s perhaps equally important to find a group of authors with whom you identify – either authors who write similar works to yours, authors who are at a similar point in their careers as you are… or, ideally, both. Here’s why. 

1. They are your brand segment more so than your competition

If you swear that Wendy’s hamburgers are the best fast food burger option around, you may decide you will never (ever) eat a McDonald’s hamburger, no matter what. But authors aren’t hamburgers, even if some readers devour books like fast food. Just because I adore Nora Roberts doesn’t mean I won’t read the next Susan Elizabeth Phillips book I can get my hands on. Ditto with Julia Quinn and Eloisa James. I don’t love one author, I love MANY authors who write in my favorite genres. So identifying your author peers isn’t so much about sizing up the competition as finding your people. 

2. They have readers who might become your readers

This is an obvious benefit, but you don’t have to feel like you’re barging into the party desperate to find new friends. Just making connections with authors as a reader and lover of a shared genre is all you have to do to get started. As you become more comfortable and familiar with the community of fans and authors, feel free to share your own work as part of the conversation. Again – if you’re in a community of people who love romantic suspense, talking about how you’re researching your newest romantic suspense is a pretty easy jump. 

3. They can help you draw real value from your “writers conference” dollars

Authors love a good writer’s conference. It’s where we refill the well, possibly sell a few books, and ideally connect with readers. But more importantly, it’s where we can really get to know other authors – authors who are at all levels of the business.

These contacts, cultivated over time, are tremendously valuable. They can help you get invited into anthologies, or to be a speaker in a panel presentation at a national conference, or as a recommended contributor to a call for submissions. So go to conferences not with just the idea of kicking back and enjoying yourself, but of getting to know the authors you meet. Even if you’re a natural introvert, it’s time well spent. 

4. A friend in need…

The last reason to identify and cultivate relationships with your author peers is a simple one: it’s good to have a friend. Writing is a tough business, and it can often be a lonely one. It has some incredible highs and some pretty dramatic lows. Being able to share your publishing path with like-minded compatriots helps make the good news sweeter and the bad news more bearable. The insights, guidance and goodwill that come from a shared community of author peers also can help you stay abreast of the latest developments in the industry… and keep you from developing long and meaningful conversations with your houseplants.  


How do you get started? That’s the easy part. This blog talks about finding your fans, and the process discusses key author peers as well. Otherwise, start going to author/writing conferences, join a writers group (online or offline if you live in a writer-friendly area) and volunteer to help out. It might take a little bit to get into some writing communities and forums, but it’s worth the time to stick with it. Because your author peers may become some of your very best friends of all. 




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