Friday, August 19, 2011

Guest Post: Author Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn blog)

Joanna Penn is an author and blogger at The Creative Penn blog.

How/why did you start to write?

I've always written journals and diaries, especially while travelling and I always dreamed of writing a great novel. My idol was Umberto Eco with The Name of The Rose which I loved but the literary fiction ideal blocked me because I didn't think I could write like that. Dan Brown released me from the fear of writing as I saw that you could have a similar plot of religious history but still be a mainstream writer, so I started believing I could write a novel. That belief turned into reality when I wrote Pentecost, the first in a series of religious fiction thriller novels which I am really excited about. I am currently writing Prophecy.

How did you become an author?

I define an author as someone who has completed a book, whereas a writer is someone who writes. So I have always been a writer, but I finished my first book in 2008. It's called How To Enjoy Your Job...Or Find A New One and was written for people like me in the IT industry who are desperately unhappy. That book changed my life because I could see the process involved in actually completing a book, then I started learning about publishing. I also took my own advice and started writing on the side. I moved to 4 days a week work which gave me the time to write more, start a blog and a side business. I am slowly transitioning into writing full-time but we all need to pay the bills!

What was your first published piece?

I finished How To Enjoy Your Job and tried to find a publisher, but it was a career change book and I had no platform and no one would pick it up even though I made it onto primetime TV and newspaper. So I self-published on Amazon in 2008 and then discovered that marketing was critical in order to sell books. I really didn't have a clue back then! I was selling nothing so I started to learn about marketing and the internet and started a blog, then a podcast, then doing videos. So it all began with that non-fiction book. When I moved into fiction this year, I had built up a decent platform so I had people to sell to. Pentecost is still in the Kindle bestseller lists after 4 months so the difference is certainly marketing!

What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?

I am still an IT consultant 4 days a week which pays the bills and therefore means I can write what I want and not be worried about income. I do want to become a full-time writer but for now, I can write my novels and not feel too pressured. So the day job is an asset to my writing in many ways which I have blogged about here.

What inspires you?

In terms of writing, I am inspired by religious history, psychology, and also travel. I have a Masters degree in Theology and have also studied psychology and they both provide me with immense amounts of interesting material for my writing. I also love to go to art galleries, the theatre and listen to speakers as well as travel. I am a constant learner and find all kinds of tidbits to add into my writing through these interests.

Please share one of your successful marketing techniques

Starting a blog and being committed to it for the long term has made all the difference to me in terms of building an online platform and actually selling books. I actually consider myself a "real" author now thousands of people have read my books and that is all down to blogging, which in turn led me to podcasting, Twitter, and more. But I definitely recommend starting a blog and taking it seriously!

Parting words

There's an amazing community of writers online who I have met through blogs and Twitter. Anyone can become a part of that by being generous with their time, helping others on the journey, and sharing their story. The internet has made it possible for authors to sell direct to customers and connect with each other. It's an amazing time to be a writer!

Author Links

Website --Adventures in Writing, Publishing and Book Marketing



*Thriller novel 'Pentecost' now available in Kindle and print format*

*Check out the book trailer on YouTube*