Who is Joanna Penn?

Short Bio:

Joanna Penn is an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J.F.Penn and also writes non-fiction for authors. She’s an award-winning entrepreneur, podcaster, and YouTuber. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com has been voted in the Top 100 sites for writers by Writer's Digest.

The longer version!

I'm an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling thriller author, as well as writing non-fiction for authors.

I've written 28 books and sold over 500,000 books in 84 countries and 5 languages. I'm an independent (indie) author and I also run a small press, Curl Up Press, with my husband and business partner.

I'm also an international professional speaker and award-winning creative entrepreneur. In 2018, I was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World.

I'm based in Bath, England although I lived in Australia and New Zealand for 11 years. I'm a travel junkie and am often away on book research trips to interesting places. I like to go hiking, but also love relaxing with a book and a glass of pinot noir, or a gin & tonic (Hendricks & Fever Tree). I'm INFJ on the Myers Briggs, and Susan Cain's book, Quiet, changed my life when I realized that I was not weird in wanting to be alone a lot!

I spent 13 years as a business IT consultant in large corporates across the globe before becoming a full-time author-entrepreneur in September 2011.

Click here for my full timeline from first book to multi-six-figure author entrepreneur.

The Creative Penn offers information and inspiration on writing, self-publishing, book marketing and how to make a living with your writing through articles, podcast episodes, video, books and courses.

My journey …

I always dreamed of writing my own books, and spent many years thinking about it before I actually took the plunge.

I self-published my first non-fiction book in early 2008 and made a lot of mistakes along the way. I also didn't sell any books because no one knew who I was. That experience made me determined to learn about marketing, as well as how to become a better writer. I started this site to share my experiences and hopefully save other people the money, time and heartache I went through.

I also write thrillers under J.F.Penn. I joined National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2009 and 20,000 words later, I had a nugget of an idea that blossomed into my first novel.

In Feb 2011, I published my first thriller novel Pentecost, later republished as Stone of Fire. I blogged the journey and you can read all about the experience here.

There are now 9 books in the ARKANE action adventure thriller series, described by readers as ‘Dan Brown meets Lara Croft.'

In early 2013, I wrote a series of short stories based on Dante’s Inferno for Kobo’s Descent contest, a promo for the launch of Dan Brown’s Inferno. It’s now available as A Thousand Fiendish Angels.

In Nov 2013, I launched Desecration, the first in the London Crime Thriller trilogy, which debuted in the Amazon US Bestseller Crime list alongside Michael Connelly. Delirium and Deviance complete the trilogy. Readers have described the books as ‘the love child of Stephen King and PD James.'

In March 2014, I became a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author as part of ‘Deadly Dozen,' a box-set with The Twelve thriller and mystery authors. In August 2016, I hit the USA Today bestseller list with my own trilogy.

In 2015, I co-wrote Risen Gods, an urban fantasy thriller based in New Zealand, with bestselling dark fantasy author J.Thorn.

In July 2017, my novel Destroyer of Worlds was a Finalist in the International Thriller Writer Award for Best Ebook Original. I also started a new urban fantasy series in 2017 with Map of Shadows.

On a more personal note, I love reading in diverse genres. My favorite authors include John Connolly, Stephen King, Jonathan Maberry, Lee Child and James Rollins. Here's a list of books I love. I also read a lot of non-fiction, mostly travel, entrepreneurship, self-help and books on mortality and death culture. Yes, I'm a vanilla Goth!

I’m married and live with my husband in Bath, England. I’m a cat lover and I enjoy a glass of pinot noir along with consuming a ton of ebooks as my main vice. I walk a lot and travelling is my addiction.

I have a YouTube channel where I share writing and creative business tips as well as interviews on writing, publishing and book marketing.

You can also watch some videos that Amazon made about me and my writing life here.

Connect with me here:

Twitter @thecreativepenn (for writers)

Twitter @jfpennwriter (for fiction)


Facebook.com/JFPennAuthor (for fiction)










If you're interested in thrillers, you might want to check out my author site: JFPenn.com

You can also contact me on this page.

Official Bio

Short bio:

Joanna Penn is an Award-nominated, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers under J.F.Penn. She also writes inspirational non-fiction for authors and is an award-winning creative entrepreneur and international professional speaker. Her site, TheCreativePenn.com is regularly voted one of the top 10 sites for writers and self-publishers.


I’m always happy to consider speaking engagements, interviews and appearances, as well as speaking to writing / book groups, book bloggers or journalists. As seen at:

Images for use on websites/blog posts/media









View Comments (103)

  • Very good web site indeed. It has made me think about my own work and blog site. I enjoy reading what you achieved. I do want to finish my own novel and self-publish as that seems the new way.
    Thank you Joanna

  • Hi Joanna,
    I wanted to contact you, but I didn't know how else to do it, but through your website. I need some advice.

    I recently received a newsletter in my inbox regarding "The Best-Seller Secret" http://www.thebestsellersecret.com/ promising to give authors all the secrets to getting to the top spot on Amazon for the price of $37.

    My problem is that it smells awfully like a scam. I tried to look for reviews of this ebook, but found none. I searched many indie author boards but couldn't find a single author that recommended the tips in this book. Do you know any author that has actually used this system? I mean a regular author, not an affiliate of the program. I couldn't even find the author on Amazon! I would think that if he knows how to get to No 1 on Amazon, he would have bestsellers there.

    Please let me know what you think. Perhaps you could even do a blog post about such programmes. Thank you very much.

    • Hi Kike,
      Thanks for letting me know about this, and I will tell you the secret they are likely peddling right now because the "amazon bestseller" thing is pretty old-hat now.
      Basically, they will tell you to load your book into a category that is under-represented and therefore easier to rank in - unfortunately it means you won't sell very many at all, and may even misrepresent your book.
      They may also get you on some kind of list where everyone puts in some kind of bonus to get people to buy on a certain day to move you up the list.
      Finally, Amazon bestseller doesn't mean much anymore, as a lot of people have done it and as per the blurb on that site, it's not that hard if you aim for an easy category.
      It's much harder on categories that sell like Romance or Thriller - and the only secret there is write a damn good book and get it into the hands of readers.
      $37 is not much money, so I wouldn't say this is a scam as such (not like the $20,000 some people pay vanity publishing companies with no return but a garage full of books they can't sell), but I expect it is a way for them to get you involved in other things.

      In the meantime, write some more books and there's lots of free marketing info here:
      and here's a couple of interviews with #1 Amazon bestsellers of the whole store - not just a category

      I hope that helps. Thanks, Joanna

  • Hi Joanna

    I'm currently working with a few of your friends from your IT days in Australia! One of them mentioned your name the other day and suggested I check out your new book about "How to Love Your Job". So I did and am now hooked on how you changed your career from IT consultant to full time author.

    I'm a prolific writer at work but its all technical documentation and program code, I'm changing my lifestyle (showly) so that I too can eventually give up the consulting work and publish my own books.

    My current body of work is centred around my digital photography blog which will progressively become the draft for my first book. Your story and all the information and tools you provide are an inspiration and I can't thank you enough.

    I've bought 3 of your books and also Gwen's guide to Scrivener as a show of my appreciation. I'm yet to purchase Scrivener though as I'd like to via an affiliate link if you have one :-)

    All the best from down under, Steve

  • Hi Joanna, I thought you'd have a laugh at this. This eBook pokes fun at amateur romance writers. I found it on Barnes and Noble. I read it and it's so funny!

    Bad Amateur Ebook Writer Romance Story by Ivana Murleau

  • I am not computer savvy enough to try to go it alone with just a printing company. I also do not want to fall into the hands of a vanity publisher, but how can you tell them from the good guys? I have read so much information my head is swimming. Just when I think I've found someone who sounds good, I find him on the bad list. Is there a "good" list of those who will help you self-publish, when you can't do it yourself?

    • Hi Jan,

      I know it can be overwhelming!
      Here's my recommendations:

      1) Amazon's own Createspace.com - they have all the packages - for ebooks and print on demand and they can offer you a free service - where you just load the files - or a basic package which is around ~$1500 and then it goes up to around ~$5000 for a full on package. Their full on package is still a lot less than the scammy companies :) Plus it is Amazon's own company so you can guarantee the books will be sold there.

      2) Bookbaby.com - can do ebook and print books for you now - they have great customer service and are lovely people, so I recommend them too.

      Both those services do ebook and print book - so look at what they offer and then compare anything else you find to them.

      If you want to DIY, send me another email and I can help you more :)
      Lots more info here as well:

      Thanks, and happy publishing!

  • August 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Hi. I am reposting this because the website that I entered does not seem to be in operation.
    "Your site looks very informative. Looking forward to exploring it. I am a newly published author (self published) and am excited – I guess SUPER excited. All my money is invested in the publishing of my book, and free or lost cost advice is essential now. I read your blog somewhere else about all the books you purchased. I did the same. I still have 400 books at home. (399 now, I just sold 1 on 12/6/12. Next time I will not purchase so many. Much success in all your endeavors. Keep in touch. Since I posted this message in August, I have created a webpage with my own domain and I have mentioned The Creative Penn there. I welcome visitors.

  • Dear Joanna,
    Do you like science fiction type stories? 'Alternate Universes'?

    I am playing with writing what would become a novel if ever I actually write it. I have written a sort of a short story along the lines of the novel . . . and I am wondering if it, and I, are good enough to pursue it?

    Would you be intrigued enough to read what little I have written and give me an opinion?
    The short story is about a little alien girl - species Voklavian - and a portion of her life.

    Josh Colon.

  • Love the author 2.0 blueprint!!!! I am three months into the writing process for a new novel that I have finally decided to sit down and put together. Although I will not be able to quit my day job, I am determined to enjoy this process. Your outline is a great way to get started and navigate the world of writing, publishing and marketing. Thank you!!!

  • In the metaphor of rock sculpting, I am still gathering materials to make the marble! Haha! I just found your site and I'm hooked! You are a trailblazer! Thanks for your dedication! I'll definitely be reading your books!

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