Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Jewel discussed this quite some time ago, but as I find myself faced with the same dilemma, I thought I would air it again. The issue is whether an author should use a pen name when crossing genres.

I have written seven children's books to date and I hope to write more. However, I am working on a book which ... let's just say it's intended for a much more mature audience. When I published my first book I banked on people recognizing my name on the cover. This time around, I'm not so sure.

There is more to this than market segmentation. There are no holds barred in this book and as I write I wonder if anyone will see me reflected in these fictitious characters and assume that their experiences are mine. Of course it's impossible to market a book and remain anonymous but a pen name may bring some imagined freedom as I write.

What are your thoughts on the issue?


Anonymous said...

I use a pseudonym primarily because my real name is long and difficult to pronounce. I wanted an easier to read and recognize name.

Of course, most are aware of the Nora Rorberts/JD Robb names. I think now that everyone knows, it seems kind of pointless, but it may have helped her break out and expand her readership initially.

I'm not sure I have an overly emotional reaction to the idea.

Dayton Ward said...

There aren't really any hard and fast rules for this sort of thing.

I know writers who work under a handful of different names, and still others if they collaborate with others on other projects. In most cases, they "craft" a name for each genre in which a given book appears. Some of the pen names are "open secrets," in that their diehard fans who follow them regardless of genre know the real deal, and others are due to NDA's or other ghost-writing projects.

It comes down to how much of a separation you want between your work in different genres, and what you think is best for marketing you and your "brand(s)."

As my friends say, "All the checks are written to me/us, so it's all good."


Charles Gramlich said...

I'd definitely use a pen name for the more mature book.

Carol Mitchell said...

Thanks for the comments. Very good point about the cheques, Dayton, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Something to perhaps bear in mind is that pen names are not difficult to set up and even easier to "undo". What you can't do is to retrospectively apply one. So, if in doubt, why not use one?

Jewel Amethyst said...

I say go with the pseudonym. There are some readers who can't separate the writer from the book and look at the name with certain expectations. If the book is of a mature theme, I think a different name is the way to go. You will attract a different audience anyway.

G. B. Miller said...

Definitely go with a pen name.

I use a psuedo-pen name (initials of my real first and second name) because the people that know me best still have a problem reconciling me the person from me the writer/blogger.