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Thread: Where to draw the line (pen names)

  1. #1
    live every week like it' shark week Bulletproof's Avatar
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    Where to draw the line (pen names)

    So a question about pen names. I self-pub explicit BDSM short stories. All the stories I have out there are erotic romance, most are dominant male.

    I've also got some femdom stories that I've been sitting on (heh, heh). They're not super brutal, but ok, they made my (hetero male) beta uncomfortable...but he likes stories with submissive women, so that's not surprising.

    If I publish the femdom stories under my main pen name, will I turn off my auto-buy readers? Or lose new readers who come across those stories first and assume that's what I write? The femdom stories are also shorter (4k versus 8k+), so I'll probably sell them at .99 instead of 2.99, especially if I use the same name, but wouldn't the lower price kinda push people toward looking at those stories first?

    Erotica is a numbers game, so spreading the stories over multiple names might cripple sales if I don't publish frequently for each. What to do?

    Bonus question: If I should use another name, what's the reasoning? Sub-genre? The length? Keeping things easy for readers? Retaining the 2.99 price point?

    Google turned up a top erotica writer saying she wishes she hadn't used multiple pen names when she started out. A second search found an equally respected writer saying she regrets NOT using multiple names. Gah!

  2. #2
    Hobbit Botherer Eriador117's Avatar
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    I publish lots of different genres, all under the same name. I think it might just be a personal decision. If I read say, a male/male romance by a particular author and liked the way they wrote, I would look at other stuff by them even if it's not in the same genre. Everyone's different I suppose

  3. #3
    practical experience, FTW victoriakmartin's Avatar
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    This is definitely a tricky question. I think that if the themes are the same and it's mostly just a gender flip that using the same name would be fine, as long as it's clear from the cover copy that there is a flip so anyone uncomfortable with that has a head's up. But I imagine there are people out there who would be quite comfortable reading the stories regardless of the gender of the dominant character.
    A Case of Mist & Mirrors progress: 10,317/30,000 (approx).

  4. #4
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I'm not the ultimate authority (and why not, I ask you?), but I would use one pen name per specialty. What you don't want is someone who loves your male-Dom BDSM to see your name on a new offering, buy it, and be disappointed that it's femdom or romance or gay or whatever else isn't their thing.

    You can use names which are closely related, so the fan can find all your work easily enough. AW's thethinker42 does this, as do others.

    Maryn, who does (or did, anyway)
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  5. #5
    Kimber Vale Kimber's Avatar
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    Plunking down two cents.

    I write my straight erotica under Kimber Vale and my M/M under K. Vale just to make it easier for people to differentiate, but still same person, same web site, no new branding to do, etc.


    Kimber Vale
    www.authorkimbervale.com

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    Come for the sex. Stay for the story.

  6. #6
    Zombie lovin' elindsen's Avatar
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    I agree that having two different names may be best. People should read the blurb so they know, but let's face it, many don't. A name similar would be all right.
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  7. #7
    live every week like it' shark week Bulletproof's Avatar
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    See, I knew the AW community would point me in the right direction. Thanks to everyone who answered. The range of responses is really eye-opening.

    So it looks like the safest path is the compromise--to use an altered version of my pen name but promote it all under the main name (if I ever get around to promoting). I guess someone could still wind up confused, but at least I'll have tried. Tomorrow I've got a face-to-face with my beta, so I'll get his opinion, but I'm comfortable with this solution.

    Heading downtown to score a fresh bag of rep points. Is it creepy if I hug you all, too? I mean, this is the erotica forum, but I swear I'm dressed. Oh, hell, just gonna do it

  8. #8
    Smutty McTitters Ann_Mayburn's Avatar
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    I use one name for all of my erotica. From what a PR person told me at one of my pubs, if you split your name too much you lose valuable sight recognition and branding. If I were to write like YA I'd chose a new name, but otherwise everything goes under Ann Mayburn

  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW victoriakmartin's Avatar
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    I think the idea of using two similar names is a good compromise, since I can see you easily having readers who would enjoy both femdom and male-dom and you don't want to make it difficult for them to realize you write both.
    A Case of Mist & Mirrors progress: 10,317/30,000 (approx).

  10. #10
    Banned
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    I tend to think that unless your work is going to actually offend other readers, you should stick with one name. Definitely, having more publications under the same pen name is vital for the "bought/also bought" list on Amazon if you are an indie a person who "self publishes." It's the primary way people find your stuff.

    For me, I stick all my deep kink under one name because I definitely write offensive material (watersports, pseudo-incest, etc.) and anything more erotic romance or mainstream bdsm I'm putting under another.

  11. #11
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bulletproof View Post
    Google turned up a top erotica writer saying she wishes she hadn't used multiple pen names when she started out. A second search found an equally respected writer saying she regrets NOT using multiple names. Gah!
    I vote for separate pen names.

    I read and write primarily femdom, and when I go shopping, I tend to search by author as well as keywords. Maledom leaves me cold and sometimes offended, so I'd be pissed if I bought from a favorite femdom author and it turned out to be the woman who's hung up in chains.
    Dangerous Bill

    'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
    http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Domina...=william+gaius

  12. #12
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_paint_the_sky View Post
    I think the idea of using two similar names is a good compromise, since I can see you easily having readers who would enjoy both femdom and male-dom and you don't want to make it difficult for them to realize you write both.
    This is a question that's important to me as a femdom writer.

    I'd assumed, working from a small sample, that readers tended to be either/or on the subject of maledom vs femdom. Personally, I read a lot of femdom, but I won't touch maledom.

    Although I know writers who alternate between the poles, I can't think of a reader of my acquaintance who reads both.
    Dangerous Bill

    'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
    http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Domina...=william+gaius

  13. #13
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    Oh, dear. Bill, allow me to introduce myself.

    Maryn, who reads widely, which explains her hips
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
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  14. #14
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maryn View Post
    Oh, dear. Bill, allow me to introduce myself.
    As I keep telling myself--never, ever generalize.
    Dangerous Bill

    'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
    http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Domina...=william+gaius

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW victoriakmartin's Avatar
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    I will admit, most of the "erotic" fiction I read is fan fiction and so not exactly what we are talking about, but I am definitely a fan of both as well. I'm pretty flexible when it comes to gender in period, actually.
    A Case of Mist & Mirrors progress: 10,317/30,000 (approx).

  16. #16
    live every week like it' shark week Bulletproof's Avatar
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    Wow. Lots more to think about. Despite thinking I had a course of action, I still haven't released any of the new femdom stories. Now I'm swinging back toward one pen name. I've got some paranormal erotica in the works and I'm realizing that my writing tastes are broader than I realized, so maybe I should embrace that. My covers and titles make the subject obvious, so I'd have stay vigilant.

    My beta said to use the same name for the femdom because he likes the plots. OTOH he also suggested "adding in just one little scene for normal people, where the guy is in charge." Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I realized that his comment sums up the problem w/r/t reader expectations. He always knows what kind of story I'm sending. OTOOH, he probably wouldn't buy the femdom stories. OTOOOH (I'm an octopus), maybe he would, not understanding they wouldn't be, um, as satisfying for him.

    They need to be on sale for the e-reader holiday rush, so I'll have to commit to a decision in the next week or two.

    I know how irritating it is when someone begs for advice, gets excellent suggestions and then goes and acts like an idiot anyway. But you are all making such good points, and I am a cephalopod after all.

  17. #17
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kimber View Post
    Plunking down two cents.

    I write my straight erotica under Kimber Vale and my M/M under K. Vale just to make it easier for people to differentiate, but still same person, same web site, no new branding to do, etc.
    Yes I was going to say do the above. I would be annoyed to accidentally buy a fem dom book myself.I think I did once actually.
    Paranormal Romance -Menage - Erotic Romance from Samhain Publishing 4th place for Best Published Paranormal in the Passionate Plume award.

    Read the blurb for Wicked Safari and buy it here.




    To find actively acquiring publishers and agents visit my blog
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  18. #18
    Listening to the Voices In My Head Satori1977's Avatar
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    I personally wouldn't have a problem with buying different types of erotica from the same author (but I always read the blurb before buying anyway). I will read it all, FemDom, MaleDom, hetero, m/m, f/f, groups, etc.

    However, I know I am in the minority, and think having two pen names could be a good thing to distinguish your stories. Just don't let it get out of hand, having 6 different pen names in erotic romance, for example.
    Rejection isn't failure. Failure is giving up. Everybody gets rejected, it's how you handle it that determines where you will end up.

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  19. #19
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Does anyone know about having a pen name being a problem for your heirs when you die in terms of royalties?
    Paranormal Romance -Menage - Erotic Romance from Samhain Publishing 4th place for Best Published Paranormal in the Passionate Plume award.

    Read the blurb for Wicked Safari and buy it here.




    To find actively acquiring publishers and agents visit my blog
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  20. #20
    The Surreal Thing AW Moderator Maryn's Avatar
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    I'm not a lawyer (or a layer, which is what I typed the first time), but I see no reason any royalties would not be paid to the estate of your real name, just as they were paid to your real name when you were living. I don't see any reason it would be a problem, so long as your will specified a contact to your publisher/agent/host site notifying them of your death and where royalties are now to be paid.

    Maryn, not planning to die
    Kindness. It doesn't cost a damned thing. If you're smart, you'll spread that stuff all over the place.

    Brick by Brick, a ménage à trois novel
    Taming the Wilde, spotted--and striped--in the wild
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  21. #21
    Retired Illuminatus dangerousbill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gingerwoman View Post
    Does anyone know about having a pen name being a problem for your heirs when you die in terms of royalties?
    The checks will still come with your real name on them and be applied to your estate by your executor or some other parasite.

    The proceeds will then be fought over by your heirs at the same time that they shake their heads and say, "Can you really believe she wrote this smut?"

    Your publisher, even if it's you, should treat the pen name and legal names separately. Anything involving contracts, taxes, and money goes under the legal name; the pseudonym goes on the cover and in the sales material.
    Dangerous Bill

    'Lessons for a Dominant Woman' - A woman's journey, breaking out of the abused wife trap to enslaving her college professor. Romantic realistic femdom. A prequel to 'Lessons at the Edge' CAUTION: Explicit, 18+
    http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Domina...=william+gaius

  22. #22
    Wicked Safari release date March 17 gingerwoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dangerousbill View Post
    The checks will still come with your real name on them and be applied to your estate by your executor or some other parasite.

    The proceeds will then be fought over by your heirs at the same time that they shake their heads and say, "Can you really believe she wrote this smut?"

    Your publisher, even if it's you, should treat the pen name and legal names separately. Anything involving contracts, taxes, and money goes under the legal name; the pseudonym goes on the cover and in the sales material.
    LMAO. I just read somewhere that it could cause problems.
    Paranormal Romance -Menage - Erotic Romance from Samhain Publishing 4th place for Best Published Paranormal in the Passionate Plume award.

    Read the blurb for Wicked Safari and buy it here.




    To find actively acquiring publishers and agents visit my blog
    http://lisawhitefern.wordpress.com/

  23. #23
    Mildly Disturbing Filigree's Avatar
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    I'm taking a big, daring step tomorrow. I'm linking my pen name back to my real name in a public forum. It won't be that obvious to casual readers, but anyone researching me will be able to see it.

    It's time. The advantages outweigh the danger, and it could help both aspects of my life. I have to get blessings from family, first, so we'll see.

  24. #24
    live every week like it' shark week Bulletproof's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    It's time. The advantages outweigh the danger, and it could help both aspects of my life.
    If you don't mind, I'd be very curious to hear how that works out, both immediately and over time.

  25. #25
    Misbehaving and stuff Beachgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Filigree View Post
    I'm taking a big, daring step tomorrow. I'm linking my pen name back to my real name in a public forum. It won't be that obvious to casual readers, but anyone researching me will be able to see it.

    It's time. The advantages outweigh the danger, and it could help both aspects of my life. I have to get blessings from family, first, so we'll see.
    Good luck, Filigree! I know that's a huge step and I really hope it all goes well!



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