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goldmund
11-08-2011, 03:15 PM
Do any of you have this problem?
A half of you believes that the purest art form is writing that doesn't dive into the depths of unreal, the other half loves to image wildest things... and each of the halves write their own stories.

Should a writer use a pen name for one of the genres if he/she wants to write literary/mainstream novels and also dark/urban fantasy novels (but with a literary twist)?

Should one do it so that the readers aren't confused?
I can imagine loving a horror novel by John Doe and buying another of his books, only to find it's a historical romance and feeling disappointed.

Or is it just doubling the PR work you and your representatives have to undertake?

Captcha
11-08-2011, 03:47 PM
I think it depends on how far apart the genres are, and how distinct you keep the pseudonyms.

Nora Roberts/JD Robb is a good example of an author who's chosen to use a pen name, but not keep them very distinct. She writes Romance under one name, Mystery under the other, so fans don't get confused, but the first many JD Robb (her 2nd identity) books were billed as "Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb". So she's got the clarity, but also the convenience of only needing one website, etc.

I don't think this would work as well if she were writing, like, Christian Inspirationals and Hardcore Erotica.

One thing to keep in mind is that it's good to build a name in a genre through fairly frequent publications; if you're not prolific, you may struggle with a book-a-year minimum in two or more different genres.

ChaosTitan
11-08-2011, 06:30 PM
The first example that came to mind is an author acquaintance of mine who writes adult and YA urban fantasy under one name, and she also writes erotic fiction under another. Some authors choose to cop to those pseudonyms in order to help fans find other writings of theirs; others choose to keep the identities separate. It really does depend on the genres you write and how different they are, as well as whether or not the genres will appeal to crossover audiences.

goldmund
11-08-2011, 06:30 PM
Thanks, this is a good example -- I'd like to do something like that (Nora Roberts). It's not that I'm ashamed of publishing both things under my own name, I just don't think all horror or dark fantasy readers would like to buy a book and find out it's a collection of slice-of-life flash fiction.

Do you really think it's obligatory to publish a book a year under each pen name? That could be a problem.

On the other hand, Cormac McCarthy can get away with publishing post-apocaliptic SF and nobody seems to care...

Jamesaritchie
11-08-2011, 09:21 PM
the purest art form is writing that doesn't dive into the depths of unreal

I don't even know what this means. But I also discount pretty much any writing, or anything else, that's called "art".

But, yes, I use pseudonyms. For most prolific writers, it's just good business.

DeleyanLee
11-08-2011, 09:42 PM
I know an author who writes SF, Fantasy, Inspirational Romance and Paranormal Romance, as well as work-for-hire (which isn't under her name at all). She's had many pen names over the years, depending on what sales numbers connect with what name. She generally does use a different pen name for the different types of Romance, but similar names for the SF/F works. If you go to her website, she acknowledges all of her pen names and has only one website.

It makes sense, given the diversity of what she writes. Like Nora Roberts, she is very proficient and could easily flood the bookstores with 10-12 books a year. That kind of thing can get overwhelming for readers trying to keep track of what they've read, etc.

Amarie
11-09-2011, 12:36 AM
There are many arguments for and against. I'm on the side of just using one name as long as you aren't writing a combination of kidlit and erotica. Your name is something recognizable in the social media world, and whether you like social media or not, it can help people find out about your books. I can't imagine trying to maintain different twitter names, etc. for various pen names

Captcha
11-09-2011, 01:28 AM
Do you really think it's obligatory to publish a book a year under each pen name? That could be a problem.



I don't think it's obligatory, but I think it's beneficial, especially when you're just starting out. If you want to build a following, you should make it as easy as possible for people to remember that they like you and want to pick up your next book, and that gets harder the longer they're expected to wait.

Maybe it would make sense to establish yourself in one genre, and then branch out later if inspiration strikes. Again, I think Nora Roberts would be a good example of that strategy working well.

goldmund
11-09-2011, 11:44 PM
...also, Clive Barker writes fiction for kids under his own Cenobite-bitten name.

I really don't know what to think about this issue. Authors I admire the most never wrote in different genres, so I have no example to follow. Bukowski and Vonnegut and Brautigan and Carver were one and the same voice in each of their books.

In a way, the author's persona is as much a piece of creation as his novels are. So maybe it should be consistent.

As for having to tweet twice, I don't intend to ever tweet, or spend too much time on internet PR anyway -- it's the real life that makes the writer, not the amount of time spent at his hypno-box.

Sorry for rambling, I'm just torn inside ;-)

Amarie
11-10-2011, 05:22 PM
...
As for having to tweet twice, I don't intend to ever tweet, or spend too much time on internet PR anyway -- it's the real life that makes the writer, not the amount of time spent at his hypno-box.

Sorry for rambling, I'm just torn inside ;-)

Well good for you. Come back six months after your first book is out and let us know how you got people to find your book.

The Lonely One
11-10-2011, 07:08 PM
I do it. Have published short work under two pseudonyms and my real name. Had no issues. Not sure about novels.

PN1: Sci-Fi
PN2: Literary Fiction
Real Name: narrative non-fiction, poetry

Actually it's funny because I had an editor once who required me to explain why I used a pen name because he/she distrusted the idea of a pseudonym. I gave this exact reason. My genres are widely varied. Not that I actually think one aught to justify using a pseudonym. I found it a little bizarre, but I didn't mind as the editor was willing to publish my work :D

Brukaviador
11-10-2011, 07:27 PM
I thought about doing this at some point in the future. My reason was because I write dark fiction with a fair amount of sex and/or violence in it. It's not something I want to advertise as being for younger audiences. Sometime in the future though, I can see myself doing a few sci-fi or lighter fantasy pieces that I would want to market to a larger audience. The seperate pen names would be more for my readers than myself, so they can pick up a book and know how graphic it's going to be before hand. It gives them the option to stick to the lighter stuff, or (for the good parents) be sure their underage children do.

Though I've got to get published under one name before I ever think about another.

Filigree
11-10-2011, 07:54 PM
If I ever write children's or YA fiction, I'll consider a pen-name for that. At the moment, and after long consideration, my sf&f and my erotic fiction are all being submitted under a variation of my real name. For two reasons:

1) Many of the stories are linked into the same universe, so it would be confusing to have two different names attached to the work.

2) At this stage in my life, it's unlikely that I'll be working in any industry or social group that would be put off by my writing. The arts are a lot more forgiving than education or finance.

Rhoda Nightingale
11-10-2011, 10:17 PM
I'll just echo the general sentiment here--not for every genre, but for genres that are divergent enough that they'll attract a completely different readership. Well, in theory anyway. Like YA versus erotica, or even horror.

I've decided to leave it up to my agent/publisher, once I acquire one. I write mostly horror and YA, and if they feel like I should use a penname for one or the other, I'm good with it. If not, I'm good with that too. Other people besides me are the experts on what will make it marketable, so I'm not bothered by them (again, theoretically) having the final say in something like this.

Jamesaritchie
11-11-2011, 08:52 PM
I don't think it's obligatory, but I think it's beneficial, especially when you're just starting out. If you want to build a following, you should make it as easy as possible for people to remember that they like you and want to pick up your next book, and that gets harder the longer they're expected to wait.

Maybe it would make sense to establish yourself in one genre, and then branch out later if inspiration strikes. Again, I think Nora Roberts would be a good example of that strategy working well.

It can be obligatory. If you have a name contracted with one publisher, the name may have restrictions written into the contract, should you want to write for a different publisher.

Filigree
11-11-2011, 09:11 PM
Of course. Pen names can be publisher-vetted, as much as titles. I'm working on getting a publisher first, then we can hammer out details.

thethinker42
11-11-2011, 09:24 PM
I think it depends on how far apart the genres are, and how distinct you keep the pseudonyms.

Nora Roberts/JD Robb is a good example of an author who's chosen to use a pen name, but not keep them very distinct. She writes Romance under one name, Mystery under the other, so fans don't get confused, but the first many JD Robb (her 2nd identity) books were billed as "Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb". So she's got the clarity, but also the convenience of only needing one website, etc.

I don't think this would work as well if she were writing, like, Christian Inspirationals and Hardcore Erotica.

One thing to keep in mind is that it's good to build a name in a genre through fairly frequent publications; if you're not prolific, you may struggle with a book-a-year minimum in two or more different genres.

Agreed. I maintain two pen names (one for romance, one for gay romance) for the same reason Nora Roberts does -- just to keep readers from getting confused. Joint website, no attempts to keep them separate/secret, etc.

Even then, maintaining two pseudonyms is not without its challenges. You have to build two names AND keep both of those names visible, both in terms of publication and promotion. I'm fairly prolific, so haven't had too much trouble keeping up with the publication demands, but the double promotion can be a bit of a headache when I'm trying to keep up with deadlines, edits, etc.

It certainly can be done, and if I had it to do over, I'd still have done it this way, but it definitely creates some additional -- if relatively minor -- challenges.

The Lonely One
11-11-2011, 09:37 PM
Agreed. I maintain two pen names (one for romance, one for gay romance) for the same reason Nora Roberts does -- just to keep readers from getting confused. Joint website, no attempts to keep them separate/secret, etc.




I see why it's a necessary evil given the literary market's segregation of non-straight sex literature, but I have to say it's a sad world we live in that a reader has expectations of sexual orientation, either in literature or life.

For romance it's obviously a bit different if only because the reason people read romances may vary from those reading, say, sci-fi or fantasy. It would be hard to provoke the sexual desires of a homosexual male via a straight sex scene or visa versa, it seems (if that is in fact the scene's goal--not implying romance is all smut or anything). Your decision makes sense because it may depend on the reader's enjoyment of romance since love and sex are directly tied to sexual orientation.

But you just got me thinking, would someone do this in a genre other than romance?

Does the market preclude gay literature so heavily that someone writing so-called "straight" books would need multiple pen names to write about a gay character?

To think this makes my moral compass throw up in my mouth a little bit. Though I would never blame the author for stipulations placed upon them by the market place. Of course it's better to get the "gay" book published and on the shelf than to argue over a pen name.

Anyone know about this particular facet of using multiple pen names?

The reason I ask is that, if I wrote a gay MC into a sci-fi story, for instance, I would probably want to keep the same pen name.

Adobedragon
11-11-2011, 09:49 PM
I'll just echo the general sentiment here--not for every genre, but for genres that are divergent enough that they'll attract a completely different readership. Well, in theory anyway. Like YA versus erotica, or even horror.
Bolding mine.

That would be my take on the matter. I've notice that some writers, mostly the epublished, seem to use a different pen name for every subgenre. I.e., they have a pen name for UF, another for paranormal romance, another for erotic romance, another for their interracial books, and so on. This being accompanied by a legion of FB author pages, Twitter accounts, websites, etc. If the books are similar in tone--e.g. sexy--I really don't see the point of multiple pen names. As a reader, I think this approach makes it hard to find more of an author's books.

Adobedragon
11-11-2011, 10:05 PM
For romance it's obviously a bit different if only because the reason people read romances may vary from those reading, say, sci-fi or fantasy. It would be hard to provoke the sexual desires of a homosexual male via a straight sex scene or visa versa, it seems (if that is in fact the scene's goal--not implying romance is all smut or anything). Your decision makes sense because it may depend on the reader's enjoyment of romance since love and sex are directly tied to sexual orientation.

But you just got me thinking, would someone do this in a genre other than romance?



I guess my question is, how do readers choose what to buy? Most of my books come from the library, so I don't have a strong basis of comparison. But, when I pick up a book at the bookstore (or library), it's usually because the title, cover or author name caught my eye. Even if the author is a favorite of mine, I still read the backcover blurb. I also glance at the cover. Since romance novels--hetero or gay--usually feature the protagonists on the cover, that and the blurb would be enough to decided that this book isn't for me. Not that I don't read M/M romance. My point is, if that's not your thing, wouldn't you be clued in by the blurb and cover? I mean, if you don't like reading romance between two men, wouldn't the picture of two sexy guys be a clue "not to buy this book."

Or do people just grab a book by an author without even looking at those things? The so-called auto-buy?

thethinker42
11-11-2011, 10:10 PM
I see why it's a necessary evil given the literary market's segregation of non-straight sex literature, but I have to say it's a sad world we live in that a reader has expectations of sexual orientation, either in literature or life.

For romance it's obviously a bit different if only because the reason people read romances may vary from those reading, say, sci-fi or fantasy. It would be hard to provoke the sexual desires of a homosexual male via a straight sex scene or visa versa, it seems (if that is in fact the scene's goal--not implying romance is all smut or anything). Your decision makes sense because it may depend on the reader's enjoyment of romance since love and sex are directly tied to sexual orientation.

But you just got me thinking, would someone do this in a genre other than romance?

Does the market preclude gay literature so heavily that someone writing so-called "straight" books would need multiple pen names to write about a gay character?

To think this makes my moral compass throw up in my mouth a little bit. Though I would never blame the author for stipulations placed upon them by the market place. Of course it's better to get the "gay" book published and on the shelf than to argue over a pen name.

Anyone know about this particular facet of using multiple pen names?

The reason I ask is that, if I wrote a gay MC into a sci-fi story, for instance, I would probably want to keep the same pen name.

At least where my work is concerned, it's mostly a matter of personal taste on the part of the readers. Some like gay romance, some prefer straight, and many readers on EITHER side absolutely WILL NOT read the other. There are plenty of authors who write both under the same name and have no problem, and you can usually tell the orientation of the characters from the cover art.

Using two names was a decision I made so my readers wouldn't say "Oh! Another release! Cool! Wait...oh, it's [whichever side they don't prefer]. Dammit." I have many readers who read both, and many who only read one, but at least this way they know when they see a Lauren Gallagher book, it's hetero, and when they see an L. A. Witt book, it's M/M. Same principle as Nora Roberts/JD Robb. (The challenge right now is which pseudonym to put on the book I'm pitching now that has bisexual characters...)

How would this play out in non-romance genres? No idea.

thethinker42
11-11-2011, 10:17 PM
I guess my question is, how do readers choose what to buy? Most of my books come from the library, so I don't have a strong basis of comparison. But, when I pick up a book at the bookstore (or library), it's usually because the title, cover or author name caught my eye. Even if the author is a favorite of mine, I still read the backcover blurb. I also glance at the cover. Since romance novels--hetero or gay--usually feature the protagonists on the cover, that and the blurb would be enough to decided that this book isn't for me. Not that I don't read M/M romance. My point is, if that's not your thing, wouldn't you be clued in by the blurb and cover? I mean, if you don't like reading romance between two men, wouldn't the picture of two sexy guys be a clue "not to buy this book."

Or do people just grab a book by an author without even looking at those things? The so-called auto-buy?

My understanding is most people go by blurb and cover art, as well as author recognition, series recognition, publisher recognition (especially with small pubs), etc. My decision to use two names was just to give readers one more quick reference to flag the content of the book. It's certainly not the only thing to differentiate the two, but I figured it wouldn't hurt. I have some readers who are downright disgusted by the idea of even LOOKING at hetero romance (yes, hetero), so the names just let them know "stop and look at this one!" or "move along, you probably don't want to read this one."

It's certainly not a requirement in romance, and many authors do just fine using one name for both gay and straight. With the polarization between some (not all) readers of either subgenre, I figured a little extra to distinguish between the two wouldn't hurt.

Filigree
11-11-2011, 11:09 PM
I just want to tell a great story. It really doesn't matter to me whether the protagonists are straight or gay, and in most of my books I have both straight and gay romantic relationships. If someone's shallow enough that they won't read one or the other, that's their choice.

I know the erotic romance e-pubs work off a different strategy, but in more mainstream SF&F, my favorite writers have never differentiated between the two. Instead, they've built interesting worlds where both gender preferences can exist as equally-valid choices.

Hence, my one pen-name.

Jamesaritchie
11-11-2011, 11:21 PM
I see why it's a necessary evil given the literary market's segregation of non-straight sex literature, but I have to say it's a sad world we live in that a reader has expectations of sexual orientation, either in literature or life.




I don't know about expectations of sexual orientation, but I damned sure don't want to get home with a romance novel before discovering that it's about a homosexual romance.

Something, jacket copy, etc., needs to give it away before I buy. If it does, I don't care whether the two types are segregated or not.

But like every other genre separation, having a section for each makes it a heck of a lot easier for readers to find exactly what they want, and that's what it's all about.

thethinker42
11-12-2011, 12:27 AM
Sorry for the threadjack...I'll try to keep this somewhat short...


I just want to tell a great story. It really doesn't matter to me whether the protagonists are straight or gay, and in most of my books I have both straight and gay romantic relationships. If someone's shallow enough that they won't read one or the other, that's their choice.

I know the erotic romance e-pubs work off a different strategy, but in more mainstream SF&F, my favorite writers have never differentiated between the two. Instead, they've built interesting worlds where both gender preferences can exist as equally-valid choices.

For romance, differentiating between gay and straight is pretty necessary, given that the relationship (and depending on the heat level, sexual encounters) is the focal point of the story. Just as a reader who prefers sweet romances might not be interested in a kinky erotic romance, someone who prefers M/M romances may very well have zero interest in a hetero one. I don't think that's shallow, it's just people reading stories according to their own personal tastes.

Now, mainstream fiction where characters happen to be gay or straight? I agree, that shouldn't be segregated. Erotic romances, where characters are repeatedly engaging in graphic sex? Let's put it this way: I have readers who won't touch BDSM fiction with a ten-foot pole, and others who won't pick up a book unless it promises at least a certain level of kink. Neither preference invalidates the other, people just have different tastes, different turn-ons, different characters they can relate to (i.e., I have readers who just cannot relate to someone who's a Dom or submissive, while others crave characters like that because that's who they do relate to). Same with gay vs straight erotic romances.

I mean, passing over or turning up one's nose at a SFF book because one character happens to be gay or because there is a romantic pairing between two characters of the same gender isn't quite the same (to me) as passing over an erotic romance because it contains significant amounts of graphic sex of a variety that doesn't interest you.

(Hopefully I'm articulating this somewhat clearly...if I'm not, I'm going to blame the lack of coffee...)


Something, jacket copy, etc., needs to give it away before I buy. If it does, I don't care whether the two types are segregated or not.

Agreed. Some romance readers want to read about gay pairings, some want to read about straight pairings, and some want to read both. I don't have a problem giving them as much information as I can up front about what they can expect in each book, including having different pen names to cut down on confusion.

goldmund
11-12-2011, 01:00 AM
Thethinker, that's cool, it's still on subject.

The way I've started to see it just now, maybe it's not even a question of keeping the readers informed about the expected content of my books.

It seems to me that An Author (persona + oeuvre) is a full-packet creation. I get a strong feeling writing some stories that I wouldn't like them to be a part of My Official (Royal) Oeuvre, is all.

Also, it's such a refreshing, liberating feeling: it's him who wrote it, not me!! I can gallop and frolic freely in the grass of graphomania!

I think a pen name has just saved me from a writer's block 8-|

The Lonely One
11-12-2011, 07:33 AM
Yeah as I said it definitely makes sense for romance. Just curious because I actually have heard horror stories about gay MCs in other genres. And I think it definitely relates to the thread because multiple pen names.

Sorry thethinker if it came off as any kind of attack on you. I get your reasoning but I don't always get the book industry's reasoning (in non-romance situations).

thethinker42
11-12-2011, 09:10 AM
Yeah as I said it definitely makes sense for romance. Just curious because I actually have heard horror stories about gay MCs in other genres. And I think it definitely relates to the thread because multiple pen names.

Sorry thethinker if it came off as any kind of attack on you. I get your reasoning but I don't always get the book industry's reasoning (in non-romance situations).

No worries. :) And yes, I agree, outside of the romance genre, I don't get the need or desire to separate books with gay characters from books without.

goldmund
11-12-2011, 04:12 PM
I've found a nice example.
John Banville - literary; Benjamin Black - crime fiction.
This works really like gay/non gay in romance; a product destined to fulfill another need in readers.

Roald Dahl, however, cared not for such trivial matters. Wrote soft-porn and books for children under the same name :-D

Mr Flibble
11-12-2011, 04:52 PM
Roald Dalh wrote porn? *goes to check copy of The Enormous Crocodile*

I know he wrote adult stories (Tales of teh Unexpected!), but porn?

goldmund
11-12-2011, 05:17 PM
Uncle Oswald :-) Well, steamy frivolous erotica...
But, to be honest, his stories for children also have this little je ne sais quoi, risky twistedness and dangerous style that could point towards his other interests.

Mr Flibble
11-12-2011, 08:06 PM
Adult certainly, not sure erotica the word/genre that springs to mind. Definitely not porn.

goldmund
11-12-2011, 11:08 PM
Whatever you wish to call it is fine with me, IdiotsRUs.

Doesn't change the fact that Uncle Oswald was bound to be quite a pleasant surprise for the boys in their early teens who found it under a Christmas tree.

scarletpeaches
11-13-2011, 06:16 PM
I see why it's a necessary evil given the literary market's segregation of non-straight sex literature, but I have to say it's a sad world we live in that a reader has expectations of sexual orientation, either in literature or life.I've never found this to be a necessary evil at all. I write straight, bi and gay characters all under the same pseudonym and have never had any suggestion from readers or editors that this should change.

I trust the readers to read the blurb and find out for themselves who the main characters are and if they don't, well, that's their own lookout. I take no blame for mistakes made by careless bookstore browsers.
I don't know about expectations of sexual orientation, but I damned sure don't want to get home with a romance novel before discovering that it's about a homosexual romance.You might want to try reading the blurb, then. That's what it's there for.
Roald Dalh wrote porn? *goes to check copy of The Enormous Crocodile*

I know he wrote adult stories (Tales of teh Unexpected!), but porn?I'll never read The BFG in the same light again. :Wha:

Captcha
11-13-2011, 06:44 PM
I recently had my first het Romance accepted and was planning to use a different pseudonym than the one I use for my m/m stuff, but my new publisher AND my m/m publisher said they didn't think it was necessary. In their opinions, there is enough crossover between the two markets to make it an asset to use the same name. I'll obviously make the distinction clear on my website, but it should also be clear from the covers, the blurbs, the category classifications, etc.

I think someone would have to work pretty hard to not notice the sex of the main characters in a Romance novel based on the cover alone.

scarletpeaches
11-13-2011, 06:56 PM
Pretty much every site (if we're talking ebooks) has its books divided into categories, with each one clearly marked, so if you can't read classifications on ARe, for example, I doubt you can read an entire erotica novel.

(Which reminds me -- why call it romance? That always seems like a softer word to me. Technically it is, I guess, just with more smut added, but I have no hesitation in saying I write erotica/erotic romance.)

Captcha
11-13-2011, 07:30 PM
For me, Erotica doesn't necessarily follow the Romance rules - HEA, etc. I think Erotic Romance is a valuable classification, since it makes it clear that the story will focus on the emotional connection (the twu wuv!) but will also explore the physical passion of the characters (the hot smexin!).

There's not anything wrong with calling it Erotica, if that's what you write, but there's nothing wrong with calling it Romance if that's what you write.

(And don't get me started on how anything with m/m content seems to immediately get bumped one notch further along toward erotica, regardless of the actual steaminess!)