Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Split Personality: Writing Under More Than One Author Name

I’ve seen this come up in discussion time and again. Write under my real name? A pen name? More than one name? And will it help or hurt my marketing efforts?

There’s more than one way to skin this cat (no offense to feline lovers).

First, consider the reason you want to write under a pen name. Do you want privacy from fans? Is the material not something you’d like your eighty-year-old grandmother to investigate? Would writing under your own name endanger your job? Do you have a business in your name, like Mabel Blime’s Plumbing? You may not want to use Mabel Blime, even if it is your own name. Is your name hard to pronounce or spell? Is it too common (Mary Brown, for example. There are over a million of these in the U.S. Census)? Do you have the same name as an already-famous author? This may sound like a huge advantage, but it isn’t—people get annoyed, believe it or not. If the answer to any of these is yes, you may want to consider a pen name.

Second, consider why you might want a second writer name (either a second pen name, or a pen name). Are you planning to write something very different from your first writer name’s genre? For example, are you jumping from erotic romance to Middle Grade? Is your original author name something too suggestive for writing a different genre? Some erotica authors use names that are very suggestive of what kind of books they may write. Are you going to be writing with a co-author? You may want to consider a melding of your two names. If the answer to any of these is yes, you may want to consider a pen name.

And now, a few reasons why you might NOT want to write under a pen name. Do you want to maintain two separate personas, including separate fan emails, Facebook sites, Twitter accounts? Are you organized enough to not cross-post by accident? Do you want to pay a web designer, publicist, and/or promoter to get the stuff in place you for a publishing platform? Do you plan to write more than one genre? If the answer to these questions is “no,” you may not need a second writer name.

In the end, it’s a personal decision. It’s more work, but it can also save you heartache if you choose to go avante garde in your choice of material, or want to write a variety of genres.

Questions? Comments?
Once upon a misspent youth, Whitley read and wrote stories under the covers at night. At some point, real life intervened, bringing with it responsibilities and a career in the medical field. After years of technical writing, Whitley became enamored of romance and took on the challenge of giving it a try. Inventing characters and putting them through paces in interesting ways turned out to be addictive, and along the way, Whitley discovered that two heroes is twice as nice. A pot of coffee, quiet, and a storyline featuring a couple of guys makes for a perfect day. Stop by and feed your fix for heat between the sheets with erotica and M/M romance.