What’s in a name?

I’ve been dithering about adopting a pen name. Most of the writers with whom I am acquainted have one. Or several.

When my first book was published I kept my own name, even adding the middle initial, because…well, because I knew it would make my parents proud. Even though Dad was gone by then, I wanted to honor him by including “Z” for my maiden name.

A few books later and I decided to shorten my first name and drop the “Z”  because it seemed more friendly. Don’t ask me why I wanted to appear friendly, but my mind takes strange turns sometimes.

What I didn’t understand was that Amazon would think I was two different people and list my books under two different pages. I contacted them and managed to get them somewhat combined, but anyone looking for me would be confused unless they knew. Not that many people are looking for  me but still…

Then I read that if you change genres, you should change your pen name in order not to confuse people who love your contemporaries but are not so fond  of your fantasies, or vice versa. And especially if you write middle grade stories and also erotica. ‘Nough said about that.

Nonsense, I said. Like A. J. Hartley, who writes in several genres and publishes them all under one name, people will just read the blurb and know whether they want to read it or not.

Now I’m not so sure. If a contemporary series isn’t going so well and you want to break out into a wildly different genre, it might make sense to publish under a pen name and thus attract a hopefully more enthusiastic following.

But then I thought: Won’t people figure out who you are, anyway? Just like everyone knows Nora Roberts is J.D. Robb  and J.K. Rowling is Robert Galbraith.  They just use different names for different genres.

If I did use a pen name — and I haven’t decided yet — it would have be chosen with care. which mean typing it in Amazon’s search bar and seeing if it is already in use.

Which so far, most of my choices are.

What do you think? Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you choose it?

Or should I follow Hartley’s example and let people sort it out for themselves?

 

 

 

 

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen Pollard
    Jan 25, 2015 @ 08:51:48

    I’ve been thinking about this myself, Sandy.
    It’s a problem branding yourself as one thing and then producing something very different under the same brand … you’re right, readers may get confused. But if you use a different name for the different genre, does that mean you will then have two ‘brands’ to maintain? Two websites? Two Twitter identities etc? Eeek! I feel tired just thinking about it!
    I read a blog talking about branding last week from Dena Rogers that you may find interesting:
    https://demiro1029.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/have-you-been-branded/
    It seems we’re all thinking along the same worry-lines! 🙂

    Reply

    • Sandy Bruney
      Jan 28, 2015 @ 15:58:06

      Thanks for the link, Helen. I see I am not the only one wondering about this subject. Frankly, trying to keep ip with two or more “brands” may be the deciding factor.

      Reply

  2. lorrainequinn4
    Jan 25, 2015 @ 10:54:14

    The decision was easy for me. I use a pen name, because I am a middle school teacher. While I don’t write erotica, I didn’t want to my students and parents making the connection. Just seemed weird to me. I will say as a reader, I look for Nora Roberts books when I want to read that type of story, and JD Robb when I need an Eve and Roarke fix. Same with other authors. The pen name is the branding for me, the book description makes or breaks the deal.

    Reply

  3. carmingo
    Jan 26, 2015 @ 18:45:13

    You have a name and reputation already, Is there any reason not to keep your name and leave it to the readers to choose what to read or not? I LIKE your name, and switching genres didn’t seem to affect interest in your books, did it?

    Reply

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