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?