Thursday, October 30, 2014

Using Multiple Pen Names

Caitlin here. There are a lot of good reasons for using a pen name instead of your real name. But what about using multiple pen names?

I spend more time than I probably should trying to build up just the one author platform right now. If I had to manage two or three platforms, I seriously wonder when I’d find the time to, you know, actually write. Spreading your brand out that way seems inefficient. I’d rather pool my resources into one, single brand.   

However, the argument for multiple pen names concerns the idea that readers come to expect a specific kind of story from you and, if you don’t deliver it, you could disappoint them and lose them as fans. And I do write across genres. I’ve already noticed a disconnect in my writing on Wattpad, where I have a collection of literary flash fiction and a YA Scifi. Very few readers seem to enjoy both.

So am I annoying the flash fiction readers every time I send out a message about my young adult book? If people subscribe to my newsletter because they like the YA on Wattpad, are they going to want to hear about my New Adult books? And if readers love the fluffy contemporary romance I’m wrapping up now, will they be putt off by my darker short stories?

This concerns me, but I also like to have faith in my readers. Faith that they understand I write varied stories. Faith that they’ll pick and choose what they like based on the description. Even faith that they might be up for reading something a little different from a familiar author. After all, I’ve noticed a handful of readers who are voting for both my YA book and my literary fiction.

But perhaps I’m expecting too much of my readers. What do you think? Are multiple pen names a must if you write across genres?

Karlie: Personally, I've never seen the appeal of using pen names. Like you said, Caitlin, that's just a lot more promoting to do. I write across genres, too, but I've found on Valorpen that most of my readers are loyal no matter what genre it is, and most of my writing buddies say the same thing. As a reader, I also read across genres, and I'm more likely to try new things if it's by a familiar author. So for me? I will probably never try to publish with multiple pen names.

Lisa: I wouldn't use a pen name for the very reason you've stated, Caitlin. Though I do write such varied genres (paranormal romance, thriller, horror, romantic suspense and contemp romance), I can't bring myself to do it. My writing time is too valuable to try to build a brand for each of my genres. However, I have seen a valid reason other than different genres for different pen names. I know a lot of writers who are still fairly young and post their writing online. They've established pen names for their "covers" and/or blogs rather than display their real names for everyone to see.

Dan: I will tell you that pen names are far more prevalent than I had ever realized... Many authors I know use them. I am considering one myself, mostly because my name is so hard to spell. But you're right, Caitlin; it means building and maintaining multiple platforms, which is a lot of work. If you intend to write different genres it's almost a requirement.

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