In Ask Erika, For Writers, Self-Promotion

Yesterday’s post about selecting an author name sparked a lively discussion in the comments section, and Ashley Prince raised an interesting point for multigenre authors. Here’s what she said…

“I have two different novels that I am working on. One is YA and the other is Urban Fantasy. I kind of want to do one name (Ashley Prince) for YA and another for UF.”

Personally, I haven’t had to worry about this because I just write the one genre…for now. However, one day I might like to try my hand at writing children’s books. If I do that, would it make sense to publish under a different name?

I could argue it both ways…

On one hand, my hypothetical children’s book could benefit from the fact that readers know me as “Erika Liodice”. They might be more willing to buy my books for their children if they’ve read my fiction. You might say there is some “brand equity” there. Think Madonna and her English Roses series for children.

On the other hand, if most adults can’t pronounce my last name, a child has no chance! But does that even matter? I don’t have children of my own, but I seem to remember asking my mom for the next “Clifford book”, not the next “Norman Bridwell book”. In fact, I didn’t even know that Norman Bridwell was the author until two seconds ago.

There’s also the issue of “brand confusion”. If an author writes multiple genres under the same name, you risk confusing your audience. Author Nora Roberts writes her romance novels under Nora Roberts and her erotic thrillers which I must say are extremely raunchy, they read like a scene from a TubeV Sex movie, she writes these under the pen name J.D. Robb.

What do you think? Should authors use different names for different genres?

 

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Showing 11 comments
  • April Plummer
    Reply

    It’s a good question, but I’m going to say no. My first novel (available on Kindle now!) is a women’s fiction, but my next one is going to be more crime than women’s fiction. I’m keeping my name. I think that, especially for indie authors, you should keep one name so that your name has a better chance of being remembered.

    • Erika
      Reply

      And being remembered is HUGE when it comes to book sales…especially for us indies! Wouldn’t you hate for someone to love your first book so much that they Google your name to find out what else you’ve written and find nothing because your other books are under different names?

  • Stacy S. Jensen
    Reply

    I get confused when people use a pen name, but also market under a real name. It seems like a lot of extra work to then turn around and use a real name too. Of course, I read a NY Times article about an author, who used a pen name to get her latest book published. She and her agent used the pen name to get fresh eyes to consider her novel. Her real name had previous low, sales numbers attached. (I can’t remember either name at th moment)

    • Stacy S. Jensen
      Reply

      Here’s the author: Patricia O’Brien (as Kate Alcott) Sells ‘The Dressmaker’

      • Erika
        Reply

        I saw this article on NYTimes.com and was so fascinated that the simple change of her name was able to get her book sold. I guess if your author brand gets tarnished by low sales, a new name might be worth a try.

  • Ashley Prince
    Reply

    Yay! Thank you for posting about this, Erika. I’m glad I could provide a topic.

    And to answer your question about pronouncing my maiden name: Mac-ul-yay! Lol. Oh as my dear friends lovely refers to it: MacHellYeah. My maiden name is a bit hard to pronounce which is one reason why I want to go with Prince for the YA.

    And though it may be confusing for some readers to have the same author with different names for different genres, I think it ends up helping out in the long run. For example, Nora Roberts. Had she used that name for both romance and thrillers, I think readers who associate her with romance, wouldn’t pick up a thriller by her, assuming it would be a romance. Does that make sense?

    • Erika
      Reply

      Love that: MacHellYeah 🙂

      You make a really good point about readers forming expectations based on the author’s name. In some cases it’s not a huge leap for an author who writes YA to break into adult under the same name…but what happens when the genres are very different? Like the Roberts example, readers may be hesitant to pick up a book by a well-known author who starts writing a different genre because they assume it will be geared towards the author’s original genre. This is an instance where having a “brand name” can actually hurt, not help, your book sales.

      Very interesting discussion…

  • Nicole L Bates
    Reply

    I think a pen name could be a great idea, but multiple names? I can understand the concern about confusing the audience, but imagine the work that would create. Two or more websites, multiple social media accounts under different names…yikes. I think it’s hard enough maintaining all of that for one person!

    • Erika
      Reply

      I have to agree, Nicole. The idea of maintaining not one but MULTIPLE social identities is crazy! I can barely keep my own accounts updated!

  • Scott Neilson
    Reply

    I never thought of that as being a =n issue.

    For me, sometimes the examples I use will be known to people if they know it is me telling the story, and it will expose a situation that should be kept private. On those occasions I will use a pen name to protect the innocent.

    I think that when you have a following, your audience often has an idea of who you are…an expectation…and breaking from your style can shake that opinion. I think you need to be aware of that expectation and be responsible to it to the extent you can within the context of what it is that you are trying to achieve in your writing. If you have a need to maintain that audience for bigger issues in the future, then you may need to sacrifice using your own name in the interest of continuing to reach your main audience.

    I did depart from my norm once and caused quite a stir on my blog. I am not sure that it damaged the readership which was pretty small at the time, but in retrospect it was probably not the right thing to do.

    Then again, if you write something under a pen name, then your following willl not know it is you and may not read it.

    Quite the dilemma.

    One thing is clear though, if you choose to take on a pen name, spell it “Erica”, and use you stepfathers last name! Kill two old birds with one stone. hahaha!

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