Author Topic: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?  (Read 2766 times)  

Offline A.A

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So far I've only published YA. I've just finished my fifth book and am editing the final 10,000 words.

So, I'm thinking about my next novel. I'm considering women's fiction. Considering that most of my readers appear to be aged over 25, I think they might also read a book of women's fiction if I wrote it.

But I'm wondering if I should use my pen name of Anya Allyn, use my real name (or even use both names as co-authors, pen name and real name). I'd want my new book associated with my pen name in some way.

What did you do when you swapped genres, especially if it was from YA to something else?

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    Offline Marilyn Peake

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #1 on: February 02, 2015, 06:20:28 pm »
    I've published middle grade children's books, YA, and adult; and I've always used my real name.

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    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #2 on: February 02, 2015, 06:24:41 pm »
    I've published middle grade children's books, YA, and adult; and I've always used my real name.

    This. The sales do help one another. I'd only use a pen name if you don't want there to be any bleedover from one genre to the other.

    Offline Caddy

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #3 on: February 02, 2015, 07:36:44 pm »
    Many say to use a pen name so you don't confuse readers. Myself, I use the same name for historical/family saga and for thriller because they are also all dramas. But I use a pen name for my gay romance novels because those are way different. They are not dark, are guaranteed happy ending, etc. I don't want my darker readers disappointed and vice-versa. But I also state openly that I write gay romance under Sibley Jackson so that people who just want to read whatever I write can do so.
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    Offline thewitt

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #4 on: February 02, 2015, 07:43:49 pm »
    I use a pen name to differentiate, but I'm not keeping it a secret who I am... Though I know some people think of their pen names as real people who live separate live from the actual author, I am simply using them to differentiate between Fantasy books, Children's books and adventure/travel books.

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    Offline elizabethsade

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #5 on: February 02, 2015, 08:31:38 pm »
    This is something I'm still going back and forth between - I'm planning to write a mix of urban fantasy Lesbian/LGBTQ romances, and then more mainstream sci-fi/fantasy with some dark elements.

    Right now I'm leaning towards just writing everything under one name because the trouble of maintaining two personas would probably be more than a few people who might get ticked off about the crossover.

    Offline Bluebonnet

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #6 on: February 02, 2015, 08:46:01 pm »
    How about if you write both non-fiction business books and fiction?  There's absolutely no relationship between the two types of books. Would I lose some business credibility if I wrote fiction under the same name? I was thinking about using my real name for everything I write. My co-author on the business book WIP has more than enough credibility for both of us, so it's not like I myself would sink the book if readers found out I wrote fiction too.

    Maybe I can answer my own question, lol. In my state, Georgia, a woman who is a member of the state legislature also writes romance novels. Her name is Stacey Abrams. She's a State Representative and House Minority Leader. She founded and operates a financial services firm. She has never tried to conceal her romance writing sideline; in fact she's given interviews to the local paper about it, and she said her best beta reader is one of her colleagues in the House.

    From her Wikipedia page:
    "Abrams has published articles on issues of public policy, taxation and nonprofit organizations. Under the pen name Selena Montgomery, Abrams is the award-winning author of several romantic suspense novels. According to Abrams' website, her novels have sold more than 100,000 copies.[1] Selena Montgomery was the winner of both the Reviewers Choice Award and the Readers Favorite Award from Romance In Color for Best New Author, and was featured as a Rising Star."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stacey_Abrams

    So if I follow Stacey's example, I'd use my real name on business publications and a pen name for fiction. I'm still leaning toward using my real name for all, though, because of my age. I am a senior citizen, so I doubt I will be starting any new career in business (except the writing business). I'm not planning to go into politics either, lol.
     

    Offline Jordan Rivet

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #7 on: February 02, 2015, 11:24:26 pm »
    I am using a pen name for my fiction. My non-fiction is all travel/expat/memoir stuff with small presses. I think it makes sense to keep my SFF work under a different name because the audiences are vastly different and the writing styles are pretty different as well. I only have one book out under this name so far though, and it's a very slow build ;). If I were you, OP, I'd probably keep the YA and women's fiction under the same name. Good luck!

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    Offline A Woman's Place Is In The Rebellion

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #8 on: February 02, 2015, 11:27:45 pm »
    I use one name for YA/MG and a different name for women's fiction, but the names share a website.  If a reader of The Mother Load checks out keeleybates.com, she'll still be exposed to the YA offerings of Augusta Blythe and vice versa.  My decision was based on the reader expectation idea (sorry, blanking on attribution) ~ that if Molly Q likes my light comedies on middle-aged women, she might be annoyed that my next book involves teen girls battling a range of mythological creatures.  FWIW, I don't see much crossover, but maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.     

    Offline ruecole

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #9 on: February 02, 2015, 11:29:09 pm »
    I've published middle grade children's books, YA, and adult; and I've always used my real name.

    Same. :)

    Rue

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    Offline Carol (was Dara)

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #10 on: February 02, 2015, 11:57:07 pm »
    There's no right or wrong answer. Plenty of people do both ways, so just go with whichever you're most comfortable with. :) Although I wouldn't recommend writing hot romance and kids books under the same name, because you may not want those to mix in your also boughts, website, newsletter, etc.

    Personally, I prefer the same name for writing in sister genres but pen names if the books are for widely different readerships. When authors do that and are open about their other names, I can cross from their mysteries to their romances, if I want. But if I love one of their genres and dislike the other, I don't have to dig through the books that aren't relevant to me. I'm a lazy shopper and don't like trying to figure out what something is. I just want more and more of the same thing I bought last time.

    But of course if you want to keep it all under one name, as long as the covers clearly show the genre (which they should anyway) and readers can tell them apart at a glance, I don't think it's hugely important.

    Offline Ed James

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 01:29:41 am »
    I'd tend to go with a pen name, based on my experience.

    I predominantly write police procedurals set in Edinburgh, Scotland. I do not at all badly out of them. I hit upon an idea to do a vampire thriller set in the Highlands of Scotland, called SHOT THROUGH THE HEART.

    What I found when I released it was my existing audience either 1) sort of, kind of liked SHOT (about 20%) or 2) were largely ambivalent to it and the sales were nothing like for the other books in my DC Scott Cullen series.

    My thinking in the 14 months since publication have been all over the place. I started out wanting to write a sequel then, when I started getting the vampire=bad feedback, it kind of morphed into a police procedural with vampires and I've finally written it as a straight police procedural without any vampires. It'll mesh well with my core audience. But... I've got a burning desire to write the sequel to SHOT and I'm thinking through how to make that work - a revised draft of SHOT with more of a police element seems to be an idea I can't get away from.

    One thing I'd say is I tried the old "product funnels" thing, making SHOT free and it ended up cannibalising sell-on from the first freebie in the other series - rather than buying book 2 in the series after enjoying book 1, they got the free one. It was vampires and they didn't like it, so lost sales.

    (Course, it could be that SHOT just isn't that good - another reason a redraft will help is it'll allow me to know if it's a quality thing)

    The lessons for me are -

    1) People who like a writer writing in a genre tend to like the genre more than the writer, i.e. they're less likely to buy you writing in another genre.
    2) There are people who like the writer as much as the genre but they're a lot lower. The crossover could be managed by other means, e.g. mailing list - "hey I've got a new book out in another genre under another name. You might not like it so I'm not forcing it down your throat" etc.
    3) If you've managed to get some level of success with your "day job" writing in a genre, that means you've got some tricks you've applied in building an audience there which should be applicable to writing in a new genre (and there'll be some element of fun in learning it)
    4) Watch your product funnels don't cannibalise the main genre series.

    -- Ed

    Offline rosclarke

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 01:37:09 am »
    The only thing I wouldn't do is your co-author idea. That would be really confusing. You could have both names on the cover if you do an 'X writing as Y' byline. 'Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb'. You'll put the pen name for that book (Y) in big letters and the other name (X) in much smaller letters. I think it's fine to use a pen name to differentiate but make it an open secret so that readers can easily link the books with you.

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    Offline alawston

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #13 on: February 03, 2015, 01:44:58 am »
    I'd only use a pen name if I was working on something where I wanted to actively prevent my readers from checking it out. A hypothetical for me would be if children were reading my books (they're not) and I wanted to publish some erotica (I don't). I do have a half-baked project to put out my collected business, career advice, education theory and science articles out as non-fiction. They were originally published online under a pen name, so I'd probably keep that pen name, if only in the eventuality that some murky online footprint of their original incarnation is still traceable. It would be rubbish to be accused of plagiarising myself!


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    Offline A.A

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #14 on: February 03, 2015, 03:04:17 pm »
    Thanks for all your replies - very much appreciated :) :) Seems there's pros and cons to using different pen names or keeping the same pen name.

    I guess because if I write women's fiction, it will more or less be in my 'voice' and my YA writing is very much in a teenage voice and is genre fiction.

    I use one name for YA/MG and a different name for women's fiction, but the names share a website.  If a reader of The Mother Load checks out keeleybates.com, she'll still be exposed to the YA offerings of Augusta Blythe and vice versa.  My decision was based on the reader expectation idea (sorry, blanking on attribution) ~ that if Molly Q likes my light comedies on middle-aged women, she might be annoyed that my next book involves teen girls battling a range of mythological creatures.  FWIW, I don't see much crossover, but maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.     

    That was my dilemma. I'm thinking many of my readers will cross over, but readers who don't know me might get confused if I use the same pen name. Then again, building up a platform for a brand new name (my own) seems daunting.

    Offline elizabethsade

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #15 on: February 03, 2015, 03:15:33 pm »
    Thanks for all your replies - very much appreciated :) :) Seems there's pros and cons to using different pen names or keeping the same pen name.

    I guess because if I write women's fiction, it will more or less be in my 'voice' and my YA writing is very much in a teenage voice and is genre fiction.

    That was my dilemma. I'm thinking many of my readers will cross over, but readers who don't know me might get confused if I use the same pen name. Then again, building up a platform for a brand new name (my own) seems daunting.

    One thing I've heard for people writing multiple genres in the same pen name is to very, very clearly brand the covers? Make sure that there's little to no doubt that this novel is women's fiction, or this novel is YA, that sort of thing. It'll have your name on it, but people will be able to choose and stick within the genres that they want.

    That's basically what I'm planning to do, based on way too much reading, haha.

    Offline A.A

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #16 on: February 03, 2015, 06:24:17 pm »
    Good idea to be careful with the cover branding, Elizabeth!

    Offline eleanorberesford

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #17 on: February 03, 2015, 07:02:25 pm »
    I have a mainstream YA contemporary series in writing along with lesbian YA girl's own fantasy. I haven't really decided. In a way my instincts are to separate them out, but that seems to be expecting too little of a mainstream audience, as if I expect them to be put off by the mere existence of lesbian fic by the same author.

    Offline elizabethsade

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #18 on: February 03, 2015, 07:17:58 pm »
    I have a mainstream YA contemporary series in writing along with lesbian YA girl's own fantasy. I haven't really decided. In a way my instincts are to separate them out, but that seems to be expecting too little of a mainstream audience, as if I expect them to be put off by the mere existence of lesbian fic by the same author.

    That's pretty similar to what I've been worried about - I'm writing a series of unconnected, urban fantasy lesbian romances/slice-of-life novels - and then a series of more mainstream sci-fi novels. I was fretting over whether or not the existence of those urban fantasy lesbian romances/slice of lifes would discourage people from the more mainstream novels. I'm still not 100% decided, but I'm leaning towards very strongly branding the covers, and trying them both under one pen name for now. They'll have similar elements - I tend to write darker, grittier novels - but they're still vastly different genres.

    Offline Caddy

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    Re: When you start writing in a completely different genre - pen name?
    « Reply #19 on: February 03, 2015, 07:22:11 pm »
    Yes, I make it clear on the covers.
    ALSO WRITING HOT GAY M/M ROMANCE UNDER SIBLEY JACKSON

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