07-21-18 Patricia Sargeant

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Debut Romance Author - Annabeth Albert

An Annabeth by Any Other Name . . .

Annabeth Albert
Thank you so much for having me! I love this blog because it truly celebrates the diversity in our genre and the many different paths towards happily-ever-after.  I’m especially glad to join you for Debut Authors month because my path to publication took me through seven years and multiple genres.  Then, this summer I sold two stories in the space of a month—in two very different genres.

First I sold Return to Sender, an erotic romantic comedy, to Ellora’s Cave. Then a few weeks later, I sold a m/m romance Swimming the Distance to MLR’s Going for Gold anthology.  Suddenly, I faced a decision—one pen name or two? I think every writer who writes in multiple genres faces this dilemma at more than one point over a career.  And I think the answer to this is evolving—as developing a brand requires more attention to social media, multiple pen names are more work. Readers and publishing houses seem to be growing more tolerant of writers writing in different genres. However, with e-readers, readers often impulse purchase more and may get confused by vastly different genres.

In researching the question, I found many different answers—hang out in any writing forum and you’ll find the topic of multiple genres and multiple pen names comes up regularly. Everyone has a different opinion—some people wait until they sell to adopt a pen name at all. Some manage multiple pen names from the outset, submitting and entering contests under different names. Some writers know from the beginning that they only want to publish as their real name and don’t want to do a pen name at all.

Because one of my sales was for a m/m, I also had to consider that many m/m writers do a more masculine sounding name or do the initial thing like L.A. Witt and K.A. Mitchell. But other bestselling m/m authors like Marie Sexton and Heidi Cullinan use feminine names. On the other hand, erotic romance authors sometimes do very “sexy” sounding names to embody their genre.  Annabeth Albert doesn’t exactly scream “smexy times aplenty.” But these provocative names don’t translate well when writers want to venture outside of the erotic romance arena. My own erotic romances are fun and spicy, but they’re not as explicit as some—a deliberately erotic or “fun” name didn’t make sense given my voice.

 In the end, I focused on a few factors when I decided to keep the same name for both genres. I’d spent the prior year putting a lot of time into building my brand as Annabeth Albert. I’d always said that whichever genre sold first—category Romance, YA, erotica, or m/m—would have “dibs” on Annabeth. But then I sold back-to-back, which was awesome. However,  I wasn’t sure I wanted to split my attention right as I finally had sales between two identities. Establishing a brand is a fair amount of work—twitter, facebook, website etc. I knew I’d have two release dates within a month of each other.

And for me, deciding whether to split also came down to how important backlist is right now. If I split and did different names, each name would show a single title for quite some time—no cross-over sales beyond a small circle of friends. I spent some time thinking about myself as a reader—I read many different genres from Regency to Erotica and sweet m/f to spicy m/m and other alternative pairings. I’d never be able to limit myself to just one genre as a reader—why would I want to as a writer? I’ve happily followed many writers into new genres.

At some point, I may have to split—obviously if I sell a YA or a sweet romance, the publisher may well ask me to change or I might want to just to manage reader expectations.  I decided to publish under one name right now in part because I didn’t want to end up managing four or more names in the future.

Finally, I thought about my voice—the essential heart of every story I’ve ever written, both sold and those that shall forever live under my bed.  My voice for erotic romance and m/m romance is very similar—angsty, touches of comedy, realistic situations, slightly neurotic characters, and deep emotions. I joke that my tagline should be “heartwarming smut.” But that’s really the core of my writing—family values wrapped up in a sexy little package.

So after all these hours obsessing over pen names and brands and identities, I want to hear from you. Are you currently managing different pen names? Do you write multiple genres under one name? How did you decide what to do? What do you see as some of the challenges of multiple names? Single names?

My debut, Return to Sender, is out now from Ellora’s Cave:

Jack Donovan and Bree Hendricks have been in hot competition since their school days, whether it’s tussling over the best apartment or bickering over local leash laws. Bree never turns down a challenge, so when her new toy in its brown paper packaging is delivered to Jack’s doorstep by mistake, he seizes this perfect opportunity to make her act on the long-simmering attraction between them.

Bree is determined to set a good example for her teenage daughter, and that means no flirting, no flings and definitely no one-night stands. But a bout of saucy cybersex demonstrating her new dildo? There’s no danger in that. Unless Bree allows her heart to become involved…

Buy RETURN TO SENDER from your favorite e-retailer—out now with Amazon, Nook, and other sellers. Buy links here: http://annabethalbert.com/books/return-to-sender/

About Annabeth:

Annabeth Albert has been hooked on romance ever since Laura gave Almanzo permission to kiss her goodnight. It wasn’t too long after that Annabeth started sneaking romances where a whole lot more than kissing happens. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer in a variety of subgenres. A long-time member of Romance Writers of America, she is also active in the Rainbow Romance Writers chapter.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two toddlers.

She often tweets about her latest online bargain finds, newest keeper shelf books, and other random tidbits and loves chatting. @AnnabethAlbert  http://www.twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert
You can also find her at http://www.annabethalbert.com and http://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert.com


Diana Mcc. said...

Hi, Annabeth, Happy New Year to you! I'm writing under my own name. If I ever venture into writing Erotica, I would definitely use a pen name. More than two names would be awfully hard to manage with Facebook, Twitter etc. IMO. I find all the Social Medias very time consuming. Time I could be writing.

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for guesting with us, Annabeth!

I wanted my writing name to be easy so I just dropped my last name and go with my first and middle name. One of my writing goals in 2013 is to legalize that name so I can have my writing bank account with it. Will simplify when it comes time to paying dues, etc. At least I think it will...
maybe one of those simple changes Kris Tualla talked about in her Tuesday post - a simple change that ripples out with lots of other changes needed. Hope not!

Annabeth Albert said...

@Diana Mcc If you think there is any chance you may do a pseudonym, do it with your first contest entries etc w/ that genre. I.e. if you write a spicy book, I would make the new name THEN, not when it finally sells. I was in my own name in RWA for such a long time--I should have gone the pseudonym route sooner :) But there's nothing easier than being YOU. Kudos to you and hoping for big success for you--under whatever name you choose!

@Judith--I've always LOVED your pen name. So graceful and the embodiment of romance :) I thought about doing that route too--just dropping my last name or just doing my maiden name, but I have young kids and decided I wanted just a bit more distance. (Of course, I temper that by using my picture--there's so much to be weighed when one ventures out!)

FYI, depending on your bank, you may be able to add your pen name to your account as a DBA line or similar. I'll be interested in what you end up doing!

Paty Jager said...

Hi Annabeth! So happy to see you here! I think given the genres you are writing, the pen name is good for you. As you know I was back and forth years ago about pen name or not and decided I'd just go with my own name and I'm happy I did. It makes it much easier with the way I genre hop. ;0) I'm also ecstatic that the world gets to read your work!! Congrats!!

Christine Young said...

Congratulations on your two releases. How exciting for you. Will definitely purchase your books.

Danita Cahill said...

So excited for you and your back-to-back sales Annabeth. You worked hard and deserve bushels of success. I have wrestled with the same questions about pen name vs. real name. I also am writing - and will be publishing - in differnt genres. I think I'll just stick with my real name though.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Hi, Annabeth! I knew part of the story about you choosing a pen name and knew it had been a thoughtful decision, but didn't know all that had been transpired.

I decided to use a pen name after I'd published three novels and two novellas. But I had received the rights back to the three novels and was changing the covers and titles to those anyway, so it was a good time to switch. The two novellas are still listed under my current legal name, though. I've been pretty transparent that I'm writing under both names, but it would be nice if all my books came up under either name. Ah well!

So good to see you publishing!

Lexi Post said...

Wow! Back to back sales! That is awesome! I also just contracted with Ellora's Cave, but I don't have a release date yet, only a cover. I actually started my pen name for my erotic two years ago and entered contests etc with it. The social media has been a lot newer, but I'm glad I decided on two names because my day job (Christian based) employer would definitely fire me if they linked the two names :-} Besides, I have manuscripts ready to sell under my real name that aren't erotic. I would hope after a few years I could link the two :-)

Annabeth Albert said...

Thanks Paty, Genene, Danita, and Chris! I love what you've done Genene w/ keeping your real name out there too. If my kids were older & I wasn't also doing the day job, I might go that route.

YAY LEXI!!!!! Who's your editor? Mine is Rebecca Hill. I love your name--it's fun and sexy and does convey the genre so well. I got my cover about a month before release, so yours may be soon! (I'm on the EC loop and annabeth at annabeth albert dot com if you want to holler at me :) I'll be at the EC Romantic Times events too)

Anonymous said...

Good post, Annabeth. I think a lot like you. I write many different sub-genres of erotic romance (m/f, m/m, menage, historical, contemporary, paranormal, etc), all under my real name of Ranae Rose. If I did a different name for every sub-genre, I would literally never have time to write. So, I am who I am! Even if my stories are different, I'm still the one telling them.

Sarah Raplee said...

I write under a pen name. I'm leaning towards writing in multiple genres under that name, but that could change. Tricky decision for sure!