07-14-18 Cassandra O’Leary

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Year, New Name

I start every new year full of energy and plans for the future. One of my goals for this year was to give birth to a new pen name, not in lieu of my current name, but as an additional authorial identity, one who writes in a different romance genre.

What are the pros and cons of multiple pen names? I asked myself this question for much of last year. Even better, I polled authors who I respected about their opinions. The general consensus was that one of the big drawbacks is the need to maintain multiple social media identities, websites, blogs, etc. We all know that social media can take up lots of energy and time, yet it's also an essential tool for connecting with readers and fellow authors. Another author/editor advised that one's brand isn't genre-bound. As authors, our brand is bigger than our genre. It's our public writing identity, our style, our voice. 

One of the pros of separate pen names is that, theoretically, you can diversify readership. It seems to have worked out all right for J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts and Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick. Readers will know what to expect from your name if you stick to a particular genre and do it well. Conversely, some would argue that writing multiple genres under one pen name allows you to consolidate readership. If you love a writer, will you love anything they write, no matter the genre, or do you tend to stick with writers within your favorite genre?

There are valid and interesting arguments on either side of the multiple pen name issue. I waffled a bit—or maybe a lot—before finally deciding that I wanted to create an additional writing identity. I have several sexy contemporary romance manuscripts in progress. As Christy Carlyle, I write historical romance, usually set in the Victorian Era. I just felt I needed another name for my contemporaries. Thus, Krista Knightley was born. 

From the outset, I acknowledge that it was a bit of work setting up another website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook account. However, the excitement of a new venture is heady fuel. It's a bit like I am running two tiny businesses now, and I want both of them to succeed. With a new year, all things seem possible, and I plan to make 2013 the year I publish, under both of my names.

What do you think of the multiple pen name question? 


Stacy McKitrick said...

I can understand the two pen name thing. You don't want a faithful reader of one genre inadvertantly picking up one of your books expecting the same and not getting it.

Yeah, have two website URLs (maybe), but have them go to the same place. Do readers care you're two people? Specify on the ONE website the differences between the authors - then let the reader decide whether or not they want to follow your other work.

Of course, if you're writing erotica and just don't want the people at your work (or your family) to discover this, that's a whole nother issue. But I just don't see why it matters. If someone is looking for you, they're gonna figure it out eventually anyway!

Sarah Raplee said...

Definitely an issue for those of us with wandering muses, Christy!

I like Stacy's idea because I believe it would cut down on the need to duplicate everything, but I'll have to give this some more thought.

Good luck with both your writing ventures! Love the new website!

Paty Jager said...

I opted to stay with my name no matter the genre(well unless I ever thought I could write erotica). No matter what genre I write I have the same basic theme and I usually have either a western or Native American setting/plot so I figured why confuse myself with different names and it makes it a whole lot easier to keep up one blog and one website.

But many people with pen names do wonderfully. Good luck with it all!

Christy C said...

Thanks so much for your comments, ladies.

Stacy - Those are great points. I think, eventually, I will link the two names. I've seen authors who have a website that has a sort of dual personality and you can click to a page on each pen name. I think I'll end up with that. In the meantime, I thought I would launch them separately and, hopefully, build a following with each.

Sarah - Thank you for your well wishes!

Paty - You're a perfect example to me of an author that successfully writes and integrates multiple genres. Your combination of genres just seems to make sense and you are so clear about your brand and your voice. After seeing your example, I'm not sure why I still thought two pen names was a good idea! :) Who knows, maybe I'll end up integrating them all at some point. Most of all, I'm thankful for your well wishes.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Christy,

You really are moving forward with new ventures! Congratulations and Good Luck with your 2013 publishing goals.

Of course, when you do publish you'll let us know so we can headline you here at RTG.