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?