Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Pseudonym or Not

NIGHT FIRE The use of a pseudonym is constantly on the tabletop of writer issues. My personal experience is: I started with Cait Logan, this because my real name is too long and unappealing, according to editors. Since I wanted to be published after 7 years of effort--back in the typewriter/carbon days--I went with a pseudonym.

So that's how it began. Then Silhouette wanted a different pseudonym, despite writing in the same subgenre as my Cait Logan name, so Cait London came along. I thought that was clever at the time, the use of CL and developed all sorts of CL stuff for marketing. (Please visit my booklist for more information and links.)

But today, I'm here. Amid epublishing my backlist and with Avon and Silhouette publishing my other books. You can find links to my booklist here. But now, I'm placing all my romance subgenre (western, romantic suspense/category/paranormal, women's) under the Cait Logan "Brand".

"Brand" has a lot to do with an author's name. Basically, that means a product that readers believe will be within their expectations of certain dynamics, i.e. as Cait London, I write romance, so there will be romance.

There is much discussion about the use of pseudonyms, and why. (I just mentioned my reason.) One reason an author might start a new pseudonym is a technique known to boost sales--if the primary pseudonym does not have the desired sales. Many authors do this; many editors recommend it when sales figures sag.

But at this time, I see other authors who have used their real names their entire career. And I believe that makes marketing on Twitter, Google+ and other social media much easier.

Recently, I wrote a short story which is not a subgenre of romance, under the name of L.E. Klein. Writers often add new pseudonyms when diversifying into new writing realms. Diversification allows the readers to know exactly what "Brand" they can expect. For example, Jayne Ann Krentz, beloved by many, many readers, writes futuristic romantic suspense and suspense; Amanda Quick (another name) writes regencies, and as Stephanie James, she wrote for Silhouette or Jayne Castle in MacFadden years ago. Apologies to Jayne Ann, who is a super long-term author, if I mucked those up. I admire her very much.

Another example would be Barbara Samuel, writing earlier as Ruth Wind, writing now as Barbara O'Neal. Yet a perfect example would be Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb, again 2 different styles/branding.

Many erotica writers take pseudonyms to fit into the genre, and/or because they wish their privacy.

The benefits of a pseudonym boil down to: privacy and branding of different styles. The disadvantages are that it takes a lot of effort in cross-marketing to draw attention to a new pseudonym, and that there can be confusion in doing so. Cross-marketing isn't easy and calls for development of a whole new style of ad work and that takes tremendous energy.

All this is a difficult choice. A very individual choice per writer.

Do you think a writer should maintain one name, either real or a pseudonym, or diversify?

1 comment:

Rain said...

As a reader I think the different names make sense if the style of writing is going to be different. I do though like it when somewhere I can learn the other names to give a writer I like in one genre a try in another.

What I did, years back when I began a blog, was use a mix of my maiden name and one I had taken for myself when I began chatting online in chat rooms. The reasons then were self-protection-- not wanting someone to to find me easily if they got obsessed or angry at something I had said. I suspect a hacker could have found me anyway.

When I was trying to get my fiction published (getting nowhere with it, I might add), I tried various names but never settled on one. That was all ten years ago though. It wasn't until I decided to put those updated romances into eBooks, that I knew it was a no-brainer what I'd be using-- the name on my blog-- Rain Trueax.