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Should I use a pen name for my fantasy lesbian romances?

  1. Yes, you should

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  2. No, there's no need to

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  1. btn1799

    btn1799 New Member

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    Help with if I need to use a pen name or not?

    Discussion in 'Traditional Publishing' started by btn1799, Jan 21, 2021.

    Hi! Sorry if I posted this in the wrong place, I'm brand new here.
    I was hoping I could have some writers' opinions on a concern of mine: should I be writing under two names, or one?
    As a lesbian, I want to write fantasy books with lesbian romances, in addition to many other fantasy book ideas I have without any romance.
    I'm worried if I write them all under the same name, people might not read my non-romantic books because of homophobia. I'd like to write them all under the same name, but I also don't want to drastically limit my audience by doing so.
    If anyone here as any experience with the LGBT writing market, or even just has some thoughts on the matter, I'd really appreciate hearing from you! I've also included a poll if you'd rather just vote instead of commenting.
    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    paging @Laurin Kelly

    That aside - I wouldnt worry about it too much until you've got a deal as your publisher will need to know who you really are anyway
     
  3. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    There is no need, there is only want. I agree with the moose though, this isn't something to worry about until you have books at the stage of publication. Keep in mind that no matter what you do, whoever is paying you needs to know who you really are for tax purposes.
     
  4. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Reporting for duty SIR! :D

    Personally I wrote under a pen name mostly because of the explicit content of my books. I didn't need a prospective boss or elderly relative running across my books with swearing and penises all over the place. And as a straight lady, some people think it's just super weird that I've exclusively published gay romance.

    That said, it's not at all unusual to use different pen names for different genres. One of my good friends writes m/m romance, straight romance and YA under all different pen names. Even Nora Roberts, an icon of the Romance industry, publishes her futuristic Romantic Suspense novels under a different pen name - JD Robb.

    That said, the most important thing is to write the books! Pen names and such can come much later, when you are at the point of submitting to trad publishers or self publishing.
     
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  5. More

    More Active Member

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    I not sure I agree with the idea, don't worry about pen names, until you have a publisher. Books are a product and products need a brand name, and your pen name will be your brand name. If you have several pen names, each pen name will need to produce something different. It will be easier to do that if you start using the name and style of the pen name from the word go.
     
  6. TheEndOfMrsY

    TheEndOfMrsY Active Member

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    I agree with the above that you would need to have found a publisher first.

    However, hypothetically say you did find a publisher.
    Should you use a pen name?
    Not for the reasons you're thinking of.

    I don't think working around bigoted people is helpful, not even to bigoted people. Pretending like people have to have separate identities to write about different things is ridiculous for that reason. If you write a fantastic story and someone won't read it because you've written other things they don't agree with, then it's their loss. Simple as.
     
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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The thing is that its actually your loss... because if they won't read it they don't buy it, and if they don't buy it you don't majke a sale... thats one reason why publishers sometimes have authors use different names for different genres
     
  8. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    My favorite author, the late Iain (M.) Banks used two names as my reference suggests. For his SF books, he wrote under the name Iain Banks. For his literary fiction, he wrote under the name Iain M. Banks (the origin of the middle initial is another story entirely). By doing so he was able to signal to readers what sort of book they were getting into without "hiding" his other side.

    OTOH Anne Rice wrote supernatural vampire stuff as Anne Rice, BDSM stuff as Anne Rampling, and something or other else as A.N. Roquelaure. Bit confusing having three different names, I think.
     
  9. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    Names are branding, plain and simple. A name that has success often means people expect the same style product again and again. Actors call this being typecast. They can't change their face, by Author's can change their name and photo.

    About Stephen King from wiki: "At the beginning of Stephen King's career, the general view among publishers was that an author was limited to one book per year, since publishing more would be unacceptable to the public. King therefore wanted to write under another name, in order to increase his publication without over-saturating the market for the King "brand". He convinced his publisher, Signet Books, to print these novels under a pseudonym." That name is Richard Bachman, complete with fake photo (they used a photo if his agent).

    Lower brow Johnny Walker whiskeys use the Johnny Walker brand. The top shelf stuff goes by John Walker and Sons. Same company, different brands for different levels of product / markets.

    What's your brand and what's the product?
     
  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Whoa, whoa, whoa... what? Where?
     
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  11. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

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    Homer Potvin likes this.
  12. Malum

    Malum Offline Supporter

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    Interesting, I always loathed his retrospective treatment of Rage...artistic freedom and all that. As much as a fan as I've always been.
     
  13. Cephus

    Cephus Contributor Contributor

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    When people read a book in a genre they like, they will keep going back to that author. It's about keeping your audience happy. If you write in different genres, you're just going to piss people off because they are going to expect X when you are delivering Y. So you use different names to brand your different styles of work.
     
  14. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I think a lot of incentive to build pseudonym branding for risque product lines is not so much about helping out bigots as it is about helping out my different customer segments. Brand recognition is a heuristic consumers use to evaluate the risk associated with buying a product. This isn't just an author thing, it's a general marketing strategy.

    By publishing my violent space opera under A and my regency period romances under B, I reduce marketplace confusion about what type of book this is that I'm publishing this afternoon.


    And the second concern is for those of us with day jobs. That uptight person might be my boss, and it's 100% my loss if I lose my family's healthcare because my side gig publishing coming of age novels for tween girls is revealed to her. Or more realistically, that my employer considers side gigs a betrayal of company loyalty, and it will impact my contract renewal prospects.


    Rewinding a bit, also note that some brands operate with multiple authors. In other words: Syndication. Nancy Drew and that cluster of series, which had dozens of authors, all using the same pseudonym. The purpose was not to protect authors, but to maintain branding


    Edited to add:
    Full disclosure: I haven't figured this out yet.

    In particular, I'm not sure how to consolidate these onto a website, for example. At the moment, I have domains for each pseudonym because of the employer situation. But once I leave this employer and it ceases to be an issue, I'm leaning toward a master website in my real name with tabs for each of the pseudonyms and their herd of titles.

    Social media handles is another topic, similar problems.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2021

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