Pen Names

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Recently I was doing an author interview and the question came up whether I'd ever considered using a pen name.  

It's a tricky topic.  I write in several genres, and I've heard other authors recommend that you use pseudonyms for the different types of work you do.  One reason is that you don't want to confuse your readers.  Let's say that you write sweet historical romance and then write a steamy paranormal romantic thriller.  If your original readers pick it up without realizing and then read it expecting what they're used to, they may be disappointed or even feel betrayed.  

In my case, I've decided that my travel writing and my fiction are so different that I don't think I'll confuse my readers if I use the same name. They won't likely pick up Cruising Alaska on a Budget and assume it's a YA fantasy like Far-Knowing.  

I've also published contemporary and sci fi short stories, all under my name.  I haven't quite decided if that's a good move or not.  On one hand, my work may seem a bit scattered--various target ages, various genres.  Some readers don't like reading outside of a certain type of fiction, so it may be harder to build a solid following.  On the other hand, I know authors who write in different genres or for different age levels and I seek out all their writing.  Plus, using the same name streamlines the marketing and allows all my work to build on itself.  

It would be interesting to hear more thoughts on the topic, so leave your comments and experiences below.  

Some of my different work, all under the same name:

Far-Knowing, a YA Fantasy
Leaving Home, a collection of flash fiction, short stories, and travel essays across various genres

Being an Arizona girl, Melinda Brasher loves glaciers, streams, whales, bald eagles, and real trees with green leaves.  That's why she's in love with Alaska.  If you want to see a bit of Alaska for yourself, check out her latest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; A Cruise and Port Guide.  Read it for free with Kindle Unlimited.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

In terms of marketing, it can help and hinder. It is very hard to appear on TV for interviews and pretend to be another person and somehow keep it a secret that you are writing under a pseudonym.

Karen Cioffi said...

Melinda, I agree with Carolyn. It does help with your marketing. But, if you're a children's writer and decide to venture into the 'steamy' niche, I'm not sure if using your children's writing name would be a wise move. In fact, probably not at all.

Melinda Brasher said...

Yes, I think the most important thing is the "heat level" and the violence level. I don't think any of my readers would be horribly offended or negatively shocked by any of my other work, regardless of genre.

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