Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What's in a name?

Over the last day or so, I've been toying with the idea of writing under a different name.

For starters, the story-lines wouldn't be necessarily erotic, though there'd be romance ('cause I'm a sucker romance) and sex, most likely, but nothing explicit or too graphic. Just something a little lighter and outside my immediate target audience. I suppose the only reason why a different name would be necessary is so readers won't buy something for the heat, and be disgruntled when they don't get what they expect. Likewise, one of my author buds wrote some killer-smokin' stuff under the same name she wrote her urban fantasy, and was accused of writing pornography by those readers who don't like it hot.

Then again, I've been writing explicit sex scenes so long, it might just come naturally (hahaha, pun).

So I ask you: if an author's planning on toning down the heat for a WIP, would it make it easier for readers to differentiate the stuff from The Stuff by using a different name?

Just to be clear: I wouldn't separate my material in terms of blog or website. Everything I release will be mentioned here, or somewhere you guys can find me.


Skyla Dawn said...

The one thing to remember is that even if you link the names through your blog/website, it's still essentially starting a brand from scratch. Someone browsing Fictionwise or Kindle, for example, might see the new book by Jane Doe and not realize it was by their favourite author Rosalie Stanton, and therefore skim over it. Only a fraction of our readers check out our websites--many just have alerts at online stores to tell them when a new title by us pops up.

I know a lot of writers who use different pen names for different genres for the very reason you mention, and it can be helpful. But I know others who have found it a lot harder to build up a second brand. Unless the genres are VASTLY different (like if you started writing clean Christian historical romance, and if you do, please let me know 'cause I bet that would be entertaining!), I don't think it's necessary to use a pen name.

Rosalie Stanton said...

I'm imagining me writing Christian historical romance. It's not pretty....but it is pretty funny.

You mention several very, very good observations -- and this was the side I think I needed to hear. It'd be hard and likely not worth it, and since I plan on including some form of smex in it anyway, the point might as well consider itself defeated. As I said, I'm not sure how tame it'll be until I get there. Tame enough to go where I want these stories to go (and being that I asked you about this yesterday, I'm guessing you know where), but not to the point where those readers would be all huffy that my other stuff contains teh!sex.

Thanks for weighing in! I appreciate it.

Skyla Dawn said...

I know authors (via work) who have no fewer than three pen names. Now, even within erotica, this can be a good idea. Writers usually have one name for M/M and one for other genres, like F/F or hetero stuff. And I know others who write hot but vanilla romance use a pen name for their erotic stuff that they keep totally separate. But they've often looked at new books launched under a different pen name and been surprised to find sales low, not realizing they're creating a new brand. Brands take time.

I think what you'll have to ask yourself when you're done the book in question is, "Is this a Rosalie Stanton book?" Does it have all of the elements that make up what your readers would consider a Rosalie Stanton book regardless of the heat of the smex (which, really, is only one element overall). If so, then you have your answer. Someone will always get huffy about something, and usually it's due to their own stupidity, which you can't really prevent.

Rosalie Stanton said...

And that makes total sense. If I ever decided to write menage, for instance, I know I'd want it under a different name...but the more I think about it, the more sense you make. My voice wouldn't change -- just the heat level.

Again, thanks for weighing in, Skyla. I really appreciate it.

Kara Helen said...

I agree with Skyla - as long as the overall tone or genre isn't going to change, then I wouldn't worry about putting it under a different name. While your books have a great heat level, there's more to them than just that and that's what people (generally) go for.
I would only see having multiple names if you were making a major genre change.

Rosalie Stanton said...

Thanks, Kara. That does make a lot of sense....and while I do have several stories out there that are just fun sex romps, that's not what I most enjoy writing....though it is fun, don't get me wrong. I get more excited about a complex plot than anything else.

I really, really appreciate both of you weighing in, here.