Pen Names

I had a really interesting question asked the other day, and it’s already not what you think.

Someone asked me, “What’s one question indie authors ask that you don’t answer?”

I’m betting they were thinking about money or how things have changed since 2011 or something about my own career…but nope!

The question I no longer answer is: Should I start another pen name?

Usually this question is around genres or subgenres (not a marketing strategy specifically or you’ve killed your rep and want to secretly start over). My answer almost all the time is no. Especially if you’re thinking “And I’ll just tell everyone it’s me.”

I’ve killed off Caitie Quinn. (I’ve taken that name off the covers and am phasing it out of my releases. Soon on the Bria name will stand. I needed the CQ name because of an agreement I made that is no longer in play before I began self-publishing.) I’m thinking of having a memorial service and everything because it’s so hard to make people aware that two pen names are one person.

My thoughts on this are: the name shouldn’t be the flag of This Is Different! If that’s the only thing that’s going to signal to readers that you’re writing something off your initial brand, then you’re missing the  marketing boat. Your cover, blurb, marketing ads, etc should be doing that.

As for YA (as someone who writes both), teens aren’t stupid. Can we please stop acting like teens are stupid?

If they want to read hot, adult focused romances, they’re going to read them.

If they don’t want to, the chances of them “accidentally” picking one up AND reading the whole thing are pretty darn slim (see the note above about teens not being stupid.)

Places I can see wanting two pen names are Erotica and Inspie. If one (or both, hey! It happens!) are your cross-over genre, then I can see making a super clear line. But if not–especially if you’re going to just tell everyone that’s you anyway–no. I vote no. And honestly, for I kind of think there’s no reason for Erotica any more either with how hot things are. Maybe if you write no-sex and are suddenly writing super kink, then…yeah.

I’m not going to lie, the marketing was a pain and time consuming. A lot of people I spoke to hated it after the fact because of  “double marketing” (as one put it). Making sure people know it’s you is a pain. I have people I know PERSONALLY who didn’t know I was Caitie Quinn until I finalled in the RITAs…and that was with BOTH pen names on the books. So, yeah. I vote no.

And….there, the question I never answer.

YMMV, but hey. It’s my blog 😉


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