Thursday, January 10, 2013

How Many Names Does An Author Need? by DL Larson

We've all heard it before ... don't confuse your readers by genre hopping.  Stick to one genre as a writer.  Then we see famous writers using different names for their various audiences.  J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts, Ann Maxwell is Elizabeth Lowell, etc. are just a few that come to mind.  And I wonder are readers really confused or is the confusion thrust upon them?  Do they not see what section of the bookstore they are standing in?  Do they not read the backcover blurb we writers make as inticing as possible?  I ask, doesn't the confusion come from trying to find an author with many names?

I've been confused for years, no doubt about that.  But this "fear" that readers won't follow a writer to another genre seems a pretty weak excuse to me.  So creating another name makes it all better?  How, I ask?  If I find an author I like, I want to read as much as that particular author has available.  Name changing, for me, simply makes it more difficult to find my fav author.  I don't always remember the new name they've taken.  Again, I ask, how is this productive for anyone? 

Perhaps this is more a financial situation than a reading one.  Example: The author of romance makes X amount of money while author of sci-fi makes another.  Is it simply a tally system that we, the public, have no control over and must search through the stacks to find all the books by our favorite authors because publishing houses don't want to get confused on more than one genre per author?  I can't imagine the many named authors need such an archaic system. 

Many publishing houses request separate names for the author who writes in more than one genre.  Some will not allow the author to take their pen name if they move beyond their present genre.  The publishers feel they helped create the audience of said author and basically don't want to miss out on the $$$ to be made in another book category. 

So, I've basically answered my own question.  It comes down to money.  But then, it always does.  Still, those who have ventured out on your own, will you chose another name if you cross into another genre?
Or will you keep your original pen name?  What benefits do you see to using one name over several?

Share your thoughts with us.

Til next time ~

DL Larson


Morgan Mandel said...

I thought of changing my pen name for each genre I write, but everyone said to keep the same one. That way I wouldn't lose any of the momentum I'd already built with my name.

Morgan Mandel

Deb Larson said...

I agree wholeheartedly! I'm sticking to one name too.
DL Larson

Rosalie Marsh. Author said...

Given that an author has to build an author platform, the author who has multiple names/genres would have to build a platform for each. Much better to consolidate, build one platform and show the many facets of the author.Surely this adds interest? I write under two non-fiction genres with one author name.
Rosalie Marsh

Deb Larson said...

I agree! It's difficult enough to build a readership. But I know also that many publishers don't want an author to step away from their particular genre. I have several friends who can not write under their pen name unless it is in that genre.
Rosalie, I like what you said about showing the many facets of an author. I don't like being pigeon holed into one specific thing!!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Debra St. John said...

The only cross genre hopping I plan to do someday is add a historical title (and maybe a time travel) to the usual contemporaries I write. No name changing for me...

Margot Justes said...

Wonderful post.I have a paranormal coming out this year, and will not change my name. It's difficult enough to manage everything under one name. My Vampire will see the light of day under my own name.