Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Pen Name

To Pseudonym or not to pseudonym, that is the question. Many authors do it for privacy. Some do it for safety reasons. Some readers will really hate your stuff, others will really love it. And hey, we've all read/seen Stephen King's Misery, right? Then there are the authors who can't tell others about their alter egos, for fear of losing their day jobs.

Many occupations have a morality clause in their contracts. Some banking and teaching positions mandate their employees adhere to strict conduct. And in the romance world, what one person considers romance another considers offensive material. Hence the pen name.

What do you think about writers that use one name to write all their books, no matter the genre? Personally, I prefer an author to shift names if they write in different genres. I remember the first time I read an Iris Johansen book that wasn't a romance, but a suspense with romantic elements. I felt like I'd been mislead. Same for the Julie Garwood books that turned from romance to suspense. That's not to say I don't like the authors' other books, but I bought them because I'd thought they were romances. Upon reading them later, after knowing what to expect, I could then enjoy them.

Right now, I write erotic romance in several genres. But when you pick up one of my books, you know that whether it's a futuristic, a paranormal or a contemporary, you'll be reading a "hot" story. I started out trying my hand at category romance (shocker) and recently revised and retooled an old story of mine that I still love. I'm going to shop it around... under a DIFFERENT name. Why? Because it's sexy, but it's not as hot as the books I currently write. And I don't want readers to be confused.

So my vote is for authors to use pen names. I don't wantto think I'm buying book X and get book Y. My two cents, for what it's worth.


Deena said...

I'm with you. I thought Anne Rice got that one right. I liked her vampire chronicles, but if I'd picked up the Beauty series under her name just because it was her name, I would have been in for a shock.

Misti C. said...

I agree with using different pen names too. I like to know what to expect when I buy a book. If its by an author that I like, I rarely read the blurb. Different pen names save me from disappointment! :)

Marie Harte said...

I agree, Deena. That would have been QUITE a shocker. The Beauty series was very different from her vampires. :) Marie

Marie Harte said...


I was also burned on Elizabeth Lowell, when she turned to suspense with romantic elements vice just romance. I don't mind the books so long as I know what I'm getting into. But you can really get bummed when you buy a book thinking one thing and actually get another.