Vicki's Book News and Articles

Business: Writing Under Different Names

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 28, 2010

Vicki Hinze © 2000-2011

Vicki Hinze © 2001

Q. I’ve just written a children’s book and am about to submit it to a publisher, but because my main focus is on, and I have written, women’s mainstream fiction, I’m not sure whether I should use the same name or if I should use a different pen name. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

A. My personal policy has been to use different names for different types of fiction. BUT all of those were in the same basic genre, just totally different types of books. In your situation, with your main body of work being mainstream women’s fiction and this children’s book being so clearly defined as different, I’d use the same name.
My rationale is this: Each new name requires separate, educational marketing. You have to let your existing readers know that you’re you, just writing under a different name. That takes time, effort, and money to successfully accomplish. As I said, if the types of books were in the same genre only very different, it would be worth doing because then you don’t violate reader expectation. They KNOW to expect something very different than the books of yours they’ve read previously. Reader expectation is, IMHO, inviolate. You disappoint a reader and odds are high you’ll lose them forever. Why risk it?
The alternative is to do what Nora Roberts did for her J.D. Robb pseudonym, and that is to lay out a publicity/marketing campaign that notifies readers this is the same writer but exploring something totally different. Then readers are not disappointed; they’re expecting that something different.
Needless to say, that type educational marketing campaign can be time consuming and expensive.
But your particular situation is different in that you’re in two totally different genres and the designations are clear. No reader is going to confuse a children’s book with mainstream women’s fiction. Because the odds weigh heavily in your favor of not violating reader expectation, I’d use the same name–and save my time, energy, and money for writing!*


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