Pen names, nom de plumes – an ‘old timer’s’ perspective
I’m what’s more commonly known as an ‘old timer’ in the writer’s community. Pre-self publishing, which I’m having a blast in, I was published by other people, under several different names. Most of the books were ghost-written – that is, they were bought from me, under the condition that i didn’t actually mention the books themselves as mine. I still get the shivers seeing one of them in several stores actually. It’s nice to know that it did well.
After that though, I decided that I wanted to write for myself. And I did. I spent a long time developing a pen name plan – and I needed one. Erotica writers back in 2005 had to keep their ‘other work’ separate – we even had to be hosted separately on sites and hosts that allowed adult material.
It made sense back then – erotica was transgressive, rather than closer to mainstream, and many erotica writers had families, and wrote other books. As it was also more difficult to publish back then, the predominant thought was erotica was ‘for fun’ – people wouldn’t consider it as their main career, and would grab a pen name just to separate and segregate. Many of my friends also told me they also saw it as kinda like taking a stage name.
And that worked – very well – though, it always did sit badly with me that I was separating my work. But it was what was called for. And now? I think it’s still a good idea.
Three reasons why it’s a good idea
- 1) There is NO REASON to publish under one pen name – Self publishing makes it easy to separate stuff off – and with a little promotion, and a lot of writing, you can keep two or more pen names ticking over. And it makes the most sense to split erotica off from other writing.
- Pen names allow you to develop different readership – which, in turn means you can make friends, and shape your career. And in shaping your career, you’ll find the easiest way to handle that is to decide whether to write one type of story, or another.
It’s also important to remember that ‘erotica’ doesn’t mean no story – develop good stories with spicy elements and you’ll succeed.
- Writing and promoting does become more difficult with more than one page to manage – so if you want to make it slightly easier, you can be ‘open’ about your pen names – so people know who you are, but also know where you are if they want to follow you to your other names. It means you can also cross promote without looking like you’re being deliberately misleading. One slip and people will know anyway, so tell them.
As to my pen names. I can introduce you to three now.
D Kai Wilson-Viola (sci fi/police) – Glass Block is out on the 21st – it’s my debut novel in that name.
Sabrann Curach (horror) [amazon asin=B008ZSGMYC&text=Footnotes to a Lesson US][amazon asin=B007NZIX54&text=Footnotes to a Lesson Uk]
Lady Fayth C Reeves (erotica) – [amazon asin=B0054R6Q66&text=What could I do US] [amazon asin=B0054R6Q66&text=What could I do UK]