Authors switch names to differentiate their writing by genre or subgenre. For example, Alice Alfonsi writes mystery under the name Cleo Coyle. She also writes a paranormal series under the name Alice Kimberly. Readers know what kind of book they are buying when they see each name.
Personally, I don’t like authors to change names. If I like their writing, I want to read them. If I don’t like the subject matter, it doesn’t matter what pseudonym they use. I love Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus series, not so much his one-off books, but at least I can find those books and will try them since I know his name. His books are always well written even if I’m not as attracted to his protagonists or like the various topics as much as I do his “Rebus” novels. I find the change of names like a tiresome shell game.
I’ve used my pseudonym, E. B. Davis, for all my work. But I write different subgenres: cozy mysteries, romantic mystery, paranormal romantic mystery, and generic mystery. Even though I personally don’t like the name game, I wondered if I should establish a new name for each of my writing subgenres for business reasons since it is a common practice in publishing.
After reading Jacqueline Seewald’s blog, “Author Expressions" about authors building a brand, I read many of the interesting comments that other authors wrote expressing their opinions about Ms. Seewald’s blog. Nancy Cohen’s response made me stop in my tracks. I loved her answer, or her agent’s answer, which, having obtained her permission, I’ll share with you.
"I asked my agent when I sold my latest futuristic romance if I should take a pseudonym to distinguish them from my Bad Hair Day mysteries, and he said no because I've already established my name. So that's a different viewpoint. Based on reader comments, I understand that my brand, whatever I write, includes a fast-paced story with mystery, romance, and humor. So I branded, not my series, but myself as an author on my website when I had it redesigned. I identified myself as a Florida author and that's my theme. It's also where many of my books (except the sci fi) are set."After reading her response, I experienced an “Ah-ha,” and then a “Duh” moment when I wondered why I hadn’t thought of that concept. Most authors create pseudonyms to fit the genre they are writing, not by setting because most authors’ settings vary. After I’d written my first two novels and quite a few short stories, I noticed that most of my work is set at the beach. Yes, it was another “Ah-ha”/ “Duh” moment, because I’m so focused on one piece of work at any given time, I hadn’t considered my writing as a body of work. Using the concept Ms. Cohen presented, I realized that my one pseudonym associated with my setting rather than to the subgenre in which I’m working could establish my brand.
What’s your brand? How will you define yourself as a writer?