To be (yourself) or not to be (yourself). Pen names are the question.

Okay there are several  schools of though on this one. The first is that it’s a waste of time and likely to result in terminal confusion for you and your readership.
Social media is the necessary evil we all have to face in order to get our work known.
In the past–getting your work known involved promotion from the publisher.
Now, we have the power to build platforms ourselves. So if you write under more than one name, isn’t it just twice or three times the effort? Let me just climb up there on that fence for a moment. What reasons might we have for wanting to write under a nom de plume?
THE BAD.

  • Privacy: Forget it. Google will find you out.
  • I don’t like my name: Well, okay, that maybe a reason. But being unique is becoming increasingly difficult these days. Ever heard the word googleganger? So, if you are A K Spindikichop (apologies if there is), maybe its time to hang on, not bail out.
  • It’s a lot more work: Blogging, twitter etc etc as more than one person takes a lot of effort. (believe me I know)

More here on why not to do it from Kirsten Lamb

THE GOOD
Marketing.
•    You won’t screw with your own search engine rankings.
•    It allows for more targeted social networking. Not everything I say to children as Rhys A Jones applies to contemporary fantasy fans as DC Farmer, for example. Might even do some harm. Now if someone from either camp wants to look up my other pen names,  that’s different.
•    Present the appropriate persona that’s correct for your audience. Would you rather give out business cards tied to your pen name in the genre or one for your real name which you used for psychological thrillers?
•    Tremendous opportunities for cross-promotion.
•    BRANDING—ties in with covers etc.
•    Perseverance–as Kristine Rusch says: Eleanor Burford Hibbert had at least nine pen names. Three of them became bestsellers—Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, and Philippa Carr. The others helped Hibbert pay the bills before Mistress of Mellyn took off in 1960. The Holt books pretty much created the romantic suspense genre, and influenced millions.

Success in writing comes not just with promotion and marketing and Tweeting and blogging and begging people to buy your very first novel. It comes with persistence and patience and writing a great deal. Twenty years from first publication to bestsellerdom. Twenty long and clearly frustrating years.
•    More from Ms Rusch in her excellent summary blog piece for 2012 tidbits here.
•    So, my message is?  Do what you want, have as many pen names as you want, but be sure you’re doing it for the right (good) reasons

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