Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pesky Pen Names

While most of you (who are not writers) may not empathize with my plight, those who know me well enough will know that I write commercial fiction under a pen name.

... And yes, some of the material written under that pen name is for adults only, or at least those looking for paranormal romantic suspense with no holds barred or general erotica with the slightest hint of a plot.

Anyway, I recently wrote a sequel to a paranormal romantic suspense (crime) novel that was rather risque. The sequel was not risque. In fact the story begins and ends with the main character assumed to still be a virgin. The sequel was pure paranormal romantic suspense that could be read by someone of any age, and it was a dismal flop. Well, maybe not a dismal flop, but a flop nonetheless. It would have been a dismal flop but it managed to sell one copy through one channel (Amazon) so far this month of January.

After talking to some of my writer friends about this, I was convinced that, in no uncertain terms, I should have release this under another pen name. I was actually told by at least one of my author friends, or rather, warned, that I should release the book using some name other than the one I use for general erotic stories. I guess I just didn't listen.

What is it about pen names anyway? I've noticed some authors write exclusively under a pen name, or many, while others stick to their real names.

Jim Grant writes under one pen name for all his stories. You might know this author as there was recently a movie released (oddly enough, on December 21st) based on one of his books and starring Tom Cruise as Jack Reacher. Yes, I'm talking about Lee Child. He is one of my favorite authors of suspense and crime fiction. That is, until he allowed the movie industry to cast the diminutive Tom Cruise to play a character that is six foot-five. Yes, I'm still bitter.

I'm not sure how many of you might know of Lawrence Block. He is a crime and suspense author writing such books as:
A Drop of the Hard Stuff, 2012
Lucky at Cards, 2011
The Girl With the Long Green Heart, 2011
Grifter's Game, 2011
Tanner's Tiger, 2007

The list could go on forever, but if you are not familiar with these stories, you might have read something under one of the many other pen names he's been known to use such as:

Chip Harrison
Paul Kavanagh
Lee Duncan
Sheldon Lord
Jill Emerson
Lesley Evens
Andrew Shaw
Ben Christopher
John Warren Wells

Again, these are just the pen names I'm aware of. I'm sure there have been others. Some of this author's more 'adult' stories were written as Sheldon Lord, Lesley Evens,and Andrew Shaw. Jill Emerson is the name used to write lesbian erotica in the fifties and sixties that is still popular today.

So, I guess using more than one pen name might not be so bad after all. Don't be surprised if you find some of my material re-released in the future under a different name. Just remember, it will still be me writing the material.