Saturday, April 27, 2013

Different Strokes for Different Folks, But Different Names?

Let’s start with genres. Some writers are able to conquer more than one, most of them closely related. Like mystery and romantic suspense. Even romance and mystery are related and many do both of these. This brings us to the topic I want to discuss: names.

I know several authors who use more than one name for publication. Okay, I AM one. So far I’ve used two, but in 2014 will have a book out with a third name. What are the reasons for using different names and are those reasons valid?

**Here’s what I’ve come up with on using multiple names.

PRO: Using one name per genre is less confusing to readers.
CON: If a reader likes your writing in one genre, the reader might like it in another and you’d be easier to find with only one name.

**On using a pen name.

PRO: Your real name is hard to remember/pronounce/spell.
CON: Look at Janet Evanovich. Had anyone heard of that name before she made it big? An unusual name is more memorable.

PRO: You want to protect your job/spouse/family by using a pen name.
CON: Nothing occurs to me for this.

Personally, I’m participating in a couple of the above. My real name is hard to remember and spell, so I came up with Kaye George as a pen name. However, when I wrote a book solely for my grandkids I used my real name, Judy Egner, so that would be less confusing for them. Another book for another grandkid is in the works if I ever put aside the time to finish it. My third name, Janet  Cantrell, is being used for a hired work, so that was necessary and not a choice for me (although I did choose the name).

However, when my Neanderthal mystery is published, I’ll use the same pen name I’ve used for most of my work, Kaye George. It IS a mystery, but it’s very different from my other mysteries. I’ve written the gamut under this name from cozy and light and fluffy, to medium and traditional, to tough and hard-boiled to horror. One of my cousins read one of my horror tales (“The Bathroom”) and said she was afraid to read anything else by me. Exactly the reaction I want! Except that I want people to read my horror who are looking for horror! That cousin prefers cozies. I did steer her away from the rest of my horror stories. I hope she read something else eventually.

Maybe it’s a mistake not to differentiate my work with different names. Maybe not. It’s a little late to change that now, though!


Jean Henry Mead said...


I've used five names over the years and it confuses interviewers. If I could do it over, I'd stick with my own name. I also write in four genres: mystery, juvenile, Wyoming historicals, and a variety of nonfiction subgenres. I'm going to concentrate on mysteries for a while. :)

Kathleen Kaska said...

Since my last name is a bit unusual, I decided to use it exclusively. Once I become "famous," it will be a household word. (smile)

Morgan Mandel said...

I was thinking of using a different pen name when switching from romance to mystery/thrillers, but everyone said I'd built up my following, and leave things be.

It seemed easier that way, so that's what I did!

Morgan Mandel