Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Writer by Any Other Name

By Mary Sutton / @marysutton_73

I've got names on the brain lately.

If you're a Shakespeare fan, you're familiar with Juliet's thoughts on the topic of names.

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part Belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;

I've written in multiple genres and I love them all: mystery (police procedural and traditional), romance (with and without sex), and middle-grade fantasy. I don't want to stop writing any of them. But I've worried about the whole name vs. pseudonym thing. I thought I had put it to rest when a published author I knew advised not to worry about it because maintaining multiple "brands" (an author's name is essentially her "brand") is difficult. If people can't read the genre on the cover, that's their problem.

But then I saw this post on The Naked Hero about following authors across brands. Now I'm second-guessing myself. And I'm really good at that.

To a certain extent, this is all putting the cart before the horse. I haven't been published yet. But chances are that middle grade fantasy will be the first thing to hit the virtual shelves. If I use my true name, am I going to have to come up with another name for everything else?

Argh. It's enough to give someone multiple personality disorder. And maybe that's how cross-genre authors feel.

So, dear readers, what do you think? Would you follow an author across genres if you really liked her writing?

Image courtesy of cellar_door_films used under Creative Commons


  1. Plenty of authors have crossed between genres and use one name.

    Terry Pratchett (humor and non-humor), Isaac Asimov (he wrote fiction and non), Madeline L'Engle (youth and adult writing), Piers Anthony (sci-fi and fantasy).

    However, if you write kids books and erotica, readers might get confused and upset. XD

    1. No, no erotica. I'm not that hard core. =)

  2. Some authors I've followed across genres -- Isaac Asimov, Andrew Greeley, Dana Stabenow (who I wish would write more SF). But for myself, I prefer using different names. I write science fiction and fantasy under my own name, Erin M. Hartshorn. Mysteries go under Sara Penhallow. Paranormal romance is Doru Walker. I have a middle-grade horror (horror lite!) that I'm thinking of sending out to traditional publishers, and I don't know whether that'll be under my own name or a variant to show that it's intended for a slightly different audience than my SF/F.

    Doru Walker has no web presence.

    Sara Penhallow has a Twitter account (which I don't use very often) and a blog that I update once every week or two.

    Erin M. Hartshorn is everywhere on the Web.

    So the way I deal with multiple brands is by defining how much work I want to devote to each.

    1. That's where I get hung up. I really don't want to have a web presence for every name. I know I won't keep up with it. So maybe the best thing is that if I go by a pen name at some point, I just put my real name/Twitter handle/web presence in the author notes.

      Thanks for the input!