Multi-genre Authors + Pen Names = We Can’t Win

I read a post earlier this morning on Romancing the Blog, Genre-Jumping Authors: Love ‘Em Or Leave ‘Em? Basically, whether or not readers like authors who write in multiple sub/genres or not. The comments, to be frank, fucking disturbed me.

Several people said outright that if an author they considered “auto-buy” deviated from her norm and published a different book than they expected, they would drop her like a hot potato. If the book in question is not a romance but is labeled as one, then they have every right to be fucking pissed. But some of these people were saying that romance writers should use different pen names per sub-genre, much less for other genres like mystery or fantasy. WTF?

I’m not understanding how somebody can not realize that a book isn’t a romance.

  1. If you’re in a bookstore or library, the book very well may be shelved somewhere other than romance. This ought be a dead giveaway.
  2. The spine will usually say something else besides “romance.”
  3. The back cover copy should also be a clue.
  4. If you mainly order online, most romance authors will mention books are in different genres on their website.

If both the publisher and the author are deliberately misleading, then yes, you should be pissed. But I truly do not understand the thought process behind “use a different name.” People say you can cross-promote, but it isn’t always that easy. Promotion for one pen name takes a lot of time, much less multiple. If you’re print published, most readers are going to pick books up based on author name or cover art. If you’re using a different name, readers aren’t going to recognize your name. As far as they’re concerned, you’re another new author. Very few writers who use pen names get to put “Mary Sue writing as Dora Delany” on the cover. What you’re left with is people who read the bios in the back of the book, and those who read your website.

What about authors like myself, who have a setting they use for multiple genres? The Twilight Deception is a paranormal romance, but I also have an urban fantasy novel (in progress) and an epic fantasy (on hold) in the same setting, along with many other stories. It’s going to look very damn odd if what appears to be two different authors reference things from the same setting.

And for all the readers who complain about authors who don’t use pen names, there are readers who complain about ones who do.

We can’t fucking win.

One Reply to “Multi-genre Authors + Pen Names = We Can’t Win”

  1. Hallelujah! What are we supposed to do? My first book is getting a ton of good comments from prospective agents but ultimately it’s too “on the edge” (meaning, not an edgy book, but so entire sujected to whether the reader can handle the subject matter or not that it’s likely to end my career as much as start it). So what’s a girl who wants to do dark fantast, urban fantasy, out right horror, paranormal forensics… what’s a writer to do? I’m just not getting one name established in the genre, do I have to come up with a new name and new record for every genre and sub genre I want to write?? I pick and chose which books I like and don’t care for in my prefered authors, why can’t everyone else do so too?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *