Should Authors Use Pen Names for Different Genres?

(image credit: JohnWDavisJr)

A lot of authors write in more than one genre. Some use pen names for the switch, others don’t. For example, La Nora write various types of romance (contemporary, paranormal, historical) as Nora Roberts, and mysteries (often with romance) under the name J.D. Robb. Stephanie Meyer — er, writes — YA paranormal and sci-fi thriller…sort of…and uses the same name. Anne Rice has written historical and horror, and erotica under the pen names Anne Rampling and A.N. Roquelaire.

Stephen King became Richard Bachman for awhile (but wrote the same kinds of books). Clive Barker, John Grisham, and “James Patterson” (no one’s ever sure which books Patterson actually writes any more) have all released YA titles under their own names, after successfully writing various types of adult fiction. Neil Gaiman writes novels, screenplays, comics, and graphic novels for adults, children, rag dolls, and aliens — but he’s Neil Gaiman and can do whatever he wants.

All of these authors have one thing in common: They were well-known before they branched out to other genres. But what about not-so-famous authors? Would it turn you off to discover a writer that no one’s ever heard of before, and then learn that said writer was a genre whore who (mostly) used the same name for different genres?

Just curious…

–S.W. Vaughn, non-famous genre whore

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “Should Authors Use Pen Names for Different Genres?

  1. If Neil Gaiman isn’t a genre whore (first time I’ve seen that expression) why attach it to anyone else? Are you allowed to write in different genres under your own name only if you’re famous? I can see using pseudonyms if you write erotica and kids’ books. But that’s an extreme. The genre ghettoes have come about because readers supposedly want their favorite writers to write only what they’ve come to like and expect. I appreciate it when a writer I like tries something new. I might not care for the new direction, but I’m not going to bitch and moan about it. Or I might love it. Who knows? I like the House Phoenix series, but I will never read your erotic romances, under any name, because that’s not a genre I enjoy. But I certainly don’t expect you to pretend that you’re someone else when you write them.

  2. Thank you, Catana! I’m glad to know that not everyone thinks authors have to stick to one genre, always. And my erotica is definitely not going to cross over for many readers. 🙂

    As for the genre whore thing… that’s what I called myself, kind of on the spur of the moment. I’ve done a little commercial publishing, and one is expected to take a different name should one change genres or have terrible sales.

    The more I think about it, the more I don’t want to have to change my name just because accountants said to do it. 🙂

    • I don’t doubt that there are readers who are upset when their favorite author tries a new genre, but are they in the majority, or is that idea just something that publishers have put around? They market by genre, so they have every reason to believe the distinctions need to be made clear. So that, though it doesn’t get discussed too often, is one of the beauties of self-publishing. One more area where the publishers don’t make the rules and you’re free to try whatever hits your writer’s buttons.

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