Advice on Pseudonyms


In April, Megan Nikole asked questions regarding the use of pseudonyms on Twitter, as she struggled with whether or not to deal with multiple author “brands.”

Given that she writes in two disparate genres and doesn’t wish to give her readers of her mysteries a shock when she writes gory thrillers, but didn’t want to have to maintain two separate identities online, I recommended she consider using a pseudonym that separates the two genres of books, but advertise them together on a single web site.

I referred to this as a “soft pseudonym,” for there was not attempt at anonymity, but rather, a way to help readers discern whether or not they wished to pick up her latest book. Those who enjoy cozying up to a nuanced mystery, might not want to plunge into the shock of a thriller filled with gore.

For similar reasons, I have a pseudonym for my strictly erotic content, but since I do wish to maintain some level of anonymity between my legal name (this one) and the hardcore writing, I must put in the extra effort to maintain an extra web site, Twitter account, and Facebook page to ensure their separation.

If you’re delving into these same questions, consider how much effort you wish to put in to developing and maintaining two brands, and whether the content of your writing necessitates separation. The soft pseudonym approach might allow you to avoid upsetting fans of one genre without having to put in much additional effort toward marketing than you do for a single author brand.


4 thoughts on “Advice on Pseudonyms”

  1. This is something I’ve been considering lately, because I write both YA and Adult fiction; the YA is pretty tame, though some of it aimed more at 15+, but the adult fiction is filled with trauma, with psychological suffering, with ghastly acts of violence. One of my worst fears is this sweet 15 year old, looking for YA Romance, coming across my name on an Adult book one day and pick it up, take it home, and discover a horror fest.

    1. That’s certainly of concern. Would you wish to put in the effort of developing and maintaining two separate brands? Or would you wish to demarcate them by a known pseudonym?

      Though not in the same realm of worry for the psychological health of the audience, Cheryl Gates McFadden separates her work in the film and TV world by utilizing different parts of her name depending on her role. For choreography, she’s known as Cheryl McFadden, and for acting as Gates McFadden. If you’re considering a soft pseudonym, it might be easy to alter only one of your names, and mention both names on your website that directs YA romance readers to one name’s body of work, and adult horror fans to another. Let me know what you decide!

      1. Im thinking I really can’t manage multiple identities… im not sure if it’s possible, but I kind of want to be able to put things on the cover to dictate – it should be a common thing anyway, to have like “warning: contains graphic violence” etc. And like “Ages 18+”

    2. If you have control or say in the cover, the image could convey some of that, as could adding a review of the work that indicates its genre or intended audience on the front or back cover. Something like, “Ace Parks’ latest horror takes readers on a rollercoaster of suspense and blood. Fans of gore will walk away satisfied, if shaking.” Versus, “Parks’ endearing new teen romance is certain to whisk readers away to a lagoon of enchantment. A spellbinding adventure!”

      Pseudonyms can be tiresome to manage, even when sharing the same web site. Since my adults only content is only a fraction of what I write, I only maintain the pseudonym part-time, though having multiple book or story drops at the same time under different names can lead to an exhausting few weeks. Recently, I had a poem and short story featured in Seattle Erotic Arts Festival, around the same time I’m promoting Perdition, so I can understand your reticence to engage in that way.

      Other subtle ideas to consider: Adding a middle initial to one genre and not the other, crafting titles that clarify content, or writing a precise blurb on the back cover to indicate what audiences should expect. Once you decide how you wish to approach this, make certain to tell your fans on your web site and in social media about these identifying markers. Your web site should especially separate one genre from another. If you’re using WordPress as your main site, you can set up special pages that display works in either category to keep them distinct without having to take on another name or brand.

      Good luck to you! Cheers!

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