Saturday, June 9, 2012

Genres and Pen Names and Publishing--Oh My!

Something's been tormenting me, and I'd like to talk a bit about it. Ever since I first started writing, I've written in multiple genres. It first started out as just me experimenting in a new hobby and figuring out which one I liked the best. There were no clear-cut winners in my mind. Sure, I've always had a soft spot for horror, but I've written in many genres and enjoyed them a lot. And I've never given it much thought.

Here's the thing. When I started researching publishing/self-publishing, I kept seeing things brought up about building a "brand". Now, I figured this meant getting your name out there, publicizing your books etc, but apparently if you write in different genres you run the risk of ruining your "brand". I kind of get the point of this. For example, if Stephen King suddenly started writing romance novels under his current name, there might be a bit of an uproar from his horror fans. However, the funny thing is that Stephen King doesn't just write horror. Different Seasons, for example features a collection of four novellas: Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption, Apt Pupil, The Body, and The Breathing Method, none of which are horror. If you haven't read the book, maybe you've seen the movies the first three were adapted into (The Body became Stand By Me). Either way, the stories were more general fiction than horror. Even other books by him, such as Misery, to me are not so much horror as they are suspense/thriller. Firestarter could be considered "supernatural", but it too is not really horror. I could go on and on, his library of novels is so huge. But this makes me beg the question, is breaking genres or this so-called "brand" really going to alienate readers?

Some authors love to use multiple pen names to "organize" their work. But in self-publishing especially, marketing seems like a nightmare when it comes to juggling names. How does this work with social media for example? Or blogging? It seems like it would be hard enough putting one name out there, let alone 2 or 3 or more. I've contemplated using multiple names and not making it a secret to readers and using a "main name" for marketing, but this still seems overly complex to me, so I'm incredibly conflicted.

There's also the aspect of that, I don't really like the idea of using pen names. The ones I've come up with are variations of my own name, just because, as silly as this may sound, I don't like the idea of someone else taking credit for my work--even if it's a made-up "someone".

The only exception I can think of where pen names seem like a necessity are for widely different genres, like erotica and children's books (or even young adult). But what about horror vs romance? What if you write horror, romance, and paranormal romance? Is the bridge then gapped? ;) Ugh! Too much to think about!

With the vast number of books being put out there now with how accessible self-publishing is, I have to wonder if author names are even being remembered that often. I know that sounds a bit sad, but seriously. Even as a writer, I've read books I loved, but I couldn't tell you the author's name. I tend to remember titles, and go back and re-search the title to see the author's library of books. It's not that it's not important (obviously), it's just one of those things. It's sort of like I tend to forget who directs movies, even if I love them. I guess I'm better at remembering content rather than names. But is this common, or am I the exception?

I'd love to know what people think about this. Would you be "turned off" by an author who wrote in multiple genres? Would you lose interest in their work or feel betrayed? I have such mixed feelings about all of this, and it's driving me batty!

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