I think you know what this blog post is going to be about. The question many authors come to in their career. Whether or not to use a pen name? You guys all know I am fairly transparent, in my work and in who I am. I don’t shy away from tough issues, from things that might offend people, from language and situations that can be uncomfortable. So why would an author who considers her brand to be “truth” consider using a pen name?
I don’t necessarily think pen names are about hiding who you are. Perhaps for some authors they are, but for most it seems like a way to differentiate your work. To shed expectations. To free yourself to write in different ways than you have in the past. To stretch out of your genre.
This is how I am looking at it and why I am considering it. My YA and NA books in the PRETTY AMY series are on the “heavy” side, to put it mildly. (As an example Ben and Cassie’s novella, the main characters from DEAR CASSIE is going to take place at a funeral.)*Spoiler Alert*
I like writing about issues teens really face. I like creating hard, complicated characters. I like making my readers cry and think and feel, but there are other things I’d like to write about too. There are other things I’d like to see if I can write about.
The New Adult book I have upcoming from Entangled in November is completely different from anything I have ever written. The girl in it doesn’t have any particular issue. The guy in it isn’t trying to save her. The emotional tone of it is pretty light as things I usually write go. So, I am considering a pen name. Not to hide that it is by me, but to differentiate it from my other work.
It seems crazy. I’ve spent over a year building my name, my brand. Why would I throw all of that away just to write as “someone else”?
Well, that is my dilemma.
Maybe because I am afraid people will compare this work to my other work. Maybe because I am afraid I will hear even more of what I heard from some readers when The Next Forever came out, “that I was writing it to appeal to a certain audience”. Maybe I just think this book deserves a fresh start because it is so different. It doesn’t need to be mired in the seriousness of my past work.
I don’t know. I go back and forth.
So as I have many times before, I appeal to my readers, my friends. What do you think? How do you feel about authors who use pen names?
Please comment below.