Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Multiple Pen Names: Good, Bad, Ugly



by Suzanne Johnson, er, Susannah Sandlin

There are really good reasons for authors to take on multiple pen names. First, they might have a day job and want to keep their writing life separate from it, or write in a genre that might bring them negative attention from family or friends. Perhaps they’re switching genres and want to differentiate between the writings of one name and those of another. Or perhaps their career as Writer A has stalled out and they want a fresh start as Writer B, without any baggage.

Mine is a cautionary tale, of taking on a pen name and ending up with an illogical “brand” that might never be salvageable.

It started out as a seemingly good idea, back in 2010. I had sold an urban fantasy series to Publisher A and while cooling my jets waiting for the books to be published, I wrote another book and my agent sold a paranormal romance series to Publisher B. At that time, Publisher A and Publisher B were in a pretty public feud, and we worried that “Suzanne Johnson” might get some negative treatment from Publisher A if they learned about the deal. “Susannah Sandlin” was born. 

As things would have it, Suzanne’s first book came out in April 2012. Susannah’s first book came out three months later, in June 2012. Because of the different names, I was essentially a debut author twice in the same year, unable to parlay the readers of one series to boost sales for the other series even though urban fantasy and paranormal romance share about 99.9 percent of their readership.

First lesson learned: Don’t take on a separate pen name if you’re writing in the same or a similar genre. All you do is double your workload to reach the same readers twice. I had a full-time, high-stress day job, sole caregiver duties for a disabled parent, and suddenly found myself with two websites, two blogs, two Facebook accounts, two Twitter accounts, and zero time.

After five books published in 2012 under two names with two publishers, I was a burned-out wreck. So, second lesson learned: Unless you really enjoy marketing, have unlimited amounts of time, and enjoy the chaos and uncertainty of being a debut author more than once, don’t try to keep your pen names separate. Unless, of course, one name becomes inactive. When J.R. Ward began writing under that name, her previous writing name of Jessica Bird went inactive, so there was no need to keep them both current and actively marketed.

At that point, my “brand” was still salvageable. Suzanne wrote urban fantasy with romantic elements while Susannah wrote paranormal romance. Then those markets crashed, and I found myself turning to writing a new genre altogether—romantic suspense. Because it was with the same publisher as the previous romance series, I kept the Susannah Sandlin pen name.

Third Lesson Learned. Keep the genre lines clean between your pen names. Suddenly, in 2013, I had a branding problem. I had Susannah writing both paranormal romance and romantic suspense while, caught in a contract vise, Suzanne continued to write only urban fantasy. Here’s the problem: there is virtually zero overlap in readership between paranormal romance and romantic suspense. So people who read and liked Susannah Sandlin’s suspense novels went looking at backlist and found—eek—yuck—paranormals. Likewise, Susannah’s paranormal readers felt abandoned when she dropped her popular vampire series and began writing all-human suspense novels. She got a lot of emails telling her so.

Fourth Lesson learned: Fixing a broken brand takes a lot of time and money, and might not even be possible. I spent a lot of time and money in 2013 and 2014 consolidating Susannah and Suzanne into a single website, a single blog, lots of social media messaging, and the task of working toward a single Facebook author page. (There are still two FB and Twitter accounts but I duplicate posts.) It initially led to a lot of confusion among readers, and even now I get at least one “Wait…I didn’t know you also wrote (fill in name of series)” email or message a week.

Honestly, I have no solutions as to how to fix the brand. In time, if I simply quit writing under one pen name MAYBE it would work. Suzanne has the most loyal fans, but Susannah has BY FAR the most readers. Currently, I’m working on a new book proposal and have no clue whether Suzanne or Susannah should write it.

So, sure, go ahead and take a second (or third) writing name. But think through:
·      Why you want it;
·      How you’re going to publicize multiple pen names and juggle any separation, taking into account the time it takes to actively market two or more names;
·      How the pen names fit into where you see your long-term career plans going.


If you don’t answer those questions, take it from Suzanne and Susannah: what can seem like a good idea could turn bad—and downright ugly. (If nothing else, you have to often refer to yourself in third-person.)

Friday, November 03, 2017

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author:  Christine Glover

Title:  Resisting The Heartbreaker (Hollywood Heartbreakers, Book 3

Released:  August 17, 2017

Blurb: 

He's breaking down her resistance one sexy moment at a time...

Director Trevor Maguire is determined to protect a secret that could destroy his family.  The only person he trusts to help him is his sexy helicopter pilot, Samantha Bennett.  She's got troubles of her own and desperately needs cash so her company won't go belly up.  Trevor saves her business so he can use her company to do research for a movie while also conducting his investigation with her assistance.

Samantha's got a non-fraternization rule in place for a reason.  No way will she get involved with a client.  Sure, she's attracted to Trevor, but he's only with her temporarily and she's not into casual flings, even if the hottest man in Hollywood wants her.  They try to resist each other, but they can't deny the heat flaring between them and their sizzling chemistry spirals into an intense connection.

When Trevor unearths the truth about his past, he's ready to move forward, but he's got a difficult choice to make--will he go it alone or will he bring the woman he loves with him?

Connect with Christine at  Website     Facebook     Twitter

Friday, October 27, 2017

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author:  Katherine Bone

Title:  The Pirate's Duty (The Regent's Revenge, Book 3)

Released:  August 8, 2017

Blurb:

He lost everything...but his duty to her brought him back to life.

Innkeeper Oriana Thorpe is a smuggler's daughter who has been hardened by a legacy she cannot escape.  She has risked everything, including her safety, in her attempts to break free, going so far as to challenge her evil pirate brother, Charles, in order to save a lady and her maid from his wrath.  Determined to atone for his villainy, Oriana distributes the blood money he left behind to widows and orphans living nearby.  But when threatening letters promising retribution begin to arrive from Charles, she suspects one or more of her customers may be her despicable brother's spies.  Yet one haunted man promises to protect her, and she finds herself taking the greatest risk of all--falling in love.

Captain Pierce Walsingham should have died when his ship was destroyed by the notorious smuggler Captain Carnage.  Instead, Pierce was pulled from the water by the Robin Hood of Cornwall, a pirate known only as the Black Regent.  In gratitude, Pierce accepts the Regent's offer to take over the man's role, allowing his name to be added to the list of the dead and vowing to protect the beautiful innkeeper who saved his sister Chloe's life.  Unfortunately, Oriana is also Carnage's next of kin, and the smuggler has sworn vengeance against her and Chloe.

While there is no cause dearer to Pierce's heart than stopping Carnage, the task won't be easy.  Strategic allegiances have replenished his enemy's power at sea, and he's moving ever closer to enacting his revenge.  Now Pierce must find a way to defeat Carnage, all while fighting his desire for the resilient woman who fiercely defends her roost.

Connect with Katherine at  Website     Facebook     Twitter


Friday, October 20, 2017

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author:  Nancee Cain

Title:  Loving Lili (Haunted by Love Anthology)

Released:  August 2, 2017

Blurb:

Ten of your favorite romance authors have come together for a charity anthology. With vampires, witches, wizards, shifters, shadow walkers, fallen angels, demons, and a wraith king, you're sure to be enthralled. Be prepared for greed, lust, lies, and betrayal to culminate in coups and menages. After all, the fate of the world often depends on the actions of hot alphas.

Loving Lili's Blurb:
Their lovemaking is hot and dirty. Their break ups are nasty and epic.

Tired of taking the blame for every wicked thing that happens on earth, fallen angel Luc DeVille decides to write a tell-all-book exposing The Boss.

Sharing a long and passionate history, Luc is shocked when Lili Nix arrives to interview for the job as editor. Immediately the verbal sparring begins, but the sexual chemistry remains combustible. Fascinated by this heavenly creature, Luc changes his game plan. After all, she's the only angel who has ever held his attention and understood his intentions.

Being in this world, but not of this world, is a lonely business. Can two lost angels connect and make it last this time?

Connect with Nancee at  Website     Facebook     Twitter


Friday, October 13, 2017

#FridayFeatures Celebrating Southern Magic Authors #Romance #MakingMagic

Author:  Susan Carlisle

Title:  Stolen Kisses with Her Boss

Released:  August 1, 2017

Blurb:

After hours...

To medical transcriber Cynthia Markum, Dr. Sean Donovan is just a voice--a deliciously sexy one--in her earpiece...until he asks to meet in person. She's nervous and excited, but it's crazy to have feelings for a man she's never laid eyes on, right? Besides, he's her employer!

Stunning Cynthia couldn't be further from the woman Sean imagined her to be, and their attraction is mutual and instantaneous. Neither are ready for a relationship, but from the moment their lips meet there's just no going back...

Connect with Susan at Website     Facebook     Twitter