How Do You Feel About M/M Authors Using Different Names in M/M?
It’s been a longtime standard that when a writer ventures away from his or her own genre he/she often takes on a pen name. It’s done for many reasons, two of which are to keep established readers from getting confused and to introduce new readers to an author’s work without bias. In other words, JK Rowling recently used a pen name for a book she wrote in a different genre because she’s so well known for the Harry Potter series. However, when that pen name was disclosed there were quite a few mixed reactions.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ve written several books with pen names because I was venturing outside of my genre. One was titled “Loving Daylight,” a hetero pg-rated romance that was part of a Home Shopping Network collection where I was paid a flat fee up front. I never promoted the book much because of the fact that I made the flat fee and I wasn’t counting on sales, and it’s still up on Amazon lingering in the middle of nowhere. Oddly, it’s one of my own favorite books that I’ve written. And, one of the few where I actually own a print copy.
I also wrote two gay erotic romance mystery/suspense novels, here and here, and used a pen name for that, too…Dale Bishop. In this case, because they were gay themed books, even though they were mystery/suspense I felt very uncomfortable using the pen name because I write so much in the gay romance genre, and gay erotica genre. It felt sneaky and shady and sleazy to take on a whole new persona and go out there and actively promote these books on social media as Dale Bishop. So at the time I wound up not promoting those books at all and they have also been lingering in Amazon nowhere land for a long time. And, once again, I loved writing these books and I think they were some of the sexiest pieces I’ve ever done.
What prompted me to write this post was a link I found where a few established m/m romance authors were speaking in a video for a few minutes. It wasn’t anything long, but it was long enough to make me wonder when they clearly and proudly introduced themselves, on camera, as completely different people. I had to go back and watch again to be certain I hadn’t missed anything. And when I saw that I was, indeed, correct I did a quick search to see if I could find an explanation. Evidently, these established m/m authors are now writing YA m/m. I guess that’s considered a different genre in m/m. I’m not that familiar with m/m to really know.
I just thought it was interesting to see authors go on camera and actually introduce himself and herself as completely different people than what we’ve always known them to be. I can’t even describe it well in this post because I’ve never seen it done before. JK Rowling didn’t do that with her pen name. She worked hard to keep it a secret until someone with a huge mouth outed her. She actually filed suit and won…the money went to charity. But more important, she really was reaching out to a new audience in a completely different genre, not a related genre or sub-genre of Harry Potter.
Rowling sued Chris Gossage, a partner at her former law firm, Russells, and his friend, Judith Callegari. Gossage had revealed to Callegari that Rowling was the real author of The Cuckoo’s Calling, which she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith. Callegari then passed the information on to a Sunday Times columnist via Twitter, leading the newspaper to investigate, and eventually confirm and publish, Rowling’s true identity.
Rowling made a gracious statement about it.
“I always knew that if and when I was discovered I would ask for my royalties to be paid to ABF The Soldier’s Charity,” Rowling said in a statement. “This is partly as a thank you to the people who helped with research, but also because researching and writing the character of [detective Cormoran] Strike has given me an even greater appreciation and understanding of exactly how much this charity does for serving soldiers, ex-servicemen and their families, and how much that support is needed.”
I have seen authors who use pen names introduce themselves with their known identity and then explain they are writing with a pen name for various reasons. And those reasons are usually valid, just like Rowling’s reasons. I’ve seen it in bios and I’ve seen it in articles about the writer, but always with an explanation. I just never saw it done on camera, and without an explanation, and it took me by surprise. I think I even blinked a few times. And now I’m wondering how readers feel about this. I’m guessing it’s okay? If I were to go on camera (or use a photo with my image) and introduce myself as Dale Bishop without an explanation you guys wouldn’t mind?
But I’m still debating on whether or not to change my bio and add the pen names. At the time, I felt like I was doing something underhanded by writing as Dale Bishop with the Manhandled series because it was gay themed, and yet at the same time mystery/suspense. I guess I was just being too careful? Notice the questions marks I keep using. I’m still not sure yet. And I’d really love to know what readers think. Feel free to e-mail me in private… email@example.com