I've been taking a bit of a writing break the last couple weeks. With "Fresh Ice" in the line at 52 novels awaiting formatting, I've decided NOT to do NanoWrimo this month and regain a little sanity in my daily schedule.
I was talking to my mother the other day, sharing my excitement at the release of my third book. Now, my mother, I'm sure, is a well meaning woman, but she shared a thought with me and I'm not quite sure how to take it.
"For your next book," she said, "write under a different name. You've published three books now with moderate success. People have already made up their minds as to whether or not they're going to read your next book. So for the next book, write under a different name and maybe more people will buy your book."
I had to remind her that I've really only published TWO books and that my third wasn't actually due out for a month. But that little child, the insecure, uncertain child inside me told me my mother was right. People who have read my books have already decided whether or not they're going to read any more. Maybe I should "Trick" the reading public into buying my next book by changing my name.
Well established authors do this from time to time, but typically if they change genres. Lori Foster, noted romance author, writes under L.L. Foster for her books that are not strictly romance. I heard her speak at a conference once and she said she did this so that the reader would know what to expect from the book. (She didn't mention how her mother felt about it.)
I do not consider myself a well established author. I believe, as author J.A. Konrath preaches, that the self publishing business is a business of numbers. The more you write, the more people will read. (Konrath also writes under different names, again, when he's jumping genres or book series.) The Sarah J Bradley brand has only been a thing for two books, and really, not even three years. Do I have a best seller? No, but I market two books I'm very proud of (Click on the book covers above to purchase) and I will continue to write the stories that are in me.
But should I write them under a different name?
What makes a book sell, especially in the e-publishing world, is a question few can answer. The amount of time an author has to market helps (I have none) the amount of time an author has to write helps. (I've cranked out a novel every 15 months so far.) Some authors catch fire right away, and we're not sure why, while some authors write and write and collect their quarterly check and are able to maybe pay the light bill with it.
But is it the name of the author? I grant you...if I had an odd name, or one difficult to pronounce I might consider it. Or, since I'm working in the romance world, if my name sounded too industrial (My maiden name is Schultz.) I might change it. I know I read books by some authors because I've read and enjoyed their work before and want to read more. I know I will probably not read a lot of Herman Melville's work because I hated "Moby Dick" so much. BUT, authors I've not read, I've not heard or, do I read them or not based on their name?
I don't see my sales, or lack thereof, as a problem with my name. I see it more as an issue of time dedicated to marketing, and possibly the price point on the print copies. As popularity of the e-reader grows, so will my reading public, so long as I continue to put out new material.
Will I write under a different name for my Elsie project next year? Yes. Because it won't be romance, it will be humor. But I made that decision long ago, it had nothing to do with my mother's advice.
This is, after all, the woman who actually tells people that the first hundred pages of "Dream in Color" are really the only pages worth reading in the book. (She doesn't get that in those pages I'm working out some serious mother issues, and I'm completely mocking her.) I was doing a book signing/book giveaway in my home, promoting both my books, and when she said that, all interest in the book went out of the room. After all...if the author's MOTHER didn't like it...
My friends, we all have questions we have to answer when it comes to the direction of our writing careers. What will make my books best sellers? I don't know. I put my heart and soul into each one. My reviews, while not many, have been very positive. Readers have come up to me and raved about them. I'm so excited to share my next story with everyone I can't wait. But clearly I'm not supporting myself with my writing at this point, and some people think I should be.
Shakespeare wrote, "A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet." A book written under any other name would still be my book. It would still have my voice. It would still be written by me.
So what do I do? Change my writing name? What are your thoughts?