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New genre, new name?

Creative WritingPosted by Barbara Sat, April 21, 2012 17:55:24

“Sounds like you’re very busy writing in every shade and colour.” So said a Twitter friend, after taking a look at my website. She was right. I can’t seem to settle. My biggest writing problem is one of ideas. Not that I don’t have any – rather, that I have too many and I never seem to find the time to get them all on paper (or computer screen), so they bounce around in my head like hyperactive toddlers and will not shut up. Although sometimes, when I try to write them down, they go very quiet indeed – anyone had that experience?

The main point my Twitter friend was making is that I cannot seem to commit to one particular genre. So far I’ve tried my hand at a suspense novel and short stories for adults, a children’s historical novel for the nine-to-12 age group and a part-complete Young Adult novel. I’m wondering if this is a good thing, or whether, in writerly terms, it could be perceived as a weakness. The reading world and the market seem to be so very genre-specific these days. It’s advised, for example, that if you want to write in a number of different genres you should use a different name for each one.

I can see the sense in this. Maybe you wouldn’t want a young reader to mistakenly pick up a work for adults because they recognised the author’s name. But I wonder how likely this is to happen? And can adult readers really not cope with an author trying out different styles? I’m just not sure. But the most eminent of authors do adopt different pen names, and will have been advised to do so. I guess it’s a marketing issue. Marketing! For a writer, especially one whose background is in journalism, this has always been someone else’s job - rather like advertising or public relations. Except it isn’t, is it? Not any more. Whether you are traditionally or independently published, self-marketing and promotion is something that all writers have to learn. I’m just getting to grips with it myself and it’s tougher than it looks, so forget all those snide comments I may once have made about the ‘dark arts’. People who are good at marketing and PR are actually very clever and I wish I had half their skills.

So – should I use a different name for every new genre? Maybe it’s something I should try. As a very foolish 19-year-old, I gave up my ‘real’ name when I was first married. When that marriage broke down (of course it did - I was 19!) I was stuck with a name that wasn’t mine, but which had become my journalistic by-line. So for most of my life, I’ve operated under a kind of pseudonym anyway, which is why I used a new pen-name for my first e-published novel. A few more, presumably, wouldn’t make any real difference. Unless I take on multiple personalities to go with them.

You can download the adult suspense novel Kill and Tell here. So far it's rated four and a half stars on Amazon!

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