Thursday, 15 March 2012

Thrusty Thursday - A Rose By Any Other Name

Hello readers. I hope you’re all doing great. Today I want to discuss something that’s been on my mind for a long time—names. Or more specifically author names.

It wasn’t until I started writing and did some research about choosing an author name that I came to realise that some authors use different names when they write in different genres.

At the time, I knew I was going to write stories with the focus mainly on romance so settling for a name was pretty easy. Kiru Taye is an abbreviation/play-on of my full name. I wanted a name that was African, easy to pronounce and easy to remember. And I think it works quite well.

But I’ve since discovered that some authors change their names even within categories of romance. One of my favourite contemporary romance authors Maureen Child writes paranormal romance under the name of Regan Hastings. And Emery Lee who writes sweet historical romance uses a different name Victoria Vane for her steamier historical romance stories. I remember the great Leslie Banks (may her soul rest in peace) wrote under several aliases too. 

This got me thinking. Why would an author who has invested so much time, money and energy in building up a brand name, dilute that brand by creating a different author name?

I think about one of my favourite brands in the world—Virgin. No matter the product or service—trains, airline, holidays, cable network, etc—the brand name remains the same. It is easily recognisable. Whenever I see that brand I, as a consumer, know to expect a great product or service.
Well, I think it’s the same thing with authors. Your name is part of your brand identity. When I see the name of a favourite author on a book, I know what to expect regardless of the genre of the book. Maya Banks is one such author. She has written contemporary romance, Scottish historical, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, erotic (multiple-partner) romance and yet she keeps the same name. As a reader, seeing her name on a book makes me want to buy it, because it is a brand I recognise and trust.

Another thing is the marketing effort required to maintain multiple author names. I think about the amount of energy it takes to maintain all my social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger, Pinterest, email, etc. It is very time-consuming and I only have one name—Kiru Taye. Now multiply that by 2 or 3 for authors with multiple identities. When do they ever find the time to write?
I can understand that for authors like Maureen Child who has the backing of Harlequin as a publisher and is already established. She doesn’t have to go through the hassle of building a platform because her book marketing is partially done by her publisher.
But what about some of the new authors out there trying to make a name for themselves? How are they coping?

I’d really like to know because at some point I want to write Fantasy novels and I wonder if there’s any purchase in having a different author name for those books. I know some people argue that because it’s a different genre, you want to attract different readers. I would argue that as long as the books are categorised in the correct genre it should be enough to differentiate them from my other works. Readers of books in the new genre who are interested in new books/authors hopefully would want to read my book because it’s in a genre they like. And I could take some of my current readers across because they already like my books anyway and might want to try out a new genre. I think this strategy works very well for Maya Banks.

On the other hand, I don’t know how well Maureen Child is doing as Regan Hastings.

So please help me out here, people. What are your thoughts on this? As a reader what do you think about authors with multiple aliases? Are you an author who writes under multiple aliases? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Have a fabulous weekend.