Pen names are one of the many aspects of the publishing industry in flux these days. Formerly, traditional publishers would typically demand writers change pen names when switching genres. Marketplace confusion was the stated rationale: if “Max Steele” mostly wrote hard-boiled detective stories, then switched to a cozy mystery, where Grandma sets down her knitting to quietly solve a murder, his hard-boiled fans picking up the cozy would be angry at a bait-and-switch. Better for Mr. Steele to publish the cozy under a pen name like “Maxine LaFleur.”
Sensible? Maybe. But by insisting a writer use different pen names for different genres, traditional publishing effectively said readers buy based on writer, but are too dumb to pay attention to genre (cover art and back cover copy). At the same time, traditional publishing said the opposite: readers only buy based on genre, not on writer. In other words, Max Steele’s hard-boiled fans would never read a cozy, even one written by a writer they love.
But in the new world of publishing, where someone can run a world-wide publishing empire from the /home folder of his hard drive, the traditional ways of doing things are being being examined, tested, and if they fail the test, discarded. And those pen name tests? They fail.
I don’t know you, but if you’ve found my blog, I’ll assume you’re pretty darn smart :). Smart enough to notice the cover and deduce the genre before you buy a book. Spaceship? Science fiction. Soldier holding giant laser rifle? Military science fiction. Castle? Fantasy.
And if you flip the book over and read the back cover, or scroll down to the ebook product description, you’ll confirm your deduction. Scattered wormholes, half the settled galaxy, neuroscience: science fiction. Kingdom, magic: fantasy.
So the idea that readers don’t pay attention to genre is an insult to your intelligence. Since I know you’re smart, I won’t do that.
And readers don’t buy only on genre. My own buying habits prove that. You might have seen Larry Niven’s name in my Inspirations sidebar. As a teen, I was a huge fan of his science fiction, and then I discovered the Warlock stories and The Flight of the Horse. The latter is a whimsical dystopian science fantasy; the former are straight up sword & sorcery.
I almost didn’t buy those, until I realized something. They weren’t fantasy; they were fantasy by Larry Niven. His perspective, his voice, the kinds of characters and conflicts he wrote about–all that was going to be the same, whether the cover had a spaceship or a Pegasus, whether the spine had the fine print “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy.”
Maybe another way of putting it is the writer is the genre.
So, if you like my science fiction, not simply because it’s science fiction, but because of my voice, my perspective, and the types of characters and conflicts I like to write about, then I want to make it easy for you to find all my books. Even the ones with castles on the cover, kingdom and magic in the product description, and “Fantasy” in small print on the spine.
With that in mind, I’m pleased to announce the (re)release of my first fantasy novel, A Prince of the Blood. Previously published as by “Eric H. Munday” (I can anagram with the best of them), it’s now available under my name from better booksellers around the world. Read on to learn more.
A PRINCE OF THE BLOOD
A king inclined contrary to nature.
A foreign-born queen confined to the palace.
A kingdom desperately needing an heir.
Two courtiers ask Keladon, retired battlemage and the king’s bastard half-brother, to impregnate the queen. His sense of duty to the kingdom sends him to her bedchamber. But he must do far more to stop a conspiracy of magic and murder threatening the kingdom’s survival – and the woman he comes to love.
Purchasing information at CV-2 Books