Pen name, nom de plume, pseudonym. Call it what you will, but many authors over the years have used one for a variety of reasons. George Eliot, Richard Bachman, Mark Twain, Lewis Carroll to name but a few. Some did it to transcend sexual barriers. Some did it to avoid persecution for what they wrote. Today, most authors use it to separate one body of work from another. And, while I don’t have a huge body of work to deal with, I presently have two very distinct genres I’m pursuing.
The decision to use a pseudonym was not done overnight. It’s one I’ve mulled over for some time now. I knew that I had written two very different novels. The first, tentatively titled Multiples of Six and completed in 2009, is a conspiracy-theory suspense/thriller with a dash of sci-fi that propels the plot. Lots of chases, killings, and some edgy, colorful language (I believe it was my brother-in-law who said, “I didn’t know you knew that kind of language!”). It’s part of what should be a trilogy and it’s definitely aimed at an adult audience. My second novel, the first draft of which was finished late in 2010 and has been discussed regularly on this site (follow this link to read an excerpt, or simply click the tab at the top of the page) is a “continuation” of the King Arthur legend set in modern day and a distinctly different piece of writing. Aimed at a younger audience with a main character who is turning 15, I made a conscious effort to limit the “harsh” language to things like crap and damn (though I seem to remember a much different vocabulary in use when I was 15).
I have now reached a point of decision with both works. Being directed at a younger audience, I’ve decided to pursue the traditional route of publication with my young adult novel, tentatively titled Danny Dierks and the Heir of Pendragon. What little promotion I’ve done so far has been through this blog under my own name. Recently, I’ve been doing a lot of reading about the shift occurring in the publishing industry. Print is on the decline, that much has been known for some time. The e-reader boom is starting to take off and it is becoming clearer and clearer that this mode of publication can be achieved without agent or publisher. Websites like Smashwords allow the everyday user to provide content to a vast number of publishing venues that include Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Borders, and others. Writer J.A. Konrath (Whiskey Sour series) leads a growing vocal list of authors who are turning down guaranteed money so that they can remain in control of their publishing future. Sure, print publishing still offers the most money up front, but once your print run is done, that’s usually it. Once it’s out of print, you are locked into whatever contract you signed. For a midlist author (an author who does not break into the top 100), it provides no security of future returns.
E-publication, on the other hand, allows the author to control his/her destiny. There is no print run. A book can remain “in print” forever, technically. Authors can control their own price point and even give books away for free if they like. And, the royalty rates are astoundingly higher. Smashwords, for example, offers anywhere from 60% to 85% royalty to the author, depending on venue. Try getting that kind of deal in your print contract and you might get laughed out of New York.
Now, what this also means is that the market will soon be flooded with 2-bit novels written in a hurry and uploaded full of errors. But, let’s hope that, just like most industries, the cream will always rise above the crap.
So, what’s this all leading to? Well, I’ve decided to take the e-route with Multiples of Six. It’s not that I don’t believe in the story of the quality of the writing. It’s just that I believe I’ll have more opportunity for success given the e-reader market and the typical audience that owns e-readers and IPads. I ride the train into work every day and see at least a dozen people with a Kindle, IPad, Nook, etc. That’s the audience I’m looking for with that book. Why not cut out the middle man and take it straight to them myself?
Without further ado, I’d like to introduce to you a very close “friend” of mine. Andy Rane is the author of the upcoming ebook, Multiples of Six, Book I, expected out Summer 2011. Check out his blog where he’ll be documenting his foray into e-publishing, follow him on Twitter (@andyraneauthor), and like him on Facebook. Make sure to read the excerpt of his upcoming book. Oh, and don’t tell him that he’s only my pseudonym…he can be a little sensitive sometimes.