As a writer, I like to branch out from time to time and try my hand at different genres ranging from young adult (YA) to romance or mystery/thriller. I have very eclectic taste, which can be seen in my choices of reading, as well, though I tend to lean more toward romance (who doesn't like a strapping 800 yr. old man with bulging biceps who totes around a sword and is ready to lay down his life for yours at the drop of a hat?!). But what happens when you want to try something more risque?
Recently I picked up a book and found myself wide-eyed and twitchy over what I was reading. Turns out I had completely and innocently picked up an erotic romance (Totally by accident, I swear!). The thing of it was, it had some great material to learn from, scandalous though they may have been. I began to wonder if I could turn up the heat in my own stories. But there was a problem: my readers.
As I am sure many writers can relate, family likes to support you in everything you do, so it is no wonder some of us cringe if they pick up a story that has, let's say, less than wholesome aspects. I am one of these people. I don't think a story has to have graphic sex to be a worthwhile read. Rather, I think a book is a book and how it was written is the way it should be. I don't judge a book because of its content, but rather how it was executed. I want connection, I want romance, I want intrigue! And if that means lots and lots of sex to accomplish that, then I am willing to accept that.
So back to the point...
Would you consider a writing a racy novel if it meant you could change your name from that boring name your parents stuck you with and you always hated, like Jane Doe, to the name you fantasized about your whole life, like Fantasia Carmichael? I never really considered it before, but one day I was creeping around one of my favorite author's Goodreads profile and, low and behold, she had a pen name under which she wrote erotica. Color me surprised! Okay, not really. Her novels push the envelope, so it wasn't a far stretch of the imagination. So I got to thinking, how do you choose a pen name? How do you use a pen name? Can you use a pen name without legal ramifications? Is it easy? How do you choose one? There were so many more, but you get the idea and I won't torture you by listing them all.
Something I was shocked to find: Did you know that Anne Rice, author of books such as The Vampire Lestat, writes erotica? This woman right here! --->
My mind wanders to dark places of my own grandmother sitting at a desk with her quill, ink well, and piece of parchment paper (she's old, she doesn't know how to work a computer) her mind corrupted with thoughts of sex and debauchery and I shudder, grateful that she taught my mother, the virgin queen, better.
My search brought me to Amazon, where people say that it is very easy to publish under a pen name with just a few little details to be considered to make it work. This solidified it for me. I have since chosen a pen name and begun a series that will be released sometime this summer under said name. I am excited, but a couple of close friends have raised the question that begs to be answered: What happens if that pen name earns more success than your given name? Does it somehow sour the success you have achieved with your given name (assuming you haven't tied the two together)? Or should you rejoice in the success and go about your day? That is a question I am still trying to answer.
So what would you do: Tie the pen name to your given name and enjoy dual success, or keep it separate so no one knows the sordid details of your alter ego? Or would you resist the use of a pen name and write everything under your given name, because it doesn't bother you at all that you write children's books and have since segued into erotica, knowing it is just a matter of time before little Billy or Sarah pick up your version of The Dirty Dozen and are scarred for life?