Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Smartest Readers I Know

Publishing is one strange business.  Because it's founded in brick and mortar, pen and paper, many of the rules and bylaws are, well, set in stone or written in blood.  But like the world, publishing has changed drastically over the last 10 years.  You all know about eReaders and the dwindling popularity of the printed book.  Many of you will agree that it's time; many of you will passionately disagree.  I'm not going to dive into that here.  What I want to talk about is an author's name and how publishers, over the years, have owned it in one way or another.

What you might not know is that often authors don't get to choose the name on the cover of their books.  I don't mean choose as in "Mary" instead of "Jane," but choose as in "I want my real name on the cover."  There are many valid reasons why a publisher might want an author to take on a pseudonym, but the one that has always dumbfounded me is:  "so readers aren't confused."

They say this when an author who is known for one genre moves to another.  For example, when I moved from writing as Erin Grady to Erin Quinn, the reason was publisher driven.  They didn't want my readers getting confused.  I objected.  MY readers are intelligent enough to recognize the books are different, I protested.  But of course, they won.

I think it's crazy to imagine that a reader--a person who reads!--would have any trouble at all looking at the cover of book one, comparing it to the cover of book two, and seeing a difference.  And--and that's a very big and--even if they missed catching that one has a historical gown and a hot Duke on the cover and the other has a werewolf, wouldn't said reader simply flip the book over and read the back cover?  What degree in rocket science is required for such higher thinking?

I think that changing an author's name is far more confusing than an author changing genres or dabbling in many genres.

What do you think?  Looking at the two covers in this post, can you figure out that the stories will be entirely different?  I thought so.  :)

BTW, Kissing Kris Kringle, a quick eRead, releases November 16.  Haunting Embrace is available now!

Thanks for listening to my little rant!


De said...

I agree with your "rant".
Please keep writing under any name!
Thanks, Dee

Anonymous said...

I agree, too. I write both urban fantasy and amateur-sleuth mysteries with nary a werewolf or vampire in sight. I use my real name on both series, and so far not one reader has been confused.

Chrisbails said...

I agree with De, keep writing I don't care what your name is. I love your covers of your books. Especially when you have Jimmy on the cover. I love the Haunting Embrace guy also. the guy on the Kissing Kris Kringle has beautiful green eyes. Keep on writing your great books Erin and we will keep reading.

Connie Flynn said...

I agree with you in theory, Erin, but my own experience is that confusion isn't the issue. If the books are wildly different in premise or tone, readers often resent the change. I have a long and somewhat funny story to tell about a reviewer who read my (favorite, I may add) romantic comedy after reviewing my debut werewolf book. Even though the comedy got good reviews elsewhere, this reviewer hit me with aclassic slash and burn. That's why I decided to use a pseudonym on my mysteries because one (wo)man's delight ends up in another (wo)man's trash.

But I still agree in theory. And I love that you felt free to rant. Good blog.

catslady said...

I guess that's one good thing about selfpublishing - not so many rules. I tend to agree with you and as a reader I like to know who I am reading. Even when genres are changed, I believe the author's "voice" stands true. Maybe because I like variety, I will follow an author that I like whatever genre. And tell me if I'm wrong, but when you read the copyright, doesn't that always tell you the real name of the author? I think readers should take responsibility and not blame the author for not writing what they "expect."

LilMissMolly said...

I'm with you. I just don't get the name change thing for some authors just to switch genres. Teresa Medeiros and Lisa Kleypas seem to have no problem going between historical fiction and contemporary stories.