Does anyone here use different pen names for different modes?

Astro Pen

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My novels so far are sci-fi (not fantasy) but the shorts that people seem to enjoy most are completely different. More like John Updike, about contemporary relationships and very much about people and sexuality. I am hankering to write novel on that basis. In fact it is under way, about the human and political relationships between staff of three foreign embassies in Cyprus. A cocktail of conflicts espionage and lust in a dynamic geopolitical situation. (It's working better than it sounds, in fact it is delicious to write.)
However, I am thinking that I will have to become two different writers. :unsure: even possibly different agents. Has anyone else here made a split like that? I know there was the 'Iain Banks' and 'Iain M. Banks' thing but I think a completely different identity will be needed.
 

sule

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I listened to a podcast once where David Farland/Dave Wolverton discussed his reasoning behind using slightly different pen names and why writers of sf might want to use one if they also write in another genre. It was in season 2, episode 11 of Writing Excuses if you're interested.
 

.matthew.

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I know that Rachel Aaron also writes sci-fi under the name Rachel Bach. I think it's a fairly common practice if you're jumping genres, to maintain distance between the styles and expectations of readers.
 

Jo Zebedee

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No but I probably will at some point when I can be bothered changing the covers etc - it would be useful to separate Abendau from the rest of my stuff. It’s Space Opera where the rest is often with Irish themes.
 

Pyan

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Iain Banks and Iain M. Banks spring (springs?) to mind.

But even on a much more mundane level: I'm sure that people adjust their style of writing when they're posting on a forum, especially when using a pseudonym, compared with, say, writing an email at work.
 

Luiglin

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I've thought about it. The one work I have on Amazon is under my real name and is in a grimdark style. This is somewhat at odds with my comedic stuff - although if you dont like my humour that could also be classed as grimdark. When I get to a position to push the comedic stuff I'll probably use another variant of my name.

However, this is just like saying when I win the lottery I'm going to buy myself an Aston Martin.
 

Pyan

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However, this is just like saying when I win the lottery I'm going to buy myself an Aston Martin.
I'd rather have a Daimler:
prewarcars-8-728.jpg

But at £6m, it would probably have to be a rollover...
 

Overread

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What I find interesting is how we not just accept but even expect pen-names for authors. It's one of those rare industries where we accept the "lie" whilst in films, games and almost all other media we expect a "real" name behind a creator.



As for pen-names. Robin Hobb writes under Megan Lindholme as well. Her Megan books were earlier and were much shorter regular novels, her Robin books are much more detailed and thicker. Whilst both deal with fantasy the style of writing between the two is very different as is the average length of the story.
There's some justification of building a brand around a name for an author and that if you're going to release things "off brand" then there's some argument to using a different name. That way any new readers don't come pre-loaded with expectations of what the story might entail as the style of writing; the length; the subject even your overall skill level, could be vastly different between the two.
Of course the other side of the coin, likely more important for self published authors, is that if you've invested into a publishing name with several books and got yourself a growing name for yourself. Then there's justification on building on that foundation rather than spreading yourself thin and starting all over again with a new author name.

Of course If your first selection of books are really weak and not selling well and generally show up your ignorance/inexperience then there's ample justification for using a different pen name so that you can abandon the bad publicity of the first
 

Pyan

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Robert A Heinlein had several pen-names (Anson MacDonald, Lyle Monroe, John Riverside, Caleb Saunders, Simon York, etc.), using them for various reasons. There's an interesting letter exchange between him and Frederick Pohl on the subject:

RAH letters to FP, 1941
 

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