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Do I REALLY Need a Pen Name?

September 30, 2018 by in category The Extra Squeeze by The Extra Squeeze Team tagged as , ,
Pen Names | The Extra Squeeze | A Slice of Orange

Dear Extra Squeeze Team, I want to write some cozy mysteries, and I’ve already published a few romances under my own name. Do I REALLY need a pen name for the cozy mysteries?

Rebecca Forster | Extra Squeeze

Rebecca Forster 

USA Today Bestselling author of 35 books, including the Witness series and the new Finn O’Brien series.


I think cozy mystery and romance go very well together. Your existing romance base will embrace your cozies and when the cozies catch on those readers will appreciate your romances. Because my thrillers are a bit hard-edged, I found my readers weren’t really open to reading my romances. The genres and styles were just too far apart. In  your case, build your name and your brand on these sister genres (unless, of course, your romance is erotica).


Robin Blakely | The Extra Squeeze Team | A Slice of Orange

Robin Blakely

PR/Business Development coach for writers and artists; CEO, Creative Center of America; member, Forbes Coaches Council.


You need a pen name for your new work if you need to separate the brand to offer clarity in the market place for your separate audiences of readers. If all of your books would be enjoyed by the same audience of readers, you don’t need to divide the brand.  The more you can write for one community of readers, the more successful you can become.  Make sure that you know what is most important to your readers about your brand and then do everything you can to define your brand with care and clarity. Feel confused? Try thinking of your brand as a popular ice cream chain. If your readers love Baskin Robbins because they expect to find buckets of ice cream inside, imagine how disappointed and shocked they would be to enter the store and discover buckets of gravy suddenly sold next to their favorite ice cream.  No one goes to the ice cream parlor for gravy. Baskin Robbins is not a gravy store.  Even if ice cream lovers like gravy, they won’t believe in the gravy at Baskin Robbins—it just isn’t right. But, ice cream lovers might be easily persuaded to buy an ice cream cake at the ice cream shop.  They might buy some milkshakes or popsicles.  If your work makes sense under the roof of the same author brand name, do it.  If not, separate the products so audiences understand your brand with clarity.

Jenny Jensen | A Slice of Orange

Jenny Jensen

Developmental editor who has worked for twenty plus years with new and established authors of both fiction and non-fiction, traditional and indie.

Authors often use a pen name to avoid any confusion from crossing genres. It’s a tried and true strategy. If your Romances have done well then you have established a reader base that you can build on to sell more Romance.  Those readers have already read your work and (presumably) know they like it and will know what to expect when they see a new book by you. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this fan base would reject you outright if they bought your next book expecting a Romance and got a Cozy instead. I would suggest that it could confuse future sales ‑ especially among hard-core Romance readers.

By using a pen name for your Cozy Mystery you’ll need to build a new reader base, but if the work is good then it certainly can be done. After all, you’ve done it before with your Romance books. And you can cross-market on your existing Romance platform for a kick-start and branch out to reach the Cozy enthusiasts. There’s no reason to be coy about it when marketing. The fact that you could honestly say on your author page: “Augusta B. Christie is the pen name for the cozy mysteries written by Babs Cartland, who’s Romances are loved by many”. This would show you as a writer with a body of work and a following.

So many successful writers use pen names for different genre, J.K. Rowling being an outstanding example. Wanting to set her modern PI series apart from the unique world of Harry Potter (and any reader expectations of) she published the Strike books as Robert Galbraith. Never was any secret about that and the different pen names helped to differentiate the books and establish reader expectations.

Jennifer Ashley, an awesome, versatile writer, uses three pen names to cover the different genres she writes: Jennifer Ashley for contemporary, paranormal and historical romance, urban fantasy and paranormal as Allyson James, and mysteries as Ashley Gardner. She unabashedly markets her books as Jennifer Ashley writing under the other pen names as well.  Each of her books are different and wonderful just as each of Galbriath’s/Rowling’s are and the pen names clearly identify the genre to her market.

Of course the use of a pen name for your Cozies just to set them apart from your Romance market won’t be effective unless you build your marketing platform(s) to reach each type of reader. And your work must be strong enough to grab and grow a following; that means write, rewrite thoughtfully and use a skilled editor, regardless of your pen name.  Just sayin’…

H.O. Charles

Cover designer and author of the fantasy series, The Fireblade Array

No, you don’t HAVE to have a separate pen name. It depends upon the brand you want to build  If you want readers to come to you for romance and nothing else, then create another pen name. If you think your romance readers could be interested in your mystery work, then stick with the same name. It sometimes helps to have a small beginner audience for a new set of books to get reviews going, etc. So, depending on how large your existing audience is (i.e. if it’s already several tens of thousands), it might be worth sticking to the same name.

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