As you can tell from this site, I have multiple pen names. I began writing as Mary Winter with my first published book in 2002, and slowly, over the years, the pen names added up. Adera Orfanelli came about because I thought I needed a fresh start. A friend told me I should write M/M under a gender nonspecific pen name, one that just had initials, and that’s how W.M. Kirkland came to be. Add in a few more pen names that aren’t on this site, and technically I have six pen names.
For a while, all of my pen names were dormant, and during a time I was working on just one or two. So I won’t lie and say I was actively working all pen names all the time. In fact, I suspect at some point I will go through my Mary Winter/Adera Orfanelli/W.M. Kirkland books and rebrand them to make the genres align with the pen names, or at least what the pen names were supposed to be. 🙂
However, I am getting back into the writing swing of things, and here are some tips that I’ve found for juggling multiple pen names.
Know what each pen name is for and stick to it.
Part of the problem I had was that my pen names got juggled. I have M/M works, for example, as both Mary Winter and W.M. Kirkland. This dilutes the pen names, especially in today’s market, and readers don’t know where to go for what kind of books.
There’s nothing wrong with having multiple sub-genres per pen name, and for sanity’s sake, it may be recommended. But make sure you’re clear and your branding is clear on what the pen names write.
Lists are your friend!
I have a “writing tracker” spreadsheet with six columns for active projects and/or pen names. I know what project each name is working on and why. In other words, I can tell you that a story is going to be a reader magnet list building story or continuing part of my series, or even a longer work to bring in more royalty bucks for each sale.
I use the “sticky notes” app in Windows 10 to keep lists of what I’m writing, what’s coming up next since I tend to do a lot of 5K short stories these days, and what the plan is. Be anal. Be organized. Your pen names, your bottom line, and your sanity will thank you.
Do you really need another pen name?
I’ve added two this year. Why? Because one is for work that so doesn’t work well with my erotic romance and is more “Writing for love” rather than money. The other is for some other work that I don’t want traced back to me and these three pen names. If you don’t have a good reason, other than it is a new genre, and that genre and your current one(s) can coexist (i.e. contemporary and paranormal romance), why make a new name? Part of the ability to juggle multiple pen names is knowing when you don’t need to.
Notice that I didn’t go into the marketing and social media aspect of this. I’m still figuring that out frankly. But for now, I feel like I got a good handle on my names and I can move forward with confidence.