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Claire Tucker

Mixing Fantasy and Historical Fiction under the same name?

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Since the topics of author websites have been considered in the past week, I have a question (and I apologize if it is a little vague ...).

 

I am considering writing fantasy and historical fiction under the same pen name (at the moment, my emphasis is more on the fantasy). Obviously, this means that it would be the same author website and blog/e-mail list. My question basically is will this work? Will it work to build a single e-mail list for these two genres, or should I consider using separate names and build separate followings?

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Great question, Claire.

 

I think that you might be able to get way with the same name and author website for both genres, as long as you have clear sections for which is which. However, I think you'd struggle to do a combined blog and it would definitely not work to try to write a combined newsletter. You could have one email list but split it into two audiences.

 

You'll already have to build separate followings-- there's no question about that. There may well be some people who like both historical fiction and fantasy (me, for example), but this will be random. There won't be the same kind of natural crossover between historical romance and contemporary romance, or fantasy and sci fi.

 

As an author who loves many different genres and has plans to genre hop in the future, I'd strongly recommend you pick just one to start with. Write the books, start the mailing list, begin growing the fan base. Then when you've learned the ropes, do the same for the second genre.

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I can see that it would be confusing for some readers. They find an author in the genre they like. They read those books. Then they see another by the same author, grab it off the shelf, pay for it, take it home, and ... what's this????

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7 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

Then they see another by the same author, grab it off the shelf, pay for it, take it home, and ... what's this????

This didn't actually enter my thoughts ... good point, though.

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Ah, the pigeon hole.  I fight it like it's the next plague, but that doesn't help me with the pigeons.

I hope that if you make a clear distinction between the genres on your website ie have separate pages for them, and separate email sigh up forms, any cross over you get from mistakes people make will be happy ones.  They will say, "Oh! I never knew this could be so wonderful! It is your unique voice and style that I love and seek out and I enjoy it in both genres!"

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7 hours ago, carolinamtne said:

Then they see another by the same author, grab it off the shelf, pay for it, take it home, and ... what's this????

 

Novels usually have blurbs. Who buys a book without knowing what it's about just because it's written by a certain author (unless the person has some sort of crush on the author and just wants to collect everything s/he has written just for the satisfaction of knowing that they own their entire work)?

 

History is full of authors who have written books belonging to various genres. Here's just a brief list of contemporary ones: https://www.bustle.com/p/13-bestselling-authors-who-write-in-more-than-one-genre-including-jk-rowling-stephen-king-neil-gaiman-2969009

 

In fact, I think I find it more challenging to avoid sticking to just one genre, and I (subconsciously) respect the authors who dabble in a multitude of genres a bit more than those who stick to just one.

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I remember being introduced to the works of Ian M. Banks, the science fiction author, searching the library for other books, then reading "magical realism" by Ian Banks. Not disappointed, but I learned the difference between the two.

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19 hours ago, Lucian Hodoboc said:

Novels usually have blurbs. Who buys a book without knowing what it's about just because it's written by a certain author

 

Fans, that's who! Not just ones with a "crush," as you put it, but people who know that this is an author who writes what they like in a genre they enjoy. I'll give you an example. I love CJ Box and Sue Grafton. I'm not collecting their books, but if I go into a bookshop or library and see their names, I don't even need to read the blurb. If it's a CJ Box book, I'm getting it, no questions asked.

 

On the other hand, I like Peter James' crime novels, but not his ghost stories. There's an extra hoop to jump through when I see a Peter James book because I have to check to be sure it's what I want to read. If I'm in a hurry and grabbing just one book, whose will I get? The one whose blurb I have to examine to make sure it's the right genre, or the one which I can just pick up instantly because their brand consistency makes it clear what I'll be getting?

 

I believe authors should make it as easy as possible to let people know what their brand represents. JK Rowling writes crime fiction under the pen name Robert Galbraith, and she explains why on the Robert Galbraith website:

 

Quote

 

Now Robert Galbraith’s true identity is widely known, J.K. Rowling continues to write the crime series under the Galbraith pseudonym to keep the distinction from her other writing and so people will know what to expect from a Cormoran Strike novel.

 

 

 

 

Have you ever eaten a box of assorted chocolates? The kind where you don't know what's inside the candy? Then you have to read the side of the box to check that you're not about to bite into a mint-flavoured chocolate (an abomination, in my opinion 😉 ). I'd much rather get a box full of what I know I like and scarf it all without needing to examine the description first.

 

Logistically and for marketing purposes, if a person writes in very different genres, I think it makes things easier to use separate pen names. I take your point that there are those who have succeeded under the same name, but it's a lot tougher.

 

Edited by EBraten
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Just now, suspensewriter said:

I've never hear of CJ Box, EBraten, but now that you've recommended him, I'll be sure to get some!

Aw, that's kind! He writes crime fiction. Gritty, with some violence. His Joe Pickett series is great, but my favourite book of his so far is Badlands, which isn't part of that particular series.

 

I like the way his heroes are good people trying their best to bring justice to very bad guys. Blue Heaven is also great-- not part of the Joe Pickett series either, but real page-turning suspense.

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1 hour ago, carolinamtne said:

Do his books show up in audio?

Sorry, were you referring to CJ Box? Yes, they do! The first book of his I "read" was an audiobook via my library.

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I think writing in multiple genres is great, @Claire Tucker! As you know, it's what I do! My advice would be to market the genre of your first novel to that audience first. Then, once you have a platform, extend your reach to marketing the next genre (by starting with your current audience, then expanding to those outside it). 

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1 minute ago, suspensewriter said:

Yes, but which audience are we talking about?

It's a good question! @Claire Tucker, what do you think you want to publish first? My gut says that a fantasy audience would be persuaded to check out a historical fiction book more easily than if it was set up the other way 'round. 

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At the moment I'm thinking of publishing fantasy first, purely because that's what I've got on the go at the moment. And the historical fiction is going to require a lot of research that I just haven't gotten to. 

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I recommend reading "The Devil in the White City."  This is pure history and written like a movie.  It is brilliant. (my opinion)

 

BTW, when we write in Word, there is a section for Word count, grammar, spelling, and punctuation, word usage, subject-verb agreement and my favorite - both grade level and readability percent.  Was wondering what others thought about it's accuracy? and should we trust its evaluation of grade level and readability?

 

I have now downloaded "Scrivener, to add to Dramatica, Story Weaver, and Snowflake.  So far only word has helped me...Any thoughts?

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I agree with @carolinamtne. And I really think a good amount of a fantasy audience would be willing to check out historical fiction by an author they like, especially if it's medieval or ancient history. I know I would. 

 

 

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4 minutes ago, MaryKaithe said:

I never mean to disagree with anyone, especially @carolinamtne.  She knows more than I could ever force into my Cerebrum!

It didn't sound to me like you were disagreeing with anyone! Just providing info. 😊

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Thank you, MaryKaithe, for the compliment. There are some things I know, but there's a lot I don't. Fortunately, other people here do.

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