By: Kathleen Pickering
Here I am, a mere mortal and I’m morphing. I am undergoing a change in identity without super powers, scientific experimentation or surgery.
Within the next few months I will be assuming a new identity through Brand Marketing. My mug will be little affected. My personality will most certainly root itself in the duo identity. I will change my website easily, but it might take me, Kathleen Pickering, a while to get used to the new moniker I will assume.
Now, as a romance writer for Harlequin, I will remain as my established self: Kathleen Pickering. However, for my paranormal and urban fantasy works that I will most probably self publish, I will morph into someone new, and hopefully, wonderful. This is so exciting!
Think about it. You get a chance to pick a new mystique, a new name. Revamp your whole look, should you choose. Who would you be?
My brand specialist and I are tossing around author names for my new, self-publishing identity. Here are a few of the choices:
Believe me, the list goes on and on. My advisor insists I should choose a name that not only reflects my genre, but is a name I can live with for a long, long time. I don’t want to do this more than once.
How did I choose my list of names? I used a baby name book. Ran through the girls names I liked and made a list. Then ran through guy names I would use as last names. Then played with them to see what appeared. By the time I finished I had over 30 names. And, believe it or not, I could live with myself under any of those chosen names. Talk about multiple personalities!
One of the many reasons for the pen name? Liability. I have already self-pubbed under my legal name, but I’ve learned that if I plan to publish myself and be professional about it, it’s best if my real self stays at home.
Establishing a Limited Liability Corporation is a good idea, as well. Obtaining a post office box in the name of my LLC and/or my pen name is another step I shall take. These are points all self-pubbed authors should consider. Whether e-pubbing digitally or offering POD hard copies, authors should consider how exposed they want to be. Which brings me to another good reason for this new direction – Security! In this time of online hacking, credit card and banking security terrorism, working under a pen name and LLC help reduce risk to me and my family at little expense.
Now you say, but what about ME?? I like ME. I like my current name and who I am. I don’t want to change. What about my back lists? My works already on Amazon?
Well, ME is still fabulous but vanity is not worth the risk in which I can potentially place myself and my family. So, I humbly suggest that if you choose to take the self-publishing route, consult your attorney on the legalities behind the process and decide what works best for you.
As for back lists, again, it’s personal choice. I made my first self-publishing efforts last year; not that long ago. One by one, I will pull the books already out, announce the changes through my social media channels and re-release the works under my new name.
I have already begun revamping Mythological Sam-The Call. The book is currently written in first person. I’m switching to third person and I love the new personality arising with the story. We’re creating a new cover as well. So, if you own the current version of Mythological Sam-The Call, it will become a collector’s item. Congratulations!
Why make so drastic a change? We all know plenty of successful, well-branded authors using their own names. Since I’m relatively new to the publishing scene, I’m choosing to switch before the momentum increases. The industry is morphing before our eyes. I will, too.
This takes me to an additional reason for changing my name. I plan to brand a personality around my works that defines me as an Author and a Publisher —and if done properly, this personality will appeal across genres. Appealing to multiple genres is important to me.
Think of the YA’s that adults practically tear from their kids hands to read for themselves. (Twilight or Harry Potter, anyone?) Or the mysteries that appeal to romance readers because of the finely-honed heroes/ heroines. Or best of all, consider the books by authors like Patterson, Childs, Roberts and King. Even if folks haven’t read them, they know who those authors are. Why? Because these authors and their books are well branded. Look at the fabulous Dr. Seuss! Everyone knew his name. (God Rest His Soul.) Why? Branding. I can guarantee you these authors have, and had in Dr. Seuss’s case, no trouble living with themselves.
Bottom line: with this changing industry, I’m changing, as well. I am investing in my long- term future safety and repositioning my self-publishing line of business into a position that will handle my success safely and securely.
I will continue to give my agent and editor first dibs on everything I write. I still honor and seek brick and mortar publishing houses over self-publishing because they have the experience, the marketing savvy and influence in the business. However, if they do not express interest in my manuscripts, my alter-ego will take over and funnel the stories to my self-publishing line of business.
The best part? I have yet to meet this new author I am creating. Not unlike Frankenstein, she is still under my Brand Marketer’s tarp. Bwaaaaahaaaahaaa. I will let you know who she is after the lightning strikes!
So, let me ask. If you were to develop an author alter ego who would he/she be, and after creating this being, could you live with yourself?