Sunday, May 24, 2015

What's in a Name?

Posted by: Janni Nell

Shakespeare said it first, but was Romeo and Juliet’s dilemma any greater than the dilemma of a modern writer working in more than one genre? I don’t think so.

I’ve reach a kind of crossroads in my writing. After releasing five humorous paranormal mysteries under the Janni Nell name, I published three humorous chick lit mysteries—yep, you guessed it—under the same name. I can still see the look on horror on the face of a fellow writer, when I told her I’d published both paranormal and chick lit under the same name.

Of course I’d considered using a different name, but because the two series were similar in voice and humor, I decided they had enough in common to be published under the same name. With the benefit of hindsight that seems like a big mistake. The differences between the genres were too great. All I ended up doing was confusing readers and messing with my brand.

Now I’m a month or two away from publishing another paranormal. This is a more serious story and, although there is a mystery to solve, I wouldn’t place it in the mystery genre. So I’m considering a name change. Am I crazy? Maybe. If I do change my name, in some ways, it’ll mean starting from scratch. But…and it’s a big but, I won’t confuse readers further by publishing something that is different from what I’ve published in the past.

I’m interested in how other writers have handled this situation, but also how readers feel when their favorite authors switch genres.

So, what should I do? Change my name? Keep the same name? Or maybe hedge my bets with “Janni Nell writing as…”?

In the meantime you can see what all the fuss is about by checking out the Allegra Fairweather series of paranormal mysteries and the Sassy Chance series of chick lit mysteries.


  1. I publish both my ancient Egypt fantasies and my science fiction romances under the Veronica Scott name. For one thing, I can't keep up with doing social media and promo and All The Things under more than one name! Best wishes with the new book...

  2. I debated on whether or not to separate my adult fiction fantasy romance from my YA SF/fantasy/paranormal fiction, but in the end decided not to.

    I think readers are smart enough to figure out for themselves what genre a book is in, and make the decision whether to follow an author who switches genre or not. (I enjoyed both Barbara Hambly's fantasy novels and her historical mysteries, but ultimately decided I didn't like Sandra Brown's thrillers as well as I'd liked her romances)

  3. I use ONE name for my work. However, my work is focused on horror or paranormal romance or dystopian. So it's not like I'm writing sweet romance, or something very different. It's very difficult to promote adequately under more than one pen name while trying to keep up with a writing schedule. I just don't have the time for that. So I choose to build my brand under one pen name, sticking to themes that aren't too different from each other.

    Precious Monsters

    1. Yes, it's easier when the genres are closer. And promotion is always a challenge even with one name.

  4. When I was an elem teacher, I knew I was skirting the line using my real name for my scifi/fantasy/paranormal romances, even tho they were "sensuous". When I did the more "naughty" stuff, I had no choice but to use a pseudo. Same for my horror. Now I'm glad I did because my readers automatically know what to expect with each name. :)

  5. Thanks everyone. Your comments have been a great help. Although I'd love to use another name, I don't relish the prospect of all the extra promotion taking me away from writing. So I think I'll probably go with the majority and keep the same name.


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