To Change or Not to Change, That Was the Question by Ella Grace
Shakespeare wrote: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”
While that may be true for a flower or a Montague, it might not be the same for an author who chooses to take a pseudonym. As an author of dark and sexy romantic suspense, readers of my Christy Reece books knew what to expect. Emotional angst, steamy passion, action, adventure, and happy ever after endings were all part of my brand.
When my publisher suggested using another name and writing a slightly different kind of book, I resisted. I had worked so hard to create name recognition for myself and I love to write romantic suspense with kick-ass heroines and tough, oh-so-sexy heroes.
Making the decision was exhausting. I asked friends, both writers and non-writers, their opinion. Most everyone gave me the pros and cons. While that advice was appreciated, I wanted someone to tell me exactly what to do. Understandably no one was willing to do that. It had to be my decision alone.
Authors have been using pen names since storytelling came into existence. It certainly isn’t a new concept. However, it is a gamble for an author already established in a particular genre. I’m not a big risk taker. Being a ‘bird in the hand is worth two in a bush’ kind of thinker, this was a big step for me.
The additional expense was daunting as well. Maintaining a professional website is expensive but having two different sites? The cost of setting it up, paying for maintenance, along with making sure everything stays current, could be a nightmare.
And what about explaining the change to my readers? I admit sounding cheerful, happy and excited wasn’t always easy. So much of me wanted to say no to everything and continue to write as Christy Reece only.
I ended up making the difficult decision to take the leap for several reasons. Other authors have done so and it worked out well for them. It was freeing to write in a completely different style and voice. And writing something so different made me reach beyond my comfort zone, challenging me in new ways.
Was it a successful venture for me? Yes and no. Readers who love small town contemporary romances with a bit of mystery and suspense loved the series and wanted to read more. Many of those readers went on to read my Christy Reece novels. Additionally, writing about my home state and being able to create my very own little southern town with intriguing characters was both enlightening and fun.
I won’t deny there were negatives. Some I had anticipated, such as the added expense of a second website and disappointed readers who didn’t like this new direction. Others I hadn’t expected. Being two types of writers, with two different fan bases did get exhausting and a bit confusing. There were more than a few times I signed the wrong name in one of my books. Humorous but also a little embarrassing when you forget your own name.
If I had to do it all over again, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t. I would just write my books with one name, no matter how different the storytelling, and let the chips fall where they may.
However, with two personas firmly established, I do intend to continue to write under both names. Will I at some point go back to using only one? I don’t know. But I’ve fallen in love with my new characters and I might never have created the quaint little town of Midnight, Alabama if I hadn’t taken this different road. I’ve grown a lot in the last year, both professionally and personally. And growth, while sometimes painful, is always a good thing.
Ella Grace is a writer of steamy southern suspense, wife, and mother of numerous four-legged fur creatures. She loves to write, read, cook the occasional meal, go to the movies, and travel when she can. She’s delighted to be writing a series based in her home state of Alabama. Ella Grace is the pen name for Christy Reece, a NYT Bestselling Author of dark and sexy romantic suspense.
Learn more and order your own copy of Midnight Lies here.
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