I write chick lit and I am proud!
I’m coming out of the literary closet, I’m admitting it to the world, I’m putting my own name on the covers of my romantic comedy books. Yes, I am Elizabeth Kyne, she is me — but Elizabeth Kyne must die!
There was a reason I created her and it all seemed perfectly logical at the time. Lots of writers publish under a pseudonym and there are lots of good reasons for it. I was persuaded by the same reason that crime writer Ruth Rendell wrote a series of novels under the pseudonym Barbara Vine.
My first chick lit novel, originally published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kyne
A reader could be sure when picking up a Ruth Rendell novel that they would have the experience of a compelling mystery, usually featuring Chief Inspector Wexford. But she also wanted to write more psychological novels without confusing her fans, and so she put them out under the pen name Barbara Vine.
Marketing people call this branding, and it worked very well for her. She ended up with two separate publishing careers, both of which were successful, and allowed her to write the sort of books she wanted to write.
I was in a similar boat. I was known for writing about science fiction. I had years of magazine articles about film and television SF in my background, as well as books about Babylon 5 and, more recently, Red Dwarf. But suddenly I had written a romantic comedy. That was a bit different. it didn’t fit with my ‘brand’ at all.
Besides, I knew I wasn’t leaving behind science fiction entirely. I wanted to return to the genre and write science fiction novels (my Perceivers series is out in 2015). The idea of a writer who was into both chick lit and science fiction was too confusing to readers, I was persuaded. What I needed was a pseudonym, a brand, to distinguish my romantic comedy from my SF. And so Elizabeth Kyne was born.
My popular short short story was originally published under the pseudonym Elizabeth Kyne
It was then I realised the problems of having a split identity. I needed two websites, two Facebook pages, two author biographies. When people asked about my novel, I had to explain that even though If Wishes Were Husbands had Elizabeth Kyne on the cover, I was the one who had written it. I would have to explain that I was using a pseudonym and then I would explain why.
What sounded like a good idea in theory turned out to be a bad idea in practice.
Readers are Smart
Then I heard another theory, one that I liked much better. Readers are smart, said the new theory. Readers themselves understand that just because they enjoy watching a period drama like Downton Abbey on a Sunday, doesn’t mean they’re not going to sit down and watch a James Bond thriller on Monday. They understand that writers, too, are people. Like readers, they have different interests and therefore are capable of writing different sorts of books.
As for branding, it’s not just about the author name. For example, it’s easy to tell what sort of book If Wishes Were Husbands is just by looking at the cover. The fact that it has the author name ‘Jane Killick’ written on the top shouldn’t lead to confusion.
My new novel (out June 2014). You can tell what sort of book it is, right?
It’s a bit like Iain Banks. Although a lover of science fiction, his first published book was The Wasp Factory, a mainstream book. When it came to publishing his SF, he included a middle initial and became Iain M Banks. However, I usually can’t remember which version of Iain Banks does mainstream and which version does SF. I just know, if it’s got a spaceship on the cover, it’s science fiction.
Now that all my books are being published through Windtree Press, and I have a new novel coming out, Fairy Nuff, it seemed the right time to ‘re-brand’. Elizabeth Kyne is coming off the cover of my books and my name, Jane Killick, is going on them.
Because I write chick lit and I am proud!
With thanks to Scott William Carter for his wonderful post on giving up his pseudonym and for talking me through it last year.