Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Split Personalities

Rebecca asks: I notice that you write under two different names. How do you manage the two identities? Do you keep it a loosely held secret? Do you publicize both from each other?

Yes, my twin identities are a loosely kept secret. I write horror and I write crime, and there are quite a few people who know that and it’s these people I don’t keep my twin identities a secret from. The second identity (created for my horror writing) is essentially for people who are encountering my work for the first time.

The reason I split myself in two was to avoid reader confusion. I found I kept running into the issue of readers didn’t know what kind of writer I was and it made them wary of picking up a book. I’d attend Bouchercon or Left Coast Crime and people would think of me as a horror writer and when I attended the World Horror Convention, people would remark that I was that mystery writer. It was getting to the stage where it was really hurting my sales. So I created the pen name for my horror writing because I’d already had several thrillers published under the Wood name.

The additional identity has created some additional work for me, but I’ve also given myself a little bit of an advantage. Sometimes publishers have clauses stating that a writer can't have competing works out within so many months of publication. With a pen name, technically I don’t. Simon Wood isn't competing with Simon Janus and vice-versa. We’re two very different people, even if we do look alike.

Essentially, I wanted to create a distinction between my two writing styles by developing some product branding. If someone is shopping for Tide, you want it to say so on the label because you don’t want the consumer getting it confused with Frosties or whatever. The worst thing I can do as a writer is disappoint the reader by misinforming them. At the end of the day, I don’t care what name goes on the cover of the book, I just want to be read.

Now that I have the two identities, I promote each identity to the individual reader communities. I sometimes cross-promote by letting people know that I’m not just Simon This, I’m also Simon That in the hopes of some cross-fertilization of readers.

Yours from two points of view,
Simon Wood

PS: In case, you're not tuning in every day. For anyone who leaves a comment, your name will go into a draw to win a copy of my latest book, Terminated. At the end of the week, I'll draw two names and send them a book.


Graham Brown said...

Hi Simon - I would ask you which one you prefer to write , but I think that question is fairly impossible to answer - how about this - which genre is EASIER to write? With the horror stuff, I guess you can make anything up you want. Of course that doesn't always make things easier.

Simon Wood said...

Hi Graham,

It depends on the day which is eaiser to write. :-)

I don't I have a preference when it comes to either genre. I love both or I wouldn't write about them. They are both labors of love. And I have to love what I write about regardless of genre or it'll show.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Thanks, Simon whatever your name is today! I've found that I'm constantly answering questions using the wrong email or twitter account or whatever. I imagine CIA operatives are slicker at it.

If you wrote a mystery horror (or horror mystery), which name would you use? Also, are the writing communities different? If so, how?

(ha! I'm cheating and asking extra questions!)

Terry Stonecrop said...

Interesting. I've seen authors do that. Funny, sometimes I'll like one author and not the other. And it's the same person.

Is one of them your real name and the other a pen name? Or are both pen names?

Simon Wood said...

Rebecca: That's interesting question about what I would do if I blended genre. It's an issue will face soon as I'm writing something is cross genre. As to whose name goes on the front, I don't mind as long as people read it. It'll be a discussion for the publisher I'm sure. :-)

Terry: I know what you mean. I prefer Ruth Rendell's Barbara Vine identity because she goes much darker and tackles some nasty characters. Wood is my real name. The issue is compounded by the fact there are several writers with the name Simon Wood, but thankfully I'm the only one writing fiction.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Hi, Simon, see you at PSWA and I suspect we'll be able to ask you all sorts of questions.


Simon Wood said...

Meredith: I'm in AZ. So I'm getting closer to Vegas every day...