I am a very small-time published author (m/m erotic romance), a genre I originally stumbled into (seriously) so that I could have a publishing history in the hopes of one day getting an agent for my young adult material. While I have enjoyed writing m/m, I feel it is time to "move on", and have begun querying agents for one of my YA novels. Your September 5, 2015 blog post post about being reachable, however, has made me wonder if I shouldn't delete my m/m persona just yet, although I am eager to leave the old "me" behind and delete my Goodreads author page, my blog and my Facebook presence. I simply feel that clinging to my old pen name is holding me back from pursuing a possible future as an author of young adult novels, or perhaps even some of my more conventional romances. I'm at a crossroads, and wondering which way to go.
Basically, my question is thus: should I wait until I'm done querying so that potential agents can find me on the world wide web, or should I jump in with both feet, delete the past, and go after what I want? Even if I'm unsuccessful, I have no plans to go back to writing m/m, its just not where my heart (or muse) is. In fact, I'm not even sure if I should tell agents when I'm querying about my published work--do you think they would they hold it against me? Would you?
If you know you're moving on, make the changeover now. Do so for the same reason you don't buy new curtains for an apartment you're leaving in two months.
The post on Be Reachable meant you should be reachable NOW, not that I need to see what you did in the past. I want to talk to you about your NEW work, not have a discussion about your old work. Time enough for that later.
A lot of people have publishing credentials they don't want to talk about. It's not a deal breaker at all.
While the subject matter may not be suitable to every taste, it's not like you're publishing stories about evil librarians which would be a total deal breaker.
Another reason I love your site. It motivates me to get with it...I really have to develop a suitable writing site. I feel each attempt is getting better, but mam oh man...miles to go.
Look forward. That's perfect.
It sounds to me, Opie, like you've made up your mind on where you want to be but feel nervous to take the leap.
I think big changes need to be planned (as you've done by determining you want to continue in a new direction regardless of success) and then they just need to be enacted. At some point the planning becomes a distraction from the doing.
Do it. And don't look back. :)
It almost sounds, OP, as if you're ashamed or embarrassed about your writing. People read, buy, enjoy erotica. No idea what m/m means but isn't good writing simply good writing?
If you're doing one genre under a pen name, do you really need to obliterate all your other work? Seems extreme.
Why not leave it there for anyone discovering your previous work and simply start a whole new website for your new venture, under a new pen name?
Congrats Opie, on being a published author and taking this leap.
My mind leaps ahead to the query. Specifically the bio section. Since Opie has several books, would s/he simply state having books previously published with M/M Publications? Or since Opie is changing genre, not reference them at all.
It seems the bio section of the query should reference their publication history because it would show potential agents that Opie knows the craft of writing and the process of publication.
Amanda: m/m is male/male
It was one 100 word story, and those evil librarians had gone all Fahrenheit 451 on me. I am going to be stuck in Carkoon indefinitely *sigh*
OP, erase the past while you still can. And don't write any stories about evil librarians. Although, there are still vacancies here in Carkoon with a lovely view of Lima bean plants. I am turning kale into paste. Next week I am going to brew it into a lovely Mezcal.
No evil librarians?! Oh no, another great plot idea gone to hell. Too bad to. An evil Middle School librarian sounds like it would be hysterical.
Rob, I know! Right!
I have to say, I think my eyebrows would be raised at a query for YA, listing m/m erotica in the publishing history. To take this to the extreme, it's a little like EL James querying a kids picture book!
I would, however, hesitate to delete everything - but I do think separating everything cleanly under different names would be a good idea. I don't know that an agent or a publisher would be bothered about it (as Amanda said, there's nothing to be ashamed of), but fast forward 5 years to when your YA is published... and the kids parents are looking for any other books written by that author their kid likes so much...
If you were writing for adults, I would say let it all be - but in this instance I think you need to do some compartmentalising!!!
M/M erotica is a flourishing, commercial genre that takes talent to write well. If you're not comfortable having it under your name, you can remove it, but know that professional writers will not look down at you for having written it.
Having published work is an achievement, something to be proud of, and loads of your fellow writers are actively working in this genre.
I love this.
As it should be in almost all aspects of life, forward is the primary direction. Glancing back at the commas and exclamation points of the past may build a foundation but it's the front door we pass through every day. (Or, often in my case, the back door.)
E.M., kale-paste and mashed lima beans peels paint you know.
God it's good to be back.
Thanks, Lisa. Should have figured that out myself.
I can't offer much other than to say I agree with not wiping out the existence of the M/M writing under the pseudonym, but instead set up a brand new site under the name you'll use for your YA stuff, like a couple others have said.
All writers evolve. And so, you used to write M/M erotica, now you write YA. IMO, this is no reason to ignore or hide that fact. It's just part of the journey, etc.
I don't know about the bio part, but why not say you were previously published under X name, writing M/M erotica romance. It's a publishing credit, and it was work you've been paid to do.
Interesting scenario, and not necessarily an obvious response from our favorite Shark. Like you, Opie, I would have thought whatever I've published is out there and should always be documented in queries etc. But what I hear QOTKU (and others) saying is, for such a radical change of audience (Is YA a genre or an audience?--I don't think we ever settled that one the last time it came up!), it would be better to make a clean break. Forsake your former work and start fresh with your query. If I understand Janet's advise, you would tell a prospective agent about the old stuff on "The Call" just in case any of that might potentially come back to bite you on the bum (legally, creatively, or some other way). It would be your agent's job to help you chart your new career and keep the old persona out of the picture. That means s/he needs to know about it. But not at the query stage.
Good question and interesting advise! :)
E.M.: Fuzzy Print Literary Management on Carkoon might be happy to accept your evil librarian stories. If you should ever have the misfortune to meet a Carkoonian librarian and come away with all your fingers, I think you'll understand why they make the best kind of horror fiction here. Let's just say the Carkoonian police/mafia (same thing) are afraid of them. Part of law enforcement training is to return a library book that's thirty minutes overdue. The ones who are only crying for their mothers when they leave the library are the ones that advance to the kale farms (the final stage).
But I digress... :)
The YA book Into the River was recently banned in New Zealand. Apparently it "covers serious things like pedophilia and sexual abuse." Family First (whatever that is) seems to have upper hand. Publishers Weekly
Invest forward makes sense but OP could use a pseudonym for their new work and leave the old stuff to prove publishing credits. Unless OP is embarrassed. QOTKU might have suggested thus if it was an option. What do I know, I'm no agent.
Just re-read my comment. "Advise" is the verb and "advice" the noun, correct? Or are they interchangeable, or is this a UK/US difference? Sorry, I know it's OT, but it's bugging me. :)
For better or worse, it's part of every writer's evolution to travel through stages and styles, even the experimental ones, on the way to now.
Isn't it possible that this transition between drastically different styles/material could demonstrate your growth and versatility as a writer?
I would explore all the usual vehicles to promote yourself as the writer you are now. But before you lay those branches over the path to the past, consider that it may be only you who sees it as injurious to your career.
Excellent advice! This reachable thing is why I have two twitter handles...eventually I'm going to attempt to migrate from one brand (writerlibrarian) to another (karenmccoybooks).
And sorry, I have to be that guy: Metamorphosis? I think there are more o's in that word?
Karen: Metamoorphoooosis. That enough for you? ;) Sorry... it was the kale... :)
Colin, an agent of Fuzzy Print washed up on the beach of Carkoon after happily accepting my evil librarian story. The official cause of death was boating accident. This was no boating accident, and it wasn't Jack the Ripper either. It was a shark.
OP - best to take Janet's advice. Carkoon is no place for a proven author.
Having a pen name should keep you pretty compartmentalised, I would have thought? I know YA and Erotica (of any kind) are pretty widely separated, but with a pen name I wouldn't have thought there'd be any issues. Having said that, if you're not going to update, interact with or create any new content for the sites that currently house your M/M fic, I guess there's no problem with deleting them.
And really, as a writer you want to do what makes you worry less. Cos let's face it, we worry about every conceivable thing. Why add one more thing?
If you're using your real name for your YA fic, there should be no reason for anything else to bite you in the rear. It's not as if erotica isn't doing extremely well, or as if it's looked down on. I don't read it myself, but there are a heck of a lot of people who do, and it's a legit publishing cred.
Colin - 'Advise' is the verb 'Advice' is the noun. You can either advise a shark, or take a sharks advice.
Choose at your peril!
Laura: I thought as much. So why do I keep writing one for the other? *sigh*! :\
Maybe the worst thing that probably would happen is that, after your second book just starts to get popular it comes out that you previously wrote erotica. Even worse if this was a surprise to your publisher or (God forbid) your agent. I think going with a pen name, and blotting out as much of the old erotica author is an option that should seriously be considered, but do tell your agent just before you sign.
On the other hand, sometimes having a book banned is great for sales. I'd love for people to hate my books so much they get banned. That means people feel passionate about it.
I really do think the evil librarian book should be humor, not horror, least if it's for Middleschool.
Oops, forgot to finish before I posted. Humor because I don't want to scare the customers out of the library. That is definitely bad for sales!
Probably stay away from writing about evil booksellers as well, though I will tell you that booksellers love books that are set in bookstores. Hmm. Maybe I should write one.
I personally know several m/m authors in my local RWA group. Some write sweet m/m and others write erotica. They are really nice people and awesome authors.
Two things to consider, at least in my opinion.
FIRST, are you under contract for your m/m work? If so, check to see if your contract requires an internet or other marketing-type presence. You have Goodreads, a blog, and Facebook. How much activity do your sites currently receive? Will your m/m stuff still be available for sale? If your sites are ghost towns and your m/m stuff is no longer available for sale, you can consider deleting them, but since you want to go traditional, I don't think I would until I spoke with my agent.
SECOND, my blog post last Monday was about a lawsuit regarding the topic IS ANYTHING EVER PRIVATE ON THE INTERNET. All it takes is one YA reader to do a bit of online research and post somewhere on the web “hey guys know what I just learned? Felix Buttonweazer wrote some really cool stuff in the past under the name Slick Craving.” Which leads to three points – (1) even if you delete it, it's never really gone, altho it should be harder to find, (2) some people will be able to find it, and (3) you may not be able to resurrect it.
>>so that I could have a publishing history in the hopes of one day getting an agent for my young adult material. While I have enjoyed writing m/m,
Deleting your online persona, in my opinion, denies and wastes the reason you have it.
>>I simply feel that clinging to my old pen name is holding me back from pursuing a possible future as an author of young adult novels, or perhaps even some of my more conventional romances.
I would wait and discuss this with your agent. At this stage, you don't know if it is holding you back. Lots of my local RWA authors write both conventional and erotica, most under two different names. They are successful doing it that way. I know it's the YA that's causing you to question this. My vote is to keep it unless you are advised otherwise. Plus, your m/m muse might awaken later from its slumber and demand to be heard.
I agree with her sharkiness. Of course, I'm sure the whole gang does. You don't want potential little old grandma's being surprised when they go looking for a book for a gift. I was looking for an Edgar Allan Poe teeshirt and somehow that triggers naked boobs teeshirts. I'm sure the marketer did that on purpose, but no, that isn't what I want.
I had to change the name of FAR RIDER because someone had self published a poorly written erotic space adventure under my previous title. I certainly didn't want people confusing the two books. I'm not averse to erotic. Crappy writing makes me break out in welts, and not the fun kind.
I don't have anything to add from the publishing side, one of my high school English teachers wrote erotica on the side. It was fairly well known among the students, (I remember someone bringing it up during class on day). I didn't actually know what erotica was before this conversation, so it's a pretty vivid memory. I don't know how widely known it was among the parents. I have no idea what her pen name was, but I'm sure someone looked it up and read her stuff.
This was back around 2000, so the internet wasn't quite the thing it is now, but it leads me to think that having two pen names for widely differing audiences is unlikely to lead to some kind of crazy backlash. Certainly someone will google and put the two pen names together, but probably fewer than you might think.
I only recently figured out that the John Green I love from Crash Course history on YouTube is the SAME John Green writing all this bestselling YA. And that's not even a secret - I just figured it was a common name.
As regards whether YA is a genre or an audience, every agent I have ever followed on Twitter or spoken to in person (granted, the latter can be counted on one hand) has called Young Adult, Middle Grade, Adult, etc. categories, and has called Science Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, etc. genres.
Formalism posits that a thing is a thing because we choose to call it so. Whether it makes sense or not is beside the point...which is probably for the best, given how little the universe makes sense when you stop to think about it.
It took a long time for people to figure out who Spencer Quinn was (of Chet and Bernie fame, a series that I love love love, such voice,) so having two pen names will probably keep the op pretty safe.
I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be a high school teacher having written erotica under a pen-name that my students figured out was me after they came across my saucy work. I know what high school kids are like--especially boys. I used to go to school with a bunch of them. Hmmm... how much of a difference would it make if the teacher is male vs. female? Would the kids react differently to a male teacher writing erotica than they would a female teacher?
Sorry... thinking out loud. :)
[For the record, while my exile has me teaching English to Carkoonian High Schoolers, I have not ever written erotica, and I never intend to.]
I am now considering writing erotica in order to escape Carkoon. I do work for a large school district, but perhaps this will be better for my career than my evil librarian tales.
E.M.: Writing erotica to escape Carkoon? Escape Carkoon? You write fantasy too? :)
I do write fantasy. And I did, in fact, write a story about evil librarians which earned me a dishonorable mention in this weekend's flash fiction contest. Complete with evil cat picture. Thus I found myself on Carkoon. Again.
I have never written erotica before, but I bet the high school students in my district will have some ideas :)
Colin...we know your past. At least I didn't forget.....
There by the will and grace of......
"Not that there's anything wrong with that"--Evil Librarian, after refusing to order Opie's new YA title.
LOL, Colin! I can only imagine what your kale-scented breath is like!
Colin- don't fret. I am fairly sure I can use kale to make a fine Mezcal or at very worst, tequila. And Carkoon has no laws about alcohol content. I come from a long line of moonshiners. We'll make do.
E.M.: Yes, I remember that story, and Janet's parting words as she packed you on the shuttle. You probably didn't arrive in time to see your story in Tuesday's Carkoon Cinder (one of the local newspapers). They printed it in the comics section after a strip about a man who is beaten with burning kale leaves while being force-fed lima bean soup for... some reason. The punch-line was lost on me. Carkoonians have a strange sense of humor.
E.M.: Wonderful! While you're here, you should try some Carkoon fire water. Or maybe not. No, it's not a euphemism for whiskey. Carkoonians have no concept of euphemism.
Colin - the kale does seem to induce some strange perceptions in the locals. And I am beginning to think some of these shark attack deaths are actually suicides. All of the victims were previously beaten by burning kale leaves and force fed Lima bean soup. And seriously, no one would go swimming off the Carkoon shores. Everyone knows those be shark infested waters. I mean the reviberating Jaws theme that plays when anyone so much as steps on the beach should be a dead giveaway.
E.M.: You noticed the Jaws theme too? None of the locals understand it, which makes me think it was introduced by someone who doesn't live here. I wonder who might have done that...? :)
Colin, how are we going to get out of Carkoon? I've just been told by a 17 year old high school student that I am not qualified to write erotica. Which could be true. I must admit I know precious little of this genre. However, I do have experience with evil librarians. You try just touching the wrong book in the Christ Church library at Oxford. You'll know what I mean. It was 25 years ago but I am still haunted by that librarian. He was like one of Brandon Sanderson's steel inquisitors. *shudders* I need a drink.
I totally agree with Laura Mary. You are not only jumping genres, but audience age groups. (Even if a large number of adults read YA, myself included.) (wait...AM I an adult? The jury is still out.) since you were publishing under a pseudonym, it shouldn't be hard to switch personas.
I haven't read all the other comments yet, but if no one has sugested you join SCBWI yet, I would urge you to do so. It's the go to place for information on kid lit, and YA is hot now and agents are looking for the next big series there.
Looking forward to reading the rest of the comments after I get some work done and water the kale garden.
EM Goldsmith: "Evil Cat" is redundant.
E.M.: Oh, Janet has made it abundantly clear that my exile is permanent. You wouldn't believe the hassle I'm going through just for a pass from the Department of Alien Foreign Travel to go to Bouchercon. Have you ever tried demonstrating proof of existence to a committee made up of philosophy students? And that was just to get permission to request a foreign travel pass! *sigh* Anyway...
What qualifies one to write erotica? Especially to a 17-year-old. OK, I don't think I want to know... :)
Colin, tell these philosophy students that you are the tree. Repeat until you get needed travel documents. Let me know how it works out.
And I don't want to know what this clever 17 year old thinks qualifies one to write erotica either. I just have to remind myself that these kids' brains haven't fully hardened yet.
We must get some better bars here on Carkoon. I think I am going to be here a while.
Note to self: throw out that old story about the librarian who torture kittens while purposefully helping students find the wrong material for their projects.
Oh wait. That was an editor. I think I'm safe... (just kidding. It was really a high school teacher.)(just kidding again. I would never write about kitten torturers.)
For the OP:
I'm going to assume two things here: 1) you're not ashamed of your m/m and 2) you are planning on using different names for the different genres.
If you were writing your m/m under a pseudonym, I don't think it would matter if you left it up or took it down. The agent wouldn't necessarily look for you there (unless you gave them the name/URL).
Whether you mention it in your query or not, I think, would depend on how successful you were. If you were published by a publisher (e-pub counts), then it could be good to mention it, simply to show that someone liked your writing enough to publish it. If you were self-published, then it would depend on sales, I think. Just as with any other writing credit.
I think the choice to take down or leave up your current website is more a personal choice than a professional. If you simply want to have a place agents can find you, all you have to do is go into your Google account (if you have a gmail, google+, or blogger account, you have a Google account), and make sure your contact information is there. That's all Janet was saying in her more recent 'be reachable' post.
Now, that just made me think of something. If you have a blogger or blogspot blog in your pseudonym's name, and if that's connected to your Google account, then maybe you do want to get rid of your previous account, just to make it easier to change your Google account to your current information and to make that information less confusing. (I'm thinking that if you had this blog on your Google account, under another name, it might confuse someone looking for your current e-mail address.)
As others have mentioned, deleting something on the internet does NOT make it so it has never existed. It's still possible to find that information. But using a different pseudonym/name for each genre is a better way of separating them. Most people - unless they're specifically trying to dig up dirt - won't go looking for a second genre/pseudonym. The trick is to keep them unconnected everywhere online.
Colin: "Sorry... it was the kale... :)" - you sound like someone's uncle with bad digestion. Usually following "Pull my finger".
As for what high school boys would do if they found their teacher wrote erotica - I would think it would depend on how the teacher reacted. Was the teacher ashamed? Worried for her job? Or was she (he?) simply, "Yeah. I wrote that stuff. Now write me a 1000 word essay on the naughtiest thing I ever did that my parents don't know about... yet."
Panda, true that. Although, Cats do make handy demon receptacles as they are able to travel between Hell and the mortal plane freely. So if you can't find an exorcist, a cat works just as well.
(*sigh*) That should be, "the naughtiest thing *you* ever did"...
EM: Oh hell! So THAT is where my cat is when I can't find her. That explains a lot around here. I have heard that wearing a bunch of kale around your neck will protect you from demons.
I need a drink.
Panda, true about the kale. Demons are not a concern here in Carkoon. Sharks, however...
Popular YA/NA author Nyrae Dawn just announced a couple of weeks ago that she was also M/M romance writer Riley Hart. I guess it's too soon to know if that's going to change anything in terms of sales or anything else, but I don't think it's a big deal.
Has anyone thought about writing YA erotica? I mean, teens do have sex, despite what people like Family First want us to believe.... It might be good for teenagers to see some sex portrayed in a healthy, positive light. It always seems so illicit in YA books with teens sneaking around and doing it in cars or waiting until parents go out to strip down and go for it. Sex is a natural and fun part of life and it needs to be portrayed that way.
Kate: I don't know about Family First, but to be fair, I don't think even the most conservative of pro-family organizations would be so naïve as to think teens don't have sex. Most simply advocate abstinence in the belief that teens don't have to have sex. It's certainly true that not all teens do. I don't want to get into the whole issue of teen sex here (neither the appropriate time or place); I just want to be sure we're not unfairly misrepresenting people. :)
Sunday School Teacher
Colin, my friend, you are in BIG trouble
2Ns: Oh... I see... for a moment I thought you were describing my life... ;)
Colin, I think 2Ns was summarizing your life. Maybe she's writing a book...
E.M.: Possible. After all, when you have six kids, certain themes will reoccur. I'm talking about lima beans, of course... :)
Hey Rob I love Chet and Bernie also. In fact, on Friday I'm posting a review of the newest audio book on my blog. Great voice. And funny.
Colin, six? Did you teach all of them to talk? I have just one and well, are you still sane? Mine is in college and I am still recovering from her adolescence. Brave man and just so you know, six kids do not come from Lima beans ... Or kale. Unless the laws of biology are different in Carkoon. Maybe you should consider writing erotica...
E.M.: I don't know about teaching them to talk--they sort of picked that up. But they can all do good English accents for some reason. I credit any and all smarts they have to my wife who homeschools them. Well, most of them. Two are adult, three are teens, and our youngest is eleven.
Given the variety of life forms on Carkoon, the laws of biology here are not for the squeamish. :)
Count me among the confused. (Or maybe I'm the only one.) I'm trying to figure out why someone would want to hide their publishing history. I get that you want a different pseudonym to hide it from your audience, that part is obvious. But why wouldn't you tell a prospective agent that you've been published, that someone qualified said you write well enough to get published?
Would it be different if op was moving from m/f erotica to YA? Or from romance to YA? What if RL Stine wanted to try his hand at erotica? (I haven't read his adult novel(s), so now I wonder what a kid would read if he/she picked up one of his adult novels after reading Goosebumps.)
I'm not in this OP's circumstance having no novels in any of my names, but I'm sure curious why he wouldn't brag about publication in a query to attract attention AND THEN decide with his agent how to move from his past for a new audience.
Carolynn, you forgot the whisky.
Note to self: throw out that old story about the librarian who torture kittens while purposefully helping students find the wrong material for their projects.
You mentioned a teacher, but I knew a couple librarians like this too. In any profession, there are at least one or two evil-doers.
As this is on topic - I am going on stage shortly to read an erotic poem about a man baking a cake. But it is for charity so if it hurts my career it's ok.
I hope sit is for a good cause Ads are allowed and some of you may book flights to hear it.
Does this mean I should re-think my idea to publish a picture book called "50 shades of Kale?" It would have kittens.
Panda, I say go for it. There is certainly a market in Carkoon and as long as there are no evil librarians in the story, most likely your agent and/ or publisher will not be ripped apart and devoured by a shark. Probably.
Oh, Janet's WiR this week is gonna be fun :)
Marc's link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRcRsW5p36w
Susan: Yes it will! :) "Wednesday... well, less said the better. Thursday..." ;)
Colin, could this conflation of sex is somehow associated with Lima beans account for the low Carkoon population growth and their openness to exiles, outcasts, and literary ne're-do-wells?
Lance: That sounds like a research paper. If you're nice, Janet might grant you an extended stay on Carkoon to pursue the topic further... ;)
I remember reading an interview with Ursula Vernon in which she expressed....regret? Apprehension? At having published both her writing for adults and children under her name. She writes the Dragonbreath series for kiddos, and I suppose writes considerably older stuff for the, well, older people (her story Pocosin in Apex magazine knocked my socks off, truly).
I never thought much about it. My name is my name, and I write what I write, none of which is as polarizing as writing only for children vs. dabbling in m/m erotica (and Julie, space erotica? there's no sex in microgravity!). I'm interested in what OP decides to do, and wish them well on their ventures!
I shall go on the record here saying that I loved my school librarians. I also have several friends who are or used to be librarians (yes, I used to work in a library).
Somehow, having librarian friends doesn't necessarily negate any thoughts of the possible evil-doings of said friends... but if I ever use any of them, I'll remember to leave out the fact that they are (or used to be) librarians.
A wee bit of proof about the librarians:
Blue Brolly Comics - Clan Munro - McTavish on Strike
BJ, I am sure most librarians are lovely. Until you touch the wrong book in a section of an ancient library where you don't belong and then... Ah well.
However, should you end up here in Carkoon, I will provide the moonshine and Colin has everything else needed to survive the exile. I think he is even beginning to understand the locals. At least they have no particular objections to stories about evil librarians. But perhaps that is why they are Carkoon natives in the first place?
Did I mention that comic was written and drawn by two of my librarian friends? ;)
Sex with lima beans is not advised... Makes them soggy and hard to light.
And let us not forget that uber librarian Nancy Pearl has her own action figure. Just saying.
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