What is in a name?

Hiddey-Ho peeps!  J Monkeys here.  I’m in a bit of a kerfluffle and I’m counting on you good people to help me out.  I imagine that it will come as no surprise to you that J Monkeys is a nom de plume.  It’s a play on my real name, and since I’ve been writing children’s stuff, I thought that the monkey thing would be memorable to my kiddie audience.  

But now, I’m working on a romance for adults and my first thought was to publish (or seek publication) under a different name.  Suze chucked a FABULOUS idea my way (this secret idea may be unveiled at a future date) which has me thinking about writing this new work under the J Monkeys name. But would women buy a romance written by someone with a silly name?

My romance is one of those Fade-to-Black style popular these days.  I’m not writing graphic love scenes…that’s not my forte, and I often skip over them these days when reading.  Hey, I’ve been married more than 10 years.  Love scenes aren’t new…ya know what I’m sayin’?  So the material, while adult, isn’t something that would be a betrayal of my younger audience.  

foreverThen, there’s the Judy Blume controversy.  I’m a huge Judy Blume fan, loved her stuff when I was a kid.  But I think that a lot of parents knew her as a children’s author, so when she wrote Forever and Wifey, these parents assumed that the material was appropriate for their 5th and 6th graders.  In case you never read those, take it from a former 5th grader, the love scenes in Forever were quite graphic, if a bit awkward.  (They were supposed to be awkward…)  Those books were meant for a high school audience, not kids still in elementary school.  But the world has changed in the decades since Ms. Blume’s books came out.  Kids have access to so much more than my generation ever did.  (Thank you Mr. Internet.)  Parents probably know they need to be a bit more involved in evaluating what their kids see, more so today than back in the 80’s.

Today’s question: Here’s my two-fold dilemma: 1-Would you buy a romance by someone with a silly name?   2-Do I have a responsibility to the adults who buy my books, to maintain my kid-friendly persona so that they can buy J Monkeys’ books knowing that they are age appropriate? 

Given all the social media work etc that agents/publisher are looking for before that debut book even comes out these days, maintaining two personas may be more than I can handle.

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9 thoughts on “What is in a name?”

  1. Ms J Monkeys, questions back at ya. Do your readers know it’s not your given name? What’s in a pen name anyway? Do you believe that your pen name gets attention? If you made a name for yourself with J Monkeys as a writer, why not keep the one you chose? On the other hand, some writers do have different names for different venues. Is there really one answer? From the romance pov, I guess you don’t think that Monkeys could be romantic. They are sensual, and they love their babies. Just watch them in the wild. I think it is not as important to your adult audience as it is to your children audience. If you have children’s books out there with your J Monkey on the covers, then you might consider a new pen name for your adult readers.

    1. Thanks! That’s a lot of considerations! I guess I have a couple of months to decide…first I have to finish writing the dang thing. :)

  2. Hmmm….I would keep them separate. Your name is your brand and people want to be able to count on that. If I decided to write out of the Inspirational market, I would have a different name for the different genres. I believe my publisher would require me to. If they’re going to market my name to their followers, they would hold me to the brand.

  3. I’m having the same dilemma, J. Branding takes time and consistent effort, but it ensures that reader expectation will be met and that your work becomes synonymous with your name. We know what we’ll get when we buy a Nora Roberts book and what will be different if we buy a JD Robb book. I definitely think we should keep our “kid” persona different from our “grown up” persona, which is one reason I haven’t published in another genre. I have several adult stories I’d like to revamp and put out there but starting over with building a new brand under another name has me keeping the plan on the back burner because of the additional time and work that would require.

    I’ll be anxious to hear what you decide and how you go about doing it all. I know lots of other authors that do it, but I’m pretty much maxed out with commitments at this point. Perhaps after the trilogy is done, I’ll shift gears and create a second brand with a new product line. Best of luck!

  4. I see the kerfuffle you’re in. But personally, I think that whether you have a day job where you teach kids, or you write kid lit, keeping your identities separate is important. Even with fade-to-black scenes, writing something completely out of sync with your other work may confuse some readers. But then, what do I know? I write only adult romance.

    Good luck with your decision. :)

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