A few days ago I was talking to best selling Wool author, Hugh Howey.

Okay, I wasn’t really having a conversation with Hugh Howey. I emailed him a question and he graciously responded.

In a recent interview Hugh talked about author branding and using various pen names for different genres.

Some of you might know I use four different pen names. D. C. Chester for SF, weird way, and thriller stories. Danny Essex for crime dramas. Toma Lea for romance and chic lit. Dillion Case for Young Adult.

I queried Hugh because he said in the interview that he dismissed the notion of diluting an author’s “brand” by writing in several genres under the same name. He trusted the intelligence of the readers to figure it out.

He pointed out that James Patterson, the bestselling author in the world, writes murder mysteries, thrillers, Young Adult, and so on. All those books in different genres carry the same name, James Patterson. Hasn’t seemed to dilute his brand any.

Hugh’s point was good enough for me and in the future all of my stories will carry the same pen name, D. C. Chester. I’ll use appropriate cover images and typography for different genres and I’ll use cover blurbs and story descriptions to avoid reader confusion with genre.

As for the stories already published, over time I‘m going to redo the covers and change author pen names where needed. In some cases I’ll go further and replace images and art work. I can easily do that because my books are digital. A benefit of modern electronic publishing.

D. C. Chester is the pen name I designed in 1974, based on family history. And even through all those years I spent in corporationville, when writing was shuffled off to the side, I still identified myself in my own mind as the writer, D. C. Chester.

So Danny Essex is dead and buried. Toma Lee – gone. Dillion Case, Dani Chi, Jonathan Daniels, and other names I’ve drafted over the years that you’ve never heard of, are gone.

Thanks to Hugh Howey I’m D. C. Chester. And now it seems a lot less crowded around here. That’s a good thing.

-  Chester



12/07/2014 12:03pm

How do we know that Danny Essex, Toma Lee, Dillion Case, Dani Chi and Jonathan Daniels aren't real people that D. C. Chester lured into a cabin in the woods, disposed of, and now plans to take credit for their wonderful work?

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Having different pen names makes sense especially if you have different styles and ideas. But isn't that confusing? Or wouldn't the readers know that it is the same author? So what is the point of having pen names if the readers know the real author? I just do not get it.

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