Friday, November 27, 2015

My Confession

I pride myself on my honesty and, for as much as is practicable given the world we currently live in, my openness. But I’ve been carrying a secret around with me since 2006.

I’ve been lying about my name all this time! It’s not REALLY Willsin. Go figure!

Heh.

Okay, I’m being a tad silly there. But Willsin Rowe doesn’t really feel all that much like a pen name anymore. I’ve been him since 2006, as I mentioned. And everything Willsin says, does and thinks is essentially the real me. As Alfred Hitchcock reportedly said, “What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out?” Similarly for myself, and I’m sure for many other authors… what is Willsin but the real me distilled?

There is, however, a side-secret I’ve been carrying with me since early 2013. And it’s a side-secret which I’m in the process of revealing. Another pen name I operated under for a couple of years, and which is still out there a little.

The back story of it all is that, by the end of 2012, I’d seen very little action as Willsin Rowe. My books seemed well-written (to me, at least). I had friends and supporters and beta-readers and reviews. I just couldn’t find my niche. I was convinced the main issue was my gender, in combination with the genre I’d come to focus on; commercially-oriented erotic romance. It seemed to me few readers wanted to know what boys thought when it came to romantic nookie.

So I did what many others have done. I made a female pen name and put out a couple of stories. Neither title went particularly well on their own, although I put one of them in a e-rom comedy bundle and achieved some success that way (the bundle reached #34 overall on Amazon, and I technically achieved USA Today Bestselling Author status, as did every other author in that bundle).

Research- and results-wise, the jury was, essentially, out. I had achieved basically exactly the same level of success (on my own, not counting the bundle) as a girl that I had as a dude. Hence, it rammed home to me some of the essentials. That it was, as it always had been, my marketing, advertising and promo skills which were my biggest weakness.

Willsin Rowe was set up to write “erotica with a touch of grit” (my original tagline). As I’ve written in here before, it was through the Curvy Girl Romance group on Facebook that I had my epiphany, and realised what I wanted to do more than anything was to write curvy/plus size/BBW erotic romance, from the perspective of a man who adores curves. And I feel I achieve this well, even when I write in first-person female.

This, of course, gave me a dilemma. If Willsin was suddenly writing the more romantic stuff, then what was my female name supposed to do? The answer? Die slowly.

She had a Facebook presence (both page and profile). She had a newsletter set up (but had never sent one). She was a member of many groups. You might even have interacted with her. And the longer it went on, the less comfortable I was about her. Everything I wanted to say, everyone I wanted to interact with, was linked to Willsin. Some folks were also, by extension, linked to my female name. I strove more than anything not to interact with Willsin’s friends on the other account because it would have felt as though I was somehow cheating (unless it was one of the dozen or so folks who knew the connection). And it all got too much.

I unpublished her books in about May this year from memory. Last week, I wiped her off Facebook. She’s still out there on Amazon because she has some co-written books.


I’m still hedging as to whether I’ll actively reveal her name. But people are welcome to guess. And if they guess correctly, I might just admit it!

10 comments:

  1. I probably already love her without knowing that she's you.

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  2. I probably already love her without knowing that she's you.

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    1. She's no doubt very fond of you, too, lovely!

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  3. "I had achieved basically exactly the same level of success (on my own, not counting the bundle) as a girl that I had as a dude. Hence, it rammed home to me some of the essentials. That it was, as it always had been, my marketing, advertising and promo skills which were my biggest weakness."

    Don't assume, Willsin, that a lack of sales means you're doing something WRONG. There's as much luck going on here as there is skill.

    And btw, based on Your Majesty, I think you write very convincingly from a female pov.

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    1. Oh, I'm pretty sure I'm doing plenty wrong! I don't think it's my writing (at least, I hope not), but definitely as a complete writing/publishing/marketing/promoting/advertising beast, I'm doing stuff wrong. Or failing to do things, which is still, in and of itself, wrong.

      But my main focus is getting my stories written. The rest of it will, indeed, have to rely on luck, methinks.

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  4. You bring up something that may be common to all who write under a pen name. We can be a version of ourselves with some assurance of not getting our earthly skin in the game.

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    1. That's the thing, I suppose. My female pen name was still a version of me. She was fun to be, on occasion, because she was also about 15 years younger! So I could give my feminine side a little bit more scope. Indeed, creating that pen name is probably a big part of what opened up the female characters in the current writings I do as Willsin.

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  5. I slept & dreamt of 'nada' �� I don't know much about your industry but am learning, it's kind awkward knowing that your name isn't Willsin I'm not sure who I'm talking too? After alot of discussion within my brain�� (surprised I had one) I've decided I like author Willsin, he is you & you are him and she? (I think) so I'll just call you Willsin till you're ready to reveal your name�� hopefully before a book signing "now I know Willsin's not your name"��

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    1. Heh. I would have had to have rather prescient parents for them to name me "will sin"! And yes, the Willsin you know on Facebook is, indeed, a whole lot like the real me. (Ask Sass, and she can confirm it for ya!) Thanks for coming over and commenting!

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  6. Great post, Willsin. I have the same situation with Annabeth. It's a pen name, but it also doesn't really feel like a pen name anymore. I go to a fair number of events as Annabeth and have dear friends who call me Annabeth. With some of them, they do also know my legal name but they still call me Annabeth. It's funny how that works. :) Sometimes I think I'd be more likely to answer to Annabeth at this point than to my legal name.

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