Saturday, January 31, 2015

I'm Coming Out

Nope, I'm not gay, and I'm not Diana Ross, but I am coming out. I was dragged out of the pseudonym closet somewhat kicking and screaming, but I'm out now. :)

Hello, my name is Kit Tunstall, and I'm an author. That means I have multiple personalities that have varying interests. At least most authors do. We tend to use a pen name for one type of writing vs. another. For example, I write horror under T.K. Reilly. Well, I wrote it. It didn't sell, so I stopped and moved on. Most people know my author name as someone who writes erotic romances. They might fit in various subgenres, but they're all erotic and romances.

Once upon a time, way before I started writing eroms, I wanted to write for Harlequin. Many romance authors can tell you that was the best game in town before publishers like Ellora's Cave started, and way before indie publishing. I wasn't successful (ironically, I did get contracts years later, but for erotic romance titles *LOL*), but I kept trying. That meant I had several manuscripts that were Harlequinesque (especially Presents), but without a market. Rather than sex them up for publication with EC, I left them on my hard drive as I moved on to erom.

And then came 2011. It was an amazing year for me, because I discovered self-publishing. I found out I could earn just as much (and eventually significantly more) publishing my own works than I could with a publisher. Better yet, I could choose what content to write.

That made me evaluate some of the projects I had from years before. They didn't fit with my erom brand, so I decided to create a pen name. Lilly LaRue was born--though not in Victoria, B.C. as her bio claims (which would be a dream of mine)--and her contemporary sensual romances hit the market. They did okay. Nothing stellar, and I mostly moved on. Sometimes, when I feel the urge to write a sensual contemporary, I add to Lilly's catalog, but she's not my main focus.

Fast forward to the end of 2014, when a wonderful author/businesswoman gave me some excellent advice about clarifying my brand. It's too late for me to focus on just one niche, like paranormal eroms, so I used templates to label my different works. The AFTER THE END series went into "speculative," etc. At the end of the restructuring and rebranding, there was a sore thumb sticking out. "Losing Leah" was my last semi-Harlequin attempt targeted at Carina Press. When I first started indie publishing, I just put it up under KT without thinking about it. It didn't fit with my other erom titles, so I decided to move it to Lilly's catalog. For some reason, after languishing under KT, the book took off and has been selling like water in the desert for Lilly.

I included the information that it had been previously published under a pseudonym, but I guess I wasn't explicit enough, because I was still trying to keep the two names separate. One of the five people (sales were really terrible when it was a KT title, though maybe not that bad) who actually read "Losing Leah" also picked up its new incarnation ("Greek's Marriage Bargain"--doesn't that sound like a HP title?). She recognized it and outed my pen name in a one-star review.

My first reaction was to bawl like a baby--not to the one star, but the forced outing. My dad died earlier this month, and I've just been an emotional wreck. To put it in perspective, I also almost cried about dropping a fork on the same day. A little time calmed me down, and I realized it was no big deal. LL doesn't write anything shameful or horrendous, like serial killer clown billionaire porn, so I should just relax. I thought I'd better 'fess up though, to avoid more angry readers and one-star reviews (which, unfortunately, wasn't actually about the book or the reader's impression of it :( ).

So, I'm now out of the closet. I write eroms under Kit Tunstall, and I occasionally add to my older library of sensual contemporary romances under the pen name of Lilly LaRue. I hope my readers can forgive me for not coming out in the beginning. :-)