Thursday, April 11, 2019

Juggling Two Author Platforms, Is it Worth it?

By Charity Bradford, @charitybradford

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: It’s hard enough managing one author career, but what happens when you have a pen name that needs equal treatment? Please help me welcome Charity Bradford to the lecture hall today, to share tips on juggling multiple author platforms.

Charity Bradford has been a voracious reader ever since her 5th grade teacher introduced her to the world of books with WHERE THE RED FERN GROWS. She soon became kindred spirits with Anne Shirley and got lost in the worlds of Card, McCaffrey, Bradbury, and Nagata. By college, she was sewing her own Starfleet uniform and developing her alter-ego as a comic book sidekick. She lives in Northwest Arkansas with her hubby and four kids. Some of her guilty pleasures include binge watching Doctor Who and Ancient Aliens. Charity also writes clean contemporary romance under the name River Ford.

Website | Website (River Ford) Newsletter Sign-up | Charity on Facebook | River on Facebook |Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Take it away Charity…

In February, I talked about reasons an author might write under a name other than their own, and why they might write under more than one name. Today we will look at some logistics of using more than one pen name, whether it's because you write in multiple genres or some other reason.

Building an author platform is as important as crafting the novels. Our author image and voice must be easily recognizable to our readers. More importantly, we must be searchable if they look for us. I'm not here to tell you which social media programs to sign up for, or how many to become involved in. I am going to share my experience building two author platforms.

From the beginning, I decided River Ford needed her own account on Twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook, and Bookbub, plus a website, newsletter, and email account. Essentially, I doubled the work I needed to do to create a brand and keep a social media footprint online for readers to find and connect with. It didn't take long to be completely overwhelmed.

Then there was the MailerLite kerfuffle of 2017.

The newsletter website changed to how they listed subscribers. Everyone was moved from my labels to just “Subscriber” as they added new tabs like Segments and Groups. I didn't pay attention and suddenly my sci-fi readers were getting my romance newsletter and vice versa. The real embarrassment came when a third group for a community emergency preparedness fair also received my romance newsletters! I'd become a spammer without even knowing it.

Think about what you're getting yourself into before deciding on using multiple names. Each name must have a strong personality and a brand readers can connect to emotionally. I knew that. What I didn't understand in the beginning, is some places make it easy to work with pen names and some do not. Here's a quick rundown of the things I've tried.

Twitter—you must log in and out of each account separately, can't be linked

Facebook—you can create as many pages and groups with as many names as you want. Just pay attention to who you are “interacting” as if multiple “personalities” access a page. (see image) River Ford has posted news about Charity Bradford's sci-fi release because I often don't pay attention to which author is selected. 

Instagram—you can flip between multiple accounts easily (up to 3 I believe for free)

Goodreads—you must log in and out of each account separately

Bookbub—you must log in and out of each author account separately, can't be linked

Blogging/Website—you could use tabs for each name unless you want a specialized domain name like and

Tool/Online Presence (may not require daily attention)

Amazon—You can use the same Amazon login on Amazon, Authorcentral, and ACX (for audiobooks) to work with and monitor multiple pen names easily

Book Sprout (for ARC reviews)--easy to use multiple pen names

Book Cave (for promotions)--easy to use multiple pen names

Email—you can create multiple emails with Gmail and flip between them with the “add accounts” feature. You can even have both sent to the phone app.

Newsletter programs—Mailerlite and MailChimp will let you personalize emails so you can use one program and create different lists for each pen name. Just remember to read the emails about updates and program changes.

You don't need to utilize all these social outlets. In fact, I suggest you don't. I no longer do all of them because it drained my creative energy and I stopped writing. What's the point of building a platform if I'm not going to write? I still have all of the accounts, but I'm only active on Facebook and Instagram. Email is daily, and newsletters go out twice a month.

Pick one or two of the social media you enjoy. Ones that help you connect with readers in a meaningful way, and that come naturally to your personality.

Timesaver Tip: Add additional browsers to your computer 

Have a different author assigned to each one to deal with sites that require you to log in separately. Example: Charity uses Safari, River uses Google.

There's one other thing I struggle with while keeping two pen names active. I'm talking about multiple personality issues. Yep, I went there! As writers, we already have too many voices in our head screaming for attention. Trying to present two unique author brands felt a lot like that. I thought the romance writer would/should act and vary distinctly from a science fiction writer. They'd be interested in and post about different things, right?

Here's the thing, I was lying to myself. Charity and River are both ME. None of us are one-sided personalities. I enjoy hiking and getting dressed up to listen to the symphony. I can geek out on astronomy documentaries and sit with my husband to watch a sunset off the back of a cruise ship.

What I'm getting at is this, ask yourself if you REALLY need two names.

I'm still figuring out what works best for me. I believe having a name for each genre is a good idea in my case because they are so different from each other. The consumer needs to feel comfortable with their purchase. However, if you write genres that are more closely related, this may not be an issue for you.

The second question you need to ask is where and how can you combine your pen names on social media?

Where can you just be YOU and connect with readers while not trying to sell them something? At that moment you're not a genre, just a person.

Timesaver Tip: use program integrations

For example: Instagram allows you to post the same photo and message on multiple accounts simultaneously. When I have a personal “get to know me” kind of photo, I post on both accounts. Do this whenever you can. Instagram will also post to Facebook and Twitter with the click of a button. One post on three social platforms without three times the work!

Perhaps the simplest way to cut down on the work load is to only write in one genre and use only one name. However, I love science fiction and romance. That means I have to look at this as a job, pull up my big girl pants and get to work. Good things come to those who actively work toward a goal.

At the end of the day, a platform is simply a way for readers to find and connect with us. However, we need to be intentional about how we approach our online presence. Be authentic by remembering that you don't have to do everything.

Have you considered using a pen name? Have you thought about all the ways that name will affect how the world finds and connects with you?

If you use a pen name, what tips do you have for juggling them? Do you have other time-saving tips for us? Please share in the comments.

About The Hand of Atua (YA space opera by Charity Bradford)

Eighteen-year-old Amiran wants to forget he's the Hatana's son. Unfortunately, his father's fleet is marching across the galaxy. Planets have fallen and now they're heading for Manawa. There's nothing there the Hatana wants, no reason for him to spare the planet. The only reason to attack is to send Amiran a message—pick up your duty as heir or lose everything you love.

Determined to save as many as possible, Amiran calls for a planet-wide exodus. When his favorite professor refuses to leave, Amiran puts the professor's daughter, Eleena, on the escape shuttle instead. Before he can convince her father to leave Manawa, Amiran is captured by the Hatana's scouts. Sentenced to serve in the mines and then the fleet he hates, Amiran fears he'll never find a way to stop his father's tyranny. Beaten regularly to the brink of death, Am takes solace in dreams about Eleena. As time passes, he draws strength from the knowledge she is alive and surviving in the refugee camps the best she can.

As his feelings deepen, Amiran knows that to keep Eleena truly safe, he must put an end to the brutality of the fleet. Only then will he be able to reunite with the woman he's grown to love.

Charity Bradford on Amazon | River Ford on Amazon| Barnes & Noble | Indie Bound

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