I never understood the need for a pen name until I started to learn more about self-publishing. As most writers know, it comes down to branding in a way. If an action/thriller writer decides to give a go at erotica, a pen name just makes sense. You don’t want to confuse your readers, leaving them to guess which genre your next release might fall in.
Another reason for a pen name can be seen in the classic case of the King/Bachman example. King didn’t want to oversaturate the market with King books so he invented Bachman.
Although with the way the self-publishing environment looks today, it’s all about over-saturation. The more titles, the more success… in most cases.
Then, about a year ago, I really started to understand the need for a pen name. I was working on a book that was not in my wheelhouse of the supernatural or horror. It even bordered on (GULP) Christian fiction. I knew that the horror fans would not really care much about it and, quite frankly, I was terrified to have written it.
Here’s the funny thing, though. As I shopped it around to agencies, this book got more positive responses than anything else I had ever written. This could have been for any number of reasons, I suppose. At its very core, it’s a travel-based adventure novel. I guess that’s more appealing to agencies than the gruesome stuff I’ve pitched to them in the past.
In the end, I was pretty close to signing. But certain edits were requested that I didn’t agree with. The book is very personal to me, as it was heavily based on the trip I took to Nicaragua last year. It’s a book about human trafficking, a topic that can get people’s guards up (including agencies, as it turns out).
But, truth be told, I love the book. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the better things that I have ever written.
So I gave birth to a pen name and self-published it. It’s been out for about two and a half months now and I’ve gotten some great feedback. And while I could easily leave things alone and let the book and the pen name remain unattached from me, I feel like I am doing it a disservice by not claiming it.
More than that, I know that I have at least one or two other books that will be written under this name.
Now that I am done beating around that bush, here you go.
You can pick up Jubilee here.
No, there is no horror…but there are some minor supernatural elements. Yes, there is a Christian slant to the narrative and some very hard spiritual/religious questions that are tackled. It’s the first time I have so transparently written about my faith. It was hard but rewarding in more ways than I can explain.
I could have written in without the Christian elements and it still would have made a good story, but it’s not the story I wanted to tell. I was very intentional about not hammering the reader over the head with life lessons and scripture because I personally loathe that sort of Christian fiction. I even hesitate to call this Christian fiction but know that if it were shelved in a bookstore, that’s where it would unfortunately end up.
I believe you can enjoy the book even if you’re agnostic, atheist, or whatever. But that’s really not for me to say. At several points, I reflected back to my first 27 years of life and asked myself if the atheist I once was would automatically tune out at certain parts of the book. It was actually a great little tool.
So give W.K. Parks a chance, and maybe tell a friend or two.
And don’t worry. My recent contract with Severed Press for Broken Skies and another novel I am working on basically cements the fact that although W.K. Parks brought out another side to my writing, Barry Napier is still very much in the business of horror.