|Sarah Michelle Gellar pulled double duty, too!|
When I first began my pursuit of romance publishing, I was determined to keep the "real" me and Suleikha Snyder completely apart. It was a grandiose idea of separate lives and secret identities -- I crafted a story for myself, just as I would for a character. My stuffed animals became real cats, my unrequited crush turned into an on-and-off boyfriend, etc. Suleikha lived in Manhattan, Suleikha was political, Suleikha did vaguely pretentious interviews with Yahoo! blogs...and it lasted barely a year before it became too much.
How could I craft an effective author brand when "real" me, a longtime writer and editor, already had an established identity both online and off? I'm a crazy, mouthy, live tweeter of TV shows who lives in Queens, loves babies and seems to always get stuck on the subway with mariachis. I worked hard for that recognition. (Okay, I didn't have to work for the mariachi part...that happened all on its own.) There are plenty of people who have pseudonyms and who have crafted multiple authorial identities effectively. I am not one of them. Building Suleikha from the ground up, in nearly one-tenth the time it took to craft my primary voice, was proving impossible for me! Plus, it was just stressing me out. I'm an open book...you can't sit next to me at a restaurant without learning way too much about me. Pretending Suleikha was a different person -- or, at least, a part of me that lived in a different room in my head -- was starting to chip away at my soul. It was like having a dirty little secret when all I wanted to do was shout from the rooftops, "Yay, I'm published!"
Growing up, my father taught me the lesson of letting your work stand for who you are: If you work hard, you'll be appreciated. If that was true in fiction, we'd all be Booker Prize winners. But merely putting your nose to the grindstone and putting out good works does not get you noticed. You need buzz, you need PR, you need a hook.
All I've got is two personas and a headache!
(And a novella coming out next month!)