Using a pen name can do strange things to a writer’s head, especially when the two of “you” write different types of books for different types of publishers.
S. W. Vaughn writes thrillers and male-male erotica for Loose Id and Lyrical Press.
Sonya Bateman writes urban fantasy for Pocket Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Vaughn and Bateman inhabit the same body. Sometimes, it just ain’t big enough for the both of them...
VAUGHN: Welcome, peeps and kiddies. Today, for some damn reason, we’re interviewing Sonya Bateman, author of Master of None and...*sneers* Author, huh? I guess you think you’re a big shot, don’t you?
BATEMAN: I’m only an author for interviews. The rest of the time, I’m a writer – I work for a living, same as everybody else.
VAUGHN: Really. Then why, oh great author, have I been doing all the work lately?
BATEMAN: Because I’m faster than you, and I met my deadlines first.
VAUGHN: If you hadn’t been hogging the brain for the past month, I would’ve been done weeks ago. I’ve got all the talent. You’re a sellout hack, and you just got lucky.
BATEMAN: Talent conducts itself professionally.
VAUGHN: Oh, so now I’m an it?
BATEMAN: Well, you do go by initials. You could be anything. Male, female, a thousand monkeys...
VAUGHN: Zip it, Bateman. We’re professionals, right? Back to the interview. *clears throat* So tell us, how does it feel to be panned by so many reviewers?
BATEMAN: *narrows eyes* I wouldn’t call it ‘many’. I’ve gotten a few bad reviews. Everyone does. Actually, most of my reviews have been positive.
VAUGHN: Yeah, but the bad ones are pretty awful, aren’t they? I mean, look at this: “Interesting ideas, people, but disappointingly badly written.” “I’m finding it hard to care about the main characters.” “Master of None is Bateman’s debut novel – and it shows.” “I’m not going to pick up the next in the series.”**
BATEMAN: Hey, you’re the one that won the Drama Queen Award. For a male character.
VAUGHN: You son of a... um, hey wait. I actually liked that review.
BATEMAN: You would.
VAUGHN: Fine, forget the reviews. Let’s talk sales, Little Miss Author. I know you check NovelRank just as much as me. Shall we review the stats for last month? Skin Deep, Vaughn: 34 copies. Heartsong, Vaughn: 28 copies. Master of None, Bateman: six copies.*** Wow. How do you do it? You must be an awesome writer. /sarcasm/
BATEMAN: I’ve got one word for you, Vaughn: distribution. It’s that magical thing that puts my book in stores, where it gets bought, so people don’t have to go to Amazon for a copy. You have your advantages, and I have mine. It balances.
VAUGHN: That’s more than one word. And if you want to talk hard numbers, let’s discuss these Bookscan figures you got last week. See here, that’s—
BATEMAN: You put that royalty statement down right now, you prying little—
LAST SHRED OF REMAINING SANITY: Ladies! Has it escaped your attention that you are, in fact, the same person?
VAUGHN: Who asked you to butt in? Get the fu—wait. She has a point. *pauses* Hey, Bateman. Wanna go grab a beer?
BATEMAN: Yeah. We’re outta here.
LAST SHRED OF REMAINING SANITY: *sighs* Some interview. Guess we’re not going to get booked on Oprah any time soon.
**Actual quotes from actual reviews of Master of None.
***Actual number of Amazon sales as tracked by NovelRank for all three available novels. Yeah, really. Six copies.