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Should I separate explicit content from YA with different pen names?

Mars Eberwulf

New Member
So I'm looking to do some self publishing of novellas to get myself started. I'm currently working on writing some fantasy romance novels for adults that will be rather explicit with their sexual content but I also have plans in the works for a couple of fantasy series geared more towards young adults. I was hoping to get different people's thoughts on whether or not I should use different pen names to separate the more explicit content from my young adult work. Should I separate them in this manner or could I simply place an explicit content warning on the adult stuff and keep everything under the same name? Like is there a general rule of thumb for this sort of thing?



Article Team
With such a drastic difference in target audience age I'd think to at least use a variation on the same name to be something to consider. Like John Smith and John Wilson Smith. That way it's just a variation on the same brand like Coke and Diet Coke.

Insolent Lad

I have quite a different pen name for my more explicit semi-romance novels from what I use for everything else. In fact, my alter ego even has a different gender, though I don't know if that actually fools anyone.


I would say it would be a smart move.

People who dislike explicit content (like me) like to be able to easily avoid it. If you publish everything under the same name, we're more likely to just not read your books altogether than risk not knowing for sure when explicit content is going to pop up. And this goes double for parents of teens who might want to read your YA books. If it's not easy for them to make sure their kids aren't reading explicit content, they probably won't allow any of your books.

So as far as marketing goes, in the sense of making sure your books can reach their target market, I think different names are a good idea. Different enough to be able to tell at a glance that the two kinds of books are separate.
The pen name is a good idea. Someone who reads one book by an author will likely expect to be able to read all the others if they like the one book. Some people like to avoid explicit content (I tend to be one of them, although it won't ruin an otherwise good book for me). This would better help them make those decisions.


There isn't likely to be a lot of crossover readership from the adult romance with explicit tendencies to YA, so you won't be losing anything using two pen names.


I'd say definitely use a pen name for the racy stuff. I write mostly fantasy, under my own name, but every once in a while I get a wild hair up my butt and write a collection of contemporary fiction stories; these I publish under my pen name, so readers can easily identify the different genres I write in. Someone in my writers' group suggested this, years ago, and I thought it was a good idea. Been doing it ever since.


I've considered this too, like if I wanted to do two different genres.

Like someone said earlier, I would use my name but two variations ... so for one I would probably use my first initial, middle initial, and last name ... for another I would use my first and last name ... or maybe I would do my first and middle name. But yeah, I definitely like the idea of using a real name but in different forms.

However, I'm not sure if ever go the explicit route, so perhaps in your case a pen name would be better? It would also add to the feel of the book; give yourself a romantic pen name for a romantic book.


Yes, you should definitely consider using pen names for YA and erotic material. They say that in this day and age, authors don't need pen names because of visibility and all that...but if you're writing wildly different books then it can only be to your benefit. Remember, our names are our brands in this business, so a brand for YA material will be different than a brand for adult books.