It was suggested to me recently that since I’m so closely identified with tabletop roleplaying games, and since I’m trying to write things outside of RPG and genre “buckets”, that I should create a pseudonym. I can leave the Berin Kinsman name on the stuff I’m already known for, and create a new identity for the other stuff. Possibly several; I could write cookbooks under one name, business and productivity stuff under another, and so on.
There’s a certain logic to it. There are authors who write in different genres, who use different pen names for each one. It helps strengthen the branding, and it avoids confusing readers are might be interested in that author’s mystery novels, but not her romances, or the hard science fiction but not the literary fiction. People do this, successfully, all the time.
But in a word, no. I’m not going to do that.
For various and sundry reasons that I won’t go into, I’ve already walked away from a great deal of brand equity when I gave up UncleBear. I am trying to rebrand my roleplaying game efforts under the Asparagus Jumpsuit banner, and I have hopes that that brand will garner its own recognition and reputation that isn’t reliant on whatever cache my name might still carry in that field. That’s also why I’m planning on trying to brand other future, non-RPG projects very strongly as well, independent of their reliance on my name.
The best analogy that I can give is that of an actor. Each movie is its own brand, but is still part of the actor’s greater body of work. not every move that the actor does is the same; he or she may be known primarily for comedies, or action films, or period pieces, but they can switch it up and do different types of movies. They can also do television and theater, move behind the camera to direct, product, or write, any number of things. They have their brand, but each project also has its own.
The problem is that the actor’s role is pretty clearly defined. She’s an actor. The venue and media she acts in are variations on the theme. Behind-the-camera activities are still related to acting. She may also own restaurants and real estate, have her own clothing line, and do a lot of charity work, but all of those things are viewed as stemming from the primary platform she has build through acting.
My role seems a lot less clear to people; I am told that I’m trying to do too many things, moving in too many different directions, and I admit that’s true. It’s why I’m against using pseudonyms and fragmenting the brand. I have been working to rebrand myself as a writer. Talking about productivity stems from my being a writer. I need to eat health and frugally because I’m a writer, a sedentary job that doesn’t pay great. Public speaking is related to writing. It all ties into writing and, by extension, it really related to anyone living any sort of a creative lifestyle.
To some degree, my branding/one direction dilemma will sort itself out when we get to unveil the Big Project (assuming, of course, all of the pieces fall into place). Everything will clearly tie into that project; the website address will still be BerinKinsman.com, but the title of the blog will change. It will be clearer to everyone what I’m doing.
For now, though, I’m going to simply stick with being Berin Kinsman, no matter how eclectic, contradictory, and confusing that may be.