I seem to be asking a lot of questions lately

… And here’s another one. In multiple parts. But first, the background. I will try to keep it short. (Yes, and I originally thought the Sun Sword was going to be two books…)

A graphic designer I know is between clients, and she is doing covers for my short stories. If I haven’t mentioned this yet, I intend to bring them all out in ebooks as singles, with the first six being the West stories related to the West novels. (I also intend to bring out the six as a single, unified collection, in both a print-on-demand large format paperback and an ebook. If there is enough demand for it, I will also gather the stories and offer them in print-on-demand collections as well, wordcount permitting.)

I asked for simple, minimal covers that were similar in look so that people who saw them would realize they were short stories, not new novels. I’ll be interested to hear what people think of them when they finally see them.

She’s just finished the first six covers (whereas I, of course, have not finished the formatting of the first story, although I only have the Smashwords .doc to go).

For a variety of reasons, most of the stories were originally published under the West by-line.

My husband and my Australian alpha reader both feel — moderately strongly — that the stories should be numbered; my long-suffering husband also feels that, with the exception of the first six, they should be presented in order of publication. So far so good. (I objected to the numbering initially because it implies – to me – a series, and the stories, with the exception of the two Augustine Painter shorts, are not connected. But…they will, in fact, be numbered, because my objections were mild, and as so often happens in marriage, one compromises if one’s partner’s feelings are stronger.)

The graphic designer has finished covers for stories 1 through 6; she’s ready to keep working. I have to give her the stories, with a length (short or novella), title, and … author name.

I’m not sure what to do about the author name.

(a) I originally thought I would separate them by tone: the high fantasy (or original world fantasy, i.e. the fantasy that doesn’t take place in our world) as Michelle West, and the contemporary fantasy as Michelle Sagara. But I’m not sure what I would do with the SF stories (or the few alternate histories).

(b) And then I thought I would just bring them all out as Michelle Sagara stories. (c) But the first six are definitively Michelle West stories. So maybe I should do them all as Michelle West, since that’s how they’re starting, and since they’ll be numbered.

(d) After this thought, I thought why don’t we just bring them out under the name they were originally published under? Because I have already been threatened with bodily harm for not deciding on one name for the sake of bibliographers (it was an affectionate threat. Mostly).

And then I thought I would maybe go revise Skirmish instead of angsting. (I’m almost finished that revision; there was one tricky part and it was only recently that I figured out how to handle it in a way that didn’t give me ulcers, but I really like that part now. The problem with revision, for me, is that frustration breeds contempt, and if the frustration continues, I lose all confidence in any of the words and start rewriting them in a way that doesn’t actually make them better.)

But…the graphic designer can’t do any of the covers without that information, and if I continue to wibble indecisively, she won’t have time to do them later.

Yes, I am finally getting to the question.

Should I:

(a) attempt to group them using either West or Sagara, which is highly subjective

(b) keep them all under one name as Michelle Sagara

(c) keep them all under one name as Michelle West

(d) use the name under which they were originally published


(e) some other option which you will explain in the comments.

The one thing I don’t want to do is bring them all out as Michelle Sagara West.

36 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ann Kopchik (amergina)
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:32:04

    My gut says that you should put them out with the author name that they originally had. That seems like the easiest solution.


  2. Jon Lund
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:40:59

    The biggest enemy of a self published ebook is obscurity. Have you considered publishing them as a collaboration? That way searching either of your names will find them.

    Megan Lindholm is doing that with Robin Hobb for her short fiction collection coming out in October.


  3. Vernieda
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 12:42:52

    I vote for option D.


  4. Nova
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 13:03:57

    I think you should do at least the first 6 numbered stories as Michelle West since they are already grouped as such. For the rest of the stories, I think you should either publish under their original published name or Michelle West, whichever is easier. When I look for your books, I tend to do a search of all the names you publish under anyway.


  5. Alea
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 13:18:54

    I vote for D as well — that keeps a simpler “paper trail.” Never underestimate the ability of readers desperate for a new story to think an author writing under two names wrote two _different_ tales with the same title, one under each name.


  6. DG
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 14:47:29

    I’m for option “d”:

    (d) use the name under which they were originally published

    Like other folks, I like the paper trail of knowing what book was published under what name (maiden name, married name, pen name, whatever). I already know name x and name y are the same person, so the name change between books (or series of books) doesn’t bother me.

    Self-Proclaimed President of Team Nightshade

    P.S. I’ll gladly read your short stories for certain, but I must say I LOVE the long books. 1,000 page books make me giddy, but I know not everyone digs that kind of length.


    • Hilda
      Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:16:17

      Her books can be 2,000 pages and I still would like them. Maybe that way we can then find whether it’s Nightshade (my preference) or wimpy Severn, who took like 10 pages to tell her why he loved her when she had only asked “what do you love about me”. Let’s see if in the next two books she ask Nightshade the same question.


  7. DeDe
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 14:57:05

    I like option C actually, but option D would be my second choice.
    Alternatively – you can give the bibliographers ulcers – have the artist come up with the symbolic glyph representing ‘Michelle’ with all that a True Name implies…Don’t symbols come up first in bibliographies? :-)


  8. Aaron
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 15:25:43

    An enthusiastic vote for option (d).

    That will keep your bibliography consistent. It also allows readers to more easily fill in the short stories they don’t already have, if they intend to buy them individually. If they see a Michelle Sagara story that was once Michelle West story (via anthology), they may get confused and buy a short story they already possess. Or worse, they may not buy a story that they don’t already possess.


  9. Karen L. Zorn
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 15:36:13

    Option D. But, you could also do Michelle West writing as Michelle Sagara or Michelle Sagara writing as Michelle West; your graphic artist would probably skin you. :))


    • Aaron
      Jun 29, 2011 @ 15:49:21

      I was about to suggest something similar for each stoy, e.g.:

      “Michelle Sagara West (originally published as Michelle _____)”

      But this seems unnecessarily complicated and a lot of work for the artist.


  10. Hugh S. Myers
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 16:18:59

    What was once ‘West’ stays ‘West’. What was ‘Sagara’, stays ‘Sagara’. What is left over—-flip a coin!


  11. Alex
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 17:09:17

    I like Jon Lund’s idea – a collaboration of stories by West and Sagara.


  12. Meghan
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 17:40:37

    I think the first 6 should be West sine that would make them all easily recognizable as that world and then publish the rest under the name they were originally published as.


  13. Carol Duffy
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 18:23:41

    I think option (d) would be the easiest way for your readers to (a) find them; and (b) know which “Michelle” they were getting, as it were :)

    Although I kinda like that sigil/glyph idea…


  14. Genna Warner
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 18:45:18

    I am all for option D. And like most once I know an author is writing under mutliple names, I search on all the names.


  15. Michael
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 18:48:45

    I’m a fan of option “d”.


  16. David Youngs
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 21:46:32

    Michelle Sagara and Michelle West — together at last in the same volume!

    Wheel of Fortune:
    Same First Name
    XXXXXX &


  17. Erin
    Jun 29, 2011 @ 22:40:11

    My vote is for C!


  18. H.Renee
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 01:15:57

    I would guess that people will be searching by the name you published the works under. The idea is that they are findable so they can be purchased so… D?


  19. Andrea H.
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 04:22:34

    I think D sounds like the best (and easiest) choice.


  20. cherylcan
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 12:09:38

    I think you should publish under their original published name. When I look for your books, I tend to do a search of all the names you publish under anyway.


  21. Hilda
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 14:59:16

    The stories and books were published under different names as if they were written by different authors. Why not continue like that if that will create less confusion? Use both names in the cover as if it were a collection by two different authors; they do have different styles,or theme. I don’t know if your (d) fit this but using both names in the cover as if there are two authors may be the solution. Each story inside may state whether it’s a Sagara or a West story.
    Like your Cast in Moonlight with Mercedes Lackey and Cameron Haley in the Harvest Moon Book.


  22. Mary Allen
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 15:34:21

    I just want them available to read. I will find them under what ever you choose. I do hope you put all the Averalaan in the same group. I have been looking for the stories for a long time and am hoping they answer some questions.


  23. Michelle Sagara
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 17:23:38

    @ Mary Allen: I will be putting them out in a single collection, as single stories (because all the rest are singles) and as a print-on-demand trade paperback.

    I also want to thank everyone who’s taken the time to comment — and state their preferences. I’m going with option D, and will put the stories out under the by-line of their original publication (all of the Essalieyan stories were published under the name Michelle West, for obvious reasons ).


  24. hjbau
    Jun 30, 2011 @ 23:28:38

    So i didn’t understand that you are looking into releasing your other short stories, those outside of the Essalieyan universe, as well. I have never actually read any of your short stories besides the six Essaleyan stories so i would absolutely love to be able to get those. Are you just going to release them digitally or are we talking about the possibility of a paper collection of shorts as well? Are all of your short stories besides the six stand alone shorts or are some of them from the same universe?


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jul 01, 2011 @ 03:59:59

      All of the stories stand alone, with the exception of two: The Augustine Painters and The Colors of Augustine. They’re set in the same city, and some of the characters in the first appear in the much longer second one.

      I’d actually like to write more of that world, but at the moment, it’s not feasible.

      As for possible print versions, I have to see how the collection of Essalieyan stories work out, because print is inherently more work — but this is me. I have my iPad, and yes, ebooks are much, much more convenient — but I still read paper books almost exclusively, unless it’s user manuals.


  25. Estara
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 08:47:52

    e) Publish them as Michelle Sagara West, I’d say – so you get cross pollination people looking for you who have read your secondary world fantasy first, as well as the Chronicles of Elantra readers.

    As for the numbering: Sharon Lee calls her chapbooks (collections of one or two short stories or novellas/novelletes) Tales of the Liaden Universe – then she says in the blurb which stories are included – and at some point she has the correct order of the short stories on her website. The BAEN Unibus ebook collections have the first 12 chapbooks in them (but the stories in those 12 chapbooks are NOT chronologically ordered). Maybe something similar would work?


  26. Viviana
    Jul 01, 2011 @ 14:30:53

    I have to say that, as a reader, Michelle Sagara West would be my preference; I can’t tell you how long it was before I realized Michelle Sagara and Michelle West were the same writer (I don’t follow the publishing biz that much, I simply look for other books by authors whom I’ve previously enjoyed reading). You might capture a few more dunces like myself that way.

    If that is something you absolutely won’t consider, then I would say use the name under which they were originally published. That would produce the least confusion for someone using a bibliography of your previously published works.


    • Michelle Sagara
      Jul 01, 2011 @ 18:57:35

      I don’t consider that a dunce maneuver, especially not compared to my day so far…

      There are some readers who really dislike multiple viewpoints, or politics, or continuing multi-book story arcs. One of my favorite customers at the store hates these. But…she loves the Cast books, so she tried to buy Broken Crown. I made her put it back. She came in later when I wasn’t there, bought it — and has never finished it.

      Because she’s a long time customer, I had a pretty good idea of her likes and dislikes, and I could be reasonably certain she wouldn’t like the West novels. Conversely, there are readers who like the West novels, and find the Cast novels too confining, tonally, and in terms of scope — and when they go into a Cast novel expecting a West novel, they’ve been disappointed.

      Which is why there are two different names; it’s not to hide the fact that they’re both me — just a way of denoting that (I think) they’re different. But with the shorts, it’s not nearly as clear cut.


      • Genna Warner
        Jul 01, 2011 @ 23:13:53

        I have always wondered why authors write under different names. And then I find it funny when on the covers it states So-and-so writing as so-and-so. And I think to myself why don’t they just pick one name. But your explanation as to why you do it, makes perfect sense. But having started with the Sagara works, I didn’t find the West novels until I browsed the internet trying to find information on the “Cast” books. And I am very happy to have found them and if they were all published under the same name I would have found them sooner.


  27. Theresa
    Jul 04, 2011 @ 08:00:12

    Ditto the Sagara West suggestion. That way when you search for either of your names the books will come up.


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