9th Blog Anniversary Author Post + Giveaway: Clare London
Happy anniversary to this wonderful Blog, where I’ve always been made very welcome, as both author and reader. I’ll introduce my post today with a question—have you ever thought of setting up a new pen name?
Clare London offers a winner’s choice giveaway from her back catalogue, e-book OR audiobook to 1 x winner. Clare always writes an entertaining story and has a large array of books to choose from, my favourite remains Compulsion, steamy and entertaining reading, but she covers a lot of themes and you’ll find something great to read, so check it out. In the meantime, why not enter the Rafflecopter giveaway or enter via leaving a comment below. This giveaway will run from October 14th-28th.
A new pen name—a new view:
At the end of 2020, I decided to launch a new series of books. I’ve always published in MM Romance (as Clare London since 2007) but this was a very specific theme that I love to read—Rent Boy Romance. And after some thought, I decided to launch it under a new pen name, Stella Shaw. The first book went live in January 2021 as part of a multi-author promotion. And I’d like to share with you my Journey So Far!
What’s it about?
The books are set in London, my home city, at the run-down Haven Hotel in Earls Court, where the owner Rick offers rooms for hire so that the escorts have somewhere to work, and can stay off the streets. Over the course of the “Love at the Haven” series, they make friends, help keep the hotel running, and find their individual Happy Ever Afters. It’s been described by readers as a sexy, sweet series, with low angst and rewarding romance.
Why the new pen name?
Mainly I wanted a change! A new “Look” and new creative inspiration. I needed to refresh my tired Writing Muse (I know so many of us have struggled with motivation during Lockdown) and re-launch myself in today’s publishing world. I wanted to use all the skills I’d learned over the last 15 years, both in writing craft and in marketing, and concentrate it all on my new series. And hopefully I would attract new readers.
I also wanted to see how well I could do without any backstory in the community. The books would stand on their own merits alone. It was a kind of experiment!
What was involved?
I started Stella on a low-key basis, but set her up with all her own social media. Website, Facebook, Amazon page, Goodreads, Bookbub, Instagram. I launched the first book in a freebie promotion that collected subscribers to my newsletter, so that had to be set up as well. To say nothing of the promo platforms such as Bookfunnel and ProlificWorks.
And then I started to chat to people on social media about the books, and offer them up for review.
What was easiest?
Writing the books! Starting a new series, and with a theme close to my heart as a reader, worked beautifully. I deliberately didn’t put myself under pressure regarding publication dates, or word count. I just relaxed into the tropes I love in romance, and wrote what I enjoyed. My love of writing was re-inspired.
And also? The process of publishing was so much easier with the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years.
What was the cost?
Financially—all the costs that go into publishing a book, all the subscriptions to promo sites, even at a minimum level. All the gift certificates I offered for my first few giveaways, because I had no backlist to offer ebook copies instead.
I must give huge thanks to the wonderful friends who gave input and help at little to no cost (and offer a grateful nod to the rare apps who allow you to run two pen names off one account!).
Socially—for the first few months I was running two sets of social media, which got exhausting. Both Clare and Stella had books to promote and share, and profiles to keep up to date. And if a friend was celebrating with a Facebook event, both Stella and Clare wanted to be there to join in.
Creatively—I couldn’t keep up my writing as Clare London at the same time. I only have one pair of hands to type! Plus my full love and attention was on Stella at that time. So Clare had to take a hiatus on new books, concentrating only on republishing some older titles, and supporting the backlist.
What do I wish I’d known before I started?
I wish I’d remembered what effort it took to launch a new author from a standing start! The community today is much larger than when I started first time, so it’s hard to get noticed. And at the beginning, I didn’t want to trade on, or overlap with, my existing pen name. Stella Shaw was a very tiny fish in a big, busy, and boisterous pond.
However, a bigger pond means more opportunities to be seen, more places to network, more friends to find. It hasn’t been easy to get Stella’s nose over the wall, and I’m still working on it. But I’m relying on the fact that not only is the online promo world smarter nowadays, I hope I am too!
What’s the status today?
I’m 5 books into the series and still loving Love at the Haven and its special, found family vibe. In true British style (modest!) I can report I’ve made some sales, got some good reviews, and made lots of new friends. I’m hoping to release a Christmas special with all the couples so far featured—though time is tight. Where did 2021 go???
After six months, I also started to let everyone know I’m both Clare and Stella. I never intended to “pretend” to be another person, I can assure you, though some readers are still a bit startled to find out the connection. There hasn’t been a lot of overlap between the pen names—and I’m thrilled to have gained fans in Stella’s name, all by herself—but it’s both a relief and fun to talk about both “ME”s online and to more friends.
Are you thinking of doing something similar?
I’d say, think carefully about why you want to do it, whether it will meet your goals, and weigh up the costs involved. And then—go for whatever you decide, with your whole heart! It’s fun, fascinating, tiring, sometimes messy, but a real adventure.
It’s been fun sharing this with you! Please feel free to ask me any questions, and I’ll keep you all posted as to how both Clare and Stella get on.
Connect with Stella:
**We contact winners as soon as the draw is complete. To ensure fairness and to be able to run a smooth giveaway, all winners are given 48 hours to contact us back otherwise we have to redraw. Thank you for taking part in this giveaway and our blog anniversary. Good luck!
About the Author:
Clare took the pen name London from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant. She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter 3 stage and plenty of other projects in mind . . . she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
All the details and free fiction are available at her website. Visit her today and say hello!
Clare also writes as Stella Shaw and launched a new series of rent boy romances in 2021.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her on all her social media-