SF is a writing label, but it's also a marketing label. So are its various sub genres: fantasy, urban fantasy, slipstream, hard SF, space opera, etc. In one way this is convenient -- if I go into a bookstore to look for SF, I can find it all shelved together. If it were scattered throughout the mainstream fiction, how would that terrific new novel by a completely new SF author even come to my attention? Labels have their uses.
But labels also have their limitations, and I am coming up against them, not for the first time. When I wrote three bio thrillers (OATHS AND MIRACLES, STINGER, DOGS), they were shelved with SF because my name was on them. Thus, although the first two got good reviews (including from The New York Times), thriller fans never really found them.
Now I've written a YA fantasy, and this book has sold. But it will need to be marketed under a pseudonym. Otherwise, anybody who is at all familiar with the genre and glances at my name will think, "Oh -- Kress, SF, probably bio-engineering" -- which this novel emphatically is not. Since some of those people buy books for bookstores, including the big chains, the fantasy novel will bear a different name on its jacket.
I have mixed feelings about this. I know it's necessary, but I like being identified with my own books. However, since the book will not be out for at least a year, I have time to practice gazing into a mirror, saying my new name aloud, and convincing myself that she, too, is me. We'll see how this exercise actually goes.