Pseudonyms: Fair to Compare?

It's a common practice to compare a new book by an author to their previous work. But what about when the book in question is written under a pseudonym? Presumably, the new pseudonym is being used to prevent precisely that kind of comparison, but with the "open secret" pseudonyms these days (ie JD Robb/Nora Roberts or Castle/Krentz/Quick) or even the 'writing as' designations on covers, is it fair game to judge a new book written under a new pseudonym by the backlist of another name?

My own feelings on this are mixed. Clearly, if the books are in different genres, then different expectations and conventions exist. But if my concern is with the quality of writing, I think the writer's experience and past success should play a factor in how harshly I critique. Something that bugs me from a newbie author would probably be treated with more leniency than the same thing by a veteran author. I'm not sure if that's fair, but it's how I think. Writing is a learned skill for most. It's not all just sheer untutored talent.

What do you think? Is it okay to judge a new pseudonym's work by the backlist of another name? Does it make a difference if the pseudonym is an open secret? Am I the only one who does this?


  1. Unless the book is in a series, I don't think they should be compared at all. I do like knowing that they had other books out under a different name as often you'll find a jewel there. I do like that many use a different name when jumping genres though. I would not want my daughter picking up an author's erotic fiction thinking that it was one of her YA books.

  2. @Lisa,

    I can't seem to help comparing an author's newest to their backlist. Did I like this book as much as, more than or less than previous offerings.