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Author Topic: Psuedonyms - should a new writer use one?
billawaboy
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This topic probably pops up every few months or years...

But does anyone plan to use a/or many pseudonym(s)?

How do publishers today look upon newbies using pseudonyms?


How do you go about juggling a pseudonym and your real name it terms of submissions, checks, billings, mailings, correspondence?


What are your opinions about using pseudonyms?

What are the downsides?

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited March 03, 2010).]


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BenM
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I remember reading this post and finding it rather helpful.
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Kitti
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quote:
But does anyone plan to use a/or many pseudonym(s)?

I use one.

quote:
How do publishers today look upon newbies using pseudonyms?

If you've got a good reason for it ("just because" doesn't count), then it's no big deal. Especially if you've chosen a name that proves you've done some serious thinking about it beforehand. I.e. don't come up with anything too generic (Jane Doe) or cutesy (yeah, "Kitti" is cutesy, so I use "Kat" instead). Also make sure no one else in your field is already using the name ("Kat Richardson" was not an option).

quote:
How do you go about juggling a pseudonym and your real name it terms of submissions, checks, billings, mailings, correspondence?

For me, it's all been done under my real name. Submissions are done under both - you put your real name in the upper left hand corner, your pen name in the by-line under the title. Checks and contracts HAVE to be done under your real name. The rest of it can go either way.

quote:
What are your opinions about using pseudonyms? What are the downsides?

Like anything, it has pros and cons. It's a bit of a pain and stressful at times (I obsess over whether or not they going to get my name right on xyz, and do I give them my real name or my pen name for this other xyz). You also have to learn to answer to it at public functions (and, I suppose, to sign it if you ever get to the book-signing stage.)

The biggest down-side IMO is I don't get to rely upon my normal-life contacts when selling myself. I had to resist the urge to spam all my FB friends and another hundred or so people I work with and telling them to go buy my first published story! But since the whole point of using a pen name, for me, is to keep my writing separate from my professional life... yeah, not really a possibility.


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billawaboy
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interesting,

I always looked at psuedonyms as part of the reader's experience.
Like Mark Twain. Like a title, the name must evoke something in the reader.

Ofcourse it's been to used to avoid discrimination, or maintain privacy, etc.

I've often wondered why James Oliver Rigney Jr. chose Robert Jordan as his psuedonym. Did he want less syllables? Did he want it to sound 'cool'? Or did he feel that readers automatically discrimate a fantasy novel by it's author's name? Or did he do it to separate his works?

Is there a difference in the feel of the author's name:
Lord of the Rings
by J.R.R. Tolkien?
by Johnny Tolkien?
by Jon Rheul?
by Ronald Tolkein?
by Ronny Rheul?

each evokes a different feel i think. not all is good.


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Brad R Torgersen
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According to Dean Smith, your name is your "brand" with both publishers, and an audience.

Sell sci-fi under your given name? It will be tough to sell romance or mystery under the same name. Publishers and the readers like to put familiar product with a familiar "brand" and don't like being thrown off or confused.

Also, if you sell a novel or novels under a certain name -- be it your own or otherwise -- and the book(s) crash, then that name has become unsellable and you're bound to try and keep your career going under a different name.

I haven't sold any romance or mystery-thriller stuff yet, but I already have two "brand" names picked out for those, and intend to use them.

Sez Dean: the fun part with pen names is seeing multiple books by your -- each under a different name -- out on the grocery rack, or the bestseller list. Money, money, money...


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aspirit
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I plan on using a pseudonym for writing but haven't found a good fit, so I use my legal name, which is probably fine for my short stories. When I sell a novel, an agent may help me pick a more suitable name; then, I'll create a new website and tell my family and friends what to look for.

Juggling names is simple as long as you use names with which you can identify. It mostly comes down to using the name most familiar to the receiver. However, legal matters require the use of legal names.


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BenM
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I don't see myself crossing too many genres with my writing, and I quite like what Iain Banks has done - he's Iain M. Banks for SF and just Iain Banks for his literary/contemporary fiction.
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JamieFord
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I think there's an aspirational perception that a pen name is somehow sexy or mysterious, or just plain fun to think of. Fiction is a creative field, why not get creative and have a pen name?

The reality is, you really only need one if your name is already taken by another author, or if your name is somehow distracting. "I think my name is boring" is generally not a good reason. There are arguments of names being too long, too ethnic, too whatever, and most of those are specious arguments.

I say, go with who you are.


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Robert Nowall
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The only thing I ever sent out under a name other than my own was a Harlequin Romance attempt---mercifully, a failed attempt. But even then my right name and address were at the upper left corner of the MS.

I think I'd rather have my own name on everything I publish, at least until circumstances arise and the idea of doing so is more appealing.

*****

They say one downside is sometimes the writer can become jealous of his pseudonym---the writer is doing all the work and the pen name gets all the glory. Besides that, there are identity issues to be worked out---you guys know how neurotic writers tend to be.

*****

Of course most of you are already using pen names---right here. Most of you have already made up a new name to hide behind. In a way, it's a barrier. How am I to realize something I read is by somebody I've seen posting here? Years might pass and I might see a book by [First Name][Last Name], but if the guy posted under [Funny Name], I might not think to buy a copy.


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philocinemas
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This obviously has come up before. I have been debating for a while whether to submit under my real name or a pseudonym.

My real name - C.N. Moore (is very close to C.L. Moore, who was a well-known short story writer - "The Last Mimsy")

My other choice - Philo C. Nemas (is a variation of my Internet identity)


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Robert Nowall
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Early on, when I started out, I was going to use my first and middle names as a pen name---but then I stumbled across a book by a British writer using that name, and had to give up the plan. I had a couple of alternates already lined up. (Never read anything by that particular writer, either.)

Usually you have to tell them your real name if you want to get paid...there are ways around that, like putting a "doing business as" notice in the paper, and setting up bank accounts and such.

(Henry Kuttner wrote "Mimsy Were the Borogoves," the origin point of the movie "The Last Mimsy," probably with his wife C[atherine]. L[ucile]. Moore's input...I'm not sure what name it came out under, 'cause they used several. It appeared in a "Best Of" collection under Kuttner's name, that Moore offered input into the selection of, so it's assumed to be his work.)

*****

There's another peril of the pseudonym racket---after their marriage, it proved difficult for readers (and, later, scholars) to sort out who wrote what with any certainty.


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Bent Tree
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I used one on two occassions. I could tell you why but I would have to kill you
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philocinemas
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Thanks for the correction, Robert. I remembered reading about them and several of the well-known stories they had written as a team - just couldn't remember which stories were credited to which - that particular one stood out because I had recently watched the movie.
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MartinV
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I'm toying with an idea of a pseudonym simply because if I ever succeed in the Western market my last name will make people bite their toungue.
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Dark Warrior
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I have no choice in using one, but the the one I use (Donavan Darius) is not far off from my legal name. It is also my SAG/Stage name and I have secured the web rights to the .com for my acting/writing professional web site that is in development.
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Robert Nowall
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Recently I found somebody was using the name "Robert H. Nowall" over movie reviews in a newspaper in Bangor, Maine sometime in the 1980s. I claim prior usage---letters-to-the-editor in SF magazines going back to 1976...
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Robert Nowall
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quote:
I could tell you why but I would have to kill you

Okay, but it better be worth it.


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Pyre Dynasty
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If I remember right Nicolas Cage's birth name is Francis Coppola (named after his uncle) so he had to use a stage name if he wanted to work.

Me I did have a pen name, it was Victor M. Foxx (The M stood for Mouritz, for some strange reason) I would call myself that when I would write but when it came to actually submitting I just couldn't bring myself to put that. (And it wasn't that it was a cheesy name.) It just wasn't me.

I've heard the format as being, Vernon Ray Jackson writing as Victor M. Foxx.


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KayTi
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My legal last name is Smith, and it's a little astonishing to me how few Smiths there are on the bookshelves at the bookstore. So, for me, even though I have a simple and boring name, I plan to use it (with my middle initial, which I have used as part of my legal name since I was a teen) for my publication name.

Simple = easy to remember. While it's always possible you'd get confused with another author with a similar-sounding name, that doesn't seem to be the case with my name, so I'm just going with it.


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billawaboy
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I'm considering one with no vowels: Prrthbpth Snrkhflgdq

Rolls off the tongue, I think.

---

Actually I do have a couple real ones in mind - just gotta pick one and stick to it - it's based on my real family name anyway - but it's not my legal name. So hopefully the publishers wont mind. I don't have any other reason than that. It's not conflicting with other names (it's too foreign), and it's not to remain private.

I just want to use my real name as my pen name, lol.


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JamieFord
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( I'm considering one with no vowels: Prrthbpth Snrkhflgdq )

You can't. I just checked Amazon and someone is already using it.


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Robert Nowall
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You didn't get any hits on Google with it, either.
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Brad R Torgersen
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Writer ego is a definite wall to pen names, no question. And for some writers, it's simply unthinkable that ANYTHING they write be published with another name on it.

Me, the only thing I am really wanting my birth name to be specifically attached to, is my science fiction. Because that's my first-love genre and the place my writing/creative mind tends to go to most often.

Romance... I see that as a pure cash cow. Not to say that Romance isn't as hard as SF or doesn't take as much work, but I don't feel emotionally invested in being published as my birth name if I am doing romance. In fact, for the sake of practicality, my "female" pen name for this genre is a deliberate marketing decision, seeing as how the vast majority of romance is read by females and, to a lesser extent, written by females. Though there are exceptions.

Mystery/thriller, kind of the same thing. I view it as a money-maker, and while I can see myself more emotionally attached to writing in this vein -- it's closer to SF than romance -- I am again not terribly hung up on having my birth name attached to any mystery/thriller publications I achieve. The pen name for these is male, with a short last name that starts with a letter early in the alphabet -- just like the romance pen name has a letter that starts early in the alphabet.


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Foste
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@Martin

I know the feeling.

But check my surname out:

Milicevic.

Beat that.


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Lyrajean
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Does anyone use a pseudonym because their own name is too unique and it singles them out?

My first name is almost one of a kind (or was until The Golden Compass came out)and my last name is also rather uncommon.

The two together make it real easy to single me out through web searches etc...


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Crank
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quote:
Writer ego is a definite wall to pen names, no question. And for some writers, it's simply unthinkable that ANYTHING they write be published with another name on it.

I won't go so far as to say my original decision to publish all my stories under my birth name was ego driven, but it did occur to me that, when particular works of mine make it to the shelf, I wanted people who I have not seen in decades to know the words they're enjoying (I'd like to believe that, anyway) were written by me.

Hell, who am I fooling? There's ego in that approach, too.

Now, I'm piecing together a list of all my possible pen names for all the different genres I'm writing in. Like Brad, I'm thinking I will link my birth name (the informal version of it, anyway) to science fiction. Unlike Brad, it's not necessarily because SF is my first love, but, much like Brad, my mind tends to veer directly towards certain science and theoretical concepts that the romance genre would have a difficult time accommodating.

Interesting...one of the reasons I balked at the multiple pen name idea was because I wanted all my works represented on one web site. That ego thing again. But, guess what? I'm a web developer by trade. Duh. I like building web sites! And, if having, say, four pen names means I should have four separate web sites...!

S!
S!


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rich
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I used a pen name in the past, but that's because what was published was not decent content.

Personally, I don't think a pen name is needed unless you want to keep separate certain genres, or want to publish something that would normally not be associated with your real name. Say, if J.K. Rowling wanted to publish erotic thrillers, she'd probably use a pen name.


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