Today I welcome Susie Henderson. The author of the non-fiction book, How to Build Your Own House Without Murdering Anyone, she plans to publish her first fantasy novel this Fall.
Author Pseudonyms: Should You or Shouldn’t You?
Have you ever been asked if you’re going to us an author pseudonym instead of your own name to publish under? I have. Multiple times. Mostly because I write in multiple of genres.
If you’ve been asked, how did you reply? Have you thought about it? Do you know the pros and cons of doing so?
I’ve done a little research, because for me, it may make a difference in my writing career. Here’s what I’ve found.
A Rose by Any Other Name
Depending on how you plan to market yourself, you may be better off just publishing under your own name. It makes things simpler for everything, from accounting to your fans realizing this is your book.
But there may be reasons you’d rather publish under a different name than your own. Or reasons it would be better to publish under a pseudonym.
If you write like I do – I publish fiction and non-fiction, and also write in several genres in each – it may be better to use pseudonyms for many of them. Why?
If you attract fans for your fantasy fiction series, for instance, then publish a humorous non-fiction book under the same name, you may create angry fans. They’ll expect one thing and see another. This could lead to losing some fans, though as long as you’re still publishing the books they liked to begin with, you’re probably not in too much danger of that.
There are a lot of big name authors who have written under pseudonyms, presumably for reasons like this. Stephen King published a series of novels as Richard Bachman because they were a completely different tone than his horror novels. Romance author Nora Roberts moved into futuristic, romantic- fantasy as J.D. Robb in a series that highlights the life of a female murder cop. Quite a step away from her romance novels prior to that.
Some of the other reasons authors have chosen a nom de plume might be related to prejudice. For example, women may try to attract more male readers by not letting on they are women, using initials instead of their first names. J.K. Rowling may or may not have been publishing using her initials for that purpose. Historically, it happened fairly frequently, because it was felt that women had nothing to write that was important enough for men to read. Silly idea, but that’s where this usage came from.
Still others have names they didn’t feel were remarkable enough, or were too odd to want to use. Mark Twain’s real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens. For whatever reason, he wrote under an author pseudonym, and has been forevermore know by that name, not his real name.
I’m sure the list goes on.
Being True to Yourself
It may be that some authors enjoy the pseudo-anonymity of a pen name. If they are writing something they don’t want family and friends to realize they’ve written, perhaps they’ll choose a pseudonym. But in other people’s perspectives, that’s not showing the world who you truly are.
These days, I’m told by my sister, who is a book buyer for a small local bookstore, that it matters a lot less to use pseudonyms, even if you’re writing in different genres.
Authors, at least any who want to succeed in today’s fast-paced, online world, will have websites and Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts, most often with their own names attached. They can let their original audience know they are branching out into new territory, while at the same time letting new fans know about their previous work. You never know when you’re going to have fans who straddle the same line with you, and like both your genres.
And, as stated above, your accounting will be much simpler if you stick to one name. Otherwise, you may need to get creative to keep proper track of income and outgo.
For me, I haven’t decided entirely. Nearly all my fiction has at least some aspect of fantasy to it, so I might get by with just one name. I’m likely to choose using initials, though, in part so I avoid the still-prevalent preconceptions about women’s writing. My first published book, How to Build Your Own House Without Murdering Anyone, went out under Susie Henderson because it’s funny and my name suits it. But it took some thought to decide how I’d go with both series.
Now that I’ve given you some words for thought, what do you think you’ll do?
About the Author
Susie Henderson has been writing fiction and non-fiction forever, enjoying fantasy fiction the most. She is currently in the last few days of her crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to produce her first fantasy novel professionally. With some of the proceeds from her books, she hopes to start a fund for cancer patients using alternative medicine, because she is one and alternatives are rarely covered by insurance. That can mean losing your house… and your life. If you want to help publish a book and change the world of health care, please click here to support Susie’s campaign which ends May 31, 2015.
You can find out more about her on her website.