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Author Topic: Pseudonym  (Read 6344 times)
Waterfall
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« on: July 02, 2017, 10:15:21 AM »

A serious question, followed by a fun question.

The serious question: I have a busy professional network, a successful nonfiction life, and live in a very small community. But I write fiction that ranges from PG-13 to NC-17. It seems advisable to have a pseudonym for the fiction. But that entails almost the same level of security that any internet activity now carries. For instance, who's the website's registered domain owner? How are e-mails anonymized? There are a bunch of pretty serious considerations about privacy protection that I need to think through.

And if I'm going to "build the brand," to use the awful business-speak of our day, the PG-13 and the R books should be under the same name, even though I'd have no problem connecting those to my real identity. It's a surprisingly tangled puzzle (and one that, of course, may not ever matter if I'm just writing them for the love of writing and they don't go public).

Anyway, the fun question is: how would you pick your pseudonym? Would you go for something close to what you have now, would you do some market research, or would you just make it all up from scratch?
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Falthor
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« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2017, 11:45:05 AM »

Luckily I have a built in pseudonym.   My Internet handle I've been using forever "Falthor Longhand" who is actually a character that I came up with for an online game once upon a time and it stuck.  Of possibly Talkoth (Falthor's adopted son)  now..  my friends all know these so if i want to go totally anon I'd need to come up with something else.  Maybe do the porno name trick?  I could totally be Tiny Thornberry  (old pet and a street i used toi live on)

I'm looking to do this soon as I want to dip a toe into Erotica and I don't want it to cross over into my more mundane writing fanbase.
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MaryL
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« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2017, 06:48:25 PM »

I write for teens and adults under two different names. My YA with Penguin/Random House is under my real name, Mary Lindsey, and my adult romance is written as Marissa Clarke, a totally made up name. I picked it because Marissa starts with the same three letters as Mary and I can catch myself when signing before I write the wrong name. Sounds silly, but I've been saved by those three letters many times when I'm chatting with a reader while signing and am distracted. I picked the last name because I wanted something that shelved me in the "C's" and it was the only name I could find that didn't have a porn twitter account with the same name.

I write under different names because I speak at high schools and am more comfortable having a separate site for my sexier books.
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I write for Penguin/Random House and Entangled Publishing.
Repped by Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
http://www.marylindsey.com  and  http://www.marissaclarke.com
koji
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« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2017, 12:55:16 AM »

I am not published yet, but I do plan on using my legal name for my MG work and a pseudonym for my YA and adult work. I write darker, edgier YA and adult and I wouldn't want some kid who is a fan of my middle grade looking me up at the library or online and finding it without specific effort towards it. I also have a name for erotica... because, well, erotica.
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gckatz
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« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2017, 02:03:56 AM »

I write under a pseudonym because I don't really like my birth name. It's not a secret.

What's the question part of the serious question?
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loose leaf
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« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2017, 06:57:28 AM »

You're right--there are many technical nuances to consider these days related to pen names. But it depends on if you're going for Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler--watch his interviews, by the way, they'll crack you up so bad!) or John Twelve Hawks, who's real identity is still unknown (to the public, anyway). His Fourth Realm series blew me away.

At the end of the day, even a pen name offers limited security. No one will accidentally come upon your real name if you set things up right, but they'd probably be able to find it if they tried hard enough.

I use a pen name similar to my real name. It makes no difference to a reader and yet it offers me a much appreciated layer of privacy.
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Waterfall
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« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2017, 11:07:00 AM »

The real issue for me is my neighbors, and I doubt that they'd ever investigate a pseudonym too deeply. But all of the fiction I write falls under a specific genre I've become an accidental advocate for, and if I develop a "Men's Romance" website, it'll have the full range of stories within it.

There's a terrific recent book by Carmela Ciuraru called Nom de Plume: A (Secret) History of Pseudonyms.  Many of the writers in the book had feelings of self-negation from early childhood. A few had signs of what we would now call gender dysphoria. A few felt as though their families, and the artificially applied names chosen by mother or father, were never really their own. A few, like the Bronte sisters, knew they'd never be accepted as women writers (just as 150 years later, the high school English teacher Thomas Elmer Huff had to take on names such as Jennifer Wilde and Katherine St. Clair to succeed in writing romance novels). And a few felt that it was only some other person who could speak the secrets that they themselves could never say.

What's the question part of the serious question?

I guess there are several.
  • Do pseudonyms matter in contemporary life, where we can find out almost anything with twenty minutes online?
  • Would you even bother trying to change your identity, or just assume that we're all grown up enough to deal with the fact that the same person can write higher ed analysis and erotic romance and still be a good neighbor?
  • From a technical standpoint, how would one go about purchasing a domain and saving files so as to mask the facts of creation and ownership?
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slightlysmall
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« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2017, 03:49:16 PM »

I won't worry about it personally because a) I like my name and it's fairly unusual [there are two of us on the Internet and the other is definitely Not Me], b) I don't plan on straying too far from the YA I usually write [I have an academic essay published but it's about Harry Potter, so...], and, most importantly for me, c) one of my goals in being an author is being able to do signings and tours and whatnot. And doing them in my home city under a pseudonym would be hard. I have a hard enough time remembering to answer to my own name, let alone one I made up.

That said, there are definitely good reasons to do it, but I don't know what would go into keeping your real name stuff separate from your pseudonym stuff. I mean, Mary Lindsey has her books shelved under two names, but IIRC uses the same picture as her author photo in both, and her twitter account has both names listed.
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gckatz
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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2017, 01:26:36 AM »

  • Do pseudonyms matter in contemporary life, where we can find out almost anything with twenty minutes online?
  • Would you even bother trying to change your identity, or just assume that we're all grown up enough to deal with the fact that the same person can write higher ed analysis and erotic romance and still be a good neighbor?
  • From a technical standpoint, how would one go about purchasing a domain and saving files so as to mask the facts of creation and ownership?

1. What matters really depends what you're trying to accomplish. I mean, the days of James Tiptree Jr. are over, but even rather nominal privacy can be nice so if an old classmate or someone looks you up, they don't immediately get an eyeful of erotica.

2. Given your level of concern, I think you've already answered that question for yourself. Whether they would care or not, you do.

3. Most domain hosts let you buy anonymized whois data for a small extra fee, like $5 a year.
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Waterfall
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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2017, 11:35:33 AM »

2. Given your level of concern, I think you've already answered that question for yourself. Whether they would care or not, you do.

This is fascinating. Thanks for such a clear read. We spend a lot of our lives predicting how other people will receive what we do. The fact is that I'm proud of my work, regardless of its content (except for those days when I think it's crap and that I'm irretrievably inept...). Maybe I should just claim it. All of it.

Thanks, gckatz, for making me think about what I want.
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B.W.French
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« Reply #10 on: September 12, 2017, 10:50:32 AM »

In my opinion, the name or pseudonym, find its beauty in the success of the book. But if your name is truly Hemingway, it helps.  Kool-Aid
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Vortigern
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« Reply #11 on: May 25, 2018, 12:07:05 AM »

To your first question, which the way I read it was really more an implied question then a direct query... LOL
In the end its really up to you. If you're not wanting younger readers to accidentally get a hold of your more adult reads, then a pseudonym might be advisable.

From a personal standpoint I highly recommend pseudonyms and wish now that I'd had the forethought when I first got started to be a little more cautious with my name choice. Initially, I thought to utilize my real name for my more serious works and a pen name for anything with adult content. I truly wish I'd just gone with the pseudonym. And not because I'm not proud of what I've written or because I'm embarrassed by anything. I'd just really prefer the anonymity even in my local hometown. Besides, I much prefer the pen name to my real one.

Anyway, the fun question is: how would you pick your pseudonym? Would you go for something close to what you have now, would you do some market research, or would you just make it all up from scratch?

When I chose mine, it sort of happened by accident. My spouse was playing an xbox game with my kids. Can't remember which one. They came across the name Vortigern as a character name for another user playing along with them. I was writing some of my Blackthorn series at the time and so Vortigern Black just kind of clicked in my head as a good fit. (I tend to like unusual names) Since then I've learned some history behind the name that's sort of made it a fitting pick on a personal level.

But you could use just about anything you want. One piece of advice, which you may already know. Do a search on whatever you think you might want to choose first before actually going with the name. Cause the last thing you want is to have the same author name a dozen other authors or that, even worse, by accident ends up being a famous person without realizing it. A writing friend of mine wanted to use her own name for her novel she completed. But soon discovered that it was spelled almost exactly the same as a fairly public political figure. LOL, so every time people try to look them up, they get the political figure and not their author platform. Cause the political figure automatically pulls up with either spelling whether with one L or two LL's.
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Inspiring Imagination Between Two Worlds
NextChapter
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« Reply #12 on: May 25, 2018, 07:08:24 AM »

I started off life with the perfectly awful name of Mary Jane. Then I got married added a last name that nobody could spell or pronounce, which was even worse. I went back my birth name after the divorce. A few years ago, after my parents were gone and my second husband died, I decided it was time to choose my own name, and put Mary Jane to rest once and for all. I discovered that my Aunt Jane (after whom I had been named) was actually Emma Jane, and so I changed my name to that, and now I go by Emma (I kept my original last name). I even made it my legal name.

When I started writing at the beginning of last year, I thought I would write chapter books or picture books and adopted the pseudonym Emma Applesauce (my real last name also begins with an A). It turns out that I was terrible at picture books, and there is little market for chapter books, so I happily moved on to mg, which I am enjoying greatly. But Emma Applesauce is too babyish for my sophisticated mg readers, so I'm back to my real name. I don't expect to become so famous that using my real name would ever be an issue.

I don't think I could handle a pseudonym right now. Some days it's hard enough to even remember that I'm Emma!
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Vortigern
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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2018, 03:07:09 PM »

I don't think I could handle a pseudonym right now. Some days it's hard enough to even remember that I'm Emma!

LOL, under your circumstances I could only imagine.  Smiley

I had an aunt Mary Jane. It wasn't till after she passed away that I found out it wasn't actually her birth name. Her birth certificate listed a different name but she always went by Mary Jane for some reason.
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