The name question—should I pseudo or not?

I’ve touched on this topic before, but it’s been weighing on my mind lately. Then, on Tuesday morning I read this post on literary agent Rachelle Gardner’s blog—certainly not the only blogger to bring it up recently—and I decided to tell you what I’ve been thinking. The topic is using a pseudonym, penname, nom de plume.

It’s too late for me to take Rachelle’s suggestion that you choose a pseudonym before you create a public presence or query. But since my previous queries have not yet proved fruitful, it’s not too late to switch before my next round. However, I do have this blog in my full legal name, and even though I don’t have a huge following, Google shows links to all my 299 posts.

Of course, if I started a new blog/website under a pseudonym now, by the time my first novel is published Google will have been long updated. Cathryn Grant has recently made such a move, though still under her same name. If only WordPress would allow you to change your ID. Anyway …

I mentioned before that because my full name was too long, my Twitter name is cassidylewis. This has resulted in a few followers assuming my first name is Cassidy. At first that seemed weird to me, but now I like the sound of it.

Some names are classic, timeless, but my given name is not. It pretty much marks me as being in the Baby Boomer generation, and in the highly competitive world of marketing, that may be a disadvantage. As much as we rail against stereotypes, they exist. And though we don’t like to think of our precious novels as a product for sale, that’s exactly what they are to a publisher.

And yes, I realize my photo would reveal I am indeed a Boomer, but we’re talking perception here, not reality. Agents don’t ask you to give your age or include a photo in a query letter. After I tantalize them into reading my fabulous novel, they’ll see dollar signs, and my age will mean nothing. (Humor me, here.)

Another reason for going pseudo is my full name is long: 17 letters, 7 syllables, which would necessitate using a smaller than usual font on a book cover. Plus, Cassidy is a bit more unusual given name, hence a more memorable one. I confess, I’ve always hated my first name, so maybe my urge for a pseudonym is colored by that.

Your opinion, please: Is my thinking completely off base on this one?

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

30 thoughts on “The name question—should I pseudo or not?

  1. I know what you mean about names. My middle name is Dennis ( my dad was fan of Dennis the Menance). I’m never called that but I like it more. Your thinking is not off base. In any future serious writing I will use Dennis. Then again in depends on what part of the country you are from. In the north I am Mike and in the South I am Michael.


  2. I’ll resist the urge to veer off into all my concerns re writing, Google and my day job 😉

    I *love* the name Cassidy. Your name is beautiful and melodic as well, but Cassidy is even more melodic, sounds very classic and unique as a “first” name, etc. I see all your points.

    I don’t think your thinking (hmm) is off-base at all, you raise some legitimate points. However, since you are already known with the Cassidy Lewis portion of your name, I don’t think it would be a huge leap, not as if you’re thinking of calling yourself Desiree Abernathy…

    Since there’s such a drive for writers to work on brand and marketing once they get to the stage where you are, it makes sense to consider the name you’ll use as part of that.

    (& thx for the mention)


    1. No, it’s not a huge leap, Cathryn, so it’s one I would be comfortable with. I’ve thought about this for well over a year and it just feels like the time to make a decision. I’m glad you like Cassidy Lewis too.

      I’ve already experimented by dropping Linda on my Twitter profile. Now, I’m thinking I might be in for some blog musical chairs like you did before setting up your website.

      Do I know about the “writing, Google, and day job” question? I’m trying to remember if you mentioned it before when I’ve posed the pseudonym question. I’ll comment search. 😉


  3. I deliberated with this when I wrote my first novel. My hubby who is into protecting our identity, especially on such a public platform as the Internet, suggested I use a pseudo. And I am so glad I did it before I was published! Because I live in Quebec and women retain their maiden names, this wasn’t too hard for me. At first it did feel strange and my close family members insisted I sign my books with my real name, but now that I have been using it for two years in public and on the Web, I am used to it. Even the mailman now knows and doesn’t look confused.

    The other added benefit for me is that when I am leading a workshop, or writing at my desk, I am Laura Fabiani the writer. It’s almost as if I switch hats from being a mommy or wife and take on my professional role. It’s psychological, I know.

    I like the sound of Cassidy Lewis too. As for your real name being too long, well… I review books of authors with weird sounding long names and somehow it works. It’s not too late to change but you need to be ready for the change.


    1. Thank you for sharing your view, Laura. Glad to have another thumbs up on Cassidy Lewis.

      You know I thought about, but forgot to mention the psychological benefits you brought up. I am not by nature an extrovert, but we really have to be in this business, and I think I might be able to fool myself into being more outgoing and confident as Cassidy Lewis … sort of pretend I’m Meryl Streep. 🙂


        1. You’re right, Carol, it’s more semi-pseudo. 🙂 But I don’t really have a need, or desire, for complete anonymity. I think the psychological aspect that Laura Fabiani brought up, actually plays a bigger part than I wanted to admit.


  4. I enjoy them for a multitude of reasons.
    First – while I have finally come to terms with being a Melissa, my last name is a problem. I don’t want to be tied to my maiden name for personal reasons, my current surname due to my ex, or my future name because (while I love him) this started before him and no one can say it properly… which will drive me crazy

    Second – it’s kinda boring. “Did you read the new Melissa…. zzzzzzzzzzzz”

    Third – I enjoy my privacy. If I share something for the world to see, so be it. I do not, however, want people hunting me down, looking me up, and assuming the role of web/physical stalker. Maybe I just have an overactive imagination, but I’d prefer to avoid all of that. I’m a storyteller, nothing more.

    HOWEVER. I have no idea what it should be. I am fortunate in that I don’t have any sort of last name tied to my online presence, but I also have no idea where to proceed.

    Anyway. I enjoy them. That being said, I have always loved the way your name flows together. I don’t think Baby Boomer, I think beauty. Just sayin’.


    1. Ah, two votes for NO. I should have set up a poll. 🙂

      I can see why you’d want a pseudonym, Melissa. And you’re lucky not to have started off with a full name online. I’m sure the perfect name will come to you.


  5. So you already know the name Linda and I go back a long way! LOL!

    Truthfully, I like the sound of both. Cassidy Lewis, however, might be easier to remember. I’m just wondering if it would feel weird to you. Although maybe when it comes down to it having our published book would be far more important than the name on the book. I’m just trying to think of how I would feel in that situation. On the other hand it’s not as though Cassidy Lewis is a totally made up name. Interesting. I’ll be anxious to see what you decide.


    1. Oh yes, Laura, I offered to switch names with you. 😀

      I don’t think it would sound weird to me because it’s not really a pseudonym. I’ve gone by Linda Cassidy Lewis for over 20 years, so the Cassidy Lewis part is quite familiar to my ears. Who knows; using a new name might be my Towanda moment. 🙂


  6. Here’s your third vote for NO 🙂
    I prefer your three names together, I like the way the sound, very melodic and author-like. I do like Cassidy Lewis but Cassidy makes me think of a man. Of course at times, that can be a good thing (which is why JK Rowling called herself that)
    Personally, I have wondered myself if I should use a pen name, mostly because I am a very private person so it is something that I am still debating.


    1. Hadn’t thought of that, Alannah. I believe in the US Cassidy is only a female given name. And for what I write, a male name would have no disadvantage. But I do think I want a little distance between the writer me and the private me.


      1. Think the reason I think of a man is because of “Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” lol – Of course, in the film, it’s a surname but my mind made the male association anyway. Definitely think it’s a good idea to have distance between the writer you and your private self.


  7. I like your name, but I also think Cassidy Lewis sound nice and it is shorter, so I think you could go either way. This is a question I’ve contemplated as well. Sometimes I wish I had started my blog with a generic web address so that I could change my name at will. Oh well!


      1. I probably would have wrote under a pseudo anyway. My real name is far more common than Linda and alludes to images of little blonde haired girls in summer dresses with sunflowers on their hats. It is not exactly the image I want for my dystopian and utilitarian works of fiction. I also googled my name for the heck of it and it seems that it is already attached to a real estate agent that has launched a massive marketing campaign on the web. She even owns the wordpress blog by my real name. Not to mention the twitter account, email addresses, domain name. etc.

        I say do what ever you are comfortable with. But if you are going to change you should probably do it soon, as you are already building a following. I’m sure you would not loose any of your followers, but if the idea is to brand yourself before you query again, time is ticking.

        PS. I also like LL Cassidy. Just a thought. LOL


        1. Yes, I don’t think sunflowers and summer dresses is the image you want. 🙂

          I knew there was a Romance author named Linda Lewis, so I didn’t want to use that. But I just checked and there’s a marine biologist in San Diego named Cassidy Lewis. 😯

          Oh heck, maybe I’ll change my name to Best Seller.


  8. i think your name is engaging actually. But, I do know how you feel. My name it terribly boring…I have a pen name all chosen, but who knows if I’ll ever use it. lol. I thought I would, but then when I started publishing shots I thought it’s too late Then again no one really reads shorts so it doesn’t matter I don’t think (and there is a satisfaction in seeing one’s name in print!). I figure i’d leave it up to an agent orpublisher when the time arrives.


    1. This is funny, really, how many of us don’t like our names, when so many others do like it. I think your name is beautiful.

      You said: “Then again no one really reads shorts so it doesn’t matter …” To that I say, well then I won’t bother writing any. 🙂


  9. Great thoughts, Linda. For me, I started out using three names (first, maiden and married) then decided on the first and maiden in the end. For one thing, I kept reading about how it was challenging for booksellers (and readers at times) to know where to shelve authors with seemingly two last names, and heck, I was a thirty-something bride and liked my darn name anyway–it has been good to me!:) Also, I liked the idea of having a different pen name from my husband and children’s last name, simply for the sake of keeping a bit of professional anonymity.


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