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?”
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.
Thanks for weighing in, Erika. I hadn’t considered the shelving issue, though I’ll bet that’s a real problem with hyphenated names. I am still no closer to a decision on my own name. *sigh*