Publish, Writing

An Author by Any Other Name

When is it worth publishing under a pen name? That’s what I’m asking myself this week. Soon I’ll have two novels published under the women’s fiction category and one under romantic comedy, but my next novel is neither.

If I published under a pseudonym, I’d proclaim authorship on this blog with a dedicated page and the cover displayed in the sidebar, but the book wouldn’t be linked to my other books on my Amazon or Goodreads author pages. And search results for readers of my other books wanting to know what I’ve written lately wouldn’t include the book.

direction

Some authors use both names on their covers such as Nora Roberts did when she started publishing in a different genre as J.D. Robb—Nora Roberts writing as J.D. Robb. Now, she doesn’t need to do that because her pseudonym is well established. Then again, Nora Roberts was already a big author name when she chose to write under a pen name.

I haven’t established my real author name yet. Unless the literary gods choose to pluck one of my books from the masses and shoot it to the top of the Best Sellers list, I’ll have to establish my name by writing more and more and more books. So, at this point, can I afford to “lose” one to pen name?

My next book, besides High Tea & Flip Flops, will be a dark story with a little light at the end. I’ve described it variously as psychological suspense, supernatural suspense, and even romantic horror. No vampires or zombies, but an evil spirit is a prominent character. There’s some violence, but there’s also a lot about love and marriage and family. Here’s a quick description:

Tom and Julie Cogan’s marriage of twenty-three years is in crisis, but it’s not cliché when Tom becomes attracted to young and beautiful Annie. Not when they were lovers in a past life. Not when the orchestrator of this renewed attraction is an evil spirit with a lust for revenge nursed for over two hundred years. Not when the odds of surviving this grudge match are slim—for Annie and Tom, certainly, but for their loved ones as well.

So, yes, that’s definitely not romantic comedy or even women’s fiction. But is it different enough from what my readers might expect to warrant starting over with a new author name?

Do you have an opinion on when it’s best to use a pen name? If so, please share in a comment.

Linda

Advice, Agent, Author, Fiction, Marketing, Novel, Publish, Social Media, Writing

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?

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