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?

[tweetmeme source=”cassidylewis” only_single=false]

Fiction, Novel, Query, Writing

It’s not just a novel!

pinkquestionIf you’ve written a novel, you will have to identify it’s category when you query an agent. It’s not just a novel. I touched on this subject last week, then Sharon Egan wrote a detailed post on the same topic, and now I’m revisiting it. Sharon referenced AgentQuery’s genre descriptions and I quote from them below.  

Last week, I categorized my 250-opening-word contest entry as women’s fiction, but when literary agent Rachelle Gardner commented on it she said, “This seems like it’s going to be a romance and frankly I’d be disappointed, after this opening, if it weren’t. So I’m not sure about your genre of women’s fiction.”

greenquestionFor this very reason, I’ve struggled with revisions of the first few paragraphs of my novel. Ms. Gardner will be disappointed unless the definition of the romance genre has changed. However, according to the AgentQuery site, it hasn’t. And they say: “If you didn’t intentionally set out to write a romance novel, it’s probably not a romance.”

I did not intend to write a romance. I did intend to write about love. There’s a difference. Learning to recognize and accept love is as much a part of my book as any romance storyline. (But hey, if Ms. Gardner wants to represent me and sell it as a romance, who am I to argue?)

aquaquestionSo what is my novel? I’ve eliminated romance, sci-fi, mystery, fantasy, horror, or any of those other commercial genres. And I don’t think it qualifies as literary. So that narrowed it down to either women’s fiction or commercial. My novel has elements of both, but here’s the thing, according to the AgentQuery definitions, women’s fiction can fall under the umbrella of commercial fiction. So my novel is commercial women’s fiction, right? Well …

Traditionally women’s fiction has a female as the main character. My book is in three parts, with three main characters. In two of those parts, the point-of-view character is female, but in the third, the pov character is a male. And this male character is present as a main character in all three parts. So does that disqualify the book as women’s fiction? Not according to this post by agent Jessica Faust.

bluequestionSo, if you need help identifying your novel’s category, click the links above to read the descriptions at Sharon’s blog and the AgentQuery site. As for me, I’m sticking with the women’s fiction category for my novel, though I may tack on commercial. Or I may not. I may lose my mind from this querying process. And then the title of my blog will no longer be literary—it will be literal. 🙂

Agent, Fiction, Novel, Writing

What did and didn’t happen

As you know, I entered two contests recently. I didn’t win, place, or show in either, but that was no surprise to me. What also didn’t happen is my own personal slide into my-writing-is-garbage-despair. Yay! I’m making progress.

What did happen is that the secret agent, who turned out to be Rachelle Gardner, said some nice things about the opening 250 words of my novel. And she said she’d keep reading, which means I’ll query her.

But comments in the secret agent contest also brought into question whether I’ve accurately “pigeon-holed” my novel. I see it shelved in general fiction. I entered it in this contest as “women’s fiction.” That genre is apparently evolving and means different things to different people. Some see it as narrowly as the new term for “chick lit”—which mine is not—and others see it as broadly as any novel that would appeal mainly to women—which mine is.

Spanning a decade, The Brevity of Roses is the love story of three people. One thinks he knows all about love, another believes she’s incapable of it, and the third fears it. Is this general fiction? Is this women’s fiction? Is this a romance? Most agents expect you to define your genre in your query letter, but some genre definitions are vague or in flux.

Is anyone else querying a novel that’s hard to categorize?