What is a pseudonym?
A pseudonym is a fictitious name used by a person to hide an individual's real identity. Also called a "pen name", pseudonyms may be used if a writer's real name is likely to be confused with another writer or individual or is determined to be unsuitable. It is very common with actors as well as authors. Authors who write in fiction and non-fiction, or in different genres, may use pen names to avoid confusing their readers allowing them the creative freedom to explore different genres.
Using a pen name provides a degree of anonymity. which provides you freedom to write and speak freely "from the heart."
Why should you write under a pseudonym?
- you don't like your name
- you want something easier to remember
- you want to keep your anonymity
- you want to write in different genres and don't want to confuse readers
- you want to be mysterious
- you don't want people to know if you are writing about them
- you want to hide your gender
- you don't want your "day job" to find out
- you write for different publications across the publishing field
- you have the same name as a famous author or person
Some famous writer pseudonyms
- Samuel Clemens' writing under the pen name Mark Twain.
- Meg Cabot has written under the name Meggin Cabot, as well as the pseudonyms Patricia Cabot and Jenny Carroll.
- Lemony Snicket is the legal pen name of Daniel Handler.
- Jane Austin used the pseudonym "A Lady" as the author of her first novel Sense and Sensibility.
- Joanne Kathleen Rowling is known as JK Rowling
- Richard Bachman is the pen name of Stephen King.
Here's what Jill Myles, author of Gentlemen Prefer Succubi, says about why she uses a pseudonym for her writing.
Why did you decide to write under a pseudonym? How did you come up with your name?
There were a variety of reasons why I decided to write under a pseudonym, and I had to weigh the pros and cons. The major pro, in my mind, was the anonymity it offers. I'm not ashamed to write romance - the opposite, actually! - but in this day and age when your personal information can be found online by anyone that has your phone number, I'm very protective of my real identity. Plus, I work for an extremely conservative financial company in my day job, and having to explain/defend why I write 'dirty vampire romances' is not a conversation I wanted to have every day.
As for my name, I picked Jill Myles because it was short and punchy and relatively easy to remember. No mystery, I'm afraid. :)
What are the challenges of having a pseudonym?
I think one of the challenges is that relatives, family and friends have a harder time understanding why I wrote under a pseudonym! I've had instances when my real name got out and I had to go back and clean up posts and such, or have conversations with a few people as to why I'm de-friending them or deleting things they wrote. It's not that I'm mad! It's that I'm trying to be protective and consistent.
How does marketing differ if you publish under a pseudonym?
There are really no pros or cons to marketing via a pseudonym. You are just using it in exchange of your real name. I think if you had more than one name at the same time, it might be beneficial, but if you just have the one, it's the same as marketing under your real name (readers don't know the difference).
Check out Jill Myles writing and blog at www.jillmyles.com. Today is the last day to enter the Agent Holly Root contest. If you stop by and comment at any of the blogs (1 entry per comment!), her agent, the incredible Holly Root - will be giving away a free Query Critique. Jill will be announcing the winner onWednesday, January 27th .
This contest is open to all writers - adult writers as well as children book writers - because Jill's awesome agent is Holly Root at Waxman Literary and literary agent to adult AND children's book writers.