I'm Trying to Get a Book Published! discussion

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Advice/Questions > Pen Names

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message 1: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ hmm. i don't plan on using a pen name, just because i like my name. :]

Brigid Gorry-Hines ... haha idk i just like the way it looks :D and it's memorable ;)


message 2: by Kevis (last edited Jul 31, 2009 02:08PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Strangely, I never was fascinated by pen names. I do understand why some authors like Anne Rice and Stephen King have published some of their works under pen names. It was a way to get around their publishing contracts. But there is a part of me that thinks pen names are silly. I feel like the author is trying to hide something and is not being genuine with their readers.

In my case, I don't feel I have anything to hide, so I prefer to use my real name on my books. But in the end, everyone is entitled to do what they think is best for them. But when an author tells me "Oh, I am going to publish all of my books under different pseudonyms", it seems like it is a shameful attempt to deceive readers.


message 3: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) thats sad....i have a penname for some of my poems...K.Z. Marie....K for Kat(my nickname) Z. for Zufelt(my last name) and Marie for my last name(even though it really is my middle name)


message 4: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) is ur last name like, incarnation? sorta? with an e- at the beginning and a c- instead of a t at the end?


message 5: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) oh


message 6: by Marley (new)

Marley (Marleyme95) OMG, awesomeness to say!


message 7: by Marley (new)

Marley (Marleyme95) Really! :D


message 8: by C.S. (new)

C.S. (ArcherMarks) | 3 comments Kevis:
The only time I've published under a pseudonymn was when I was writing 'rubbish.' I had an erotic short story published in an anthology, and I sure didn't want my real name on THAT one!

Now, the 'real' stuff--that's labeled correctly! :-)


message 9: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey I don't really like pen names.


message 10: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Ronna wrote: "Anne Rice and Stephen King are pen names? weird, I never knew that. I dont think pen names are THAT silly, as long as it's fairly close to your name. But I personally dont like pen names. How that ..."

Both Anne Rice and Stephen King used Pen names in order to publish more books. King's contract with his publisher only allows him to publish one book a year. To get around the legal trappings of his contract, he had to publish some of his material under a pseudonym.

Anne Rice, on the other hand, published her erotic fiction under a pen name to avoid sullying her very popular brand of vampiric fiction.

In these cases, pen names seem to have a purpose. But I still prefer to know who the author is when I read a book. I feel like I'm being deceived when an author doesn't use their real names when they publish a book.




message 11: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments C.S. ('Archer') wrote: "Kevis:
The only time I've published under a pseudonymn was when I was writing 'rubbish.' I had an erotic short story published in an anthology, and I sure didn't want my real name on THAT one!

..."


Archer,

You wrote erotic fiction? That's a far cry from the world of Alterra. Very intriguing. If it means anything, I think I'll stick with the books with your real name on them. But I am a bit biased, aren't I?


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) i might use one just because i am writing my book with a friend. i was thinking "Sarah Larson" but i have to see if that is an actual person or not...


message 13: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Think of the author's name like a brand name. When I say Haagen Dazs, I picture exotic ice creams, extra creamy and tasty. What if the company Haagen Dazs wanted to make a cheaper brand of ice cream? They would likely use a different name on it to give the buyers a different perception.

Once you start writing and become a famous author, your name no longer represents just you anymore. It now stands for a particular style or brand of story.

Now I thought about pen names for a while. I didn't want to introduce myself and have someone say, "Oh, are you that author?" I wanted people to see me for me and not recognize my name. I wanted to be able to make friends without my famous books going before me.

I also admit that I don't want my parents to read my books. When I was in high school, they would take my journals and personal letters and scold me for everything I had written. I don't think my parents would approve of my writing, so I'd rather they don't know anything about it.

But I got over those fears. I decided, "So what?" And so I use my real name.


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) lol!!!! That is great advice! Teehee!


message 15: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey I like that!


message 16: by Kevis (last edited Aug 04, 2009 04:44PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Rita is right on about an author's name being his brand. Just like Toytota or Microsoft, your name is your brand. Also, like Rita I think it defeats the purpose of using a pen name that's different than your actual name since no one will ever know who you are.

For instance, everyone knows who Stephen King is. But unless you are one of his die hard fans, you won't know that he is also known as Richard Bachman and John Swithen. Stephen King is the brand, not Richard Bachman. When most people go into a book store to buy the latest King novel, they are certainly not going to know that John Swithen and Stephen King are one and the same. This is the downside to using pen names.

However, a pen name can come in handy if you want to remain anonymous. If you don't want everyone to know who you are then a pen name is great. But it also hurts your brand if you are publishing different works under several names, as many authors today are doing. Why build up the reputation of being a world famous romance novelist like a Johanna Lindsey only to be lost in a sea of anonymity by publishing your works under a pseudonym?

In the end, every author has to choose his/her path. But choose your author name wisely, because it's your calling card.


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) would it be okay if you used one because you are writing it with a friend and you don't want to put by 'so and so' and 'so and so'... like i was going to combine me and my friends names... do you think that is a good idea??


message 18: by Kevis (last edited Aug 04, 2009 05:29PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Sagey,

There are times when a pen name can come in useful. But if you want to build up a bibliography, you'd probably be better off sticking with the name you intend to announce yourself to readers. Remember, it's not easy to get noticed. There are over half a million books published every year. You are going to have to work very hard to separate yourself from the rest of the pack and can only do that by making your name stick in people's minds one book at a time. If you are publishing different works under different names, your readers are not going to know this. If they have enjoyed reading your vampire series which is published under your real name, those fans will not know that you have co-written a book under another alias.

Your name is your brand. By having more than one author name you are creating separate brands with different readership. Why wouldn't you want all of your readers to buy all of your books? By using a different name for your books, only certain readers will purchase some of your books, leaving the others to wonder why you are taking so long to publish more books. In actuality, it isn't that you aren't writing a lot of books, but you are dividing your audience and making it appear as though you are not publishing books on a regular basis.

It takes too long to write a novel to assume that you will be able to churn out books regularly for multiple pseudonyms. In fact, if I were you I would stick with one name so that you will be building up a fan base from the moment your name appears on any book, be it co-written or not.




PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) hm... good point... oh and i added more on my story!


message 20: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Sagey,

I have to go offline for a while to run some errands for the rest of the evening, but I'll be sure to read the new chapters and comment on them for you ASAP. In the meantime, thanks for sharing it with us. Your story's a lot of fun to read.


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) thanks and take your time. no rush at all!


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) mmmmmm. cinnamon and sugar toast!!!


message 23: by Rita (last edited Aug 05, 2009 09:19AM) (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Lyssa wrote: "I do think that anonymy (is that a word, and if so did I spell it right?) is one of the few reasons to use a pen name. Which goes with the question, do you think people judge authors by their writi..."

If my mother read my story Daughter of the Goddess, I can just hear what she'd say about the mother at the beginning of the story. "You think that's me, don't you? I don't know what I have done to deserve to be treated like this..." I'd also get ripped apart for having a false religion in my story.

sighs

OK, Patches' mother is NOT my mother. But I could see my parents looking at the mean and nasty people in my books and accusing me of modeling after them. Which is not the case. Mostly.

As authors, we do look around at the people around us and steal snatches of personality and reactions and emotions and put them into our characters. If you don't want to embarrass your friends and family, you may want to use a pen name.

Also, good writers bare their souls in their writing. You have to become a part of your characters in some way, and you gotta put your heart in it. So everyone you meet (who has read your work) can look at you and see all your faults and your fears and the things that make you tick. Kinda disconcerting to meet strangers and they know more about you than you know about them. That could be a reason to be anonymous.



message 24: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Yes, exactly so, Lyssa. Stories need to have an element of ugliness to be realistic. Your characters need to have faults. If everything was happy and easy and good and sweet, it wouldn't be very human, would it?

I have a character (Ahern from Dreams) that isn't anything like me. He's a 13-year-old boy who has had one horrible life. He is vulgar and hormonal and everything else I am not. He has a crush on a girl, and he thinks about her just like a boy would. I blushed profusely when I wrote certain parts. But if I didn't, the story would have been stale.



message 26: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) so, kevis, you said earlier:

There are times when a pen name can come in useful. But if you want to build up a bibliography, you'd probably be better off sticking with the name you intend to announce yourself to readers. Remember, it's not easy to get noticed. There are over half a million books published every year. You are going to have to work very hard to separate yourself from the rest of the pack and can only do that by making your name stick in people's minds one book at a time. If you are publishing different works under different names, your readers are not going to know this. If they have enjoyed reading your vampire series which is published under your real name, those fans will not know that you have co-written a book under another alias.

Your name is your brand. By having more than one author name you are creating separate brands with different readership. Why wouldn't you want all of your readers to buy all of your books? By using a different name for your books, only certain readers will purchase some of your books, leaving the others to wonder why you are taking so long to publish more books. In actuality, it isn't that you aren't writing a lot of books, but you are dividing your audience and making it appear as though you are not publishing books on a regular basis.

It takes too long to write a novel to assume that you will be able to churn out books regularly for multiple pseudonyms. In fact, if I were you I would stick with one name so that you will be building up a fan base from the moment your name appears on any book, be it co-written or not.


so, to make ur name stick in peoples minds, it has to be unique right? so, my name, Caitlan Zufelt, is it going to stick in your mind?



message 28: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) really? how


message 29: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) I think it will stick in mine.


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) because you don;t normally hear the name Zufelt...


message 31: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) lol its german


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) really! what does it mean?


PageSageRageParker the Mighty (White Chocolate) (theoriginal) very good points from everyone!


message 34: by Kevis (last edited Aug 11, 2009 01:37PM) (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Lyssa wrote: "That is exacty what I mean. Kevis said your name is your brand. From a certain person they will begin to expect a certain style or writing. That doesn't mean that we are our characters. Some of my favorite characters and stories of my own have been people nothing like me. I like my name, I just don't want the association to my family, or my friends. (not in a bad way..."

Lyssa,

It sounds like you are really leaning towards a pen name. Under the situation you describe I can understand why you might want to publish your works under a pseudonym. You are right that by using a pen name will help to shield you and your family from any unwanted accusations since no one is going to know that you are the writer. Outside of making a public appearance, no one would even know what you look like. So if your intent is to protect your anonymity, selecting a pen name for yourself would be quite effective.

I will add that so long as you publish all of your works under that pen name, you can still become a very successful author just like many others have who chose not to use their real names. Just remember that your name is your brand, not the genre of stories you tell. Publishers used to (and still do) sometimes discourage their authors from publishing books in different genres. But it's the name that matters most when it comes to branding yourself.

Where it would get problematic for you Lyssa would be if, for example, you chose to publish erotic books under one pen name and your romance novels under another name. This is where you start to create the problem I described earlier.

I can understand why some people such as Archer chose to publish their erotic fiction under an alias, but decided to publish their other works under their real name. Just remember that your success as an author depends on building up a readership. It takes too much work to create a following for your writing to do it under more than one name. As I said before, even if you choose a pen name for yourself, as long as you stick to that one name, you will make your life a lot easier and increase your chances of success.


message 36: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Kirilee Fey Hycanth wrote: "so, kevis, you said earlier:

There are times when a pen name can come in useful. But if you want to build up a bibliography, you'd probably be better off sticking with the name you intend to an..."


By the way, Kirilee, I like K.Z. Marie and I like your real name too. I'd be hard pressed to pick.




message 37: by Kevis (new)

Kevis Hendrickson (kevishendrickson) | 190 comments Kirilee Fey Hycanth wrote: "so, to make ur name stick in peoples minds, it has to be unique right? so, my name, Caitlan Zufelt, is it going to stick in your mind?"

Kirilee,

Actually it does stick in my mind. Caitlinn Zufelt is already burned into my brain. It cries author to me. If you feel you can come up with a better name, then so be it. But I prefer to see Caitlinn Zufelt on your book cover, especially since it's your real name.


message 38: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) kk thanks for the advice...but btw, its C-A-I-T-L-A-N Zufelt lol


message 39: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) lol


message 40: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Lyssa, that was very beautifully put. I can't imagine anybody saying my name like that. My name is very succinct. 3 short syllables for first and last. If I add my middle name--oh joy, we're up to 4!


message 41: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Hmm, now there is an idea! How can we write a romance story without it being cliche?


message 42: by Caitlan (new)

Caitlan (lyonessrampant) lol do what stephenie meyer did and throw in some vampires


message 43: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Or throw in some werewolves like Annette Curtis Klause did in Blood and Chocolate.

I'm a wolfy girl myself, preferring wolves to vampires.


message 44: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ i tend to like vampire stories better, but i'd rather be a werewolf. or date one. lol


message 45: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Wolves are more earthy, I think. And I'd rather be wild than undead.


message 46: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ same. :] haha. and vampires are always freezing cold all the time; i would hate that!!! i already live in new england. haha.


message 47: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) Oh, that is cold. But I love snow. It comes from never getting any as a kid. I spent most of my growing up years in Texas, where it'd only spit snow once a year and then it was just a dusting that was gone by noon.


message 48: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ I hate snow ... lol


message 49: by Rita (new)

Rita Webb (ritawebb) I guess it is all a matter of perspective! If you don't have it, you love it. If you have too much, you hate it. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


message 50: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ haha yes. i've had too much snow in my life. O_o lol

and yes ... quite literally the grass is always greener on the other side. haha.


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