Tuesday, June 29, 2010


To pseudonym or not to pseudonym, that is the question! Tricky, tricky stuff, I tell ya! Many writers have wrestled with this question, including yours truly. And I'm going to tell you why!

For those of you who are just starting out--the writing world is very small. Much much smaller than you'd think. So everyone knows everybody else. Publishers talk--writers talk--so the things you say and do to one writer might come back months later at a different publishing press. Which is great if you're looking for good publicity...but most often, this is NOT a good thing. I hate to say it, but the publishing business is rift with pettiness.

Pseudonyms are a way for writers to protect themselves from those inside and OUTSIDE the business. If you write erotica, like me, you may not want your grandmother finding out about it. Or your boss (if you work in a conservative company!)

Also, pen names are a smart way to boost your fan base! Names that start with "A" are shelved first in bookstores. So if you want people to look at your book, changing your name so that it is placed first in line is a good way to go! Pen names also hide genders and ethnicities. If you're trying to break into a dominant homogenous market (*cough SCIENCE FICTION/HORROR cough*) it might be a good idea to make your name as neutral (*cough MASCULINE *cough ANGLO-PHONIC *cough) as possible to cut out any potential biases your readers might have which will prevent them from picking up your book.

As sad and unfair that is, this is the way publishing works! It's not about how well you can write, because we've all read books that SUCKED ass--it's about how you can SELL yourself! Those who sell themselves best, win. And don't even get me started on the politics behind book covers! But that's for another post.

So let's review the PROS for having a pseudonym, shall we? Get out your pencils and take notes, as I might give a pop quiz later!
  1. Pseudonyms protect writers from those in the publishing business who want to slander the writer's name or ruin their career.
  2. Pseudonyms offer privacy to writers who wish their work to remain anonymous (due to a conservative job or family matters)
  3. Having a pen name has benefits when it comes to shelving at book stores (either by alphabet or marketability)
  4. Pseudonyms can be gender-neutral or ethnically-neutral, which can be an advantage if the writer is wanting to break into a slanted homogenous field.
So there you have it! Pencils down, class. I'll write more on the cons for pen names next time. But for now, that concludes the introductory segment on pseudonyms!


The Vegetarian Cannibal (aka TK Turner) -----> Note: None of which are my real names.


Erobintica said...

I am sorely tempted to weigh in, but think I'll wait for the "cons" before I do.

Yeah, I've struggled with this, in many ways, over many years.

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

Thank you for commenting Erobintica! Please, share your thoughts! I can only speak from my point-of-view on the subject. :) The pen name debate is a sore spot amongst many writers.

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