As a writer, you naturally want to make a name for yourself.
So says the first line of an article on writing under a pseudonym. But do I? My experience of many authors of my acquaintance is that we have a more altruistic reason for writing. Not to be rich and famous – well maybe the rich bit would be nice, but fame? That’s a dangerous thing to be in this world of internet stalkers and tweeter trolls. Even some of the lesser known writers I know have received unnerving e-mails from strangers.
So fame I can do without. However, a pseudonym is something I have considered lately. The reason for this is because I am a relatively new author and my four novels are a mixture of genres that vary from 17th Century fictional family saga to Victorian gothic romance.
My agent tells me – and she knows these things – that publishers like to categories their authors – they need to know what they are getting and to whom to market that author’s work. Thus I confuse them.
My latest novel due for release next year is a 17th Century biographical novel, which puts it into a different sub-genre from my previous work. I would like to think the publisher would accept another manuscript from me, but it needs to be ‘similar’; i.e. not only of a required standard, but of the same genre and type as the previous one.
I have resisted this in the past, because it was such a thrill to see my real name printed on a paperback cover, but maybe it’s now time to consider a pseudonym. I have chosen a name which is variation of my real name, but hints at another age which fits well with the book. The article I quoted above goes on to say:
Writing under pseudonyms or "pen names" is a fine and honored tradition; many of the greatest names in literature were "invented," and many of today's bestselling authors use pseudonyms as well.
So maybe it will be fun having an alter ego.