Thursday, 7 June 2012


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.


Anne Gallagher said...

I write under two pseudonyms now. I find it a lot easier than trying to "brand" myself under one umbrella. considering I write under two distinct genre's.

Anita Davison said...

Hi Anne - I had no idea that historical fiction had several sub-genres, and I was blurring the edges. Still so much to learn!

Lisa Yarde said...

The classifications are seemingly useless in the US, when Amazon will not let historical fiction be categorized into distinct periods. Trust me, I've tried to do it for my books.

Maggi Andersen said...

I wrote my first novel, a contemporary murder mystery, under a different name than my historicals. But I found it impractical and difficult to promote so I now just write under my maiden name which I feel quite comfortable with. Thinking on it though, a dramatic or romantic pseudonym might be fun.