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Real Name or Pen Name

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Vanya, Mar 2, 2012.

  1. Phin Scardaw

    Phin Scardaw Troubadour

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    I write under an anagrammatic pen name based on my birth-name. I think there are some names that have a literary feel, and mine does not. Pseudonyms are extremely common for artists and the choice should be up to you, but choose wisely as you won't have much opportunity to change it.
     
  2. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    I tend to agree with you about female writers and male readers.

    That is why I intend to use the unisex version of my real name.
    However, the same case could be made for people whom hail from far flung places along the globe. People with "ethnic" names don't seem to do as well as people with regular sounding names. (at least not at first)

    Which means I will revert to my maiden which is stupid easy the world over :)
     
  3. topazfire

    topazfire Minstrel

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    If I ever get published it will hopefully be with my initials and my maiden name, which is easily pronounced rather than my married name which has 11 letters, 4 syllables and a bunch of odd consonants beside each other. I see the point about branding for sure. If I were writing romance novels I suppose I would pick a very simple, feminine name because that is just what comes to mind with the genre (but of course I write fantasy adventure, so here I am.)
     
  4. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    I've been gravitating toward using my initials and last name; it seems easier than trying to come up with a pen name. My writing isn't specifically aimed at either gender, but as others have said, there's a trend showing that female authors who hide their names tend to get a larger male following as well as female.
     
  5. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

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    Okay to be honest, I don't particularly seek out female authors... sorry, but true. I read historical romance, and would expect flowery old-lady names there, but if I were looking for fantasy.... I would probably not choose a book with a similar author name. That being said, I don't believe there is any difference between a man's ability and a woman's ability to write a story. I think that the men who do it are generally very good, though I believe truly women in general have an advantage when creating artistically. Overall, I have loved most books I have read by both men and women, and I believe the ones I didn't like had similar shortcomings for me.

    I think that different types of books ought to have different sorts of author's names.... like they ought to have different cover art. We could get all into gender differences here, but there is no one even line where men all fall on this side and women all fall on that side. I feel like I straddle that line (In real life, not in my writing) as much as any one person can, actually; but, if I were publishing a book aimed at male readers, I would use a pen name (probably initials). And if I were writing aimed at female readers, I'd use another, and for young readers, I'd probably use another.
     
  6. gerald.parson

    gerald.parson Troubadour

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    Who the hell uses a pseudonym anymore? Besides graffiti artists. I know Lemony Snickett is Danny Handler's alter ego, but he never "hid" from that fact. I just don't personally see the point if it anymore.
     
  7. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Many, many, many, many authors do. You only have to look.

    It is however a personal choice to use one, and if you don't see a need for it with your personal and professional lives then that's fine :)
     
  8. Kelise

    Kelise Maester

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    Sometimes you don't 'have a choice', if the publisher really insists you publish under a different name. Matthew Green's real name is Matthew Dicks. My friend (not that he wants to be an author) has the last name of Horni.

    It could be that your name means your books will be shelved in a bottom corner and won't be seen as much. it could be that your name is too hard to spell correctly or remember, which limits the chance of someone finding you on google before they get bored.

    Sometimes it's just not really your choice. You could tell the publisher to get stuffed, but then they - and others - may not be as eager to publish you if they think the name will greatly reduce the amount it sells.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Yeah, lots of authors still use them. A few will modify their actual name (Wen Spencer instead of Wendy Spencer, because it sounds less feminine). But a lot of them still use completely invented pseudonyms. I know an author who got a book contract last year who came up with an entirely fictitious name. The publisher was even involved in helping come up with it, if I'm not mistaken.
     
  10. Shockley

    Shockley Maester

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    I'm far more worried about the quality of the writing than I am about what name I publish under. Plenty of authors with bizarre names have gone on to be extremely successful (Tolkien, Roald Dahl, Nabakov (especially when pronounced correctly) and Daschiel Hammett spring to mind) and authors with absolutely electric names have been less than stellar.

    If your work is good it will stand on its own, whatever name you publish under. If you do feel the need of a pen name, I at least hope that some thought it put into it other than 'this sounds masculine' or 'this is a better fit for my genre.' The origin story of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson using Lewis Carroll springs to mind as a 'good' reason to use a pen name.
     
  11. The Din

    The Din Troubadour

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    Just curious, are there many authors out there that just use a single name? (ie: Cher, Brom.) I have a pretty unique first name that might work well. Wondering if it would come off pretentious/ridiculous?
     
  12. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Interesting idea indeed, but would it look like the name of an author or part of the title? It's important to have that distinction.
     
  13. JBryden88

    JBryden88 Troubadour

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    If I have any say I'll use my real name. My surname after all is of Lowland Scot origin, and ironically, the cultures in my fantasy are loosely based off of gaelic/celtic cultures :D
     
  14. I don't think single-named authors are very common. It would probably sound pretentious or dilletante-ish no matter how interesting the name is. At least, that'd be my reaction upon seeing a fantasy novel written by someone with a single name. I'd probably avoid it just out of instinct.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    A single name does seem unusual and people might see it as gimmicky.

    As for a regular pen name, I don't think there is much reason not to use one if you prefer it. If your book is published and on the shelf somewhere, readers seeing your name aren't going to know your real name from your pen name unless they happen to know you personally. The only thing that really matters is that they will come to associate their like or dislike of your work with whatever name you are using, and in that regard both a pen name and real name will serve equally well. I can think of a few reasons why you would want to use a pen name, but not many good reasons not to use one other than your own personal dislike of doing so, which is fine. But from the standpoint of establishing yourself as an author, a pen name can work just as well as your real name, and in some cases better.
     
  16. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    Sometimes gimmicks will work even if people see through them. I've been tempted to just use "Devor" as a pen name, but only so far as to consider it and realize it's a bad idea. In their best light, I think obvious gimmicks come across as a little deva-ish, and thus, might be great if "deva" is part of your brand. I don't want it to be part of mine. Devor, not Deva.

    Still, Mr. Din, your real first name is not a gimmick, and there's nothing wrong with highlighting it. What are your initials? Could you try Din K. A. - ?
     
  17. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

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    Speaking of gimmicky, does anyone really have a double R as their middle initials?

    And would anyone believe me if I said my fully-middle-initialed name is John M.X.L.X. Haley? (Maybe they would, but that mess sure won't sell any books!)
     
  18. The Blue Lotus

    The Blue Lotus Auror

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    Wow Sidekick that is a mouth full.

    Could be worse however, I once knew someone with the Initials P.O.O
     
  19. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

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    J.R.R. Tolkien was actually John Ronald Reuel Tolkien... though I'm not sure if any other authors with double-R middle names are just imitators of him or what, so that may or may not count. ^^;
     
  20. Ghost

    Ghost Inkling

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    I'm going to legally change my name at some point because I never liked my first name. I may change it again if I get married. I also want to keep my writing life and personal life separate, especially given the content. It just seems simpler to have a pseudonym than to worry about all that.

    I narrowed it down to three pen names. The main contender sounds like an old lady's name, but it's easy to spell and pronounce. It easily fits both the horror and fantasy genres, and I could find no fiction authors who even share last name, which is a plus when it comes to branding.

    I'm using an obviously female name. I don't write YA, so I don't have to worry about scaring the boys away. Adults who'd judge the content of my stories by my gender aren't my target audience. Most of my favorite female authors don't hide their gender, either.

    I don't think people will judge you harshly for using a pen name, Vanya, especially if it sounds like a real name. It can take people a while to catch on that it's even a pen name.

    The R.R. in George R. R. Martin is "Raymond Richard" or something like that. There's another George Martin, I think, involved in the music industry. Fantasy Martin was in the TV industry for a while, so he might've done it to separate himself from the other George Martin(s). It's not exactly a unique name. I don't know anyone besides Tolkien and Martin that have the double R.
     
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