1. littleparisdress
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    littleparisdress Member

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    Pseudonym or Real?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by littleparisdress, May 29, 2009.

    Hi

    I was just wondering what are the disadvantages and advantages of using a pen name in writing, or using your real name?
    Say your book was a real success, then you wouldn't want so much publicity... but if your book was published but just another book on the shelf people would think you were a bad writer.
    So there's my problem. I think if my book was published I'd like to have a photo on a 'about the author' page, so even if I used a pen name my family and friends would still know.

    What do you think?
     
  2. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Real. The chances of striking success are minimal, so I wouldn't worry about publicity. If people think I'm a bad writer *shrug*, whatever.
     
  3. littleparisdress
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    littleparisdress Member

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    What if you are a bestseller or something?
    Or win some prestigious award?
     
  4. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    Here's how I look at it (in particular, with fiction). The general public doesn't care (and often doesn't know) if it the author's name is real or a pseudonym. So, if a name that feels right and more memorable (even more marketable), or reflects your self-image as an author better than your real one, it's probably a good choice. Some of the advantages are that you can control who knows you're an author and that you are the author of a particular work (where they find evidence of themselves or circumstances they know of constructed in fictional ways they don't understand--especially if they don't fully understand that the truth fiction reflects lies deeper than fact). If you work in a profession where that could be useful and/or write stuff you think would create issues with relatives or family or colleagues or whoever, then a pseudonym can serve that purpose quite well. Some authors use a penname for writing certain genres (Young Adult, e.g.) and a real name (or another pseudonym) for others (Literary Fiction, maybe).

    Plus, a pseudonym can be disinhibiting when it comes to artistic license and can allow the writer some breathing room (especially if attitudes toward one's own writing coming from friends and family are restrictive or demeaning in some way).

    I don't think of it as dishonesty, myself, but a lot of fiction writers I've run across (especially on the internet and mostly relatively unpublished ones) feel it's foolish, deceptive, or unjustifiable for reasons I've never quite understood.

    The only downsides I can think of are (1) that maybe whatever relative's name you go by in real life (father's or husbands, e.g.) would be hurt or insulted. But you don't really need to worry about that till you have to own up to it (so you probably have a good length of time to figure out your explanation). And (2) those who recognize you by your real name will not be likely to know of your success unless you bring it to their attention.
     
  5. Anir
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    Anir Senior Member

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    I'm planning to go with my real name. I'd just really enjoy looking at a book on the bookstore shelf and saying "That's my book." The whole publicity isn't what I'm going for in writing my book. If someone reads it and enjoys it, then I'll be pretty happy. Of course, if it happens to make the bestseller list then I wouldn't mind. hehe . . .
     
  6. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Since when does anyone assume a writer is bad just because they haven't been on a bestseller list or something like that? Hardly any writer are big celebrities, so the kinds of things you are concerned about don't seem relevant.
     
  7. JGraham
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    JGraham Senior Member

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    I am not going to use my real name, but it is just a preference although it will be close to my real name.

    Real: Jesse Graham

    Pseudonym: J.Graham

    I just llike that it is shorter and I have always used this for my writing.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you don't have a good reason to use a pen name, such as wanting your work in a different genre kept separate from your main body of work, why go to all that bother?... neither your reasoning, nor what you see as your 'problem' make any sense to me...
     
  9. littleparisdress
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    littleparisdress Member

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    Okay... I just think my 'pen name' is more elegant and nice for writing and I'm not sure if that will interfere with who knows its me and etc...
     
  10. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    I use a pen name because I'm pretty awesome.
     
  11. TheNewGuy
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    TheNewGuy Senior Member

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    I don't know about this. If your last name is hard to spell it might make it hard for people to google you, then they won't buy your book. It might be good to also make it memorable.

    Doesn't Stephen King use a pen name? That would be an example--it's HUGE, everyone knows it, it's on the cover of ever book because that's the important part.

    But look at Patrick Rothfuss--his book was AMAZING, loads of fantasy people like it. I doubt Rothfuss is a pen name. Just look at it.
     
  12. diamonds overun
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    diamonds overun Member

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    I am about to be married so i will stick with my maiden name. No need for a pen name and it is still my name.

    I guess it doesnt work for blokes though.
     
  13. Gallowglass
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    Gallowglass Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd probably use my Gaelic name rather than my English one, because it's still my name and suits the book.
     
  14. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    I think pen names are more common for like...newspaper article writers who don't want flamers to like, harm them. I would love to see my name, my real name on a book in like barnes N noble or something
     
  15. littleparisdress
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    littleparisdress Member

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    I guess so... I like my pen name just it's completely made up - It sounds nicer and is easier to say than my real name. I think if I did have a book published I would want an about the author page, as I said, with a photo, so that people would know. How about you?
     
  16. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    Oh I would love a picture--maybe. Back of the Book pictures always end up making you look old or geekish. I don't think my name sounds very nice or flows off the tongue either- but that could be because it's *my* name so to me it sounds completely normal and not out of the ordinary
     
  17. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Only if you think that way if you're determined and put your mind to it like anything else it is achieveable.

    That last portion doesn't make much sense to me, but for a real answer just pertaining to the original question I say that a pen name or your real name can be suitable all depending on your preferences.

    If you don't like your real name then I suppoe pen would be most suitable or if you thought that your chances would be slimming if you have a hard to pronounce name. It all comes down to personal preferences.
     
  18. OrdinaryJoe
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    OrdinaryJoe Member

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    A pen name can be suggested by a publisher as well. As stated above if your name is hard to spell, or is the same as the last name of another well know author. Such as your last name being Donaldson or Eddings or Feist, then you might be asked to use a pen name. Of course people also can try and use a pen name in order to get their books next to well know authors. Like using Simon Kings as your pen name if you are trying to break into horror. Gee, I wonder who your book would be placed next too? I actually heard this was a problem with people trying to make up last names that started with AA just so they would be the first person listed in a genre section. Lastly, knowing that your book has about a micro second to draw the attention of a potential buyer would you change your real name of Mr. Watch to you pen name of Mr. Rolex? It's all about presentation.
     
  19. Primitive
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    Primitive Member

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    A famous Australian Fantasy writier, Sara Warneke's pen name is Sara Douglass (Shes probably in the top 5 of best Aussie writers esp by number of books sold anyway)

    Her publisher told her to change her last name to Douglass simple because they said with a sername beginning with W, nobody would find her, as she would usually be found lower on bookshelves and they said to go with a name like Douglass, which would be on eye level (i know this sounds funny, but its true), They gave her Douglas, but she asked for an extra S because it made it more womenly.

    I guess it worked. Shes huge out here.
     

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