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  1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    Whats the point of a pen-name if....

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by J.T. Woody, Jul 10, 2020.

    .... People already know who you are?
    For example, everyone knows that Nora Roberts is J.D. Robb.

    There are some books i find that say "X writing as Y". In the sense that the author also writes YA, so her books have her Adult Fiction name AND her YA fiction name on it.

    Im not criticizing it... Im just curious why.
    And if it is to jump genres, why include your other genre's name on it? Does it help for publishing?
     
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  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    See this landau bar trim? Today it's just a decorative feature that was somewhat popular for a time. It's actually a design element that traces its history back to a physical hinge that operated a partial drop-top. Perhaps the modern take on pen names in the form you mention is a bit like this design element that used to serve a function. Back in the day, writers could depend on anonymity and privacy. Writing under a different name wasn't likely to be discovered by the readership the way today's doxxing culture lifts every carpet to find the dirt hidden underneath. So, perhaps they are just a decorative remnant, now serving a different purpose. Maybe it just means the writer will write in a different way, in a different tone, depending on nom de plume?

    Ford-1962-Thunderbird-landau-roof-closeup-N-Baum.jpg

    9066089_orig.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2020
  3. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    its also because trad authors often have limits placed on how many books they can publish by the length of time it takes a publishing house to publish one book... so before the advent of viable self publishing many authors (Koontz is another classic example) wrote under numerous pen names in order to be more prolific
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I know that the Scottish writer Iain Banks wrote his sci-fi novels (The Culture novels) under the name of Iain M Banks. All his other books were written as simply Iain Banks. In his case it was so his readers could tell, before buying, whether the book would be sci-fi or not. It was never intended to be a secret.

    I think quite a few authors who write in different genres do this kind of pen-name thing. (Although with Iain it was actually his real name, plus or minus his middle initial.) As Wreybies said, it's not all that difficult to track down who the authors are, as real people, but it does indicate what kind of novel/book you might be picking up.
     
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  5. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    God. Imagine writing faster than a publishing house can publish. :eek: Kkkkkkk.....
     
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  6. Earp

    Earp Copy That Contributor

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  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I write a first draft in about a month... probably self pub between 4 and 6 a year... and i wouldnt say i'm particularly prolific, so given that at the time that Koontz was starting out the average publishing house was taking 18 -24 months per book (they've speeded up a bit these days) its not really surprising that he could write faster than they wanted to publish... he's written in the region of 100 books across his various pen names
     
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  8. JFB

    JFB New Member

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    Industry aspects aside, some of us have a syllabic trainwreck for a name.
     
  9. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're talking to somebody who took just over 20 years from start to finish, researching, writing and editing and proofreading a novel! The notion of writing novels that fast boggles my mind. :)
     
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  10. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    I was thinking about using my mom's maiden name for work that is not scifi/fantasy. Or something to differentiate between the genres/writing styles.

    Just didnt know the "rules" of a pen-name. Originally i had one (my username) for poetry. Ive used it since middle school so i could write and just not be "me" for a while.

    I want to write as "me" now but i want to genre jump too. So i figure, i'd use a variation of my name, like @jannert mentions Iain Banks does
     
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  11. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    [​IMG]
     
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  12. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    first novels always take longer, keep at it and by the time you're ninety you'll be writing one a year :D
     
  13. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Member

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    It's for marketing/categorization purposes. JD Robb is her more action-related stuff, Nora Roberts is her more romantic stuff. By picking the name, the reader is picking what type of story they would prefer to read at the moment.

    I intend to do the same. I have a female name for my female demographic stories and a male name for my male demographic stories. It's just about reaching a particular audience.
     
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  14. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'm (planning) on writing under a pen name, but more for self-management reasons than anything discussed on this thread so far.. Though multiple pen names in order to differentiate genres might be something I should consider too. It's really not for privacy, with how the internet and social media works I am not going to expect that.
     
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  15. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    It's more a case that J.D. Robb is Nora Roberts. Nora is the real person. Robb is one of her many pseudonyms. They also include Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. She specifically uses Robb because sci-fi detective stories written by male authors sell better.

    It was only discovered that she was Robb 6 years after his Death series started publishing in 2011. Nobody just makes up a new name and admits to it off the bat.

    That's often a marketing tactic when one or both names become acclaimed authors. It's why a lot of Richard Bachman books now say Stephen King on them. Name recognition sells books.
     
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  16. Partridge

    Partridge Active Member

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    Yup, another vote for using a different name for writing in a different genre. Once I'm more established I want to have a go at writing transgressive fiction/sci-fi to sit alongside my thriller/mystery series.

    It's so people don't see one of my sci-fi books and go "ooh, a Sam J Mace novel" expecting something it isn't.
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If you are an established writer who decides to switch genres, it's probably a good idea to adopt a (or another) pen-name. Like JK Rowling did, when she started writing cosy mysteries. It's not a matter of 'outing' the author; it's a matter of genre identification. (Although in JK's case, she was curious to find out whether her books would sell if she didn't have her name attached to it. That worked well ...not. Her identity was discovered almost immediately.)


    Using a pen-name to hide your identity—which in olden days was quite effective, at least for a good long while—just doesn't work these days. You're required to attend book signings, maybe be a guest at book festivals, get interviewed on TV, etc. You won't successfully 'hide' who you are for very long.

    Unless you're an artist named Banksy. :)
     
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  18. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're such a comfort, Moose. :)
     
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  19. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If I get successful enough to be unmasked (not that it would be hard to do, just no reason to at present) I wouldn't worry about it too much, but the Iain Aschendale pen name is in place for much the same reason most people here use usernames rather than their real names. I don't need every potential employer and every student typing my true name into Google and getting a full look at my writing hobby, do I? On my other hobby sites I use more "traditional" usernames (for example, I got the gmail and google ID for 69cockthumper69 as soon as I put Cohen Disencumbered on my blog, so if you see that anywhere, it's probably me :) )
     
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  20. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    And mine's not even a trainwreck - it's just Gaelic.

    I spent half an hour at Costco the other day trying to get them to validate my phone app (we have to do it in the store, they send an email so I can authenticate it on the phone) because the woman behind the counter kept mistyping my name 'the English way' and who knows where those emails went.

    And here's how bad it is: I gave her my card with my email address on it in writing.

    I feel for all those Siobháns out there, too.



    Another reason to use pseudonyms here in 2020 is a collision with an existing author with identical name. A friend of mine is named John Cryer. Slightly different spelling of John vs Jon Cryer the actor, but it's enough to anticipate a marketing disaster, since Jon has a book out too.
     
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  21. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    My legal name is so common that when I went to go get my driver's permit they couldn't figure out which one I was in the system. Not even the birthday helped. It's a good way to stay anonymous at least.
     
  22. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Slipping away across the universe Contributor

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    i'd say my name isnt common for my race... I've only met 1 other person with my name and she was of a different race than me. Its so uncommon for my race that it gets mispronounced because they dont THINK it should sound that way when it is a simple, 1 syllable name.
    The others I know of through TV (actresses, cartoon characters, etc.). Heck, my mom flat out told me she named me after her favorite cartoon character :superlaugh:
     
  23. JFB

    JFB New Member

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    Mine's English (first and last) and most of my phone calls entail me resorting to s-l-o-w-l-y repeating both in phonetic alphabet. It usually gets across by the third attempt.

    Even so, there have been some...interesting variations come back to me over the years.
     
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  24. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    I really wanted Cat Williams, but then discovered Kat Williams is a famous musician... :bigmeh:

    Since I work at school, I'm increasingly thinking I'll use a pen name. In my case, I may literally use my entire birth name. I have a Chinese name that's not a secret, but that I don't use with Europeans honestly - and as I live in Europe, I basically never use my Chinese name at all. Only close friends even remember what it is. On top of this, I'm married, which means nobody at my school even knows what my maiden name is.

    So I might just use my real name on my books, and in that way stay anonymous, which I do find kinda cool lol.
     
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  25. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I hate to burst your bubble, but it's not really a common name for people of any race anymore.

    [​IMG]

    But in all seriousness, I once knew a guy whose real, full, legal birthname was "Little Jack Frost."

    Go ahead, google him.

    I thought his parents were being kind of dickish when they hooked him to that, but it was long before the internet age and now he's got the perfect cover. I don't know what happened to him, but he could use his legal name as a username and no one would connect him to it. Fill reddit with messages of bile or peacelovetrailmix, it's all safe. He'd have to use a pen name to write anything other than children's books.
     
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