Why do authors take a pseudo-nom? This has been a question that many readers have asked me. My answer has always been that it was a matter of privacy. At least it is for me. I don’t want someone being able to dig through a phonebook (or doing an internet search) and finding where I live, what my phone number is, or whatever other private stuff they can locate. However, I wanted my writer’s name to also be close enough to my real name that if someone calls out to me across the room, I won’t look like an idiot if I don’t answer. So “Liz” really is my first name, and “Kreger” is close enough to my real last name to avoid any faux pas.
Another reason authors may take a pseudo-nom is because she writes under different genres. We all know … or at least most of us know … that Jayne Ann Krentz is also Jane Castle and Amanda Quick. All three names represent very distinct genres. Jayne Ann Krentz for her contemporaries, Amanda Quick for her historicals and Jane Castle for her romantic science fictions. Makes sense to differentiate between the three.
Then there’s the author who might write erotica but perhaps has a day job teaching second graders. (This has happened recently. Don’t recall the author, but it was a big stink). I know it should make absolutely no difference what a person writes in her spare time, but you can bet that there will always be closed minded people who will kick up a stink because Mrs. Jones writes “smut” and how dare she teach my darlin’ little seven year old. Pfft.
Well, this past Saturday, I learned of yet another reason for using a different pen name … and this is one I’d never heard of before. Okay, say you wrote historicals under “Jane Smith” and because traditionally historicals don’t do all that well, your print runs aren’t all that great. Well, “Jane Smith” decides to write a paranormal and it turns out to be a terrific, fascinating, page turner that promises to blow everything out of the water. The publisher fears that the bookstore buyers will take a look at “Jane Smith’s” print run and see that she didn’t do so well … regardless of the fact that she originally started out as a historical author … and not order the number of books that this paranormal is sure to sell. So, the publisher tells “Jane Smith” that she needs to use a new pen name. For her paranormals, “Jane Smith” becomes “Jasmine Smithers” … or some such name. She will need to recreate herself under the new pen name, but at the same time, there’s no reflection of a small print runs to influence bookstore buyers. She’s free to establish a whole new track record for herself. Don’t know ‘bout you, but that makes perfect sense to me.
Anyone else know of another reason to use a pen name? I’m now writing an urban fantasy and wonder if I should use a different pen name to keep it separate from my romantic science fiction books, or if the genres are close enough to each other that it makes little difference.
‘K. I’m doing a giveaway to a commenter today. I have a hardback copy of Darynda Jones’ first urban fantasy … and her Golden Heart winner, by the way … “First Grave on the Right”. Fabulous book. I’ll announce the winner tomorrow on Amy’s blog.