Tuesday, April 27, 2021



For reasons I can only describe as ignorance of consequences, lack of vision, lack of understanding how publishing works, and a touch of ego, I never considered a pseudonym when I first sought publication.

It seemed a needless complication, because one’s legal name is straightforward and pseudonyms suggest expectation of an illustrious publishing career. In addition, a pseudonym says you are hiding, which means you have something to hide.


I now wish I knew more back then. Pseudonyms are more than a form of protection, (because most who write never get the harsh bright lights of mass recognition anyway) they are distinct public personas and thus “brands” of sorts, and many find this very helpful creatively.


A pseudonym is employed when writers write in divergent and incompatible genres. Think kidlit and erotica, or kidlit and politics, or kidlit and most genres not kidlit.


A few years ago, I met a much-published writer who wrote in three distinctive genres. She used one pseudonym for her mysteries, another for her erotica, and her legal name for literary novels. She is by no means a household name in any of her three author identities. But she did admit her strongest income stream was from her erotica writing. No surprise there.


She said the different names helped her stay creative and focused. I understand, and no longer find this practice a wee creepy, like I used to.


Add to this consideration the matter of privacy, barely possible at the age where the Interwebs give your home address to anyone who will pay a few dollars, (and even free) as another name has a layer of security, albeit a thin one.


I never considered it, and even my social media presence (such as it is) is all-public. Easy, as I’m not famous. But if you are just starting out and foresee seeking mass recognition, think about it and see if a pseudonym will make you creatively better focused and feeling more secure. If you choose to go that way, have fun with the choice of pseudonym because having fun on this journey is what will keep you going.


Evelyn said...

I can see using a pseudonym if you write different genres, but I think it could be a big hassle otherwise. And kids like honesty and sincerity. If you're at an author signing and your friends come up calling you by a different name, kids are going to be confused. There are, of course, reasons when it might make sense, as you said.

Vijaya said...

I've never considered a pseudonym either for all the reasons you mention. I hear that a midlist author will sometimes use a pseudonym if sales aren't good to separate themselves from the work but it makes no sense to me because a publisher *would* know the author's track record; it's not the same as writing in two genres that are incompatible, like kidlit and erotica.

janlcoates said...

An educational publisher I've written a number of books for asked me to use various pseudonyms (or aliases as a student once told me) - I guess it was to make it look as if they were using more authors than they were? I used various family member's names, which was kind of fun. But, for the most part, don't think we humble authors need to hide - behind another name or anywhere (except during Covid).

Kelly Hashway said...

When I started publishing, I was branded as a paranormal author. When I wanted to branch out into romance, I was told by traditional publishers that I couldn't because of my brand. I was forced to use a pen name if I wanted to change genres. It wasn't my choice at all. I do see the point in doing so, but I was told no publisher would touch my romance without using a pen name.

Janie Junebug said...

That's interesting information, Mirka, and an area I know nothing about.


Mirka Breen said...

HaHa, Janie:D
Now I want to know how you became a Junbug ;)

Mirka Breen said...

That should have been "Junebug." Rather sweet <3

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

I thought about using a pseudonym once upon a time, but even though I do write in diffenet genres (none of them "erotica") I decided I wouldn't want the hassle of several names at tax time. But you make some very good points for why it would be a good and maybe fun idea to use them.