A pseudonym is more than a veil;
it is also an expression of authorial identity.
Using a pseudonym is legal. And often considered a wise business choice. Choosing a pseudonym will be one of the biggest decisions you will make as an author. It will also be one of your biggest creative challenges.
Interestingly, many of the greatest names in literature were created. I knew, from the moment I decided to write youth novels, that I would write under a pseudonym. The reason was to create a defining line between my adult novels and my youth books. I wanted a definite divide to separate the seriousness of the adult subject matters. On that day I became known as Professor Scry – to young adults.
From the moment you decide to take on a nom de plume, there is no going back. Writing under a pseudonym is as easy as putting the phrase “writing as” on your manuscript. You may want to remind the editor in your cover letter that you are “writing as” your pseudonym.
There may be a number of other reasons why an author would choose to adopt a pen name:
- Another author “owns” your name.
- You’d like something more exotic
- You’d like a name that reflects your inner self.
- You don’t want anyone to know that you are the author.
- You don’t want your relatives/friends/coworkers to know what you’re writing about.
- Your name doesn’t fit the genre.
- You want to conceal your real identity.
- Your name is too hard to pronounce and/or spell.
- You might have been burdened with a truly bad name to begin with.
- You want to cross genres.
- You’ve been published before and sales were not good.
Copyright was one of the first steps that modern democracies took towards guarantees for the liberty of speech. Through these developments, authors effectively became the caretakers and champions of free speech.
These famous authors use a pseudonym:
- Stephen King (his real name) writes Horror Fiction. He also writes as Richard Bachman, Eleanor Druse, Steve King and John Swithen.
- Dean Koontz is a busy man. He writes under his own name, plus: Aaron Wolfe, Anthony North, Brian Coffey, David Axton, Deanna Dwyer, John Hill, K.R. Dwyer, Owen West and Richard Paige.
- Eleanor Marie Robertson (her real name) writes Romantic Fiction under the pseudonym of Nora Roberts. She also writes as, J.D. Robb, Jill Marsh, and Sarah Hardesty.
- Benjamin Franklin had three pseudonyms: Polly Baker, Mrs. Silence Dogood and Richard Saunders.
- Agatha Christie used Mary Westmacott for a pen name.
- Michael Crighton had three pseudonyms: John Lange, Jeffery Hudson and Michael Douglas.
- Allistair MacLean (his real name) writes Mysteries. He also writes under the pen name of Ian Stuart.
For the successful author it is liberating to use a nom de plume and benefits to throwing off the invisibility cloak.
“Linda has published fifteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish.”