To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym
by Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Nora Roberts, the author of more than 150 romance novels, was asked why she writes romantic suspense novels under a pen name. Here is her answer:
She says because she writes quickly that makes it difficult for her publisher to publish all of her work with an appropriate amount of time between each of them. So she writes works which are “edgier” than her romance novels under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. She says, "Putting it under a pseudonym helps brand it for the reader." Children’s writers often separate their real names or their “other” writing names from their children’s work to keep work intended for children untainted.
Writers will find information on the concept of branding in the second edition of The Frugal Book Promoter (www.budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo) including some of the reasons why you shouldn’t use a pen name. You will, of course, have to weigh the pros and cons, but keep in mind that Ms. Roberts has a powerhouse publisher and its marketing department to help her navigate the difficulties inherent in using a pseudonym. If you are considering using a pen name here's what you should know:
1. It is very hard to keep a pen name secret. Everyone knows who Kristie Leigh Maguire is, as an example, but most know that it is a pen name. If people didn't know that Robb was Nora Roberts' pen name, most of them will now that Time magazine let the cat out of the bag in a featured interview. The magazine also revealed (big time) that Nora Roberts is also a pen name!
2. It is very hard to promote a book in person when you use a pen name—especially if you choose an opposite-sex pen name. In fact, promotion of all kinds can become touchy if you use a pen name because you are intent upon keeping your real identity a secret.
3. Using a pen name isn't necessarily an effective barrier against law suits.
Read more about Roberts in Time magazine's "10 Questions" feature, page 6 of the Dec. 10, 2007, issue.
Carolyn Howard-Johnson, an instructor for nearly a decade at the renowned UCLA Extension Writers' Program, is a multi award-winning novelist and poet and author of the "How To Do It Frugally" series of books.
Learn more about Carolyn and her books at her websites and blogs:
Blogs: www.sharingwithwriters.blogspot.com & www.TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com
The Frugal Book Promoter: http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo
Carolyn's books are available in both paperback and digital formats at Amazon.