Thursday, September 22, 2005

Your chance to weigh in!

First of all the mail has arrived. No confirmation letter and no dvd's. Grrrr. I could really use a Bamber fix right now (for those of you who don't already know, I have a serious thing for actor Jamie Bamber).

But back to business. I am in a quandary and am looking for YOUR opinion.

Now not that editors are banging down my door asking to publish my brilliant works, but I honestly believe that the day will come when I WILL sell. I am in the midst of developing my website. And dh and I have been having discussions about pen names.

The original plan was to write as myself, under my own name. But we both tend to be cautious people. I try not to give out a lot of personal might know my favorite colour is red but you won't know exactly where I live or the names of my children. In this day and age information is power and I don't want to give someone out there MY power. It would be nice to think that everyone visiting my site was a nice, moral person but that would be naive. So we were thinking perhaps a pen name might work.

I know several people who write under pseudonyms and many that don't. Dh, bless him, said last night, "Just keep your own name. Then when you're famous I can say 'Hey, that's my wife'." It's nice that he's proud of my persistence and dedication, but that wasn't enough to convince me.

The next issue is what SORT of pen name to consider. At first I only thought of a complete departure, a fabrication. Then I thought perhaps an alternative spelling of my existing name. That one in particular I find fascinating. There is one spelling of my last name that I really quite like. But there are several spellings. My last name can be traced back to 11th century England. That's a lot of time for variations.

Anyway this is your chance to tell me what you think. Do you use a pen name? Why or why not?


  1. There can be legal issues involved with using a pen name. It has been ruled that if a pen name contains some part of your real name, you and not the publisher owns it. Writers went to court to ensure this.
    Sometimes, publishers want different names for say historical saga and contemporary so as not to confuse the reader.
    I personally feel that readers don't get confused. You can get cross over readers. Look at James Patterson for instance.
    Or then you have Nora Roberts writing as RD Robb.
    If you go for a pen name, the publisher will also have a say. For example, it might be too close to another writer's name.
    Also you have to remember what your pen name is and expect to be called that at conferences.
    I liked my real name and so went with that. Although my editor did ask if it was a real name. LOL

  2. I use a pen name but it's based on my real name, Nell has been my family nickname for years so I answer to both. I took a pen name because I'm pubbed in non-fiction in my professional life under my real name. At the moment I write the kind of romance my mother can brag about at church but if I choose another style that might change.

  3. My name is common as dirt and off the top of my head, I could name 5 other romance authors with the same first name. So that was an easy decision. I didn't want to be just another one, so I chose something different.

    My last name, however, is uncommon enough that we're always the only ones in the phone book. Like you, my privacy is important. My initials remained the same, though.

  4. I write under my real name, or rather my real maiden name.

    But I find that I really really have to watch what I say. Not because I'm afraid of nutcases finding me (though maybe I should be) but because of professional reasons. I can't say how I really feel about a lot of things on my blog, for example, because my students read it. Imagine what would happen if I started talking about how stressed out work makes me. Or even did something innocuous like talk about how my teaching affects my writing. I did something like that once and I got comments from kids proving they'd taken it personally.

    I also can't talk about certain issues in my writing, like explicitness of language.

    If I had a pen name, maybe I could be more open. Then again, people would find out it was me anyway; it just happened faster this way.

    I tried to find a pen name, but I couldn't find one I liked. That was what made the decision for me, in the end.

    I'll just have to suffer when my students read my sex scenes.

  5. I thought about a pen name, I have a great one if I ever write historicals (I have a Regency languishing in a drawer). That is made up of my middle name and my grandmother's maiden name.

    I will keep my name, you once commented on how it sounded 'authorial'. It will be a name that is out in the public domain soon enough... Eeeek!!

  6. Well, I've hemmed and hawwed, cussed and discussed this particular question for myself for a while now. I even threw out a suggestion or two to some pals and still haven't decided. I just can't get past being so attached to my own's my identity. I've had the same name for 26 years! I have halfway decided to use my first name and change my last name...right now my blog reflects the last name Hunter which I like, but I still feel like a fraud using it. lol

    I think it's just something that you have to play around with until you find what makes you comfortable. Good luck deciding. :)