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Why Do Authors Use Pseudonyms?

Friday, April 14, 2006
Posted in: Uncategorized

Anne’s got an interesting post about authors and their pseudonyms. She wants to know why an author would choose to use a pen name rather than their own.

She’s also got a poll going, asking why some authors do choose to use their own names. I’d like to know too, so any authors out there should hop on over and vote.

I’m pretty sure the majority of erotic romance authors out there use pen names. The reasons are probably two-fold, A, they don’t want their neighbours to know that they write smut, and B, they don’t want their children to know they write smut. *g*


  • Kate R
    April 15
    2:04 am

    the wild thing is that the few neighbors I’ve talked to are clearly way more embarrassed for me when it comes to the romance than they are about my smut writing. I think they think it’s more intellectual or something?

    The conversations are smirk smirk when it comes to romance and no smirk and actual non-prurient interest when it comes to the smut. Maybe I just live in a weird neighborhood.


  • Lena Matthews
    April 15
    2:08 am

    I use a pseudonym because it makes me feel like Bruce Wayne/Batman. In my day to day life I run around the house chasing a three year old, while sing Dora the Explorer songs at the top of my lungs, but at night, when all is quiet, I sneak into my batcave and pound on my keyboard until my eyes go bleary and my fingers go numb.

    I use a pseudonym because it makes me feel cool, even though I know I’m not, lol, and I do it so I can honor my mother whose name is Selena and pretend I’m married to Dave Matthews. It’s all in fun, but never in shame.

    I have no problem telling anyone what I write, and how to buy my books, and many of the readers who’ve I’ve met end up knowing my real name, because Maggie and I forget and call ourselves by our birth names all the time. LOL

    But that’s just me.

    Lena…or am I…..

    I love you blog.


  • Stacy~
    April 15
    2:29 am

    Hey Lena, if I were a writer, I would think the same way as you. It separates you from your “real” life and makes it kinda mysterious.

    I also like how Nora Roberts has her JD Robb persona – everyone knows it’s her, but the JD Robb books are less romance, so it is a great way to differentiate between genres.


  • Anne
    April 15
    2:45 am

    Thanks Karen, for linking to my blog. I’m just such a nosy wench… I had to ask the question. I not only asked the questions do you and why do you out of curiousity, but because I’m trying to decide for myself whether I should chose a pseudonym or stick with my name as is.. or even use my Maiden name. So far I’m leaning toward a pseudonym… mostly for the privacy, though I’d love for everyone to know I wrote the book. See my dilema? LOL

    Again, my thanks Karen!


  • MaryJanice
    April 15
    2:53 am

    I use my real name, you bet. In fact, even after I got married I kept my maiden name on all my books. I want all the cheerleaders who were mean to me in high school to see my name in stores and choke on their envy. Yep, I have issues. But seriously, it’s a pride issue for me. I work hard, and I want people to know it. It’s never occurred to me to slap a fake name on my work.


  • Sarah McCarty
    April 15
    11:48 am

    I use a pseudonym for privacy issues. As writing for me is a personal accomplishment, I don’t tell many people outside the business I write for the simple reason it doesn’t occur to me they’d be interested. I write romance and I’m proud of the stories I create. A sense of shame is not something I have in relation to my writing and does not factor into my choice of using a pseudonym.

    A psuedonym is a tool of the trade like any other. Many authors use psuedonyms for professional reasons. Especially writers who have been around longer. Some houses used to demand it. Some houses used to own a pseudonym and to write at another publsiher meant adopting another name. Sometimes psuedonyms are adopted or changed for other reasons such as sell through, genre change, fresh starts etc. And thne there’s always the possibility that one’s given name just doesn’t sit pretty on a book jacket. *G*


  • Lauren Dane
    April 15
    5:12 pm

    I don’t so much care that my neighbors know, but I do want to keep some space between my public life as a writer and my children.

    I’m not ashamed of what I write so if people have an issue, it’s theirs. But I can’t ignore the realities of it either and some people are so violently opposed to it that I just want a layer to protect my kiddos from that.

    I love my “real life” name but it’s very distinct. Add to it that my husband has a political job and a very public one, and the pen name is just best even if most people know what I write anyway.


  • Millenia Black
    April 15
    6:12 pm

    I don’t write romance, but I think pen names definitely help keep a clear distinction between business and personal. I personally would hate to be famous – but – of course I want my work to be as popular as ever. Pseudonyms help support and maintain that distinction. 🙂


  • Sarah McCarty
    April 15
    10:11 pm

    Ooh, Mellenia, good point. I like that idea!


  • Bailey Stewart
    April 15
    10:12 pm

    Hi, got bored and hopped over from Jill’s. Sarah is right – that’s exactly why Stephen King invented Richard Bachman – so he could write more books than his publisher would allow. I plan on using a pseudonym because a) I’d like something a little more interesting than my own name; b) I want to write different genre’s and this would be my way of separating the two. Sort of like Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick. I plan to use my real name for childrens books and besides, it will be there in the copyright.


  • Dakota Cassidy
    April 17
    7:31 am

    I’m no to both. My sons know I write racy stuff–so do my neighbors. My sons don’t know how graphic it is, but when they ask details, I’ll be honest.

    I chose a pen name because my real name would be tres boring and NO ONE would buy a book by Beulah Montoya, ya know? LOLLOLLOLLOL

    PLus, I still have the ex’s last name and it doesn’t deserve any kudos. Snort.


  • Scott
    April 17
    11:07 am

    I agree with Dakota. That has to be one of the biggest reasons, I’m sure. I started writing some short stories a few months ago, and if I ever get enough gall to shop them around, I would choose a pen name. My last name is long and Polish. It doesn’t roll off the tongue. (Well, unless you are from Warsaw or Krakow.) Though I would probably use my Mom’s maiden name, which though still Polish, is half the length and doesn’t look Polish and unpronouncable.


  • Marianne LaCroix
    April 18
    12:38 am

    I have two reasons, one of which Dakota mentioned. My real name is hard to remember. I had people getting my first name wrong all my life, calling me Mary to Marion. SO I simplified and went with Marianne. My married name….oh Lord…NO ONE gets it right unless they were Dutch. So I went with flourish… But I also like the little bit of privacy in a pen name. I dont care if my kids know what I write. All they know at the moment is that “Mommy writes books.” By the time they learn about sex, I don’t want them thinking it is dirty. I will tell them that mommy writes romance with lots of sex. Big deal. They won’t want to read MY books, anyway.


  • Lia
    April 22
    4:59 am

    Hey, Karen. I chose a pen name because my real one is just too freaking difficult to remember or spell. LOL!


  • M.E Ellis
    May 3
    1:11 pm

    My horror work is as M.E Ellis so I chose Emma Collingwood for my chick-lit humours so the horror fans (like I have any of those) wouldn’t be pi**ed off when they bought an M.E Ellis expecting a gore fest and getting a giggle (hopefully).

    The erotic horror I’m working on, didn’t even enter my head to have a pseudo just because it’s rude. My family know I’ll write about a lump of dog’s poo if I want to, so didn’t see the point in hiding the fact I’ve written about clits n cocks.




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