Theodor Geisel became Dr. Seuss. George Eliot was really Mary Ann Evans. The ‘Out of Africa’ author was not Isak Dinesen, but rather one, Karen Blixen. Alice Sheldon became James Tiptree, Jr. Hell, even Stephen King penned books under the name Richard Bachman.
It always is curious to me when people use pen names. Oftentimes in Georg Eliot’s or S.E. Hinton’s case it was to cloak the fact that they were women. King said he wanted to try and distance himself from both his prior success and failures and have his novel judged on the work alone.
Regardless it is an author’s choice to publish under a pseudonym or their birth name or somewhere in between.
My spouse has suggested many times over the years as I’ve worked towards becoming an emerging writer that perhaps I need to assume a pseudonym. He has sent me links to stories about why other authors, especially women writers, have done it; how it’s helped others maintain their family’s privacy, etc.
I counter to him that I’ve been building a reputation with my work under my own name and that I would need to start building my platform all over again.
However, I’ve been thinking more and more that it might be a good idea and maybe it’s time I consider the coming up with a pseudonym.
I’ve taken lots of different versions of my own name and tried to come up with something that is genderless and still has that rhythm, like other best selling novelists — J.K. Rowling, A.A. Milne, M. J. Hyland, S.T. Joshi, and even. H.D. (the poet). But, I can’t decide if I’m going to take this plunge.
Many of the ways that some of these pseudonym or initial-only authors got their start is wasn’t a requirement of publishing at the time. There was no ‘platform’ required. No blog required. No social media aspect to being a published author. It was all about the writing first. Of course, it’s still about the writing first, but there are valid points to having a pseudonym.
I’m curious to know what my readers, friends, and family think about this choice. I can see the value in my work not being held up to the gender filter; I like perhaps keeping my children out of the potential limelight, etc. Do readers have more affinity for authors who have a certain rhythm to their name along with good writing? Does the gender of a writer influence what you read? Have your say below!
Tell me if you think I should make a “short-list” of potential names, and maybe we’ll vote on which is best. Or if I should just keep on keeping on as I’m doing now.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts.
While you fill up my page here with comments, I’m going to go write for a bit. And, maybe, a nap to sleep on the whole idea.