Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Secret Identity

Pen Names: To use or not to use.

I have been seriously considering the use of a pen name – another pen name. Right now I write under the pen name of Stacie Carver. My real last name is lovely, but difficult to remember, spell and pronounce. So I have a dilemma.

History is littered with authors who wrote under a pen name or nom de plume. But why would someone write using a pen name? I think the reasons are as individual as the names. I can think of several reasons of my own.

First: I write in different genres. While some of these genres are fine to be associated with each other, like romance and mystery; very steam romance should not be combined with YA or middle grade fiction. My genres are mystery, steampunk mystery, and inspirational romance. Although at first glance using the same pen name may not seem like a problem, my mysteries actually get quite steamy.

Second: I want my websites to reflect the genre. An inspirational romance reader will probably leave the site quickly if there anr mechanical monsters, fantasy elements and dirigibles floating across the screen. And a steampunk reader would probably scoff at a sweet, cheery website with scripture quotes.

Third: If and when someone comes up to me when they recognize my name to say they love my books (it could happen), I think I would like to know which books they are referring to.

These are just some of my reasons.

Other authors have used a pen name because their name did not fit the genre. Erotica author Angela Knight is the pen name of Julie Woodcock. She choose to write under a pen name because of the double entendre of her last name. Zane Grey is the pen name of Pearl Gray, who thought his first name did not fit the western genre – I agree.

Best Selling authors sometimes use pen names so they can publish more books in a year without saturating the market. Good examples of this are Stephen King who published books under the name Richard Bachman before he was outed. Nora Roberts is also J.D. Robb. She was already a prolific romance author and changing her name allowed her to branch out into a different genre. She was also outed in 2001, but rather than hurt her following, many of her romance fans started to read the “In Death” series.

Of course female authors through history have used masculine pen names so they could actually get published. George Elliot, George Sand and Ernst Alhgren are all female authors. It works the same for men. Personally I can’t imagine reading a romance novel by Tom E. Huff or Harold Lowry by I would pick up a romance by Jennifer Wilde or Leigh Greenwood – their aliases. Even today many female writers chose initials or a gender neutral name rather than a female first name to if writing in typically male dominated genres. S.E. Hinton, J.K. Rowling, Robin Hobb.

Writing teams often combine names or choose a different name. Cleo Coyle is the pen name of husband and wife team Alice Alfonsi and Marc Cerasini. Nero Blanc is the pen name of the husband-and-wife team of Steve Zettler and Cordelia Frances Biddle. Terry Campbell is the pen name of friends Bobbeye Terry and Linda Campbell.

Many authors want to conceal their identity. Maybe they write in a genre that could get them in trouble at work or with their family. A recent example is the high school English teacher who writes erotic romance under the pen name Judy Mays. Although she attempted to conceal her identity, narrow-minded parents still freaked out.

So I have decided to choose a pen name strictly for Inspirational Romance and hopefully the two shall never meet. I have not decided on a name yet, but I’m narrowing down the choices.

Do you write under a pen name? Why or why not?

Stacie Carver aka ???


Anonymous said...

I use a pen name, 3 as a matter of fact because I'm genre confused. Still, they aren't impervious to those who really want to know who you are. I just like keeping my real name off the WWW as much as possible.

Psst...Stacy, your email address shows in my Google reader at the top of the post. I'm guessing that's your last name in the addee. Delete this bit if you don't want to tip off readers.

Anonymous said...

Hi Claire,
I'm not worried about the pen name Stacie Carver mixing with my real name Stacie VanEvery, just what I pick as new pen name. But thanks for the heads up with my email showing.

(this thing seriously won't let me post under my blogger name - so frustrating)

Stacy McKitrick said...

Pen names won't hide you from the public. If someone wants to find you, they do. But it will let the reader know what kind of book to expect from your name. I think that's the most important part of pen names. So yes, you should have a different name for inspirational, because you wouldn't want someone who reads your inspirational (and loves it), pick up a steamy romance and hate it. They may never read another one of your inspirationals again!

Kathryn Scannell said...

I have a pen name for a very simple, practical reason - there's already a Kathryn Smith writing romance novels, and I'm not her.

I've also found a benefit which I hadn't thought about when I concluded that I needed one. Trying to find someone with a name as common as that using a search engine is like looking for a needle in a haystack, not to mention the difficulties of getting the name for web sites, social networking sites, and so forth.

I wasn't thinking of that angle when I chose my name - I just picked one out of my family tree, but as luck would have it, it's working out very well in that respect.

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