Thursday, September 13, 2007

A Prose by Any Other Name -- veinglory

At some point everyone has to decide whether or not to use a pen name, or several. I would be interested to hear from authors who have been published for at least a year or two on whether they think the made the right choice, the up- and down-sides of the name they chose.

In my case I am glad I chose to use a pen name. I ended up in a moderately serious sort of job where I wouldn't want the subject of homoerotica to come up with every casual Google search. I must say though, with my first trade paperback novel coming out there would be more offline avenues for promotion of I was doing it as 'myself'.

I went with a relatively, well, silly name. But on the whole I think that worked out fairly well too. I get a lot of hits to my website from people googling for my pen name so I am thinking it is somewhat memorable. A few people get a wrong by spelling it correctly, but on the whole it has worked out.

I am still toying about whether to use a second pen name for MF but on the whole I probably can't be bothered. Keeping track of two personas is keeping me busy enough....


Pepper Espinoza said...

Considering the fact that I teach college writing in a very conservative state while I'm getting my very academic and high-falutin' MA degree, I am very glad I went with a pen name. My pen name was something I put a lot of thought into, and both the first and last names reflect an aspect of my identity. I suppose it'd be easy as can be for people to make the connection, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't make the effort to separate my real life persona from my porn writing persona.

As for my second secret identity---Jamie Craig--we were asked by an editor to choose one name for our collaborative work. Before that, we were more than happy to publish as "Pepper Espinoza and Vivien Dean" (yeah, my name was going to come first. Vivien is very magnanimous). Anyway, when the editor asked for one name, I indicated that I liked the name Jamie (which is very close to my husband's name). In keeping with that theme, Vivien chose her husband's name and Jamie Craig was born. Actually, I'm happy now that we went with one name. Yeah, it gets a bit complicated sometimes, but ultimately, our JC stuff is very different from the stuff we write on our own, and I like that delineation to be apparent.

Dusk Peterson said...

"I would be interested to hear from authors who have been published for at least a year or two . . ."

Well, if you count e-zine publications . . .

I've had no negative problems with my pen name. I thought a few readers might giggle (I did not anticipate using the name professionally when I started using it socially), but if they have, they've shielded their mouths.

There's no way, though, that I would adopt a second pen name. It's hard enough trying to remember who thinks of me by my real name.

JMS Books LLC said...

I don't use a pen-name; I use my real initials and my real last name. While that makes it easy to keep it straight, I have had problems in the past. Most notably, I lost a job with Pepsi when the ultra-conservative office I worked in found out I wrote gay erotica.

But eh, I'm better off where I am now. My current employer is very open-minded and everyone in my office knows what I write. It gives me something to talk about with my gay coworkers, if nothing else :)

I've written some non-gay stuff and also published it under the name name ... a book of fantasy stories and some poetry. Unfortunately they don't interest the readers who like my gay fiction, but they're more for my parents so they don't have to pretend I'm doing nothing when they brag to relatives at family gatherings.

I couldn't really be bothered to create a separate persona for those stories & poems, because they were written years ago and aren't indicative of where my writing is today. They're out there for those interested and aren't anything I'm going to go overboard trying to promote.

Just my 2¢.

Nica Berry said...

I have a pen name, which is a shortened version of my own, and I'm very glad I have it. I admit part of it is to hide what I'm really writing from relatives and most co-workers, but another reason is to separate the erotica from the M/M fantasy I'm trying to get into print, especially when the bad reviews show up.

The one difficulty is going to cons, if I want to go as myself as an SF/F writer, but I also want to pimp my e-books. I'm going to two cons in the next couple months, one under each name, so we'll see how that goes.

Laura Bacchi said...

My real last name is often spelled incorrectly, plus I was working at a male prison when I first got epubbed, so using my real name wasn't a good idea :)

I decided on a variation of my real first name and something similar to my real last name but with a more exotic flavor. Plus my husband works in the wine trade so I played with the word Bacchus to come up with something I liked. I had thought of using my maiden name but alas Lori Foster was taken :(

As for multiple pen names, I sometimes wish I'd gone that route, not to hide one genre from the other but to build an identity for each. Plus when I announced my first MM release on my loop, some people left right away.

Erastes said...

Mine was a deliberate choice to make it clear what I wrote (and if anyone didn't understand the name they could look it up) to do the whole "does what it says on the tin, thing"

I didn't know that gay fiction was written and read by women when I started out and had no idea that any publisher would want a woman submitting gay erotica to them - I was glad to be told in no uncertain terms by my first few publishers (Torquere, Alyson, PD Publishing) that for most publishers gender wasn't an issue except for memoires and real life stories which of course made sense. In that respect I would not ever try and sell a story pretending it was real.

I'm a very private person in real life, so a pen name is a perfect blind for me - even if I attended a convention I think I would keep the moniker on my badge - I don't see why anyone should know my real name except the people writing my cheques and my best friend.

It hasn't been a problem with work, as they all know what I write - I worry sometimes they might google me and see what I write about my daily experiences at work, but I don't think they care that much, they've certainly not bothered to buy the books. No gay colleagues here, sadly.

Michelle L. Devon said...

I use a pen name - two in fact. I've been using a pen name every since I started writing professionally about five years ago now, going on six. My main reason for the first pen name (Michelle L Devon) was because I knew that to properly promote and sell my writing, I'd have to get all over the internet and become 'known' and I didn't want to have to worry about unlisted telephone numbers, people finding my home address, etc. (There are crazies on the internet).

My second pen name was established when I started writing crime and suspense. It seems that when I was submitting manuscripts for my first crime and suspense novel (still haven't found a publishing home for it yet), that a couple of old-time editors had this attitude with me that MEN write crime and suspense and 'legal thrillers' and the like, and no one named Michelle should be writing that type of stuff (rme).

So my second pen name is one that sounds a bit more 'masculine' because I figured if editors felt that way, perhaps readers might too.

I'm entirely comfortable with me first pen name and the reasons for using it, but the other pen name still 'bothers' me. I think I'd rather write under just one name.

I don't write erotica, but I do have two romance novels that might have some light erotic scenes in them. If I had a day job outside of writing and editing, I might actually consider a pen name for that genre... hadn't really thought about it though. I work from home and writing and editing is all I do.

Great conversations - excellent topic. Love the comments!

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