Well, if you haven’t noticed, I came out from behind my old identity of Novice Writer Anonymous. I’m now adopting a semi-new identity.
Wait, semi-new? Can that be right?
My name is fairly boring. And there’s this lingering worry that some might conjure up negativity when hearing my name because they don’t like a certain popular series by an author whose name I feel mine is kind of similar to. Some have assured me that it’s not a worry, but it still nags.
So I added in a semi-arbitrary element to make my name stand out.
Which brings me to my discussion of pseudonyms. After long debate, I settled on adding in the middle initial “L” to my name. I don’t have a middle name. And I’m not married so I don’t have a maiden name, I just have my name. It’s my name and I can use it if I want to, right?
I did a lot of research on pseudonyms. The general consensus was that there are only a handful of reasons to pick a pseudonym.
1- You wrote something somewhat controversial and want to keep that from employers
2- You’re genre-hopping and want to keep things separated
3- You think a pseudonym is cooler than your real name
4- You have an awful name that no one can spell, remember, or pronounce
5- You’re worried about your personal safety
6- You’re worried that your name is too similar to a NYT (an NYT?) bestseller
7- Your publisher is worried that a gender-specific name will alienate readers (a la J.K. Rowling)
8- You just hate your name and want to re-define yourself.
9- Your publisher decides on a pseudonym to place your title closer to a bestseller so traffic increases
For me, it was #6. I thought about a wide variety of pseudonyms. I have a long list of pseudonyms I could have used. In the end, though, I just needed something that I felt could set me apart a little bit. My mom reminded me that my dad used to call me “Stephanie Lee” just for fun. So, I decided to incorporate that. It just felt right and at least this way I don’t have to remember to answer to a different name.
Now, once an author selects a pseudonym, that author is supposed to become that person. No more responding to your given name when at authorly events. You must train yourself to be the new persona. It can be a struggle. And then there’s always the fact that in this day and age it’s nigh impossible to remain completely anonymous or pseudonymous. So, if you’ve picked a pseudonym for the reason that you want separation between genres or you want your identity secret because you’re writing something controversial, it’s unlikely to remain that way forever. After all, there is that pesky little thing called the government that needs to keep tabs on your income. Among other things.
Side note: November 17th is going to be a wonderful wondrous day!!!! Squee!!!!!!
Websites for research: