Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ASK PZM: June 2013 - Author Pseudonyms

Because today is the first Wednesday of the month, you got it! It's IWSG day, compliments of Alex J. Cavannaugh, our Ninja Captain! 

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post." 

Our Twitter hashtag is #IWSG  


Because IWSG Wednesday falls on the 5th, I'm sharing Ask PZM's Q&A, chalk full of excellent info. 



Q: What do you think of authors using pseudonyms for their books?

First, let's break down this question into different reasons for using a pseudonym:


Authors may be writing a whistle-blowing book, for example, and for their own security they may feel they need to use a pseudonym.  In this case the identity of the author is kept secret and thus the author does no publicity efforts.  (Okay, maybe a TV interview with the person's face disguised and the voice electronically altered.)



The topic of the book is usually so explosive that the identity of the whistle blower, besides obviously being an insider, is not important to promoting the book.

In the past a pseudonym was also used for various other reasons.  As I recall, at one time publishers felt that an author should only publish one book a year in a series.  If an author wanted to publish a second book during that year not in the series, then a second author name was used.

Anyone disagree with my memory that this was a prevailing concept at one time?





Eventually this changed and books started carrying author identification such as "Ruth Rendell Writing as Barbara Vine'" to utilize an author's fan base in one genre to promote the author's book to a different fan base.

In another example, I know of one mystery writer who chose a different last name because she wanted her books to be shelved in bookstores near the front of the alphabet instead of at the end.  In this case, she was the “face” attached to the author name, but the name wasn’t her own.


Now let's look at the world of pseudonyms in today's publishing world, especially with the popularity of ebooks:

One interesting consideration is that many self-published book authors have been having major success with releasing several books in a series a month or so apart from each other.  Instead of waiting to release a book a year in a series, authors can enable the fans of a series to read a new book soon after reading a previous book.

I personally like this option and think it makes for happy readers and happy authors.  


Clarification:  If you are using your own name but shy away from photos of yourself, you can choose to use a drawing of your face rather than a photo.  But you should have a personal human "look” rather than a book cover as the image on your Facebook profile, for example.)


Now we come to social media in this discussion:

Social media has opened up online connections between authors and their fans, and the importance of this is demonstrated by Amazon’s recent acquisition of Goodreads.

Due to the relationship building ability that social media gives authors, I personally do not see the advantage to using different author names for different types of books written by the same person.  I recommend you create your online social presence with pictures and personal information using whatever name you have chosen as your author name and stick to it.  


After all, do you really want to create a fake social media persona to use with a pseudonym?  What does this do for building trust with your readers? 


And what about social media sites whose terms of service expressly forbid you from having two personal accounts under different names?  You can risk being thrown off the site in both your names.

Okay, I may have convinced you not to use a pseudonym for different books by the same author.  But what about signaling to readers that the current book you are promoting is not in the genre of other books of yours?


In my opinion, the answer is making sure that your book's cover, title, subtitle and description clearly “telegraph” the genre and, if appropriate, the target reader age (Middle Grade, Young Adult, etc.)
For example, look at Yael K. Miller’s Middle Grade novel on Amazon: JACK STROM AND NEW ORLEANS HOODOO: BOOK 1 OF HURRICANE HOODOO at http://amzn.to/14z8Zxd

 


  
The cover has the image of a young teen boy.  The title and subtitle are in a familiar format for Middle Grade supernatural stories, and the description immediately notes the age of Jack Strom, which is another way to signal the target reader age.




If you write books in different genres, look at your covers, titles, subtitles and descriptions to see what these “telegraph.”
And after all, since many readers enjoy different genres of books, why shouldn't an author enjoy writing different genres?


Just make sure that your fiction and nonfiction books do not confuse people as to which is which!


Q.  What can you tell me about author taglines?
I read an interesting post from blogger Jean Oram about this topic, and her post inspired me to write a blog post of my own (see http://budurl.com/authortaglines ) because this is such an important question.


I think an author tagline can help deal with possible confusion over an author writing in several genres.  For example, you could choose a tagline that specifically states your genres – "I write hard-boiled detective novels and bodice-ripping romance novels."  

Okay, maybe this is not the best example, but you should get the picture.


In my case I added my current tagline to the top right-hand corner of my author site www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and then added a second sentence of clarification that included a call to action:

"I write what I love and what I know. See my fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon at www.ZimblerMillerbooks.com"

(Note that this URL is one I got and redirected in order to shorten my customized Amazon Author Central profile URL at www.amazon.com/author/phylliszimblermiller )


Try coming up with author taglines for yourself – and then think of places you can use the taglines. 

And do use the comments section on this post to share your taglines.







Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books, including TOP TIPS FOR HOW TO PUBLISH AND MARKET YOUR BOOK IN THE AGE OF AMAZON.  You can see all her books at www.ZimblerMillerbooks.com and find her on Goodreads at www.goodreads.com/pzmiller
She also writes about book-related topics at her author website at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com and is the co-founder of the online marketing company www.MillerMosaicLLC.com




TWEETABLES

"Breaking down Pseudonyms and Taglines." (click to Tweet)

40 comments :

  1. Excellent post today, Joylene! :)

    Just thought I'd come over and swap howdy's with ya :)

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    1. Thanks, Nosey! Stopping in for some cookies. Hope the tea's brewing.

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  2. You raise a good point--the social media aspect of having multiple pseudonyms is daunting. I only have one pseudonym, and it already takes a chunk of time keeping things updated and fresh--I can't imagine multiplying that effort for additional pen names!

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    1. There is so much stress associated with marketing that I'm with you, Lara. Why make it harder.

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  3. Good to see you again Joylene!

    I considered using a psuedonym because my name is so common. There are authors and characters out there with my name already. In the end I've decided to use initials rather than a fake name. It keeps it real, yet still separates me a little from the clones.

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    1. I know what you mean, Sara. I don't have a common name so I decided to stick with it. Plus I use my maiden name to honour my father.

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  4. I've never really thought about using a pseudonym but I understand why some people prefer to use one. I am me so why try to be someone else! Thought provoking post, I'm sure lots will have different opinions on this one.

    Suzanne
    IWSG co-host

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  5. Sorry, I've already blown the author photo. Oh well.
    Is Ninja Captain a good enough tagline? No?
    At least I got my name right!

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    1. LOL, oh Alex, none of these rules apply to you! You're simply too unique!

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  6. Openness is good. This is a very well thought out and helpful post. Thank you!

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  7. My real last name is so long and difficult to pronounce and worse to remember so I just shortened the sucker and use that and set up my writing with that last name. No big mystery or reasoning other than I don't want readers not to be able to remember my last name!

    Great post with excellent points.

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    1. But think Dostoyoesky! LOL, I get it Julie. My name looks English enough, but I have to pronounce it every single time.

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  8. My name is Gary Philip Pennick and I'm totally loopy. Don't want a pseudonym. Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar, doesn't want a pseudonym. This might surprise you, but a recently published author who I worked with in the background for two years, used a pseudonym to maintain an air of mystery.

    Joylene, I know you've be going through some difficult times. While you were away, sorry about this, but I tagged you in a posting if you are interested at a later time,

    http://klahanie.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/its-happy-tag-time.html

    IWSG aka "I Was Seeking Gary". Yes, I'm loopy and delusional!

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    1. Actually, I've always thought of you as quite wonderful! Off to check it out. Thanks, Gary.

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  9. If you choose to use a pseudonym you have to accept the advantages and consequences. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Blog: Queendsheena
    IWSG Co-host

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  10. Very interesting post, Joylene! I too have seen numerous authors writing under different pennames for different genres/fanbases. I think it's a pretty smart idea in terms of marketing. I also like the fact that some are releasing books just months apart. I'm sure that makes the fans very happy, since they know they don't have to wait years before the story continues!

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    1. Yes. Releasing books one after the other is my big dream. Thanks, Julie.

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  11. Couldn't agree more with every point Phyllis has made. I suppose one consideration in the "will I or won't I use a pseudonym" question would be possible contract limitations by traditional publishers. Another might be family concerns... whether what one is writing could cause problems or embarrassment. For instance, being married to a pastor, if I were inclined to write steamy erotic romance or really gruesome horror (I'm not), I might prefer to mask my identity.

    That being said, as my blog title ("Careann's Musings") will attest, I ventured into cyberspace preferring to be anonymous. I wanted to gain any following based on my writing, not on friends and family feeling obligated. It took a while to overcome my introverted reaction, but by then I was stuck with my blog's name and URL. I've compromised by letting a tagline of sorts carry my real name ("Mental Meanderings on Life and Writing by Carol J. Garvin"), and I use my name for all comments. If the day ever comes that I'm published, I'll have to redesign the blog anyway, but at least my readers will know who I am. New bloggers should be given a list of things to consider *before* they set up a blog to halp avoid these later hassles! :)

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    1. I actually thought of a pseudonym for that exact reason. But lo and behold, my family and friends don't read my blog posts. They have been known to say the subject matters is confusing. Hmm. Not sure what that means.

      Thanks, Carol, aka Careann!

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  12. I've never thought of using a pseudonym. When the day comes that I have a book published, both my maiden name and my married name are unique.

    I've seen people use different forms of their real name when publishing in different genres. I like when authors do that rather than using a pseudonym.

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    1. That's what I ended up doing, using my maiden and married name. The only problem is when I do radio interviews, they never get my first 2 names right. The combinations are actually hilarious.

      Thanks, Susanne!

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  13. Very interesting read. I will be using pseudonyms, because I needed something that needs to stand out and be unique. I have created Tikaani Moon because of the books I write. I am also using another for my manga series, Ayumu. Although my approach is a little different, but I have already build this reputation and am sticking with it.

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    1. Sounds good to me, Tikaani. Your name is truly eye-catching.

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  14. Thanks so much for the great info! I need to bookmark this post. :) I've not thought that much about pen names. Lots to think about. Have a great weekend!

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    1. thanks for visiting, Karen. Hope you have a lovely week.

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  15. Nice photo and Very interesting posts. Thank for so much. I love it very much and will recommend it to all of my friend. I would also like to invite you to visit my blog at http://1newbornbabyclothing.blogspot.com/ and share all the baby thing with you.

    http://www.1newbornbabyclothing.com/

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  16. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.
    This means I need to add a photo to my blog...
    Writer In Transit

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    1. Nothing's set in gold, Michelle. It's just something to consider. Thanks for visiting.

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  17. I use a pen name..I hate to type pseudonym..because author friends said the stalkers will be kept away if they don't know your real name. Ha..so far no stalkers!! However this summer I am doing author talks in my local area, so when I advertise the talks I have to use my real name so folks who know me will come to the talks! I chose the pen name for my mysteries and was going to use my real name for children's stories, however, after putting in all the work to get J.Q. Rose out into the world, I used it for the non fiction children's book. Happy to hear that's okay to write mixed genres under the same name! Great post. Thanks.

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    1. Makes sense to me, Janet. If it ain't broken...

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  18. Hi Joylene and Phyllis .. very interesting post - and the times have changed haven't say .. gone are the days of George Sand the pseudonym for Amantine Dupin .. who was very successful writer in the 1800s, as women apparently couldn't write! - not true as we know.

    Social media does change things .. so I think when I start it will be with a clean slate ... my name .. cheers Hilary

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    1. Good choice, Hilary. Your name is rather classy.

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  19. I believe in using my own name. I work so hard at what I do, I want everyone to know exactly who did it. But I'm also going to work on a collaboration with another semi-well-known author and we write in different genres. And our book will totally be in a different genre so we're gonna make up a name based on both of our real names. Still, we'll use the power behind our own social media platforms to help garner new readers and market. As for a tagline, it was the very first assignment my publisher gave me after I signed. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but it fits perfectly!

    Great post! I'm one of Alex's July IWSG minions!

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    1. Looking forward to hearing more about your joint venture, Nancy. Best of luck to you.

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  20. July 5th, 2013

    Dear Joylene,
    What a fun post about pen-names!
    By the way, I have mentioned you in my ISWG-post for July!
    Come take a peek when you have the time!
    Best wishes,
    Anna

    Anna's ISWG for July: Swedish Mysteries

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    1. Thanks, Anna. I'm heading over right now.

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