Pseudonym – a fictitious name used by a person, sometimes an author.
We all know that some authors use pseudonym’s or pen names:
Then there are authors like Stephen King who write under two names, Richard Bachman & John Swithen. Also we have authors like J.K. Rowling who use initials which makes the name more masculine for the genre they’re writing. And if that’s not confusing enough, there are authors who combine names, Moria Rogers is really two awesome ladies (Bree & Donna), Cat Adams…etc. But how often does this happen? Are we even aware of it? Some use pen names if they write more than one genre, but some use them exclusively for privacy.
I only became really aware of it when I realized that Kim Harrison doesn’t exists, Kim Harrison is actually Dawn Cook’s pen name. I was shocked to be honest, Kim is a character that Ms. Cook uses from clothing to a wig. From Kim Harrison’s FAQ page:
Well you have completely shocked and amazed me I can’t believe your the same author that wrote both the Truth and Princess series. Mainly because most authors I read no matter how many series they write always seems to have the same formula, voice, and cliches/archetypes in their books and you didn’t. [ ... :]. Also, since your in the industry and therefore would know, could you tell me if authors writing under different names are common and if so why do they do it ?
5/27/09 — [ ... :]You asked why authors write under pen names? It is EXTREMELY common, but most don’t come out of the closet so the reading public never knows. The reasons are varied, but the most common is because the author wants to write more books than their publishing house can market, and to avoid the legal entanglements of the original contract, it’s easiest to write under a second name when you move to a new publishing house. That’s the original reason I took mine. A second reason is that big book retailers have a habit of purchasing only the same number of books that an author sold on their last release. If it was a bad release, then the store will only by that many books of the next release, but if it’s an unknown author, the stores will buy more in the hope that it will be a blockbuster. So you write under a different name, and get a better shot at selling through your books. (This also figured into my decision) A third reason an author might take a pen name is because they are writing for a different audience. Going from high fantasy to urban fantasy isn’t a big jump, but if the writing style changed dramatically, as you pointed out that mine had, a pen name might prevent disgruntled readers from leaving the very author that they enjoyed. A final reason some authors take pen names is that they have high-powered jobs, and if it were known that they wrote fiction, it might damage their credibility. To get around it, they take a pen name. Hope that helps. –Kim
I’m giggling because I can hear that 80′s show, My Secret Identity’s theme song in my head!!
I had a conversation with author Dakota Cassidy about this, because I was really shocked with Kim Harrison/Dawn Cook. Dakota got me good by saying: we all use pseudonym’s online, I’m really not Wicked Lil Pixie or even just Nat…it’s what I put out online. Interesting way to look at it right?
I understand many authors switch names if they are writing a YA, for example Mark Henry. His stuff is VERY adult oriented, so it makes sense to switch to a pen name for his upcoming YA stuff right?
How do I feel about pen names? Doesn’t really bother me, to be honest I love Kim Harrison & will now look for books written by Dawn Cook. Confusing? Yes, but I understand the need for privacy. But I think the wig/outfit/character isn’t the norm with most authors.
I truly understand the pen names for genre switches, but what I didn’t understand was the “so and so writing under so and so”, if you are telling me it kinda defeats the purpose right? After some research, I found that reason is because the author has developed fans under both names & it’s to draw each name together for the fans. I also understand that some authors are working 9-5 jobs & keep their names hidden for that reason, can’t say I blame them.
WLP Wants To Know:
Would you care if your favorite author wasn’t using their real name?
Know any pen names I am missing or would be shocked to learn about?