Interesting article here on choosing to write under a pseudonym, and why an author might want to do so.
I think a lot of authors, particularly those who write in genre, choose pseudonyms for a combination of these reasons. What if you’re a scholar or a journalist in your everyday life? It makes sense for professional reasons to separate those two bylines, and to produce your “hard” writing under one name, and your fiction under another.
Certain genres are so accustomed to this that some publishers, especially in romance, have lists of “house names” for authors to publish under. I still remember a story told to me by an English professor at my university, who paid for her doctorate by writing cheesy romance novels. She wrote at least 40 of them, according to her count, all under different names. To this day, she only recognizes one of her books if it has particularly outlandish characters or plots, and even then it’s touch-and-go. All those different pseudonyms made it possible for the romance publisher to seem like it had many more authors than it really did, for whatever reason.
The risk with compartmentalizing your writing through pseudonyms, though, is that, if you’re prolific, you might end up with too many names to keep track of everything. In this era of mandatory social networking and blogging and direct-to-reader marketing, it’s tough for an author to keep up and still manage to find time to write (and/or hold down the day job). What if they have to maintain networking standards for two or three or even more personas? That much Facebook/Twitter/blogging time would get draining awfully quickly. And then what do you do? Hope one name gets famous enough that you can collapse the others into it without harm, like Stephen King absorbed the Richard Bachmann persona? It could work, but it’s not likely you’ll get famous enough to pull it off without having that “vampire fan gets Western, gets upset” scenario referenced in the linked article.
Still, pseudonyms can be handy. What do you think? Do you write under a pseudonym? Why?