Came across a great post recently about choosing to use a pseudonym, and why an author might do so.
Given that a number of Candlemark & Gleam authors choose to use pseudonyms, while others don’t, I thought we’d open the discussion up here.
Why choose a pseudonym? The most common reason I hear is that people don’t want their personal and professional lives entwined. Yes, in the Information Age, it’s pretty easy to put 2+2 together to get 4 (or, more topically, to discover that Sophie is actually Ralph)…but perhaps you work in a field where you don’t necessarily want your genre-fiction-writing exploits to spill over. It’s not looked upon quite so scornfully these days, being a sf/f/wtf writer, but if you’re a high-powered lawyer or banker or you’re a professor of literature somewhere, you might not necessarily want the world to connect you immediately with your space-monkey epic.
This goes double if you write erotica, obviously.
Another good reason for a pseudonym is if you have a very, very generic name. My own, for instance, is really common; it’d be hard to stand out on a Google search, which is increasingly important these days. If you’re Joe Smith, you might just want to consider writing as Alex Slaterkin, you know?
Other reasons I’ve heard involve writing different types of novels – if you write YA but also erotica, for instance, it makes a LOT of sense to keep separate authorial identities. There’s less reason to separate science fiction and fantasy personas, and having a lot of different types of books under the same name can be a benefit sometimes, too – if a reader likes one thing you’ve written, they may consider giving other things you’ve published a chance, even if they’re very different genres. Just ask Justin Robinson, who publishes acclaimed horror and comic noir. Talk about your wide spread!
I absolutely agree with the article referenced above that the worst bloody reason to have a pseudonym is because you’re a woman, though. These days, it really, really should not matter who is doing the writing – it should only matter that the writing is good. And yet bias still persists, and some writers really do feel pressured to go with gender-neutral writing names.
What do you think? Have you considered using a pseudonym in your writing? What do you think some of the best and worst reasons for using one might be?