Friday, 29 February 2008

Late Coffee... Sorry

I don’t know if other countries have this, but I’m addicted to gas station cappuccino. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s sweet and frothy and usually flavored (French Vanilla and English Toffee are my favorites). It’s also loaded with caffeine, so it really gets me moving in the morning. So, I invite you all to have a cup for this morning’s coffee break. (And if you’re really not a coffee drinker, the machines usually have a cocoa option or two.)

Okay, I admit that I totally forgot this was my week to host the coffee break. I wish I could blame it on spending too much time on writing, but that would be a lie. I’ve finished inputting the hard-copy edits for my book, and while I’m waiting for my critique partner to send me her suggestions, I'm taking a break. I'm also stuck on my current WIP, which doesn't help.

This morning (or afternoon, depending on where you're at), I think I'll address an issue I'm having with regard to my WIP. You see, it's a total break from anything I've written previously, and I'm planning on publishing it under a pseudonym. A quandry came up this morning. If I'm publishing this work under a pseudonym, why in heaven's name am I already beginning to associate the book with the 'B.E. Sanderson' name? I'm talking about the book on my blog. I'm leaving comments about the book on other people's blogs. In essence, I'm shooting myself in the foot regarding the reasons behind a pseudonym at all.

I don't want this book (and it's subsequent series kin) to be written under my name. I don't want people associating this mystery series with me - mainly because it's cute and light, and my plans are for the B.E. Sanderson name to be associated with my serious work. Ack.

So, tell me Racers, what are your thoughts on pseudonyms? Do you have different names for different work? Would you be shocked to pick up a book by your favorite author only to discover they'd completely changed gears on you?


Kate.Kingsley said...

You've touched on something that I've been wondering about myself recently, and I see your dilemma ~ in talking about the pseudononymous book as B.E, you're treading on your own pseudonym. It gets tricky, keeping things entirely seperate My blog isn't under my "real" name, as my surname is very unusual and would have made me very easy to trace ~ and I wanted a place where I could safely explore my writing aspirations without it being accessible to people who know me. This was due entirely to self-consciousness on my part: i didn't feel i would eb able to be fully open if there was a chance that persons known to me were peeping in.

But, if and when I do publish my novel I would like to do so under my real name, or a version thereof (I'm thinking perhaps my married name, which i don't use that often in real life, but it has a nice ring to it as an authorial name). This will involve me "outing" myself on my blog, which I'm sure I'll be able to deal with as and when the necessity arises (that publishing deal will no doubt cushion the blow somewhat!). But I'm getting prematurely anxious at the thought of it....

It puzzles me a bit when authors have pseudonyms that are entirely transparent. I know it's to indicate a change of genre from their usual readership, but we all know that Barbara Vine is Ruth Rendell, don't we? And aren't some books marketed as "Joe Bloggs writing as......" ~ can't really get my head around the conept of writer as brand name.

I've had another nice week of writing, and have almost a full notebook of longhand that needs typing up (sigh) . Still, now that Masterchef has finished i can have a big slice of evenings back to myself. Goodbye, shouty chefs, you've kept me very entertained wthese last few months.

Hows everyone else doing?

Leatherdykeuk said...

Pseudonyms are a good idea, I think, even cross-gender ones.

Personally I'm tempted to publish under the pseudonym 'Jasfoup'.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I blog under a pseudonym because my blog is related to my work in the funeral industry where there are obviously issues of confidentiality etc. But my blog pseudonym is very much a blog name, not a potentially useful novelist's pseudonym. So I now have another pseudonym for submitting the novel and short stories. So I'm completely confused about who I am!

My favourite author, Doris Lessing, changed gears all the time, which is one reason why she's my favourite. She's written in more genres under her own name than anyone else I can think of. Although she's not the only one; Susan Hill does too, and I'm sure there are others.

JJ said...

I'm not sure we've always known Barbara Vine was Ruth Rendall. Maybe I'm a cynic, but I think that when someone hits the big time they republish the 'other' genre with a So and So Writing As... label. Stephen King as Bachman.... etc

I write a monthly column under a pseudonym. I've been accused of not being brave enough to attach my real name to those articles, but there's a long literary tradition of people writing under pseudonyms.

I can't imagine publishing (I can't imagine getting going again, let alone finishing) but I don't think I give two hoots whether it's my real name or not.

Kate said...

Pseudonyms are fine by me. Its another way of creating a character, I suppose.

I'll be publishing under my maiden name (if I ever finish anything and get published, of course!), because I live with my married name and dont want any would-be stalkers finding me. (I'm not too arrogant and paranoid by saying that, am I?)

Also... a lot of authors' surnames (whether real or not) fall between D and M so as to be at roughtly eye-level on the book shelf. I wouldn't want a surname starting with 'Z' for that reason, even though its a cool letter to have in your name. But my maiden name starts with 'S' so that totally negates my point. Hehe.

Rowan Coleman said...

so far I've published everything, childrens and adults under Rowan Coleman, but one day I might not. I know writers who use different names for different types of genres or who didn't have as much success as hoped under one name and tried again under another - Sophe Kinsella used to be Madeline Wickham for example. And why not? Hurrah for pseudonyms, I say.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Nothing wrong with pen names if they are chosen for personal reasons, be that privacy or the fact it is easier to write a particular type of book as a particular persona.

Personally I prefer authors to be adventurous. Why on earth should someone not write both serious literature and light fiction? Or both at the same time (a la Pratchett). Graham Greene wrote his entertainments and his serious works. Doris Lessing, as already mentioned, tries her hand at everything. Angela Carter wrote some pretty intense literary works as well as books for young children, as has Joanna Russ (along with some profound works on feminism and on literary theory). H G Wells didn't feel the need to use a pen name to differentiate between his scientific romances and his more serious political works.

Of course, the reality is that publishing is still extremely conservative about this sort of thing. In some regards, more so than it used to be. The categorization of books and pigeon-holing of authors seems to be an obsession of marketing departments. It is a kind of laziness and it is hard on people who don't write to pre-existing marketing niches.

Lazy Perfectionista said...

I quite like the idea of pseudonyms, but that might be because it has a slight edge of the secret agent about it. In practical terms though I'm sure it can backfire if you're using different names for different genres, unless it's something simple like Iain Banks/Iain M Banks. That way everyone knows it's the same person but you can tell what genre they're writing in just by which name they use to save confusing people.

Leigh said...

Judging by the number of people who publish and/or blog under pseudonyms, there must be an inherent need for a good place to hide, whether it be through fear of failure/success (or mediocrity), or simply from a wish to present a particular image to the world. I see no harm in that.

The use of different names for different genres seems sensible enough. It strikes me that folk like to know what they're getting, and providing a name=genre/style avoids upsetting the oh-so fickle public.

The use of pseudonyms as brand names, however, is completely beyond my understanding.

hesitant scribe said...

This is interesting!

I think there's nothing wrong with pseudonyms, but I wouldn't bother using one myself - I'll be using my name. And I'll probably, if and when I get published, keep switching genres and styles (oh to be an Angela Carter or Doris Lessing!)... I think you can do that without a problem.

Incidentally, my favourite authors tend to be the ones who do switch gears!

If you write in two genres you could always do the Iain Banks/Iain M. Banks thing.

Debs said...

I think pseudonyms are a good idea if you want to remain anonymous and also using different names when changing genres.

However, I blog under my married name and would probably use this for my writing too.

L-Plate Author said...

I've worked so long on my books that if, sorry WHEN, I get my book published I'll be damned if I'm changing my name.

Kate, my surname begins with an S and Freya North once told me there's plenty of room in the S's on the book shelf. Hadn't realised I'll be at the botoom though. Let's hope the shelving is only big enough to stock until P and then I'll be near the middle of the next lot.

I always wear my heart on my sleeve, that's why I blog under a different name. I'm sure the Bloke from Stoke appreciates it too, but I hadn't thought about WHEN I get accepted. If I want to shout about it....I have to reveal my name. Kind of spooky, yet if I want everyone to know, then I have no choice.

I would be annoyed if my favourite authors started to write differently. I buy certain types of books because I like them. I expect the next book to be similar to the one I have read. Also my previous agent was getting me to write book two in the same vein as book one, she said readers and publishers would expect it. That was when I was writing my now book two, chick grit and she wanted another chick lit.

I don't see a problem with using a pseudonym .Besides, what's wrong with L-plate?

Sarah*G* said...

I have not actually thought about a pseudonym. My current WIP is all done under my actual name. As is my blog. (I just don't give my full surname but if you find me on facebook then you know what it is!)
I think if I do get published (wish!) I will use my real name. I will hopefully be proud of what I have done and will want everyone to know it was ME who wrote it!

Lucy Diamond said...

I've got loads of pseudonyms...including Lucy Diamond! My real name - Sue Mongredien - is hard to spell and remember, plus I have had a lot of children's books published under that name, and didn't want any children to be shocked by the racy scenes of Any Way You Want Me! - so I took on a pseudonym to keep the novels/children's books separate. (Handily, 'Diamond' can be used in lots of punning ways for marketing etc - "a gem of a novel" kind of thing - something to think about if you're coming up with your own pseudonym!)
I've also written under lots of other pseudonyms for children's series - but these weren't through choice, they came about because there was two or more of us writing books for the series and the editors wanted a 'collective' author name so that the books would all be shelved together.

Have a good weekend everyone

Helen Shearer said...

Good evening, all,
I know it's supposed to be coffee morning but I didn't have a chance to write at the office today so I figured as long as I got it in on Friday I was safe. There's still three more hours of Friday here.

Helen Shearer is not my real name. The Helen part is right but the Shearer is not. I considered changing it to Helen Fielding or Margaret Atwood but friends thought I might have a lawsuit on my hands so I went with Shearer. I quite like my real name and I would love all the snotty cows from high school to know that the books in the shops (when my books finally make it into shops)that they're spending their hard-earned cash on were written by me, but the fact of the matter is there is already a published writer who goes by my real name and uses the same odd spelling. I'm not sure if it's her real name but I don't suppose it matters much. I'd love to say that there's a lovely romantic reason for the name change or that I'm so mysterious and intriguing that I just couldn't bear to come out of hiding, but it's merely practical, I'm afraid. I have to admit that I like the idea of the privacy that using another name provides. Writers can be well known but nobody knows them.

I think I will use the same name for different genres. I've written draft one of a children's novel that I would like to go back to eventually. I don't see anything wrong with writing different things under one name. James Patterson writes spy thrillers and schmaltzy love stories using one name and he seems to be getting the bills paid. And if Will Shakespeare can write both comedy and tragedy then who am I to argue?

liz fenwick said...

Good topic! I blog under my own name as I was already on the internet due to the role I played in an expat group so I wasn't worried about my name being used. I debated using my maiden name but its a bit like Smith - just too many around.

I have thought of pen names if I wrote different genres or maybe just using my initials like B.E. does......

I have been told that my name puts me on good shelf space and by a lovely Irish writier tells me she has seen my work on the shelves already! Who am I to argue with an Irish intuition????

CT said...

Sorry I'm late!

Funnily enough this topic is very timely. When I first started writing short stories in 2005 I put my real name to all of them. I was SO pleased when I got published or won competitions that I wanted the world to know. And I set up my blog with my real name because I could see a reason why not to.

Now I can!

My web stats reveal that people often reach my blog by googling my name and I find it really disconcerting. WHO is googling me and why?

And do I really want anyone who is googling me in a work capacity to read all my stories and realise quite how much of my time I spend writing?

As a result, and because I don't want any potential agents to google me and find out what I've been up to, I've moved my blog, taking my name OUT of it. I've also removed the link from my website.

If/when I get published I want it to be under my real name. As someone else mentioned I want people I've known to see my book and think WOW, CT wrote a book! Of course the downside is, if I get bad reviews, that's my real name out there getting slated as an author!

Swings and roundabouts.

Unfortunately my surname ends in T which puts me on the bottom shelf and if I ever marry the boyf I'll be on the top shelf. Damn. Out of sight whatever I go for!

Cathy said...

Oh dear I am very late. Sorry.

I started off blogging using just my real first name ( shortened version) and I don't use my surname on my blog. But now I've set up a website under my full name, which I intend to write under and I link to it from my blog...

As I work just for my husband I don't have the work privacy issues and I am quite careful what I write on my blog, as I have my children's identities to protect.

I think for writing I would prefer to stick to my real name, but if I was to dramatically change genre I would probaly then use a pseudonym, perhaps involving my maiden name. I don't know, I haven't really thought that far ahead...

wordtryst said...

Using different names for different genres is smart, imho. It precludes confusion on the part of the readers. Of course, when a writer becomes a bestselling author s/he can do whatever the hell s/he wants.

And Kate, I don't think you're arrogant and paranoid at all - or if you are I'm equally so. I don't see writers who use pseudonyms as being ashamed of what they've written. I see them as people who enjoy their privacy, like I do, and wish to preserve it.