Friday, January 22, 2010

To Pseudonym Or Not To Pseudonym

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Nora Roberts, the author of more than 150 romance novels, was asked why she writes romantic suspense novels under a pen name. Here is her answer:
"It's marketing."

In the article in Time magazine (Dec. 10, 2007), she says because she writes quickly that makes it difficult for her publisher to publish all of her work. Plus the works she labels penned by J. D. Robb are "edgier" she says. "Putting it under a pseudonym helps brand it for the reader."

Writers will find information on the concept of branding in The Frugal Book Promoter (

They'll find information on the concept of editing aThe Frugal Book Promoter’s. part of marketing (and therefore branding) in The Frugal Editor.
But I don't cover the use of pennames in either of those books, so if you are considering using a pen name here are the downsides to doing it:

1. It is very hard to keep a pen name secret. Everyone knows who Kristie Leigh Maguire is, as an example, and if people didn't know before that Robb was Nora Roberts' pen name, most of them will now.

2. It is very hard to promote in person, and it's especially hard if you choose an opposite sex pen name. In fact, promotion of all kinds can become touchy if you are intent upon keeping your real identity a secret.

3. Using a pen name isn't necessarily an effective barrier against law suits.

4. Without the power of a major publisher's marketing department behind you, the idea of reinventing your promotion and publicity campaign each time you change your name is daunting.

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