Author Topic: Pen names  (Read 851 times)

Juan Dolor

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Pen names
« on: July 05, 2011, 04:21:35 PM »
I may be doing some writing for hire soon.  (See: http://www.timewastersguide.com/forum/index.php?topic=8368.msg177931#msg177931.)  And Iíve been thinking that this work should be published under a psuedonym.

There are at least two reasons that I think using a nom de plume might be good.  First, it's work for hire.  And the work would be an adaptation of another person's script.  So these would not be my own ideas, my own world, my own creation.

Second, I publish under my real name for my day job in academia.  I think people would take that work less seriously if it were known that I publish genre fiction as well.  For better or for worse, there is a stigma.  So, I'd like to compartmentalize.

So, any thoughts on choosing a pen name?  What makes a good one, or a bad one? 

Are there conventions or customs I should be aware of?  (For example, lots of women authors use male or gender-neutral names to publish under, but I don't see men doing the same thing.)

Sigyn

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2011, 06:40:21 PM »
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I know Dave Wolverton thinks that a pen name should be closer to the beginning of the alphabet.  A lot of people use initials or middle names instead of first names  for pen names.
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Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2011, 08:58:17 PM »
Your second reason is a good one.But a major point in doing these work-for-hires is to make a name for yourself, so if it were me, I would use the same name for my own fiction later as the one I used for the work-for-hires.

Also, that male-pseudonym thing for women is really out of style now...or should be.

A pseudonym shouldn't sound like a fake name. But it's a good idea to pick something that's not already all over the internet. Some writers pick something short. "Dan Wells" would be a great pseudonym were it not actually Dan's name and were danwells.com not already owned by an actor.
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dhalagirl

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2011, 04:08:33 AM »
While we're on the subject, I've been curious as to how one establishes a pseudonym.  Do you just start submitting manuscripts under that name or is there a more legal/proper way to do it?

Juan Dolor

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2011, 04:51:56 AM »
I've also wondered about the etiquette of choosing a name that doesn't fit my ethnic background.   I think it would be fun to use a pen name from another culture, but I'm not sure how that would go down. 

For the record, I'm a white American of British and Scandinavian stock.  If I chose a German or French last name  (Bill Albrecht, Jack le Pen), I think I would be safe, even though I'm not French or German.  But for some reason, it seems like if I chose a Spanish name (J.C. Rey), it feels like I might get in trouble.  Worse trouble if I chose a name that sounds African-American (Terrell Jackson).  Or Asian (Henry Pu-yi).

It's a shame, but I think if I choose one that doesn't sound "white," I'll get called a racist of some kind.  That doesn't really make sense to me, because I would be choosing that name because I like that culture.  But whatever, this is the world we live in, I guess.

Peter Ahlstrom

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2011, 04:20:03 PM »
While we're on the subject, I've been curious as to how one establishes a pseudonym.  Do you just start submitting manuscripts under that name or is there a more legal/proper way to do it?
You put your real name in the manuscript header, and you put your pen name in the byline. That's the easiest way to do it.
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dhalagirl

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Re: Pen names
« Reply #6 on: July 07, 2011, 03:06:12 AM »
Thanks Peter!